Last Saturday, the final episode of BBC2's Virtual Revolution series completed its four-hour struggle to articulate the pros and cons of our new, connected, instant access world.

Much was made of the familiar theme of how new technology allows anyone with something - or indeed, nothing - to say to reach a global audience for free. The little guy gets a big voice.


Virtual Revolution sliced and diced a host of distinguished talking heads - Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Al Gore, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates - to illustrate its thesis. 

But how much longer will big names agree to take part on those terms? 

Programme-makers may look back on these as the good old days, when a media brand like the BBC was still thought worth spending time with, on the promise of access to its audience and contributing to a quality product.

Bill Gates' new website may be showing the way of the future. On it, he can be heard expounding his views on the future of energy in conversation with his own Chief of Staff, Larry Cohen. The danger to programme-makers is that Cohen and Gates will compare the value of the two half-hours: being interviewed by the BBC versus their own recorded conversation. 

Neither occasion either cost or earned them any money. But their own conversation is available in its entirety to the whole world for download on Gates' website, whereas the filmed interview is mediated by the Virtual Revolution production team, with only tiny snippets making it to air, and then only when and to whom the BBC makes the programme accessible. (In fact, perhaps as a nod towards this point, Virtual Revolution made longer versions of many of its interviews available online, although, for some reason, not Gates'.)

So it is not just the little guy who is finding a new voice through technology. Even Bill Gates is being liberated from the constraints of big media. 

If you enjoyed his podcasts and want more of Gates on energy, there's already his recent (again unmediated) presentation at the TED conference. Or, for a daily dose, there's the inevitable Bill Gates Twitter feed (latest: "Off to Antarctica, will try to send notes").

Traditional media may be in transition, from once vital and prestigious channels of access, to a new role as the vulnerable middle man. 

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