Intranets @ the movies

You never hear anyone say ‘it’s on the intranet’.

So I recently explored the idea of the Death Star intranet. Which got me thinking, what role does the intranet play in movies? We are always seeing people hack into IT systems, but we never really see the intranet. It’s just like people hardly ever go to the toilet in the movies either.

Where is the reality? Why does Hollywood refuse to show the truth? We see all these offices, people walking around chatting to colleagues, sharing information and yet, nobody ever says ‘It’s on the intranet’ . They’ll Google it, but not look on the intranet. Are fictional intranets that bad? Or worse still, are they just so good that they raise the expectations of our colleagues.

I saw Jason Bourne could look up the contact details of someone with only half of their phone number. Why can’t we do that on OUR intranet?

How would a true representation of intranets and digital workplaces change the movies? Would James Bond have a picture on his Yammer profile? Should his profile show his skills and expertise? I guess this sort of defeats the purpose of being a secret agent. Any search for Q is going to be a nightmare if the people search is not up to scratch.

Then there are all those times somebody copies a secret file onto a USB stick. They never have to log into a different systems. It seems many fictional organisations have successfully resolved single sign-on for their digital workplace. Bravo. I also love the way that non of the systems ever look like SharePoint, either they had budget for customisation or they are using another system (if so what?).

So, I can see a Dan Brown style movie, where our hero has to crack the code hidden on an intranet. Perhaps on the Vatican’s intranet. Essentially the script would be a usability test. Hmm, might not be a box office hit.

Was ‘Rosebud’ Charles Foster Kane’s password, he finally remembered it, but alas too late.

The other day on Law & Order, I swear the NYPD had their own YouTube style video platform, just so a detective could show a crime victim a video. How awesome is that. You’d think budgets would be tight and the focus for the digital team at the NYPD would be more, well, crime related.

What I don’t like is how logging in to a system correctly in a movie means you always get a confirmation screen. That’s poor usability in my book, a total waste of users time. 100k employees each day getting a ‘Login successful’ message every time they log in. That is just inefficient.

Somehow search always seems to get the right results – what search are they using – cos I want it. Not once does our hero have to scroll through page after page of search results to find the right document.

Until now, I have never really considered that perhaps poor meta data and taxonomy is the only way to keep your precious data being found by prying eyes and might be a benefit.

“so the intranet benchmarking showed nobody can find anything on our intranet – great news – it means those pesky [insert name of foreign nation who are this months bad guys] won’t be able to steal out data.”

Where is the realism here. Or is it just me, am I ruining good entertainment with an obsession for intranets and digital workplaces.

Am I the only, do you always get annoyed with unrealistic digital workplace representations on Film and TV, let me know in the comments below.

Maybe I should get a job as an intranet consultant for the TV and film industry. Providing advice on what a realistic intranet experience would be like. Always happy to help Hollywood, just waiting for your call.

What great movies could have intranet related titles?

  • Schindler’s SharePoint List.
  • Finding Nemo
  • Jaws – (one for the accessibility fans out there)
  • Lost in machine translation
  • There’s something about Mary’s profile page
  • (intranet) Traffic
  • The Searchers
  • Kramer vs Krammer

About Dan Leonard

Based in the Netherlands, I've been working on intranets and digital workplaces for over 12 years. Mainly in financial services for Learning & Development, HR and Corporate Communication functions. I am interested in the skills required by Intranet Managers and Digital Workplace Leaders now and in the future.

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