Bringing the internet to every individual in the UK

Go ON UK is a new organisation which aims to bring the internet to every individual in every community across the UK. Saul Nassé, Controller, BBC Learning attended the launch event introduced by UK Digital Champion Martha Lane Fox. Saul blogs about the project and the BBC's involvement here.

I've just returned from a holiday in China where I tried a new experiment. I decided to take a basic mobile with me - no laptop, no tablet, no smartphone. Only books, and photocopies from a guidebook.

The idea was a proper break from work emails, to catch up on novels I'd bought but not read, and to have quality conversations with my wife instead of spending the time playing her at online Scrabble.

All that worked, it was a brilliant holiday. But boy was it like going back in time not having the internet at my fingertips. I couldn't discover the history of Chiang Kai-Shek when my interest was piqued by a place he'd visited, find out the address of a restaurant I'd heard about in Beijing, or even check in for our flight back to the UK.

The experience made me reflect on how much the internet has become part of the warp and weft of most people's lives, in work and play. But it is most, not all. That's why I am really pleased that the BBC is part of a new organisation, Go ON UK, which launched yesterday.

UK Digital Champion Martha Lane Fox introduced the Go On UK launch event on Monday 23 April 2012.

Along with partners Age UK, E.ON, Big Lottery Fund, Lloyds Banking Group, the Post Office and Talk Talk, we've pledged to work together to bring the benefits of the internet to every individual and organisation in the UK.

It's a really important endeavour, as there are more than eight million adults in the UK who are still not online. If you're not on the internet you're not just missing out on online Scrabble, but access to the information and education that can change your life - as well as a stack of cash savings you can increasingly only access online.

I think the BBC can play a really important part alongside its partners to help people get online, by raising awareness and giving a helping hand. This summer we'll be bringing back our successful Give an Hour campaign to encourage people to help others make the most of the BBC's Olympic coverage on the web. We want people to join celebrities from the world of sport in giving an hour of their time to help others enjoy the Games online.

But we don't want to stop at simply getting people online. The internet's more and more a place where the more you put in, the more you get out. So we want to help build people's skills to make the most of the web, whether it's helping them learn to shop online, participate in social networks, or make the kind of films that the BBC used to think only it could produce.

On that trip to China, I saw the incredible investment that is being made in 21st century infrastructure, and how it's driving the country's significant growth. The investment we can make in creating digital skills can be just as significant for the UK. By working with Go ON UK and partners, we hope we can reach every sector of society and help ensure the UK is truly the most digitally literate country in the world.

Saul Nassé is Controller, BBC Learning


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