Sunday, 4 January 2009

Joined-Up Government

Quantum of Solace: The older Bond films scraped across the edge of the sci-fi zone due to their love of improbable gadgetry and occasional low-Earth-orbit derring do. However gadgetry and other plot elements have been toned down in the re-imagining. In Casino Royale this worked well - the car with the built in automated defibrillator was pretty cool. However the main innovation in Quantum is also it's least plausible feature - it's hard to accept that a UK government body could ever commission a fully functional multipurpose cross-agency database, or indeed any computer system. The following scenario is a little more likely:

Scene: MI6 headquarters. There’s an impressive glass-projection computer screen, but it’s showing a DOS error message and the display is rotated 90 degrees. M is on the phone.

Bond: (via mobile): “Can you get me anything on Dominic Green?”

M: “Hang on a second, 007 - just checking the social services database now… Sorry, it’s not accepting my password again. Ah. There are 7,000 Dominic Greens - anything more specific?”

Bond: “He’s plotting to overthrow several governments.”

M: “Unemployed then. Right - think this must be him - sending picture now.”

Bond: “…Sorry, can’t view it on this phone you’ve issued me with - can you send it as a jpeg?”

M: “No.”

Bond: “Oh well. Anything else on the social services database?”

M: “Sorry 007, that part of the database was in a CD-Rom we sent over to the Treasury by courier.”

Bond: “The one that turned up on ebay two weeks later?”

M: (sighs) “Who’d have thought dr_no_mwahaha1 would have bid so high?”

Bond: “How about the NHS record system?”

M: “System’s still down. The contractor’s gone bust again and we can’t get through to the helpdesk.”

Bond: “Criminal Record Bureau?”

M: “Fill in the form and send it in - they’ll get back to you in about three months.”
Female Virgin Mobile voice: “You have 30 seconds and 15 texts remaining.”

Bond: “I need answers. Now.”

M: “OK - I’ve got his online tax returns but that’s about all. Shall I put it on an unencrypted flash drive and leave it on the Circle Line for you to pick up as usual?”

Bond: (hangs up)

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