I appeared on PBS NOVA

By Christine Lemmer-Webber on Tue 21 May 2024

Christine gesturing while talking on PBS' NOVA documentary

I appeared on a PBS's NOVA documentary, Secrets in Your Data! (It's also on YouTube and, well, on broadcast television I suppose!) This actually aired a few days ago but I hadn't really had time to write anything about it and well, I still don't, but I wanted to mark the time before too much time passed and I never wrote anything.

The documentary maker was Structure Films and I have to say, working with all of them (Jason Sussberg, Jennifer Wiley, and David Alvarado) was really great. You can watch the film to see for yourself but they clearly did their research and pulled in a lot of wonderful people. I was really impressed! I think the film came out really well too. It covers a lot of ground, so I think it's easy to focus on any one part and think "gosh this should be a whole episode on its own", but they did a really incredible job producing things.

And it was also a delight working Alok Patel, the host of the program (his website is very entertaining, by the way)! Alok is kind of a character in the documentary, but the funny thing is that he really is as much a character in real life, the kind of person who just oozes charisma, like he was custom-built to be on television.

So it was extra charming that at one point in-between filming, Alok turned to me and said "So, you do television spots regularly." Not as a question, just as a statement. I replied that I didn't, and he said he wouldn't have guessed it. I don't know if he was trying to put me at ease or if he really thought that, but I really appreciated it regardless.

My appearance is both short and yet still one of the longer ones in the documentary, but gosh, speaking of "any of these sub-topics could be its own film", they probably actually had that much good content that fell on the cutting room floor. It was somewhere between ten and twelve hours from when we showed up to everything being wrapped up for the day, and there was this whole incredible and I must assume gorgeous bit filmed in a model railroad museum that got cut. We were showing off the idea of interoperability by talking about trains running on the same track. And ultimately, the entirety of that section got summed up into a much shorter line by me in the film, talking about how email is an example of a decentralized social network networks people already know and the role the standards plays there. I'm guessing it was painful to choose to cut that bit. But I don't mind: it was a really great experience and I have some funny stories to tell friends about it.

Anyway, PBS NOVA is one of those programs that I grew up with and so it was really cool to do this! I hope you enjoy the film, and I'm glad to have been a part of it.