The Virtual Revolution

The BBC’s latest technology documentary was most probably not aimed at teenage girls. Yet I have really enjoyed The Virtual Revolution.

A series made up of four hour long programmes each focussing on different areas of progress/concern within this new fangled invention that we like to call the Internet.  Presented by Dr Aleks Krotoski, the sheer amount of knowledge that it makes accessible to a wider audience is really impressive. And as for those who comment on the issues in between the shots of Aleks in the same blue dress in nearly every technologically advanced city throughout the world? Why, the Beeb must have some good connections/persuading skills money to entice the creator of the Internet itself, Tim Berners-Lee, alongside Bill Gates (Microsoft) and Steve Wozniak (Apple) to suggest their own opinions on the dominance of the internet. Oh, and quite simply for the fact that the programme comes with it’s very own hash tag (#bbcrevolution), how on earth could I not become immersed in it?

Episode One looked at how anyone can leave their footprint permanently on the web, with sites such as Wikipedia and YouTube allowing anyone to upload freely whatever content they wish (until it is removed for huge inaccuracies in the case of the former, or for copyright issues or generally breaking the law in the case of the latter). Additionally, the programme looks at the rise of blogs and how they give a voice to anyone who wants one – something that we must thank the internet for providing an outlet for people to communicate in ways which would otherwise be impossible. Take the example of the Iranian conflict. Twitter became a great way of sharing the real stories behind the news reports with hash tags and twibbons being used to show support.

Politics are paid particular attention to in the second episode, whilst ‘The Cost of Free’ tells the truth about how easily accessible everything we post on the internet is and how it can be used against us. Search Engines like the formidable Google can track all our searches and form targeted ads specifically for us. This doesn’t worry me massively, but the fact that they can work out who you are and the intimacies of your life by tracking all the searches from you IP address proves to be a little more worrying.

Having enjoyed the first three episodes, the most interesting and relevant episode for me would have to be the final show. ‘Homo Interneticus?’ poses the question that a new generation of web savvy youngsters have been born who spend up to 18 (yes, EIGHTEEN) hours a day in front of a screen. Yes, I always joke about being addicted to twitter and checking my emails, but even I find it absurd that a young person can waste so many hours of a day being so inactive. The rise of social networking is a topic that’s regularly been covered in the media to much rolling of eyes from the teenagers themselves. However, this programme does show the issue in a less biased way with Stephen Fry proclaiming that adults should not moan at the youths for using these services as, had they been around in his childhood, he believes that they’d have been just as popular. It’s just a new media that scares the older generations because we, the supposed yobs of society, know how to use the internet better than our parents.

Ultimately, this is a great series. I’m not saying that other teens will enjoy it (I don’t think everyone is quite as obsessive with the web as me) but I reckon it’d be of interest to a lot of people. So thank you #bbcrevolution for providing me with four hours of knowledge and insightful information. I might not have been your target audience, yet your programme managed to really influence me.


3 comments so far

  1. Aleks on

    What an absolutely amazing review. I’m so pleased you enjoyed the series and that it has managed to reach a teenage audience. that is, frankly, the best result we could have possibly hoped for.


  2. Dan Biddle on

    Hi @catherineelaine – many thanks for watching, enjoying and commenting on the Virtual Revolution series. It’s always interesting to hear others’ perspectives on the series and, more importantly, the issues it raises.

    Interesting that you’re a blogging teenager and self-confessed web fan, but find the potential of 18 hours a day online for your peers an absurd possibility. Seems to support Stephen Fry’s more upbeat reading of the web’s benefits rather than its ills 🙂


  3. Nahum on

    I’ll be honest now, i didn’t watch the series, but your review has made me think that i probably missed out. It sounds like a really thought provoking series. I fear i will be joining your web addiction and spend the next few hours of my life on iplayer…


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