13 February 2009

The fugitive.com

It's very difficult to realise exactly how the leaps in IT have transformed our lives these last dozen or so years. Almost as difficult as contemplating how many things that we can do at such speed, that would have been unthinkable comparatively recently. You only realise such things when you see a slice of life from, say, the early 90s and notice how manual life was.

This was brought home to me tonight as I watched the excellent thriller The Fugitive, with Harrison Ford as Dr Richard Kimble, on the run from the police and trying to find the real killer of his wife. A taut two-and-a-half hours in 1993 would barely have lasted 10 minutes these days - Dr Kimble could have tracked down the man with one arm in a couple of hours on a library computer. On the down side, of course, the movie-stealing Tommy Lee Jones probably could have picked up Kimble from any one of hundreds of thousands of CCTV cameras with face recognition software and popped him back in the slammer before the end of scene two.

It also made me realise exactly how much more difficult it is to disappear these days - our connections to the sources of our survival are a series of Faustian pacts with information hoovers who monitor our every move, taste and nuance in order to be able to sell us better targeted products. As John Darwin found out to his cost, when he posed for a random photograph with an estate agent in Panama. The succession of easy trade-offs that enables us to find the shops with GPS or pay for car parking via a mobile phone is invidious but barely noticeable. These days we can still run but we can't hide.

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