Having been very critical of the first episode of this B.B.C. series (see my earlier blog post), I was hoping that the second episode would improve.
I am pleased to say that it did. It still did not tell me a lot that I didn’t already know except for the surprisingly clear explanation about how the internet works by cutting up information into smaller “chunks” that then finds its way around the various routes that make up the world wide web network.
I was very interested in the visit to one of the 13 internet “vaults” that store much of the worlds websites and which is highly protected against electronic failure or attack from outside.
The programme built up a good argument that the internet was originally conceived to be free from centralised attack from an enemy (in those days the U.S.S.R.) and that due to this lack of a central core it was, from the onset, decentralised and therefore difficult to control by Governments.
There was some interesting material on the role that Twitter played in the Iranian elections and then there was one of the “geekiest” people I have ever seen telling us how he created a program to unblock the efforts of regimes such as Iran to stop their citizens getting messages out about the horrible treatment of their political protestors.
The bit about China and the way that the State plays a strange game of needing the internet for commercial reasons but fearing it for political ones was good.
Then they went on to the dark side of the net. The threat from organised international groups of terrorists such as Al Quayeda. Again, this did not really come up with anything startlingly new but it did show us how the freedom of the web can allow those who want to misuse it for evil ends to be able to do so. The attack on Estonia was a typical example of this.
I think that the political implications of the “Flat World” of Thomas Friedman are profound and they will increasingly lead to a change in the concept of the nation-state. I am though, incredibly optimistic about the potential of the web to lead to a new “global awareness” and eventually true “global citizenship”. In this respect I feel that the “Virtual Revolution” programme needs to look at the role of education in this and the efforts that have already been made to allow students to co-operate and collaborate worldwide.
In an earlier post I talked about the work that has been done by Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay with “The Flat Classroom Project” I have added the video of their 2009 Conference from Qatar. I think this is the sort of thing that would give a different perspective for the viewing public on the potential for political change of the “Virtual Revolution”.