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revolution round-up: week eight - team one flies out (Video)

The Digital Revolution project just gets better and better to be involved with. The input from guest bloggers and the incredible standard of comments from our users are proving invaluable, both in terms of their information content and their inspiring nature for our production.

As ever, this is my attempt to pull the ideas and the arguments together from another busy week.

The big news for us in the office this week was the departure of the programme one team to start their filming. Things have been manic as the TV production really hit a higher gear in preparation for the flights out this morning - Friday 5 September 2009. If you've been following the tweets and pics, you'll have seen snapshots of the test shoots and last minute script debates, but we managed to grab presenter Aleks Krotoski and director Philip Smith for a quick idea of the mission ahead:

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While the team is out in the field filming, Philip and Assistant Producer Tilly will be tweeting wherever possible on our @BBCDigRev Twitter account. You can also follow the fireworks (literally perhaps, when in New Mexico) via Aleks's Digital Revolution-tagged Flickr stream and her video blogs which we should start getting back from location next week.

Or even sooner, if ~Phil's recent Tweet is anything to go by!

***

Meanwhile, away from the panic and planning of programme production, we have enjoyed a healthy, informed and informative debate across the themes of the series.

Programme three - the cost of free

Chris Anderson's videos have consistently sparked argument, and his latest on the subject of the internet as the world's first 'free' medium has again proved provocative. Chris argues that the costs of production (and dissemination) of media across the net are so low now as to afford a sustainable medium of free content; however this has been met with a number of rebuttles from @SheffTim and @A_PERSON_NOT_A_BOT that we in fact pay for 'free' internet content in numerous ways - utilities such as the Internet Service Provider charge and electricity itself to allow you to run the machines that access the free content.

@A_PERSON_NOT_A_BOT makes a number of compelling arguments against Anderson's 'free' model, one of which tackles the fees charged by 'talent': 'Chris Anderson argues for "free" at a time when, not only Murdoch and other media giants like Google/YouTube are examining more sophisticated pay business models, the likes of Simon Cowell were reported to be in negotiations to earn US$144 million PER YEAR to continue with American Idol, which arguably has the biggest viewing audience (and advertisers' dream) in the US. More than Wired.com enjoys, for sure!'

On Twitter we asked 'Re free content / services - what would you NOT pay for online? ie: if provider started charging you'd walk away or switch?' To which we received a good number of responses including:







There have been a series of discussions around, not only free content, but (by association) free labour - be that through the efforts and diligence of the Open Source movement building free systems and web tools such as Linux, or the kind of crowdsourcing and group effort in evidence here on the Digital Revolution production.

@TaiwanChallenges offers 'a very interesting observation I came across recently is that extrinsic motivations (eg money) apparently lead to poorer outcomes than intrinsic motivations such as the joy of doing the task.' Following up with Dan Pink's TED talk on the problems of incentivised tasks.

Adding to Aleks' original thinking around the web's use of our data @TaiwanChallenges also offers: 'Most 'free' services are offered by people with something to sell, making use of their knowledge of how our minds work to change our behaviour. This much is verifiable fact. [...] we consent to be manipulated by people who want to redistribute wealth in their own favour, in exchange for services that are probably inferior to those that could be provided by by people who just want to make the world a better place.'

Although, this is then tempered by questioning the beneficiaries of the reCaptcha spambot busting / book digitising 'human computing' developed by Luis von Ahn (and described in his recent blog post).

Very much in line with the issues around privacy, @TaiwanChallenges also shared his proposal for a Data Haven to address the issue of identity and personal data being exploited - adding a layer of control (or at least choice) to the web user. What do you think about that idea?

Programme four - is the web changing us?

Programme four will introduce its themes next week, but as its main preoccupation lies with the effects the web is having upon human beings, these ideas are often touched upon throughout the discussions.

The issue of the web and internet in schools was raised some time ago on the blogs, with a degree of concern and scepticism, while recent resurgence of education and schools developing with the web has been more interested in the positive outcomes.

Programme four is indeed looking for UK schools that already connect with schools across the globe - preferably in South Korea or China - though @TaiwanChallenges may provide a link to Taiwanese schools for the programme.

Programme two - nations and the web

The programme two team are hoping to make contact with people who were principle disseminators of the information coming out of Iran via Twitter and/or blogs during the recent disputed elections. A request sent out on Twitter met with some anxious queries as to our motives and the public request for this information.

We should be clear that we are only looking for information that was already in the public domain - ie in the blogosphere or on the public Twitter stream at the time of the events. We are not looking to compromise the safety of individuals within Iran; rather we want to talk to people who were active players in the transmission of information which became such a widely reported phenomenon and was an example of the internet making it harder for people to get away with killing each other.

So, with that clarified, we're still looking for people in the UK or US who were receiving and spreading further the news coming out of Iran at that time. As ever, you can contact us confidentially via our contact us form.

Experiments

@TaiwanChallenges (who, if we were giving out prizes for contributions, would definitely be a strong contender) suggested a Google Bomb. This, I think, leaves us on similar ground to the ethical difficulties of propagating a lie online, and again, as @SheffTim points out, it is something we could probably observe already in action online rather than instigate (@SheffTim also pointed us towards Google's most recent April Fool page, which was good fun.)

We continue to look for ways to a) map the web, and b) visualise that map. If anyone has an idea as to how we could approach that, be it in strata (blogosphere, infosphere etc.) or another route, we'd be most grateful for a steer. Interesting ideas came from discussions about the web as an evolving, self-organising entity - which led me to considering visualising the web as an anatomy rather than a geogrraphy - each user performing a variety of roles (Wikipedian deletionists as white blood cells for instance), all making up and working as organs within the larger bodily whole of the web.

Then I had a cup of tea and tried to stop thinking about it...!

Next week: programme four's themes are introduced in greater detail; Baroness Susan Greenfield shares her concerns for our brains under the web's influence; Nicholas Carr offers his thoughts on the loss of the contemplative mind.

As ever - many thanks for all your interest and support.


Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    "which led me to considering visualising the web as an anatomy rather than a geography"

    Perhaps an ecosystem such as a coral reef or rainforest?
    This dispenses with the need for a controlling 'mind'; though I can see the attractions the central nervous system, arteries, viruses, antibodies etc that a physical body have.
    I doubt there is a perfect, exact analogy.

  • Comment number 2.

    SheffTim, did you make the above comment before reading this article?
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8238462.stm

    If so, you're a genius.

  • Comment number 3.

    I swore I would give you guys a break and stay away from this blog for a few days, but that article about using PageRank to map interdependency between species has got me too excited. Amazingly it was published at almost the same time as SheffTim was using the analogy of the web as an ecosystem. (I love the reef idea, btw.) We've clearly moved on from thinking about 'the web' as a thing.

    I think there are a few threads here that can be tied together. Not only can we look at mapping the web using this concept, we can probably find an answer to the question about breaking it too. There may be an experiment or two to be done as well.

    First, we need someone who knows more about chaos theory than I do. My simplistic understanding is that you can model all sorts of things using simple recursive algorithms which feed the outputs from one iteration into the next to give you values which vary as you move forward. Using this method we can model apparently random fluctuations in species populations, share prices, weather, the paths taken by rivers as they meander, and much much more. The models are rarely useful for long range prediction because we can't measure all the variables accurately enough, but they explain how things happen.

    It's fascinating that species interact in a way that can be modeled using software developed to track how websites interact. Does this mean that the web is a chaotic system? Cool. But this quote is even more exciting: "The scientists say their version of PageRank could be a simple way of working out which extinctions would lead to ecosystem collapse. Every species is embedded in a complex network of relationships with others. So a single extinction can cascade into the loss of seemingly unrelated species. "

    OK, so it's no secret that some websites are enormously influential. But if the correlation is correct, does it mean that losing those sites would have a catastrophic effect on the web as we know it? I ask because many of those key sites are not profitable, and there seems to be a strong cynicism about the idea that they will one day start earning their keep. If the funding dries up, will the key sites implode and take most of the web with them? It would be like removing the key communication nodes from a brain, nothing would connect to anything else any more.

    But enough about the big companies, let's focus on individuals for a moment. Here are some interesting statistics: "There are about 1.1 billion Internet users, yet only 55 million users (5%) have weblogs according to Technorati. Worse, there are only 1.6 million postings per day; because some people post multiple times per day, only 0.1% of users post daily. Inequalities are also found on Wikipedia, where more than 99% of users are lurkers. Wikipedia's most active 1,000 people — 0.003% of its users — contribute about two-thirds of the site's edits."
    (http://www.useit.com/alertbox/participation_inequality.html%29

    So, a very small number of people are actually responsible for the majority of the content out there. It's a variety of pareto.

    Staying with our ecology analogy, I am going to compare those very few people who create most of the free content out there with bees. They do the work that everyone else depends on to make things happen. Bees are in the news because they seem to be dying out, and without them there will be no pollination of plants so no food for people and animals, and no more plants. This new application of PageRank presumably allows us to figure out which species would be impacted by the loss of the bees. Can the original PageRank tell us what would happen without a tiny minority of people producing the majority of content on the internet for free?

    I'm intrigued by A_PERSON_NOT_A_BOT's comments to the effect that eventually people are going to get tired of creating free content for the benefit of commercial organisations. Especially as they don't even have proper business plans. If normal economics do reassert themselves, then we're not only facing the loss of the key sites that hold the web together. We're facing the loss of the worker bees, the tiny minority that actually produces anything.

    The web is not some great big participative democracy. It's a complex system in which a relatively small number of players have hugely disproportionate influence. What happens if the 0.003% of users who create 2/3 of Wikipedia ever decide they're not going to contribute any more? Would a new minority step into the breach or would the web become a wasteland?

    Using the techniques I described in a reply to your call for experiments, would it be possible to look for commonalities within this tiny subpopulation that is driving the growth? Could we identify and rank every username by post-count or megabytes uploaded to youtube?

    It would be good to know what makes them (us!) tick so that the rich companies can figure out new ways of exploiting the worker bees.

  • Comment number 4.

    Thanks for noting I provide compelling arguments vis-à-vis Chris Anderson's 'theory of free'.

    [For the curious, I have studied economics, econometrics and mathematics at degree level --- including 99% for probability + statistics --- so my ability to sanity check Chris Anderson's "longtail" and "frenomics" may be fairly different from most. Plus I code and was co-responsible for a strategic tech investment portfolio in a Tier 1 bank AND I created, edited and project managed an integrated news+collaboration platform which all helps too.]

    Why is the pay or no play debate important? Well, Vint Cerf himself has pointed out that we need to do "more than talk" about global consciousness and climate change issues. WE NEED TO FIND WORKABLE INCENTIVE MODELS. That's corporate language for some form of payment --- in cash / in kind --- for online participation from us, the ordinary netizen.

    I believe this is a good way forward and will encourage true democracy and competitiveness in our quest for online quality rather than swamps of ad spam or unhelpful content.

    Sure, it's all very well for more of us to have cheaper Internet access and a certain latitude with freedom of expression. However, there still need to be some qualitative value filters which enable us to (what I would call) "coalesce" content, contributions and contributors which are more relevant and insightful than others.

    For that we'd be prepared to pay and be paid for.

    I didn't find out about the BBC Digital Revolution series until last week, so am a relative late arriver to the debates. TaiwanChallenges's comments about perceptions and how the Web is affecting our brains is personally interesting.

    Two weeks before, I completed my segment of a full-length documentary on consciousness --- specifically consciousness on the Internet and whether the "Global Brain" proposed in the future of the Internet will enable us to proxy the real human brain, increase intelligent collaboration, make sense, solve global issues like climate change and the possible location of consciousness in our DNA synaptic networks.

    When I say completed, I mean I was interviewed. I also demonstrated my 360-2020 perception and values solution, which is designed to fundamentally disrupt the way online advertising currently works. It's something which has been organically formulating in my brain for many years --- in part because of professional experiences, in part because of my cultural heritage which affects my perception of language, scientific thinking and most inputs (I'm Chinese), and in part because of intellectual curiosity.

    The issues of right versus left brain, child compared with adult modus of thinking, inherited mathematical-metaphysical reductivist approaches compared with holistic biochem DNA mechanisms, East-West differences, semiotics, the economic model paradox between profit and corporate social responsibility are all covered in my interview.

    One of the other contributors is Antony Gormley. The other is a professor of mathematics who'd previously argued that human consciousness is grounded by our interest and exposure to numbers and quantifier.

    Well, I said, "We can't quantify LOVE." That's one example of mathematical science and linear computations not having all the answers. That surely shows us that QUALITATIVE PERCEPTIONS are at play as well as biochemicals.

    Now, if we adopt a pure mathematical-metaphysical approach to everything from our global financial systems to how we educate youngsters about online usage --- particularly since Professor Susan Greenfield has expressed concerns about how it may be having a detrimental effect on their brains:

    * http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1153583/Social-websites-harm-childrens-brains-Chilling-warning-parents-neuroscientist.html

    WE WILL BE MISSING OUT ON DISCOVERING SOME REALLY SMART SOLUTIONS.

    It's my belief that what we need is to cross-pollinate our quantitative (aka mathematical) approaches with some holistic qualitative approaches which are in evidence in biochemistry, such as the way DNA or any organic mechanism works. We really will benefit from perceiving the Internet as an ecosystem rather than simply a series of hyperlinks, document files etc.

    Web 1.0 can be analogized with the discovery of carbon in its graphite form --- simply sheets of documents.

    Web 2.0 is the equivalent of carbon as the diamond --- there's more structure, clusters (aka social networks) are being formed.

    However, what we really want to get to is carbon as it sits and interacts organically within.......DNA.

    Anyway, the full-length documentary will make the rounds of the film festivals in due course.


    *****************************

    As for gamers, when I was a kid I played LOTS OF GAMES (chess, Rubik cubes, card games, electronic handheld "catch the falling birds", jigsaws, crosswords, Dungeons+Dragons style problem solving).

    MMORG (metaverse / virtual / augmented reality games) are said to be affecting our brains and remapping our synapses and attention spans.

    Actually the likes of World of Warcraft can be effective tools to develop collaboration and problem-solving skills in the same way as chess teaches our brains about the connectedness of all the pieces and how, strategically, we need to cooperate to succeed in a challenge.

    As with everything, it's a matter of TARGETED APPLICATION AND BRAIN TRAINING. To wholesale tar them as "mind-numbing" or "intelligence destroying" is to miss out on opportunities to harness them appropriately.

    There's a LOT about the Web we still need to work out, collectively (and, hopefully, sensibly). it's a great journey of discovery and evolved thinking+being+doing.

  • Comment number 5.

    Wrt "mapping the Web" a few suggestions:

    (1.) Contact me and I'll send my visual graphic on the timeline of the Web which includes projections about the Semantic Web and the Semantic OS.


    (2.) [Personal details removed by Moderator]
    ===========================

    * http://debategraph.org/

    It's a very strong visualization and collaboration tool. I'll also flag David about BBC Digital Revolution and how debategraph will really help on the visuals side. They did one on "What Obama Should Do Next?" that was made available to the Independent online:

    * http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/article1022466.ece

    Also after I wrote that the Linking Open Data diagram was a spore and needed to look more structured like an organic molecule, David re-imagined it to this:

    * http://debategraph.org/flash/fv.aspx?r=18702&sc=small


    (3.) Imagine the Net like a brain.


    For me, anything which maps the Web like the human body / DNA / organic ecosystem makes more sense than mapping it like 'Risk' geography. We really do want to strive towards some holistic, organic and collective evolution of it rather than for it to resemble country-specific or nationalistic boundaries.

    The body and the brain way of visualization would enable us to appreciate the interdependency and connectedness of each moving element.

  • Comment number 6.

    if you model the visuals like a brain, I recently did a diagram of consciousness and what I think are its constituents:

    * cognisance
    * coherence
    * communication
    * creativity
    * command/control
    * consideration
    * collaboration
    * culture

    If we examine the history of the Web, coders started with the command / control functionality. This still forms the core of how sites section and gate off different servers and clusters of user accounts. Over time, the communication node and layer has been built up (think emails, threads, IM). Following this arrived collaboration tools (think Wikipedia, wordpress mu, Typepad). Cognisance appeared when people were able to post avatars and photos with which to identify themselves to a social group. It's also extended to the whole "Social Graph" and recommendations ecology and leads towards RDFs and KR (knowledge representation).

    With the Semantic Web, what's being sought is coherence. This is a more structured and unified way for humans and machines to understand the content being input, searched, surfaced and exchanged.

    The next stage will be to factor in culture context (particularly language, perception, values, concerns about global issues --- differences and commonalities).

    Finally, we can start being truly creative on and with the Web.

    All of this is a holistic approach to our own consciousness as a species, on+off line.

  • Comment number 7.

    Mapping the web and depicting it is a conceptual argument as we have yet any monitoring system in place that monitors and maps all nodes of the whole. It would be very interesting to have one but we do not as of yet. One day I think we will have. But for now it is a mystery and has its own mysteries such as dark IPs and blackholes (although that are not that mysterious).

    This is probably about how the web could affect us in the future and it is not focused on the benefit but on some potentially important factors that I did not seem to read much about, some yes, often? No.

    I personally think we need exactly that, a realtime “map” of the Internet. Something that monitors as many nodes as possible (if not all) in order to trend what is happening on the Net in near realtime. This would be greatly beneficial to security seeing patterns change in machines’ functional footprints, e.g. CPU usage, number of processes and hours they have run, etc. This could be extremely useful in coming years in assisting us to detect and see any changes if a technological singularity were to emerge. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that should a technological singularity indeed emerge, like other evolutionary process it may go through some initial emerging phases where all of a sudden some machines in some part or part/s of the world all suddenly and seemingly inexplicably light up and CPUs all simultaneously go through the roof for some period. Seeing this would be perhaps give us advance knowledge of the possible emergence of a technological singularity.

    Although the Internet is looked upon with awe and wonder, we tend to forget it is making us totally reliant on a single point of failure, the very Internet itself. Our modern, developed societies are so dependent of the Internet today that any major disruption could be catastrophic to normal social function.

    Although we technologically advance at a hurtling rate, we have been here before, we can never foresee the longer term effects of our own creations. They bring much social benefit but they can also bring very unseen turns of events as well.

    I must openly admit, having trained in environmental science and ecology and converting to systems administration and infrastructure management 13 years ago, I see all of this we are discussing here as an evolutionary event unlike any we have experienced before, it is always so with evolutionary events.

    And not too far in the future we are a faced with a possible event that may change our societies, lifestyles and experiences forever. However we await and discuss that event with much positivity and intrigue. I find it a little worrying that we do not seem to thinking about the possibilities that could occur. Is it not possible that the advent of a singularity could literally break everything we do in technology, whether the emergence worked or failed? Is it at all possible it might just break everything, fry circuits, swamp networks with traffic? And if it works, what then? That is very hard for us to say, as we have no understanding of how any other organism on this planet perceives the universe around them. Why should it be different in the case of a technological singularity? What will it value? What will it aspire to? Will it consider us? Perhaps at the beginning, if it did emerge, it might be “primitive” and not understand our purposes and maybe it will just stop doing then. It would not have to stop for long to cause huge disruption and then what?

    I stand in awe of the world around me and our ever increasing accomplishments, innovation and constant discovery and creation. However, just because it is so now, it may be different down the line. This is not doom-mongering, just thinking about what could happen. I personally love to hear and read Ray Kurzweil and Dr Aubrey de Grey, I believe that all they propose is probably possible along a non-disruption timeline. However, these things fascinating as, they are seem only to have the other side of the coin examined by science-ficition and conspiracy theorists and people generally considered nutters and doommongers.

    However, the unthinkable is possible and when you think in evolutionary terms, everything does not necessarily always have to turn out rosy. The evolutionary process does not necessarily operate on right or wrong or good and bad, but on function. Sometimes it does not work or it does but that in itself can cause disruption.

    We do this because we have to, it is not possible for us to necessarily know why at this moment, and we will continue to develop, innovate and create in this “space”. Perhaps we should be watching our creation a little more closely and watching for changes.

    Last week I mentioned the Internet's single point of failure as being electricity. I guess this week I thought I would point out what is potentially modern society's greatest threat. In my humble opinion, it is quite possibly the Internet itself. I can see the likeihood of our social systems failing before the machines start to shoot us down. They may not have to.

    And if we come through a catacalysmic, social change such as that, we will have a lot less machines as the power fails, diesel generators run dry, bank ATMs stop working, water supplies fail and the entire version 1 of the technological singularity becomes the most powerful disruption in modern history, affecting billions of people.

    Yet you have to sit back and wonder at the grandeur and complexness of it all... mapping the Internet... not yet, but we should.

    @A_PERSON_NOT_A_BOT - if I may be so bold as to suggest that I think you left a key constituent off your diagram of consciousness. It may be covered in one of the "c"s but it is such an important component of our consciousness, that I believe it rates its own mention. Logic. It does not begin with a "c" but that makes it stand out and it does stand out, so perhaps that is fitting.

  • Comment number 8.

    @EARTHGECKO --- Thanks, all sanity-checking is much appreciated. Logic is covered within command/control. It's the area in the brain where we calculate our risk scenarios and when we reach certain parameters (which we scale assign to be 0=no risk, 100=extreme risk), our command/control function auto-activates and either gives us the green, amber or red lights to proceed.

    On a mathematical economics basis, it would be the type of algorithm deployed in Monte Carlo simulations which is what governs most global financial transactions. The Monte Carlo system stems from the works of Nobel Economic Prize winners, Fischer Black and Myron Scholes.

    My argument is that if we over-rely on logic and reasoning (command/control) without taking into suitable account the other components which make us work as humans, our interactions with others, our societies and our interdependent connections with Nature, then the systems which we build --- whether they're computational, economic or sociopolitical --- will be............incomplete.

    Incomplete also means non-holistic and the risks attached to this are system collapse(s).

    When the professor of mathematics argued that numbers have provided our species with answers for centuries, I said. "Numbers cannot be the be all and end all. If they were, we would NOT have experienced the current global financial crisis. Our systems would have been able to predict the stock market(s) precisely and prevent the free fall of shares, without external intervention by governments."

    The issue with economics is that its most fundamental assumptions are amiss. It assumes we're rational and make rational consumption decisions. We then create demand-supply curves and production schedules based on this logic. We then apply logic alone in the way we develop the computational risk management systems. Sure, we factor in various standard deviation risks of us not being rational, but by that stage our calculations are already based on "humans are logical" assumptions so we end up with price points and markets which seem to reach a pre-determined "logic".

    Of course, this means that bubbles (anomalies and the fact that actually humans make a combination of rational AND IRRATIONAL decisions) build up -=- unfortunately, undetected.

    At the moment, not even chaos simulation systems are sophisticated enough to capture this irrationality of human thought and behavior.

    Why not? Because we don't fully have sufficient wisdom about how biochemicals in our physiology affect our rationality or irrationality.........yet.


    Wrt mapping the Web in real-time or, say, with a Google Maps overlay with lightbulb markers to indicate when there's a surge of electricity representing an increase of machines coming online (the brighter the lightbulb the more machines are "live"), there's a current debate in the States about whether heuristic precedence (real-time) or cluster context is more effective.

    If we're talking about mapping the Web for the purposes of testing the Singularity theory, then it would probably make sense for the BBC Digital Revolution team to collaborate with the Google Earth and Google MapsReduce team to cross maps with Adobe Flex to allow us to scroll through the entire timeline of the Web over the last 20 years and in each month be able to see clusters of its development and how many people come online or added a new feature to the Web.

    However, that's quite a code project in itself and probably beyond what the BBCDigRev team can do --- given the resources they have.

    What's more pragmatically do-able is if they hire one or two Flash animators, think about the Human Body exhibition that was done @ the Millennium Stadium several years ago and take viewers into a journey of the Web that way.




  • Comment number 9.

    A_PERSON_NOT_A_BOT #4 Could you let us know the name of the documentary you contributed to. I'd like to look out for it.

    To return to the knotty (and somewhat nebulous) topic of 'Free'.

    "The more I think about free content online the less I think it’s democratizing and the more I believe it’s exploitative towards user-generator-content-collaborators and…………..Communist rather than capitalist. Capitalism may be flawed but, at least, market forces can determine the value of our content rather than fool us that all content is equal and all contributions are free."
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/digitalrevolution/2009/09/what-do-you-pay-for-anymore.shtml

    Yet within any political or economic system (throughout human history) there have always been the altruistic.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altruism_%28ethics%29

    Perhaps it may be more useful to see the Web as a mixed economy - or as a reflection of human societies - and to discuss how the web can be made more democratic, rather than whether or not it is (or could or should be) 'free'.

    Accepting that there are start-up and running costs (barriers) for having Web access at all (it is a privilege, not a universal human right) one of the reasons I, and many others, like the web is that as well as consuming (and learning from) it, it also gives us a chance to create, share and contribute.

    Amazingly the tools for such creation sharing and contributing (TB Lee's blank pages) have been provided for us: Wordpress, Yahoo Answers, Google sites, the opportunity to post comments on sites such as this, the many Have Your Says, Social Networking sites, YouTube and so on.

    The myriad of blogs and personal websites etc demonstrates that people have a natural desire to share, inform and educate. Ego driven perhaps; a need to proclaim "I think therefore I exist" may be a universal human drive - but so may be altruism and compassion. The need to communicate also appears to be a fundamental human attribute.

    How do you put a price on a website such as this for example? http://www.griefencounter.org.uk/

    Why should a third party have the right to decide if any particular site or opinion is worth funding (paying for), or even exists in the first place? (With the usual caveats of a site not promoting illegal activities etc.)

    People are prepared to contribute unselfishly, to develop their creativity and display the results in a public space, to engage with others (though some just look for an argument so as to re-enforce their own sense of self-importance), to help others, to share their knowledge and experiences, to communicate ad converse, to attempt to influence others, to feel valued, to develop their own knowledge, thinking or skills and so on.

    The ability to create or contribute for free also extends opportunities for education, collaboration and personal development' e.g.
    http://www.teach-nology.com/currenttrends/collaboration/
    https://sites.google.com/site/whworldhistory/

    Will there always be a (small) number of people willing to contribute to Wikipeadia or Yahoo Answers etc? Yes, there probably will.
    Just as there will always be people that are willing to contribute their time and expertise to charities, community groups, special interest groups or causes.
    Belongingness (and self-expression) is another drive or need that most humans have.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belongingness

    "Free isn't the way forward for online democracy. Compensation for online contributions (including thread comments) and costs for content access will be."
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/digitalrevolution/2009/09/what-do-you-pay-for-anymore.shtml

    For a democracy to thrive there has to be opportunity for everyone to have their voice heard, no matter how much or how little money they have, how inconsequential their opinion or how much at odds it is with current orthodoxy.

    Accepting that there are barriers (cost, literacy, IQ etc) that mean not everyone can take advantage of the Web, for those that can access it, the Web provides opportunities for people to create and communicate.
    That this has arisen more or less by accident is immaterial; it does now exist and attempts to restrict it should be resisted.
    This means the barriers to access - human or financial - should be kept to a minimum; there has to be spaces on the web for people to create and express themselves for as low a cost as possible - ideally for free (within the usual caveats regarding start-up and running costs of internet access.)

    Once you argue that all contributions should receive payment then that also implies that someone is given the power to judge the merits (value) or otherwise of those contributions. You start erecting barriers and exercising censorship.

    Inevitably, give human nature, some of those with that power will decide that some contributions (only those they agree with perhaps?) are more valuable than others. (Any websites' finances are not inexhaustible after all.) The playing field is no longer level, emphasis is put on pleasing the paymasters and some voices will be excluded. That is not democracy.

    "WE NEED TO FIND WORKABLE INCENTIVE MODELS. That's corporate language for some form of payment --- in cash / in kind --- for online participation from us, the ordinary netizen."
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/digitalrevolution/2009/09/revolution-roundup-week-eight.shtml

    Payment of course is nice, but I have a day job to support myself. If I choose to contribute to something, to offer an opinion, to reach out to people, to argue a case or otherwise contribute to the society around me (on the Web or in the 'real world') then that is my choice. And freedom to choose how you or I contribute also forms part of the democratic ideal.

    Active citizenship [netizenship] perhaps?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizenship

  • Comment number 10.

    @A_PERSON_NOT_A_BOT

    There is still so much to do :)

    I agree logic is not the be all and end all, however it has been very instrumental in getting us we here.

    Perhaps we over rely on logic as we have to our social structure is based on it, some times it is not correct and other factors come into play with more relevance and influence. However, I do not think that we will change the behaviour anytime soon, it has been too beneficial in the long run.

    I think there may be an argument for saying we can no longer monitor any of our global systems to any useful degree. We could also say that we never could. Back it is still working and seems to be accelerating. A bit like the accelerating expansion of the universe. Or are we just expanding the universe, by seeking to observe more of it?

    One thing is certain our consciencious continues to expand and our systems with it, almost to the extent that we have absolutely no control over them. Because as you point out to command and control, you need to understand and we quite obviously do not understand and now really due to the size and complexity, cannot. However, our combined actions and efforts continue to maintain a tenuous balance and create new at the same time.

    Holistically it would seem almost anything is possible.

  • Comment number 11.

    @SheffTim --- the director is planning to send the documentary around the global film festival circuit.

    All of your points are perfectly valid and form elements of the ongoing discussions about business models, accountability (who is responsible for "policing" or verifying content and the value of contributions), accessibility (the divide between the digiliterate and those who have neither the ISP connections to get online / can't afford to buy PC or netbook to surf and share or don't have the education yet to do so), and more that affect the shape and velocity --- speed+direction --- of the Web's development.

    What I recognize is that the Web is morphing from its Utopian origins (open, free for all, democratic, meritocratic, collaborative etc.) into new corporate economic paradigms. Sure, some of us may have initially gone online to be creative and express ourselves --- digital art is on the increase and it's incredible. Nonetheless, people of their own volition also then create supply+demand for those creations. Think of the bored housewife who registers onto Second Life to escape the humdrum of reality. She sees all the other amazing avatars. Chemicals are released in her and now she WANTS an avatar cooler than the off-the-peg one at sign up. Desire is what drives our buying decisions. So..............she befriends others and tries to gain insights on how to make her avatar cooler. She learns how to code (or collaborates with someone else who can) specifically to skill herself to be able to design cute dresses and shoes for her avatar.

    Before we know it, she's transformed her creativity into Linden and real US$. Then she starts exchanging and bartering with other developers to either collaborate and create entire outfits or to license their designs and enable her to sell it in her Second Life store. There's our market and our economics for the metaverse age.

    Likewise, people write reviews on Amazon / eBay / YouTube for fun or they blog. Before we know it, there's a book deal in place or an opportunity to be a paid comments reviewer or community manager at Amazon / eBay / platform X. It's simply the nature of our species and our innate propensity to exchange and earn value from those exchanges.

    Wrt control over valuation, at the moment there are two issues:

    (1.) At the financial level, that's determined by the company and their bankers. What makes Facebook worth US$15 billion when MS buys a 1.6 percent stake in it and then two years later be valued at US$6.5 billion when Digital Sky Technologies acquires 1.96 percent of preferred stock? In part, accounting valuation plus premium for # of active users and potential growth+innovation. In part, finger in the wind.

    (2.) At the online users level, we simply don't have the proper valuation tools yet. Let me give a simple example. Readers may decide to designate our comments with 0-5 stars or vote them "thumbs up, thumbs down". Is this a helpful way for us to value our contributions?

    I would argue, "No." The rating quantifies it but it tells us nothing about WHY we value it. That's a qualitative dimension. Here are some examples of what a 5-star rating could mean:

    * brilliant
    * perspicacious
    * spot on
    * disruptive
    * concise

    See? We could all rate a comment or piece of content 5, but its valuation actually means different things to each of us (it's dependent on our perceptions, cultural composition and experiential exposure to the comment / concept / content).

    DON'T WORRY, THOUGH! THIS HAS BEEN BUGGING ME FOR.......YEARS AND EARLIER THIS YEAR I FINALLY REACHED THE EPIPHANY/ENLIGHTENMENT, by cross-pollinating solutions from multiple disciplines. The result: my 360-2020 perception and values model which I've also managed to code for a 3D environment. Not haptic yet but it's on the to-do list.

    Wrt altruism, it's not the altruism of individuals I'm concerned with in my economic model for the future of the Web. The kindness of strangers is a random and wonderful occurrence. Instead, it's how can the economic model be reconfigured to encourage corporate altruism to work in tandem with individual altruism?

    At the moment, there are no legal requirements for companies to be charitable or be engaged with their local communities or to tie a percentage of their profits to charitable donations. It's done on an arbitrary and voluntary basis. Now, let's imagine if instead of a cap on bankers' bonuses there's a legal requirement for the firm to not only keep an adequate level of capital in their balance sheets, there's also a legal requirement of a CONTRIBUTION OPTIMIZING SOCIETY (COS) --- derived as a percentage of bonuses --- which goes towards good and charitable causes. This would be a form of altruism, programmed in as part of corporate social responsibility and ethical business.

    It is also different from corporation tax. Technologically, it's do-able and politically it makes sense. There may be some resistance, but there is an emerging school of thought that companies have to also be socially useful and responsible as much as pursue profits. Please see Lord Adair Turner's recent points as well as Harvard MBA school's code of ethics:

    * http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/980e9ec8-92f2-11de-b146-00144feabdc0.html?nclick_check=1

    * http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=528381

    As for whether online participants should and could be paid for their contributions, well "WHY NOT?" At the moment, when we click a link on Google Search the company has to pay Google for its relative ranking in the search page.

    Might it be possible for each of us to receive monthly micro-payments for our comments, content and contributions?

    YES. Who would be responsible for setting how much? We would. As soon as we rate / rank / designate a value to any item online, we would get something decided by the whole market --- us --- instead of the half or semi-skewed market currently in play --- corporates and their marketing.

    I'm all for capitalism and democracy. It's just that right now, online, it doesn't work optimally. Aspects of it are elitist, socially irresponsible, exploitative and other negatives.

    So then the challenge becomes to recognize its limitations, gauge how it's deviated from its Utopian ideals, appreciate that corporate economics is now involved, formulate some form of more holistic solution that takes into account this interdependent connectivity and............

    IMAGINE, DEVELOP AND SHARE NEW TOOLS WHICH REDRESS THE BALANCE TOWARDS THE MARKET --- US --- being responsible for the VALUES ECOSYSTEM.


    Whew!


  • Comment number 12.

    Ok, to-do's and schedules are calling which mean I won't be able to contribute more to these threads than what I have this w/e.

    @BBCDigRev team ---- a few suggestions.

    (1.) For Program 4 on identity, an interesting person to interview would be Dr. Michael Wensch of Kansas State University. He's done some insightful work (How the Machine is Us/ing Us and The Machine is (Changing) Us: YouTube and the Politics of Authenticity):

    * http://mediatedcultures.net/ksudigg/?author=1

    * http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gmP4nk0EOE

    * http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09gR6VPVrpw


    (2.) Here's an interesting fact for Program 1 + Program 2, we talk about how we as netizens have "power" (the US Presidential elections, Iran on Twitter, Cadbury's Wispa campaign on Facebook as examples). However, we are not invited into World Economic Forum or G20 or climate change events at a policy level.

    During the global financial crisis, all the politicians talked about the "interdependency of nations" and yet NONE of them discussed how technology can be better harnessed to share information cross-borders or the development of smarter detection systems for global economic bubble build-ups. Also, not once did they talk about the "interdependency of technology resources and knowhow" to solve common global issues.

    I know this from an email exchange with someone who attended the technology forums on education at WEF2009 as well as tracking updates myself.

    So..........if the Web's leading technologists are not being included in those conversations......does the Web have real power?

    (3.) Please don't explore the Singularity. It's projected by the likes of Kurzweil to happen by 2040, given Moore's Law and artificial intelligence developments. It would be more useful to look into Cloud Computing and how that affects our privacy, ability to share information and reduce electricity by sharing more data servers and eliminating duplications online.

    Here's the thing about the Singularity: ever since Turing set out his test for machine awareness / consciousness back in 1950 with the "Imitation Game", no machine has yet passed the test. Elbot tried to win the Loebner Prize most recently by having a stab at the Turing Test and............it didn't pass the 30% threshold set by Turing's calculations.
    So in almost 60 years, machines are still considered NOT to be conscious or self-aware.

    The Singularity is predicated on machines becoming conscious by about 2030 and then, once aware, they synaptically connect to each other and can auto-process all manner of calculations so that their computational power starts to look like a TAN (as in sine, cosine and tan not as in sunshine markings) curve.

    Well, in the first place, the probability of a machine passing the Turing test remains small. Even given the developments in neural networks, artificial intelligence, the Semantic Web Stack and natural language processing and more, we still have some way to go before that breakthrough of consciously-aware machines. Mostly because these technologies have limitations and are incomplete models.

    Plus it all boils down to, "What is consciousness?" For me, it's not a purely rational, calculable logic and algorithm. It's organic, it's biochemical, it's like DNA and it also follows mathematical-metaphysical principles.

    Now, if we can't even define what consciousness is or where it's located in our own brains, how can we build "conscious machines"?

    It's also a scenario which assumes absolute freedom of information, access, no privacy, no government or corporate control over machines interlinking and unbounded electricity to power the consciously-aware machines so they can connect..........

    Ergo, given this (for now) unsolvable paradox of the Turing test not being passed in almost 60 years, the missing consciousness answers, the limitations of the technology and controls (govt-company) which are unlikely to be negotiate away too readily................we're unlikely to reach the Singularity by 2040.


    Ok that's all, folks, from me!

    Best of luck to the BBCDigRev team, you're very lucky to have good threads from the likes of TaiwanChallenges, earthgecko, SheffTim et al.

    I'll watch the documentary series with great interest!

    Over+adieu!

  • Comment number 13.

    Ah and I should say I'm younger than the Google founders and I'm a........girl.

    This may partly explain why I think the way I do.

  • Comment number 14.

    @A_PERSON_NOT_A_BOT

    "I'm all for capitalism and democracy. It's just that right now, online, it doesn't work optimally. Aspects of it are elitist, socially irresponsible, exploitative and other negatives."

    How is that different from it's functioning offline?

    That is a pretty good summation of capitalism and democracy in the "real world" as well (IRL).

    * It does nor work optimally.
    * Aspects of it are elitist, social irresponsible, exploitative and has some other negatives too.

    Once again that pesky old evolutionary trait of function over perfection raises its head. However, it is exactly because of our altruism or desire to explore, succeed, impressive, or just get by, we will always try to better that which is in some way.

    Everything we have in place is flawed and could always be better.

    The Internet that us, the old colonial nations, consume is built on that system that was spread around the world for a few hundred years. Indeed capitalism and democracy are not saintly and never really have been. It stands to reason that we would put it in place in any new "spaces" that we colonised. We even call it the wild wild web.

    The capitalistic and democratic values on the Internet (we use) can be modified by us, but the thing is that it is in us as well, no matter how much we like it or not and therefore we also put them in place, allow them be there and accept it, just as we do in our everyday lives.

    The Internet has anomalies that we do govern. Our rapid collabrative group behaviour and creativity allow things to happen that the "system" cannot govern, as they are novel and they function within that system and miraculously survive and thrive, but do not pay heed to rules at the start of the journey. Maybe there were none at the time. These are the value propositions, these are the things we like. twitter, youtube, facebook, Google, Hotmail, IRC, HTTP, SMTP, telnet, ping.

    The system could not see them coming (or their impact) and was not ready to manage them, they just bloomed and reach "escape vlocity" and left. Some got caught and were slowly reeled in and assimilated. They were given a business model and economic constraints. But thankfully for you and me and the rest of humanity, the important ones escaped and became such powerful systematic changes that they introduced some of their own rules, their function demanded it.

    The system will always try to control those and reel them back in, however as long as we keep feeding them in the same new and in new and novel ways, I think we may be able to keep the balance for a little while longer at least.

    The Singularity discussion is quite core to the Web. It may not be now, but if no disruptions come along, it probably will be one day. The Web will not be remembered for twitter or Second Life, but all these things. As this era is the beginning (barring disruptions).

    I will say this though, it is interesting that we rate the Turing test so highly in this regard. A human logic test to test for an unknown sentience.

    You pointed out some interesting points on what you thought consciousness was based on. However, that is our consciousness. In all our cleverness we still cannot percieve anything else's consciousness, although we do continually try. However for some reason we have this notion that we will be able to predict, see or even recognise the emergence of a life force (not necessarily form). Putting the Singularity into a "synaptic connections box" is biopomorphosising something that is essentially abiotic. Perhaps it will be the way it occurs, but we are dealing with a huge novel system, similarities exist between the two indeed, however abiotic has made the jump to biotic before and that change was revolutionary and is still having a massive impact on this planet. Today this planet covered in life.

    I personally am quite glad to know that they started a Singularity University, however I just hope they are looking at all the sides of the coin. I think when something unknown and not quantifiable may be about to arrive, you could say to it,

    "See you some time, at some place. Don't be late"

  • Comment number 15.

    @EARTHGECKO --- if Tim Berners-Lee is right and the Web is a "blank piece of paper" or even the Wild Wild Web, then we have an opportunity and a responsibility to ensure that its democratic, economic, moral, sociopolitical functions are more dynamic, inclusive, nuanced, targeted and informed than the systems which currently operate offline (particularly since few political leaders are tech-savvy beyond knowing how to use the Web to disseminate and PUSH more information at us).

    What does this mean, long-term? Well, it means that instead of the Singularity scenario where machines compute the outcome of our democratic and economic choices, WE are responsible for creating and monitoring our values ecosystem. As an example, we could start by having unified information sources about the carbon footprint and consequence cost of every product out there (it doesn't exist and has been remarked upon by Vint Cerf). From there, we can make more informed VALUE choices about whether we want to continue this consumption. There would be also smarter competition from manufacturers because:

    (1.) They'd get more accurate information about our likely demand.

    (2.) They'd be more aware of our commitment to climate change solutions.

    (3.) They would create more dynamic, real-time and flexible inventory systems.

    (4.) They would be reducing costs and producing less wastage of electricity and warehousing products that people don't want/need, and then having to dispose of them (e.g. ship them off to developing economies where children are exposed to noxious chemicals during the product disposal process --- please see how computer monitors are disposed of).

    (5.) The company and the consumer will have engaged in a Double Dutch economic exchange, whereby we each are responsible for holding the rope and making the economic flow happen --- based on our values.

    In this case, there will be less corporate PUSH of product at us in terms of excessive marketing which wastes resources, uses up paper in flyers that only end up in the bin. There also needs to be more of a PULL or an attraction towards the company, its brand and its product. In other words, an incentive --- whether this is in payment or in brand association --- which compels us to engage in exchange.

    Now, do we want machines in the Singularity to decide our democratic and economic choices? Can they even do that? No machine is capable of making moral, ethical and value choices which are not numbers and probability-based.


    TURING TEST
    ========

    I was first exposed to the Turing test and Enigma when I was 12. Since then, I've worked with a Professor of Neural Nets and companies that develop the core P2P distributive and collaborative technologies that form the basis of Cloud Computing. What's evident is that certainly computers can be extremely powerful and can compute at a rate which exceeds the human brain. However, humans still control its functioning:

    * at point of input and structuring of the algorithms themselves;
    * at point of output when a value-based decision needs to be taken.

    Value does not mean a number alone. The computer may say, "The probability of this patient not surviving this surgery is 50%." The human will say, "They have a family. What is 50% worth to them?"

    So...whilst there are advantages to processing power increasing and it's evident that nanotechnology is facilitating the rate of this increase, there is still ZERO evidence that machines are becoming "conscious" and will spark a Singularity.

    Why did I put CONSIDERATION into my model of consciousness? Well, that's not consideration as a functional process of thinking. "Consideration" in my model means the contextualization of events and sensory intakes which elicits an empathetic exchange between us and an external object (this could be another person or an animal). It is the source of.......charity, altruism and love.

    Now, Turing himself noted that the question of "Can machines think?" was "too meaningless" to deserve discussion.

    ELBOT + ME
    ---------

    This is the fun+games I had with Elbot, the most recent attempt to prove an AI machine is aware/conscious.

    At point of site activation, Elbot asked me, “What mood are you in?” I typed in “indifferent”.

    Elbot then asked, “What put you in this indifferent mood?”

    I typed in “You.”

    Elbot replied: “Fatal Error 42: Omission of Superfluous Input.”



    Yes, this was funny but my question was also posed with a purpose.

    A real-life person upon reading the text of me writing “You” would probably have become either self-conscious, defensive or displayed some form of ego, super-ego and identity. These complexes are as much a part of human consciousness as the sensations we experience during waking life, our dreams in our sleep and the mysteries within us which are as yet inexplicable like pre-cognition and genius.

    A probable human response to my feigned indifference would have been another question like, “We just met and hardly know each other. What have I done to make you indifferent towards me?” or “*&^#%! Who do you think you are?! How dare you be indifferent to me! Do you know how lucky you are to be part of this Elbot experiment and how clever the maker is?!”

    Instead, Elbot couldn’t compute and crashed.

    For me, Elbot — although an improvement on previous attempts — is not conscious. It wasn’t aware of the context of my question. It wasn’t able to decipher it aurally for clues. It wasn’t able to see whether I was smiling or grimacing. It wasn’t able to pick up and smell any pheromones which would indicate my interest instead of my indifference. It wasn’t able to shake my hand and determine whether it was a firm grip (interested) or loose grip (indifferent), and so on.

    RE-THINKING TURING
    -----------------

    When we consider the Turing test, it’s vital we remember that the stipulation is the machine and the human provide and are provided with TEXT-BASED content. There are no oral, aural or other sensory clues which are what helps make humans conscious and aware of ourselves relative to others and our environment(s).

    In the Forbes’ article, Professor Kevin Warwick suggests that questions of a topical or local nature can help us better distinguish between whether the answer is from another human or a machine. For example, questions about the weather or what color the wall is painted. Then we can assess whether the machine’s answer is plausible and would be offered by a human.

    This is all very well, but here’s my issue with the Turing test. It's associated with the question, “Can machines think?” or at least, "Can machines imitate us?"

    The more perspicuous answer we should seek is:

    “CAN MACHINES MAKE SENSE?”

    To date in IT development (including the Semantic Web), the definition of thinking machines or smart systems is predicated on their abilities to do the following:

    · link (as in hyper-text)

    · connect (as in social nets)

    · compute / calculate (as in Deep Blue and Wolfram Alpha)

    · choose (as in what to display at a specific time-geolocation)

    · sort, filter and prioritize (as in eBay lists of items)

    · rank (as in YouTube videos)

    · re-direct (as in cookies in browsers)

    · visually represent (as in Flickr on Google Maps)

    · synch (as in iPhone with iTunes store and Apple Macbooks)

    · stream (as in videos and IM channels)

    Now, some of us would argue that all of those attributes are the same as thinking so if a machine can do those things then it must be as — or even more than — intelligent as a human.

    Evidently, this isn’t the case yet; no machine has even passed the Turing test much less tests where a robot can make sense the way we do with touch, taste, sight, hearing and smelling abilities to complement our neural, moral, memory, humor and relativism ones. We’re several years from The Terminator and Skynet or the Singularity.

    Personally, I don’t want machines to be able to simply "think". I want them to be able to MAKE SENSE. If we look at ourselves as a species, 99 percent of us can think (some form of brain activity / electrical impulses) with less than 1 percent of us incapable of thought because of coma or brain damage. However, not all 99 percent of us are making sense. If we were there would be none of the following:

    · wars, crimes and non-natural deaths;

    · climate change dangers;

    · global economic crisis; or

    · any other man-made catastrophe which stops, sets back or sabotages human development, achievement and advancement.


    So...........there is indeed A LOT STILL TO DO before the Web, technology and we are as smart, holistic, democratic etc etc etc as any Utopian ideal which initially sparked their existence.

    There are ways to preserve that idealism whilst simultaneously being pragmatic and realistic about its limitations as much as its opportunities and potential.

    I end with the first point: if Tim Berners-Lee is right and the Web is a "blank piece of paper" or even the Wild Wild Web, then we have an opportunity and a responsibility to ensure that its democratic, economic, moral, sociopolitical functions are more dynamic, inclusive, nuanced, targeted and informed than the systems which currently operate offline.

    Is it enough to simply take offline systems of democratic, political and economic choice and wholesale copy them for the Web?

    Well, I'd hope that the same imagination and consideration which drove us to invent fire, electricity, cancer medicines, the Internet and more will guide us to NOT imitate those offline systems which don't function for the benefit of society, but rather invent new ones which are.........smarter and more reflective of our values.

    **********

    Now it really is over+adieu + good luck!

    I have code to contend with.


  • Comment number 16.

    If the Turing Test is text-based, would it be easier or more meaningful to create a system that used chinese ideograms instead?

  • Comment number 17.

    @A_PERSON_NOT_BOT

    All of those are very valid thoughts, however... they are all focused on us, how we are, how we think, how function. This is the flaw in the debate I feel, this is not about us. It is not about how we conceptualise or concieve. All of our tests our to OUR standards and we cannot see or understand past that.

    Emerge in any system will occur, regardless of whether we understand it or not. The point being trying to anthropomorphise something that is not human by our own logic or perception is a flawed approach. That is not to say it does not have value, only it is probably not that close to the mark of what may occur at some point in the future. Thinking about technological sentience (at any level) in terms of human experience, is akin to applying the Turning Test to a computer to see if it can be defined as human. The test in itself is a paradox. The computer will never be human, think like a human or probably act like one. Forgive me if that may seem heretic, but it is a valid point.

    Someone started to talk about representing the net as an ecosystem. That may be more relevant here than a single supercomputer passing the Turning Test.

    Unfortunately, we are projecting past the actual emergence of any singularity with all of our discussions and we are anthropomorphising what it may be. When I was young it always amazed me that humans set the bar for intelligence against our own intelligence and everything else was deemed, less intelligent by that standard, further reinforcing the Christian Stewardship model.

    Times are a changing. Personally I think a technological Singualrity has the potential to be a catatatrophe and new evolutionary step at the same time.

    We are already a ways down this road. The stability of our society's is now based on technology, hence it is quite important to have these kinds of discussions as we are all in it together now :)

    Apologies to the BBCDigRev team for us seemingly hijacking this blog post.

    Now it really is over+adieu + good luck!

    I have infrastructure to contend with.

  • Comment number 18.

    I'm laughing whilst eating my lunch.

    We're not hijacking the BBCDigRev production at all, :*). We're actually adding color, context and shape to it.

    Let's remind ourselves what the BBCDigRev team has planned for us this week:

    * Baroness Susan Greenfield shares her concerns for our brains under the web's influence; and

    * Nicholas Carr offers his thoughts on the loss of the contemplative mind.


    It's been theorized that the Web will turn (or is turning?) us into non-thinking drones and rewiring our brains negatively. There may have been similar theories when the radio and the television happened.

    What we're showing in this thread is that actually the Web can INCREASE contemplation --- with each contextualization by diverse contributors which elicits another contributor or reader (or the BBCDigRev team) to reflect and respond with a supporting / alternative / questioning position towards positive ends.

    Positive ends being some type of preservation of the Utopian ideals of the Web first imagined by TBL and others' genius AND also factoring in the corporate inclusion in the economic model --- along with tools for corporate altruism, increased and incentivised online collaboration, and how WE should own its value ecosystems rather than any govt, corporation or Skynet wannabe.

    So perhaps the basis of Program 4 shouldn't be whether the Web is affecting our identities but rather how we're shaping the Web and each other via online interactions.

    INTELLIGENCE + IQ
    ============

    Can we define intelligence without ambiguity or capture it precisely in IQ tests? Answer: NO.

    The definitions of intelligence vary, culture by culture, individual by individual. In Chinese cultures someone who can cook well is said to be intelligent as much as if they can pass exams. In Western culture, is David Beckham's ability to somehow instinctively figure out where his foot needs to hit the ball to bend it into the net not as intelligent as a Professor of Mathematics' calculations of that projectile (force, velocity, rate of acceleration et al)? In Russia, are the oligarchs who engaged in illegal activities and are now in prison intelligent or is the guy who earns a regular salary and is free to take care of his family intelligent?

    Relativism applies.

    Besides which, IQ tests as a test for intelligence are quite silly. First of all, they only test for our visual-spatial reasoning --- of the kind, "Can you figure out which is the odd one out?" That's easy. If it's one of those images with dots and crosses or a flag with stripes, we just have to see whether it's a reflection / translation / rotation / inversion of the dots+crosses. If the number of dots+crosses changes, then it's about an algebraic pattern.

    They don't test for our aural abilities to distinguish between people's voices and their intent. They also don't test for our actual manual dexterity or the aptitude of our olfactory senses. These too are signs of intelligence. The aural aspect of intelligence is particularly important in Oriental languages where the tone and accents of the vowel can determine whether we're calling our mothers "Mother / a horse / hemp / measles / a nuisance." Manual dexterity is a sign of intelligence --- look at the artistry of pastry makers, sculptors, fashion designers, glass blowers. That doesn't get captured in these IQ tests which are supposed to be a measure of intelligence. Ditto the intelligence of the "Noses" in the cosmetics and perfumes industry or even the intelligence of someone being able to smell out changes in the weather or where a piece of fish was caught.

    CONCLUSION: we are intelligent in ways not necessarily captured by current definitions of it or tests to infer it.

    So returning to machine intelligence because it has implications for Web intelligence. If, for example, we wanted to test a computer's intelligence using standard IQ tests it would probably pass and be able to match the reflections / translations / rotations / inversions of images. Likewise, it would be able to complete all the computational mathematics ones readily --- like "What's next in this sequence? 2, 3, 5, 7?" Easy, they're all prime numbers so the next one is 11.

    Could a machine as readily get the words differentiation in the IQ test --- of the kind, "Which is the odd one out? Dog, dolphin, bat and kangaroo."

    At the most, the machine could identify that they're all mammals. Then it would apply binomial tree logic to distinguishing that the first is the only one with 4 legs, a dog + a dolphin can swim, a bat is the only one that can fly and a kangaroo carries its joey in its giant pouch, and the dolphin + the bat both have the same maximum hearing ranges (approx 150 Hz).


    If you ask an Englishman, they may say, "The dog because if we read the word backwards it says "god" and that's the only one of the options which can be read and spelt both ways."

    If you ask an Australian, they may say, "The dolphin because it's the only mammal which exhibits an ability for culture (http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn7475%29."

    If you ask someone Chinese, they may say, "The bat because it's the only one in this group not known to have previously been eaten by Man."

    If you ask an African, they may say, "The kangaroo because it can only be found in one land --- Australia --- but the others can be found in many countries.

    So, clearly, our inherited tests for intelligence are flawed and if we apply the same types of tests to machines then we will only end up with a definition of machine intelligence which is flawed.

    Solutions?

    Well, first, develop better Web tools which enable us to understand US and each other with more insight. Some attempt towards this is starting with the Semantic Web and initial forays into structuring data for contextualization. More, though, needs to be done on the perception, culture and values dimensions but at least it's a positive evolution for the Web.

    Second, discern what the value dimensions are within these diverse cultures.

    Third, create more sophisticated collaboration tools that can harness those cultural variances for collective hopes and aims.

    It's also important to note that an increase in functional processing power of machines may not be the same as an increase in the intelligence of machines.

    Again, it comes down to what is our definition of intelligence and is it culturally cross-applicable.

    Anyone interested in how technologists define intelligence can read about it here:

    * http://www.aaai.org/AITopics/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/AITopics/NatureOfIntelligence

    Anyone interested in how biologists define intelligence can read about it here:

    * Handbook of Intelligence, Robert J. Sternberg ---
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Handbook-Intelligence-Robert-Sternberg-PhD/dp/0521596483

    * http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v407/n6803/abs/407470a0.html


    AND FINALLY......ABOUT THE GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS + TECHNOLOGY
    =============================================

    Here's some food for thought. Ever since it struck there's been reams of academic argument from the Smith/Friedman schools versus the Keynesian schools. We have the likes of Paul Krugman (Noble Prize for Economics), Joseph Stiglitz (also Nobel Economics), Nouriel Roubini and Niall Ferguson getting into intellectual fisticuffs over the economic models we've inherited and how to apply them now.

    It's apparent by now that the Presidents and Prime Ministers are taking their leads from these economic giants.

    However, what's interesting is that the Internet, climate change and the interdependence of nations did not exist in the days of Smith or Keynes in the shape they do now. This seems to be escaping the attentions of the heavyweight economists of today. TECHNOLOGY is facilitating trade and driving it. Electronic systems created by the banks and companies to produce, market, distribute and sell products+services to us are also interdependent --- not simply government policies.

    So perhaps it may be a good idea to evolve the Smith vs. Keynes models into ones which DO INCLUDE technologies (the Internet, mobile, haptics), climate change and systems interdependency.

    Otherwise, if we keep using old tools and economic frameworks which haven't kept apace with technological advances we shouldn't be surprised if in 10 years time there's another recession and risk of stockmarket collapse and values eradication.

    See? It's about a lot more than Chris Anderson's "theory of free" or "freemium" or whatever. It's about the whole and holistic economic ecosystem we're creating online that provides us with tools more sophisticated and current than Smith or Keynes alone.

    ********

    Yes, we're all in it together moving forward :*).

    Yes and I don't believe that the likes of Twitter or Facebook will be regarded as the apex of Web development. As much as they're useful and have their own validity, there's still MUCH MUCH MORE AMAZING INNOVATION, COLLABORATION + SENSE-MAKING AHEAD.

    At some point, that's likely to include a re-imagination and re-configuration of code with some form of pictographics like Chinese and more haptics. I see inklings of how pictographs would level the code playing field; there's something written in Squeak which allows children aged 11-15 to learn about code in a purely visual way rather than as lines of tags and text.

    For true democracy, we're not only talking about as it applies to adults and people from the same cultures or "intelligence" or "edu-economic status" as us. We're talking about....EVERYONE.

    Who knows? Maybe someone will get an Epiphany/enlightenment soon and figure out a way of incorporating Chinese into RDF in a way which is more than a call to an image file of a Chinese character.

    For me, right now, I just want to replace 5-star rating systems with something smarter and more meaningful.

    :*).

    At this point, the kids from the 'Sound of Music' are telling me to say "So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, adieu!"

    Returning to code bunker until my baby goes out onto the Interether. ADIEU!








  • Comment number 19.

    @A_PERSON_NOT_A_BOT

    For you return. I just could not help myself.

    "Otherwise, if we keep using old tools and economic frameworks which haven't kept apace with technological advances we shouldn't be surprised if in 10 years time there's another recession and risk of stockmarket collapse and values eradication."


    I was involved in a very small part of the development of an Environmental Education cirriculum for the schools system in South Africa in the early and mid 90's, from an informal and outdoor educational environment point of view. What stuck me then as an achilles heel to education, was the length of time it took to get any cirriculum through review and approval stages. At that time it was about four years and I left ecology and environmental education and ecology in 2000, but I would imagine not that much has changed. Although theories develop and propagate faster, it take them a longer time to make it into the systems. Currently our stupendous rate of development and innovation, is far outpacing our system. If we are honest about it, we no longer control our truly global systems (if we ever did). However in the not too distant past the evolution of all human systems (barring conflict and disruption) was in the most part, slow that that which we experience today. Our rapid advancement although has great benefits comes at a price too. As soon as we think up a valid theory the much more interconnectted systems will evolve and as you pointed out, make all theory incomplete, in the sense that it does not incorporate all the variables. We could nitpick and say that this has always been true, however today, as with everything else, the changes are orders of magnitude greater and more complex.

    Ironically, us making the systems so complex has in essence also led us to lose grasp and control on the systems. They are evolving faster than we can evaluate. I would challenge any group of people in the world to be able to model our social systems today. And even if they did, they would be wrong in a few months. This is indeed something new in our social experience and yet we do not seem to have excepted this fairly inevitable fact. Not that we should stop trying to understand it, heavens no. We must indeed try and understand it, however with no controls on innovation and development, we are inevitably on this path of chaos (simply becuase we do not understand it), because we will not and can not hinder innovation and progress. I do not say that there is an answer to this, just that it is. The blind leading the blind, into the dark or light, we have not quite figured which one yet, however to the blind it may be irrelevant, but one would have to think that sometimes blind people can tell the difference, just by the "feel".

    I must say, I feel like we are heading into the dark, in the light we may be now. And that worries me, this is why I think. I unfortunately seem to have the EIA (Environment Impact Assessment) process in my blood which makes me question everything. Interesting that, we were at almost the last straw, when we developed an Environmental Impact Assessment process to try to manage the impacts of our Industrial and Commercial Ages, at the advent of the Technological Age. Yet we have failed to apply that wisdom to the Technological Age... maybe the saying is right, we never learn from history. However, just like our theories, I think that the EIA process would not be up to the task of current technological and scientific developments, it is all fair too rapid. That is probably why it never made the step.

    I often smile and think of the old Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times" and I am glad I do.

    Here is a thought. Sysadmins should not delete logs as they are the history of the Internet and will one day be wanted to map the history of the Internet as completely as possible....

    Back to auto DB failover....

  • Comment number 20.

    (I.) One of my friends based in Denmark and I had a conversation about what should happen to old URIs and logs, i.e. whether there should be a Cloud archive for it and who would own / be responsible for it. He suggested a company like Google or it operating like Apple's Time Machine. I said it should operate as a consortia with this ownership structure:

    netizens --- 70 percent
    Govts --- 10 percent
    corporates --- 10 percent
    NGOs+others --- 10 percent

    The entire archive of it would indeed help us to map the Web and its history with more accuracy and perspective. Now, should that history belong to us as netizens or belong to the State / corporate / charity? I'd say, "To us."

    (II.) Has technological advance been as quick as we think/hope?

    During a November 2008 Google Tech Talk with Vint Cerf and Larry Brilliant (he's credited with the eradication of smallpox), both observed that the core tools being used in the creation of the WELL (Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link) in 1985 --- a virtual communities precursor to today's socnets like Facebook, twitter, Penguin Club et al --- are not that different from the core tools used today.

    In other words, as Larry Brilliant says, "The technology's not changed that much" in 20 years between the WELL and the Facebooks.


    In my own case, I'm aware that there's interest around three technologies considered "bleeding edge and new":

    (1.) online real-time IM of the type provided by Twitter.

    Hmmn......Well, back in 1999 we had an IM incubation that preceded Skype and is technically superior to Twitter. The only difference is that one operates on a private P2P VPN and Twitter is open social.

    (2.) ontology authoring tools for the Semantic Web and browser.

    Hmmn.....Well, back in 1997 there was already a browser tool under development that I subsequently used to capture, classify and make searchable data that was fed into a Mergers+Acquisitions database. That was ontology and data structuring a whole 10 years before the tech media buzzed about the Semantic Web and its ontologies.

    (3.) the Cloud. Again, distributive computing is not new; it had its seeds in Web 1.0.


    It's rare that I've seen anything I'd consider as genuinely "new". Most of it is old re-marketed as new, that's all. The only absolutely "WOW" tech+code I've seen in the past 5 years has been what Alan Kay is working on with Squeak/Tweak.

    @BBCDigRev team --- Alan Kay would also be a BRILLIANT person to interview for the "power of the web" segment.


    (III.) Online green economics and education --- Google announced its commitment to this with its Project 10 to 100th competition (http://www.project10tothe100.com/%29 as well as corporate policies to support green initiatives (http://www.google.com/corporate/green/tools-for-users.html%29.

    There are hopes that if a corporate giant like Google gets involved then we'll all get better tools to be green online. This remains to be seen. Almost a year after Google's competition submission deadline closed, they've still not been able to announce the second round's 100 possible winners because of the sheer volume of entries.

    Clearly, netizens are committed to climate change as well as altruism and collaboration to tackle it. Plus the 5 winner(s) will share US$10 million financing from Google to realize their ideas. That's an example of a good way to incentivize online participation which is also for good causes, btw.


    ONLINE AWARENESS ===> POSITIVE OFFLINE ACTIONS
    ==================================

    People talk about the power of the Internet to "increase international awareness". Actually, I think it should do more than this. It should empower and enable us to take POSITIVE OFFLINE ACTIONS --- like vote in a new President or buy a green product or evolve non-optimal economic systems.

    Here's an insight into why I came to this realization.

    I first became aware of renewable energy issues in 2003 (no, not because of Bono, Al Gore et al flying in on their private jets to the Live Earth concert in 2007 or Gore's 2006 docu-drama film). At the time, bankers were only just starting to look into ways to finance wind turbine, solar energy and redox battery companies; I was in that first wave of bankers.

    Since that time, there's been an increasing amount of information about climate change, paper recycling, alternative energy sources etc. as well as nations politicking about whether they want to sign up to the Kyoto and post-Kyoto Protocols. The next two important meetings for thrashing this out amongst G20 leaders will be in Pittsburgh (24-25 September) and in Copenhagen (UN conference, 07-18 December).


    Here's a thought I had very into my exposure to the sector, "Climate change issues clearly cannot be solved by tackling the superfice, such as recycling paper etc., alone. It has to go higher up in the value chain to the product demand and development link itself, right? This is why the politicos emphasis reducing carbon emissions from factories and industrial plants so much."

    Now, how can we as ordinary citizens facilitate the process of companies shifting their production schedules to better be aligned with our REAL demand of their products rather than the projected demand? [By the way, projection demand calculations have a fairly wide scope for inaccuracy because the input data tends to be forecast several years in advance instead of as near real-time as possible. This results in over/underproduction and associated warehousing electricity consumption and shipping efficiency issues.]

    What if there's some way with which technology (Web + mobile) can make us consumers be more involved in the entire production value chain and reduce carbon emissions at the same time?

    So I had the idea for GREENspot which I've submitted to the Google 10 to 100th competition.


    THE WEB: MALE + FEMALE HOLISTICISM
    ========================

    Sometimes, when I think about the Web and its development, its male heritage is quite obvious. Its functions, features and processes work like the way the male mind does. Structurally, it's the vision as realized by super-smart men with content populated by both genders (including biases depending on the topic focus of the site or thread).

    There's nothing wrong with this: the male heritage. They say man-made constructs are built in the mould of their creators. It just happens that men have been the main contributors to innovations throughout our species' evolution.....to date. In part, this was because of the whole danger, hunter-gatherer philosophy in the West and women not entering the work arenas in significant numbers until World War II necessitated it. In the East, the situation and the philosophy was and is different.

    It's worth wondering if perhaps the reason the Web hasn't made certain advances and breakthroughs it should have done by now is because of the absence of female contributions. Maybe it would be even more effective, powerful and inclusive if the Web also proxies some functions/features/processes like the female brain --- in conjunction with the male ones intrinsic in the very foundations of the Web already.

    So, in this way, the Web and its algorithms would be governed by efficient logic as much as the effectiveness of interpreting ambiguity --- particularly relevant for the Semantic Web and its ontologies; relationships and simultaneous multi-tasking.

    Now with the Internet, women have more access to resources which can teach them how to code, architect a system and build businesses online in ways not possible before the Internet liberated that education to them. They now have an increased choice to make good use of these resources and to start contributing to the DNA code of the Web.

    I said to someone previously that it's interesting how we always talk about FATHER Time (Chronus) and MOTHER Earth (Gaia). The ecosystem of the Earth itself seems to work better when they're in synch.

    So.........if we have fathers of the Web, who and where are the mothers? What will their kids be capable of?


    I'm going share my quote (C): "If content is king, context is queen and consciousness are their progeny."


    It's my belief we'll arrive at a CONSCIOUS WEB (or holistic online ecosystem) more readily with male+female contributions.

    So I guess I better keep coding my female bit (101) of it!

  • Comment number 21.

    @BBCDigRev team --- it’s interesting your female presenter and director (Alex and Molly) are focused on the relationships dimension of the Web. Meanwhile, the male presenters and directors are concentrating on the issues of power, the fate of nations and economic models.

    If the series is attempting to be ground-breaking as a documentary, isn’t it time to gain the female perspective on those issues too? Hopefully, the documentary will include interviews not only with the likes of Professor Susan Greenfield but also female technologists and female tech entrepreneurs.

    After all, women comprise 48% of the online audience in social networks and make online purchasing decisions at almost the same level as men (68% and 66% respectively), according to Forresters, e-Consultancy and Pew Internet research.

    This is the other reason the inherited economic models are flawed and, periodically, the entire system edges on the brink of collapse. They’re postulated by men based on how MEN make consumption decisions, not based on how women do too.

    Maybe it's time to develop a more complete and holistic methodology that includes both…………

    See? So it's not only about making the Web accessible to developing economies and gaining their input as TBL notes. It's also about harnessing the gender insights in the online economic model.

  • Comment number 22.

    Part of me wants to simply lurk, write nothing more and then watch the end-result documentary. The other part of me is proactive and thinks, "Hmmn, if I don't contribute I won't have anyone to blame if the BBC produces a documentary that makes me go, "OMG! This isn't revolutionary at all! Why haven't we gained any perspective from these key people and on these important core issues?"

    By the way, I'm taking the word "revolution" to mean a 360 degree examination of the digital space as much as the way in which the Web is changing us, our relationships, our society and our systems.

  • Comment number 23.

    Regretably, I have been too busy lately to participate, however it is good to see that the experiment continues.

    This a quick one (I will try).

    Many people have been making suggestions of what the Team cover and who they should perhaps interview and most of those are interesting and relevant relating to the core theme. However, I would just like to point out that this is under an "open source" banner and therefore open to contributions, by definitive. Now we have all been contributing, but a few things I have seen lead me to think that perhaps we could be contributing more and differently. @TaiwanChallenges and @SheffTim you both seemed to feel that there was a somewhat top down approach and maybe not everthing was clear. @A_PERSON_NOT_A_BOT you mention Mark's mother and being able to get in touch and I mentioned Ian Pearson.

    Then perhaps we should try and contribute some things from these people, in an open source and collabrative manner. The team is limited to what they can do, cover and by airtime. However, if there is to be an online archive of this "open source" production, then perhaps it would be good to create this additional content for the project.

    @BBCDigRev, sorry guys but you did came up with this idea :) And yes it is seems to be covering some things that do not have rules yet. Well done. Just having to question what the rules relating to credits are and finding out... "well we are not sure...", is revolutionary in itself. It is novel and your goal has been achieved. However, as with all open source projects, they thrive on contributors contributing because they feel they need to.

    Now I am going to leave the net and help my friend hire peddle boats on the beach. It was a bit slow for him yesterday... so I thought of marketing the idea of seeing the wonderful jellyfish of the Mediteranean. Now making a very old school cardboard sign, "ver las medusas hermosas del Mediterráneo" and walking up and down the beach for the morning ;) Well see how effective advertising is :)

  • Comment number 24.

    Earthgecko, I worked renting peddle boats in Greece a few years ago. Wonderful job, and there's nothing you can do online that will ever compete. For all the pro-digital stuff I'm writing, I still remain a hard-core "go outside - it's free" sort of guy.

    I guess that the concern voiced in some quarters about the effects of tech on attentio-spans, intelligence, etc is reflective of some people's conviction that real life is better than the online kind. They may be right, but how many people ever really have the chance to do all the things they want to? And what would be the economic, environmental and social cost if everyone started living their dreams for real?

    Even producing enough books to give everyone in the world a decent home library would be a major undertaking. And how many people read books anyway? The internet may be considered a low-quality subsitute for real-life, if you really want to look at it in those terms, but for billions of people it's also an affordable substitute.

    Anyway, back to earthgecko's topic: yeah, where is the 'upload your video here' button?

  • Comment number 25.

    @A_Person_Not_A_Bot ' @BBCDigRev team --- it’s interesting your female presenter and director (Alex and Molly) are focused on the relationships dimension of the Web. Meanwhile, the male presenters and directors are concentrating on the issues of power, the fate of nations and economic models.

    If the series is attempting to be ground-breaking as a documentary, isn’t it time to gain the female perspective on those issues too? Hopefully, the documentary will include interviews not only with the likes of Professor Susan Greenfield but also female technologists and female tech entrepreneurs.


    To be fair, Aleks is the presenter across all four programmes, contributing and creating the script in collaboration with the (admittedly 3 out of 4 male) directors.

    Aleks and the team met with Arianna Huffington last week - an influential player in web 2.0 and the changes in journalistic content delivery of recent years.

    I'm not sure we're getting into Ada Lovelace day or similar, but I'm certain there will be women represented.
    -----------------------------------

    Re Anyway, back to earthgecko's topic: yeah, where is the 'upload your video here' button?'

    It's called the web ;) Basically, our blogs don't support a video upload / video comments (at the moment), but we are more than happy to have people post videos to one of the many video sharing websites around the web and share a link with us. Then, if it's appropriate, I'll embed it contextualised in a Friday round-up post. Just as I would a tweet or a blog post from another site.

    While it perhaps means we are less of a one-stop site, it allows us all to use the web to discuss the web.

    ------------------

    With that in mind, combined with other comments, we'll be giving some further thought as to credit. I realise this is not the motivation for people's involvement, but we are convinced that credit and thanks should be given where they are undoubtedly due. The best approach... I'll get back to you on that.

  • Comment number 26.

    @DAN BIDDLE --- Ada Lovelace Day falls on the 24 March which may / may not coincide with the terrestrial transmission of this documentary series.

    Apart from the Professor Greenfields and the Arianna Huffingtons, please see the list of interesting female interviewees and the rationale I provided in the comments here, on 11 Sept @ 00:10:

    * http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/digitalrevolution/2009/09/aleks-krotoski-on-the-web-rewiring-us.shtml


    Whilst the perspectives of the Greenfields and the Huffingtons are valuable and appreciated, there is also a question of appeal to the average (non academic) 15-45 female audience. Would this audience group be aware of, identify with and relate to their views --- compared with someone like, say:

    * Marissa Mayer (34) of Google

    * Martha Lane Fox (36), the government's current digital inclusion champion

    * Natalie Massenet (44), founder of http://www.net-a-porter.com

    * Anne Wojcicki (36), founder of https://www.23andme.com/ and the wife of Sergei Brin, a co-founder of Google.

    * Gina Bianchini (37), co-founder of http://www.ning.com along with Marc Andreessen who created Netscape during Web 1.0.


    Closer to the generation of Greenfield and Huffington is Professor Lizbeth Goodman from SMARTlab, http://smartlab.uel.ac.uk/1about/director.htm who knows about the digital landscape and online education.

    From their site blubr: SMARTlab is the UK base for the MAGICbox Accessible tech programme, and for the Microsoft Clubtech Programme, which Professor Goodman has led in its critical review stages (as the largest project providing game and educational technology tools to over 5 million under-privileged young people worldwide). Clubtech for Europe and the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) region is in development now, starting from its base in East London.

    Since the BBCDigRev team is interested in getting in touch with a school in another country and gaining some insights into child-child interactions, it would probably be a good idea to get in touch with Professor Goodman whom I met several years ago.

    Just generally speaking, for balance and diversity (speaking with my "I am an end-user audience too" hat on), it's important to gain insights from the Greenfields and Huffingtons who represent the 1960s generation who are now in influential roles ALONGSIDE younger generation Internet stars --- some of whom have practical technology skills to complement their theoretical and media savvy.

    Their views on how the Internet is evolving our identities, our understanding of our health (in the case of Wojcicki's DNA information service which won a 2008 World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer Award), how and why we shop online (e.g., pret-a-porter) and our social networks habits (from Bianchini) will only add more 360 and 2020 to the BBC Digital Revolution.


  • Comment number 27.

    I'm going to send a shout out to women I know who work in technology to encourage them to contribute and help shape the perspectives.

  • Comment number 28.

    @A_PERSON_NOT_A_BOT point taken - that list of names is much appreciated - will make sure Molly gets a look at them, also please do encourage those you know to join the discussions here and bring their perspectives into the programme's development process.

  • Comment number 29.

    @BBCDigRev team --- good news. There'll be more perspective and contribution from female technologists soon. The founder of one of the UK's largest professional networks for women working in technology has answered my call for context.

    The network has access to some seriously smart and fantastic female technologists who can share their experiences of not only being online as Jane Consumer, but also project managing corporate-scale systems for Internet clients.

    They're likely to have a different view on concentration, multi-tasking and more since they're running sizeable corporate teams and budgets, their childcare and also taking care of their families and parents.

 

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