Science Fiction Frames: Jurassic Park

Clever girl!

“So for this project called Science Fiction Frames, they’ve asked me to write about the awesome computer technology in Jurassic Park,” I told my fiancé, handing him a morning cup of coffee. “Remember that? The scene where the kids are navigating the file system by flying through this weird 3D representation, and it takes them FOREVER?”

He nodded.

“I think I’ll write a satirical piece about how 3D animation is the most important part of a file system,” I continued. “You know, spinning up the CPUs as much as possible to keep you warm in your dank underground lair while you’re eating Doritos and engineering dinosaur genes. That’s way more important than, I don’t know, quick regular expression searching, or rapidly restoring power to your compound when you’re under dinosaur attack.” I smirked and gestured wide with my coffee cup, nearly flinging half-caff onto the counter.

He closed his eyes and chuckled. “Oh, yeah. I remember that operating system. That was, what, the early ‘90’s? That thing was a pain in the ass.”

I paused, coffee cup poised halfway to my lips.

“You mean…that was a real system? That people actually used?”

“Oh, yeah!” he responded. “I had a Silicon Graphics workstation running IRIX. Pretty sure it’s the same thing that was in that scene. I was the envy of the whole office.”

“But…a 3D file system browser…was that useful for anything? Why would anyone do that?” I demanded incredulously.

“Well…it was only useful for knowing who was hiding stashes of, shall we say, illicit image files. Those user folders stand out like the Empire State Building in a cornfield.” He laughed again.

“Huh,” I conceded, finally lowering my coffee cup back to the counter. “Well, I guess that changes things.”


To live the dream, download File System Visualizer. Feeling less ambitious? Boot up a painstaking recreation of Jurassic Park’s security system in your browser.

This piece is part of Science Fiction Frames: a series of incisive analyses, thoughtful meditations, wild theories, close readings, and speculative leaps jumping off from a single frame of a science fiction film or television show. If you would like to contribute to the series or learn more, email us at imagination@asu.edu.