Virtual Revolution episode 1

I watched last night’s heavily hyped BBC “web 2.0” programme with a lot of expectation. I have to say that I was very disappointed.

Throughout this blog I have been writing about my learning and how the web has opened out my horizons and led me to avenues of discovery that have changed my perceptions as well as giving me information. This programme taught me nothing that I didn’t know before and had on “the usual suspects” to give us the wise words about how we got here and where we might be going and the difficulties that we might encounter on the way.

I appreciate that I am an enthusiast… hence this blog and therefore the Beeb has decided that it needs to explain the Web to “the ordinary man in the street”… but my question is… who is “the man in the street”? These days he is possibly a Twitterer, he may be on Facebook or at least his children are, he probably has a laptop or a P.C. at home, he almost certainly uses one in relation to his work and he is pretty certain to have a mobile phone which may well have internet capability.

The world has changed therefore from the days many years ago when I used to watch the B.B.C. series “Horizon” and marvel at the great experts speaking from on high and telling us fascinating developments in technology or science (some of  which never actually came about or had the impact that the programme had foreseen).

One of the key ways that the world has changed is in the accessibility to information that the web has thrown up and, importantly, the freeing up of otherwise chained down information that was accessible to only a chosen select few.

The excitement to me of web 2.0 is the connectivity that it has produced and the way it has promoted  the chance to become a part of a network. I feel that the  chance to explore the potential of networks was missed in this programme in favour of a rather rushed history lesson and the general thesis about revolution and counter revolution which I thought was too simplistic.

I wondered about the size of the carbon footprint that was made by having to shoot a scene in San Francisco when nearly everyone now could be interviewed online. Indeed I have witnessed some fascinating interviews on the web which were shot in an expert’s office or lounge. I suppose that there is still the feeling in any film by big T.V. companies that there needs to be glamorous settings (why do I think I have seen that view of San Francisco and its famous steep streets and trams so many times?).

They touched upon the art of blogging and then stated that there had been a steep decline in it since the initial great enthusiasm a few years ago. I would disagree with this (I would wouldn’t I since I am writing this in my blog). I feel that blogging has been a glorious opportunity,as one of the most sensible suggestions that was made in this programme, to allow anyone to actually gain an audience and express their thoughts. It has also provided the basis for the transfer of information and the possibilities of collaboration.

I have a blog tracker attached to this blog and know that my blog posts have been seen all over the world. It may not be by millions or even thousands or maybe hundreds (I sometimes make 10’s!) but it is seen and it is read….therefore it has an audience and this is the case for all my fellow bloggers. I feel that blogging in terms of numbers may have declined since its launch but the quality of the blog has increased along with what you can find from them.

The creation of Wikis has also widened the input into the knowledge base that was once controlled by the few. The opening out of universities with lectures online and of course the growth of “You Tube” as repository for videos of all sorts has led to an explosion of knowledge. This is not to say that all of it is worthwhile and I am not for a second thinking that this blog entry will go down in history as a major work of art or great contributor to human knowledge. It is though my authentic voice and there are millions of voices out there who are now a part of the great “learning revolution”.

I felt that this programme did not really add to my knowledge and therefore I had spent time on it that I could have spent online maybe watching a lecture from an esteemed expert on some aspect of history or politics that I am interested in or reading one of the many blogs that I try to get around to reading because I really value them and the information and links that they give me. Or maybe I could have spent the time on Twitter and picked up many valuable links to websites which would have led me to find new ideas or applications or I could have had a chat with one of the many educators whose ideas I appreciate and who have helped me to develop my own thoughts.

The B.B.C. needs to be aware that they are in competition with the web as a provider of entertainment and information. If they are to make us use an hour productively watching their product then they need to widen my horizons and tell me something new or challenging…. I heard no mention of Second Life in the programme… personally I find the whole thing off putting but it is surely worth looking at in terms of the future of the web and indeed our future.

I will be watching episode 2 in hope rather than belief that it will be a worthwhile experience. I am, despite the things I have written above, a great fan of the B.B.C. I think their website is a marvel and has led the way in showing the potential of the web. I have always watched their amazing output of programmes, which are consistently of a high quality that has become associated with the name of the B.B.C. I am a proud Brit who is aware of the role that the B.B.C. has taken as a pathbreaker in the world of both radio and television broadcasting. I suppose it is their past excellence that leads us to expect such high quality from them. Episode 2 may return to the quality that I have always expected from them, I will no doubt be blogging about how brilliant it was next Sunday morning…. watch this space!

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