I MUST MAKE a confession: I can't judge documentaries. Or should I say, I can't judge documentaries in the way I judge fiction. The reason being that the pleasure of fiction, which can be about anything (the assassination of JFK, the rivalry between Francois I and Charles V, or a perfect storm that kills a bunch of desperate fishermen), is in how the story is told rather than its content. With a documentary, however, it's all content. So if a documentary is about the rotund jazz bassist Charles Mingus, I'll watch it--if I may borrow an expression from Ol' Dirty Bastard--"no matter what it was!" But if a documentary is about the British Parliament, I'll skip it quick, even if it's directed by James Cameron.

Better Living through Circuitry is a documentary about something I happen to be interested in: the rave scene in North America. It is made by Jon Reiss (which is a matter of no consequence, as I'm concerned only with the content, and not the shape of this thing), and contains digital footage of young, high, and happy dancers who are satanically possessed by the throb and thump of techno music. The documentary also has interviews with the big (indeed the biggest) names of the rave and electronic music scene.

Now, I will watch any documentary that has interviews with the great Wolfgang Flur of Kraftwerk, the brilliant jungle/jazz master Roni Size, the Afro-futurist DJ Spooky, and Scanner. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the problem: How can I pass judgment on this documentary when it's clearly not a matter of art, but information? It's all very personal, you will agree? Do I want the information or not? If I don't want it, then I suppose I have no other choice than to call it a bad documentary; if I do want the information, then it is a beautiful documentary. Which reminds me of something the famous Russian semiotician Juri Lotman once said: "Beauty is information." Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.