Monday, 1 February 2010

BBC Virtual Revolution (#bbcrevolution) four-part documentary about the internet [Review]

New BBC series the Virtual Revolution aims to tell ‘the story of the web, but also the story of how the web is re-inventing our world.’ Presented by (Guardian Technology writer) Doctor Aleks Krotoski, the first episode was like a who’s who of the internet.

The explanation of how the web has evolved saw visits to cities across the globe and interviews with a formidable collection of guests – Bill Gates, Al Gore, Steve Wosniak, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Mark Zuckerberg, Chad Hurley, Arianna Huffington, Stephen Fry, Sean Fanning, Jimmy Wales, Charles Leadbetter and Andrew Keen – to name a few!

The first episode was mainly focussed on the history of the internet. We heard from the main players (Tim Berners-Lees' boss originally described the idea of the internet as 'vaguely interesting'), learnt how the web evolved and from an 8m sample of the 35m daily internet users in Britain we picked up facts like:

- £1bn is spent online in the UK each week (source: ONS / Experian Hitwise / Comscore Aug 09)
- The most active e-shoppers are in Swansea
- 5m in the UK are using a dating website every month
- 38m Google Searches in the UK each month
- 1 in 3 UK people have a Facebook account
- 21m UK visits to Ebay each month
- 16m UK visits to Amazon each month
- 18m people in the UK read blogs (with the most active blog readers in West London and the least active in Dumfries)

Episode 1 was called ‘The Great Levelling’ and the official pre-titles film can be seen on YouTube here:

For people in the UK, (for the time being) episode 1 of Virtual Revolution can be seen on the BBC iPlayer here.

The Virtual Revolution is not just a TV series though. There is host of content available on the Virtual Revolution BBC website and the obligatory Virtual Revolution blog is here, however the thing that really makes this documentary stand out is that a large amount of content has been made available under a permissive licence. For personal use, site visitors have been granted download rights to interview clips, music backing, graphics and trails, city footage videos, making of information and more.

(Full interview gallery is here

Users have even been encouraged to make their own trailers and re-load back to YouTube (with winning submissions being embedded to BBC properties). This is one of the shortlisted Virtual Revolution films:

The first episode was slick, well put together and acts as a great introduction to web history. I'm looking forward to episode 2 already - let me know what you thought of the first programme in the comments below (and can anyone outside the UK watch any of this?)

Well done BBC.

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1 comment:

Stu Carey said...

Great to see the BBC covering this subject. I haven't checked out the online content yet but it sounds as though I should. My thoughts on the first episode here: Mind Mole
I've been quite critical, but I'm a student and we're encouraged to be. Looking forward to the next episode