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The Virtual Revolution episode 4 - Homo Interneticus?

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Dan Gluckman - Product Lead | 15:35 UK time, Friday, 19 February 2010

So far in The Virtual Revolution, we've looked at the impact of the web on power, international politics, and business. Now, in the final episode of the series, we're focussing on us. Is the web, with its instant connections and access to information, having an impact on our relationships and possibly even the way we think?

'Generation Web'  - the generation who have grown up knowing only a wired world - will enter adulthood having spent 10,000 hours online. On the programme you'll see neuroscientist Baroness Susan Greenfield, expressing concerns that the impact on their brains has been underestimated - a point she made back when production launched. But author Charles Leadbeater, who has advised the government about the web's impact on economics and education, thinks that such fears are the expression of an age-old problem - one generation finding it hard to comprehend what the next is doing.  "I think a lot of this is a kind of middle class, middle aged panic about the web", he says. "They are panicked by the future [and] panicked by what they think their children are doing."

There are plenty of anecdotes - but surprisingly little hard evidence on this subject. Which is why in the making of The Virtual Revolution, we were so keen to join forces with Professor David Nicolas, head of the CIBER research group at University College London.

Today we've launched the Web Behaviour Test, devised with Professor Nicholas and with Professor Clifford Nass of Stanford University (who investigates multitasking behaviour). We've identified eight web 'species' that have evolved over the past twenty years. Taking the test will tell you what sort of web animal you are, and help contribute to an experiment which should show if people who use the web a lot, think differently from people who don't.

The experiment will run for several months, and the results will be reported back in the summer of 2010. But during the filming of The Virtual Revolution, we ran a small scale trial. Just over one hundred people of different ages and genders took the test - some who use the web rarely, others who use it all the time. The results were suggestive. Generation Web answered their questions after looking at half the number of web pages and only spending one sixth of the time viewing the information than their elders did.

Hopefully our full experiment will find out more.

So what do you think? Are you worried about the impact of the web on your relationships, identity and even the way you think? Or do you agree with Charles Leadbeater, that this is just an ill-informed moral panic? Let us know in the comments below.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Should be interesting episode... lots of data suggests youngsters are writing more nowadays than ever in history.
    Re. the finding info, I always come bottom in quizzes, I am totally useless at them, but give me a laptop and an internet connection and I can answer every question faster than most who have good brains.
    Just thought I would mention that...
    ... the internet gives us all the info we need, as long as we remember to check the source ;)
    chris

  • Comment number 2.

    Ok, I'm about to take the Web Animal test and I'm wondering whether the time and environment at which the test is taken will affect our abilities to multi-task and the way in which we surf?

    For example, suppose I'm a teenager. There is fresh academic research that says teenagers don't function optimally in the morning if they don't get an extra hour of sleep:

    * http://www.lrc.rpi.edu/resources/newsroom/pr_story.asp?id=182


    So this will affect their ability to concentrate at 09:00 when school starts or when they take a Web Animals Test in the morning, hmmn?

    Likewise, there is physiological analysis on the alertness and multi-tasking abilities of more mature people with an indication that they function much better during the morning hours and are sluggish around mid-afternoon (hence the need for naps).

    * http://www.journalsleep.org/ViewAbstract.aspx?pid=27696

    * http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,584454,00.html


    My question then to Professors Nicholas of UCL and Nass of Stanford University is whether the experiment accounts for these demographic sleep factors and so normalizes the clinical conditions for the experiment across all demographics?

    Oh and will our response time to questions be noted? If we are on slower browsers and Internet connections this will affect that response time. I may click an answer button within N nanoseconds but on a slow browser / connection it may appear that my thinking, multi-tasking and response actions are slower than they actually are.

    This isn’t explained in Q+A.

    Just for some LOL, since the experiment seeks to classify which Web Animal we are, will it also make any inferences about how our sleep patterns and/or deprivation of it might affect our Web multi-tasking? After all, even animals require varying amounts of sleep before their brains and limbs function:

    Species Average total sleep time per day
    Python 18 hrs
    Tiger 15.8 hrs
    Cat 12.1 hrs
    Chimpanzee 9.7 hrs
    Sheep 3.8 hrs
    African elephant 3.3 hrs
    Giraffe 1.9 hr


    Apparently hedgehogs need 8 hours sleep during the daytime and there's no definitive answer on how long foxes sleep during their daytime naps which makes them alert for searching and hunting their prey at night.


    Importantly, if the experiment is a snapshot rather than a video of our web behavior then how I behave on a cold, relaxed Saturday morning is going to be different from how I behave on a hot Tuesday afternoon when I’m hyper-surfing and multi-tasking to complete project deadlines.

    Having noted this, I will now take the experiment. I suppose it’s probably going to be like UK Lab’s version of a Myers-Briggs / Belbin profiling for the Web generation. I’ve taken both Myers-Briggs and Belbin but those were both under controlled conditions, so Web Animals will be interesting as a comparison.

  • Comment number 3.

    Please check out http://ec3v3.projectchainsaw.com for a showcase of AVAYA’s web.alive. It is based on the UNREAL engine and is capable of accomodating models with millions of poygons, is web-embedded with VOIP spatial communication.This will change everything.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NcU1Cwlnu6I

    http://www.calebbooker.com/blog/2010/02/10/an-early-adopters-quick-guide-to-webalive/

  • Comment number 4.

    Does it say something I started doing the test before the programme ended? Getting 500 errors now though!
    QI XL on now is distracting!

  • Comment number 5.

    During the program a Korean gentleman said that Korean children in the future will be "more intelligent" as a result of their extensive use of the internet.
    Have to say - Reading and remembering loads of facts and figures doesn't equal intelligence. True intelligence is the ability to "use" what you know and not just being able to recall it.

    Conversley, I've known more than a few truly intelligent people (i.e. High IQ) who didn't have the common sense of a gnat.

  • Comment number 6.

    I'm all for using the best of the new with the best of the old. Why 'throw the baby out with the bathwater'? (Old archaic expression LOL.) If we can harness the www. to help us instead of letting it use us then surely everyone can benefit? Sad though to think that the coming generation finds books boring, they don't know what they are missing (and they won't be able to spell!)

  • Comment number 7.

    emanday is right. Alas, being intellectual does not necessarily add up to being intelligent. It's what you do with information that counts.

  • Comment number 8.

    Would be great if I could access the link to the test to complete it but BBC seems to have a broken link????

    Sort it out please!

  • Comment number 9.

    I have really enjoyed this series.
    I was interested in the ideas around educational development levels in Korea. This matches all developing countries. The necessity to develop engineers and new systems motivates learning in Science and Mathematics. We witness this over and over. Once a society becomes 'middle class', ( - I use that as a short hand for achieving wealth and attaining material satisfaction) - we start to explore self development, ideas, the 'soft' skills if you will. We start to develop education systems that are less efficient in terms of rigour and more reflective.
    This does not mean that we are less well educated - it is a reflection of a developed society and we cannot go back.
    The internet will offer a way forward for children that will look and feel different.
    Keep moving my friends we have much to learn.

  • Comment number 10.

    The strength of this programme is that it tried to give a balanced viewpoint. The virtual revolution can and should bring many advantages, but there are drawbacks which the programme did illustrate well.
    These drawbacks, the ability to use the web for control for example must be considered seriously.
    The changes in social psychology are yet to be understood completely, since the web is so young itself. Only over a long time can changes indicated.

  • Comment number 11.

    I think he reason internet users don't stay on a site/page more than a few moments is that they are well advertised/signposted but most have very poor content. T'internet is after all just a massive magazine rack and you have to sift through a load of Nuts to get to your copy of National Geographic (other magazines are available:))

  • Comment number 12.

    Well, let me do a status update and in doing so exhibit all the supposed psychological flaws that Sherry Turtle covered --- LOL.

    "SCENIUS" that's the term that Steven Johnson was trying to find with his "point of convergence....." comments. It's previously been articulated by Kevin Kelly, former Editor of "Wired' whom I personally think offers more interesting insights than Chris Anderson (current Editor) does:

    * http://www.kk.org/thetechnium/archives/2008/06/scenius_or_comm.php


    The UCL study
    =========

    It will be interesting to read the final report. For now, just an observation about the comment in Prog 4 that "Generation Web are mostly foxes....spend only 1/6th of the time answering and viewing the information...."

    12-18 is also when the human brain is at its most agile. If the exercise involves arithmetic, visual spatial reasoning and text comprehension similar to a standard IQ test (albeit online rather than on paper), the teenage brain will be operating at a different velocity from the more mature brain to start with. The cognitive engine then is not as slow. There is empirical evidence on connective tissues in the human brain depleting over time ===> that's how Alzheimers and other neurological effects happen to more mature brains.


    LINEAR VERSUS ASSOCIATIVE
    ==================

    Well the next iterations are CONTEXTUAL COHERENCE.

    The issue with linearity is that in mathematical terms it lends itself to limits and absolutes answers with no ambiguity or personal judgment (association of factors). Linearity explains why current rating systems, recommendation systems and sentiment engines have such limitations. They are still operating by linear rules: Yes, No; +1, 0, -1.

    Where are the associative ambiguities that are more consistent with the way the organic brain and human discern works?


    PROFESSOR SUSAN GREENFIELD
    ===================

    It was an interesting opening statement from her: "The Web is dominated by the senses. Why would we need cognition?"

    Let's track back to what I wrote on Prog 3 threads:

    "Making sense is a sensory synergy that involves our five senses, logic, emotions, moral discern and more beyond mathematical processes."


    FIVE senses and the fact is that the Web at most facilitates only 4 senses: aural, oral, visual and haptic (touch). I can appreciate that there are smell collars currently being developed for role-playing MMORG environments and to train the military in extreme conditions to stimulate what different terrains smell like, but those smell collars are only at prototype stage so..........

    The Web doesn't dominate the senses and we still need cognition precisely because the Web doesn't yet offer
    "five senses, logic, emotions, moral discern and more beyond mathematical processes."

    In fact, cognition will IMPROVE once teams of collaborators can build the.......Global Brain, a scenius of collective and contextual intelligence.


    The GLOBAL BRAIN
    ============

    Well Theodore Vale arrived at the "network effect" based on telephone wiring. Here's the thing: we are now in the era of freely rotating satellites. Our connections and communications are actually no longer bound by cabling on telegraph polls alone and it doesn't matter how many nodes each line traverses.

    Who is to say that having to cross one node / line to get to another node / line is the optimal way of connecting --- whether that's a connection of ideas, of individuals, etc.

    The architecture for the Global Brain is unlikely to resemble Vale's network. It's more likely to be inspired by Crick & Watson and Kroto & Buckminster Fuller.


  • Comment number 13.

    Yes, it's all very interesting about how mankind might change because of the web however there really is a very big BUT:

    I posted this extract from The Archdruid Report of May 13th 2009 (http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2009/05/end-of-information-age.html) after the last episode and I do so again not to be a killjoy but perhaps to stimulate the uber-intelligent webheads to get to work solving the problem it highlights...

    "the internet[s]...substrate is the global network of communications links and server farms, and the even vaster economic and technical infrastructure that keeps them funded, powered, and supplied with the trained personnel and spare parts that keep them running.

    Very few people realize just how extravagant the intake of resources to maintain the information economy actually is. The energy cost to run a home computer is modest enough that it’s easy to forget, for example, that the two big server farms that keep Yahoo’s family of web services online use more electricity between them than all the televisions on Earth put together. Multiply that out by the tens of thousands of server farms that keep today’s online economy going, and the hundreds of other energy-intensive activities that go into the internet, and it may start to become clear how much energy goes into putting these words onto the screen where you’re reading them.

    It’s not an accident that the internet came into existence during the last hurrah of the age of cheap energy, the quarter century between 1980 and 2005 when the price of energy dropped to the lowest levels in human history. Only in a period where energy was quite literally too cheap to bother conserving could so energy-intensive an information network be constructed. The problem here, of course, is that the conditions that made the cheap abundant energy of that quarter century have already come to an end, and the economics of the internet take on a very different shape as energy becomes scarce and expensive again.

    Like the railroads...the internet is subject to the laws of supply and demand. Once the cost of maintaining it in its current form outstrips the income that can be generated by it, it becomes a losing proposition, and cheaper modes of information storage and delivery will begin to replace it in its more marginal uses."

    How about a big-budget BBC program looking into that?

  • Comment number 14.

    The great internet science experiment click submit and get...

    'No suitable nodes are available to serve your request.'

    Good old virtual revolution!

  • Comment number 15.

    Virtual revolution is an extremely interesting programme but I have been thrown off your 'Animal on-line type test' 5 times have only got to Q5. I think you are very popular and so many people have logged on that the site keeps crashing.

    Crashing sites is becoming a problem generally for the more popular sites - what can be done about this?

    with regards

  • Comment number 16.

    The comments regarding Facebook and friends were interesting. As a FB user, with some 400 or so "friends" I agree that I only actually keep in touch on a regular basis with maybe 6-10. That said, a vast majority of the others I have never met, never plan to meet, have no interest in their life whatsoever yet we are connected because of a common interest in a particular game that is played on the FB platform. In order to gain access to certain parts of the game you need to have a level of people who are connected to you that also play the game hence the high number. With the use of FB lists I am able to control who I have contact with and in what way they have contact with me. It does mean that I see them as friends and suspect that when I get bored of the game I will delete them from my contacts for ever.

  • Comment number 17.

    k881mark is right: many pages just don't have the depth of information needed.
    This was such an interesting series: I sometimes wonder how I managed before the internet.... Now I use it to stay in touch with old friends, take part in events, buy stuff, find out stuff, get involved in stuff, make comments on stuff, do my job and so on.
    I guess I hadn't thought about the wider energy implications of all that information, all those servers. Hmmm. But in the long term I feel that the benefits of the internet outweigh the problems (both real such as energy, and imagined).

  • Comment number 18.

    I'm finding the series fascinating. However I don't know why you gave the time of day to Baroness Susan Greenfield in today's programme. You could just as easily have said "housewife, Baroness Susan…" or "publicity-seeking tv pundit, Baroness Susan…" for her scientific contribution to the programme. She really does scientists no favours when she spouts her personal opinions which have no basis in scientific evidence.

  • Comment number 19.

    The main problem I had is that there was no evidence to support the assumption that uptake of more than passing contribution to the life of content on you tube etc will increase, within exiting and coming demographies.

    And in terms of all web enabled content there is no suggestion that it supplants more traditionaly made media. It's likely the line between the studio and the home creator will blur, because both will likely be delivered online. However there will always be a split between conten produced by people who do it as there job and people who do it as well as thir job.

    Besides while the Internet is capable of changing secondary socialisation significantly, I have seen no evidence of revolution only adaption. Comments threads are expressions of universalistic values. While content is still subject to hierarchical behaviour.

    Also given that the web came into being and has been populated with pre existing ideas in society then to a certain extent it actually represents a vehicle for the socialisation of existing norms and values.






  • Comment number 20.

    Technology is of human invention and it is more than agreeable that it evolves as global communications advance. However; it should never be used in place of social interaction as a means of establishing communication that is inevitably biased. Informed decisions are reliant upon much deeper understanding of individual cultures and societies that cannot be mustered through technology on its own merits.

    Developing countries for instance,may very well prosper financially through a virtual revolution, but does not then mean that they will gain further; extraordinary interaction-skills with wider societies when we are to consider the limitations of virtual communication that have specific guidance coaching. "Intelligence" can not be defined as learned knowledge even if it is deliberated, regardless of instinctual thinking that is extremely vulnerable. Perhaps the general concern for most of humanity is whether a media culture dictates our choices and how those choices invariably determine our culture and beliefs? - these challenges ought to be regarded as healthy as long as virtual communication remains experimental.

  • Comment number 21.

    By covering the web alone, rather than technology, they have been able to skirt around many negatives and come to an overall positive conclusion. Although it is fair to say, when it comes to technology, the media only reports the good. So for example, every year end it is more good we have bought more items through the web, but it only seen as the fault of individual retailers if they have to close down because they cannot compete with it. It has been shown that for every 100 jobs lost at store retail, only 48 are gained back by internet retailers.

    There is also very little 'whole world' thinking with technology, and this series shows it. Each little piece is looked at, but the whole isn't. So, for example, as technology drives down wages and makes the global marketplace possible, leading to job exports, so people will be forced to buy on the internet where prices are cheaper because overheads are lower. As more people buy on the internet and do their grocery shopping via home delivery/the web, so more and more retail stores will close. As more and more high streets and shopping centres close, so these areas with become no-go areas at night. Would you walk a few hundred yards from a bus stop/car park to say, a cinema or restaurant, when between you and it you have boarded up store fronts, all unlit? So it won;t just be the retailer that will suffer, but everybody on the high street. As these areas become more crime ridden (many house sites are on high streets!) and run-down so people will want to move out of these areas, ghettoising them.

    The next big thing in technology is speech recognition and AI. In a couple of years you will be able ask what department you want, and you will barely know it's a computer at the other end of the line. As this technology comes into being we will start seeing job losses in the administration fields, and area where over half the work force work to come degree or another.

    They say a teenager starting work today will have seven separate careers before retiring. This is due to the global marketplace we find ourselves in. As technology improves so more jobs will be able to go abroad and wage here will continue to go down. In this career changing future 25 year mortgages are much more risky, and it is likely the housing market would change dramatically. It means we will need more rented accommodation, which is just not being built, while the media continues to say that house buying/selling is a wonderful thing for the economy.

    I started as an trainee I.T. technician 30 years ago on £18,000 a year. Today an trainee I.T. Technician is on £16,000 a year! This has happened across the job market, and anyone laid off in this recession can tell you how they had a £20,000 job, but equivalent jobs their looking for now pay £15-17,000!

    So let's have a proper debate about what technology has really done for us. Yes, we can find out when our local supermarket closes to get some milk, and we can email people and tell them we're fine. But meanwhile, the world is being brought down to it's lowest denominator by technology meaning in the next 20 years or so, someone in China or India will be on £10,000 and so will we....

  • Comment number 22.

    In todays' episode it was said that the old way of thinking was 'linear' against a shot of the presenter fingerwalking along the folders in a properly labeled filing cabinet, and the 'new' or 'online' way of thinking is associative and hyperlinked.

    I disagree with the proposition that associative and hyperlinked thinking is new.

    My reason for this disagreement with the presenter or writer of the show I now try to explain. Interviewing anyone clever enough and old enough to have gone to grammar school and reflective upon the methods of human learning could pass or fail my point of view on this. An older teacher who need not have studied formal pedagogy would be the best type of person to ask this :

    Is ordinary human intelligence, without any electronic systems, already highly associative and hyperlinked ?

    For example, do you understand a reference to widely known literature such as for me to say that some aspects of the internet are so very like 1984 ?

    It is presumptive of me to assume that you have read the same books as I, so the old way of passing hyperlinked information was for one old geezer to say to the other a reference with enough redundancy to help to find a copy of that book, for example 1984 by George Orwell. In computer science terms this has just sent a built-in cross reference to reduce the message error rate in his expression of a hyperlink to a story about a world in which some aspects of truth were modified at the whim of politics and some records of history thrown down a chute to be incinerated and never seen or heard of again. That sentence is a reminder, so that if you had read it a long time ago you would have remembered by now.

    Anyone can test how long it takes asking around the older folks to tell you what that story was about. My hope is that if it was a worthwhile story, then reading of it would have propagated knowledge of it and somebody in your corridor could scratch their head and tell you something interesting about it in less time than it takes for your online networked wireheads to do the same.

    The next test is whether the old person's knowledge gives a more compelling, entertaining, and useful summary than does the internet.

  • Comment number 23.

    WWW is definitely not one of my 150 best buzzies tonight because it's been full of tech glitches and I would have posted this by 22:00 if not for those. So much for real-time communication and keeping "in the loop" when the systems and servers keeps knocking themselves out! Ha ha.


    Typo and apologies: Sherry TURKLE.


    @BBCVirtRev team --- SkintNick means a program dedicated to "The Cloud", I think.


    @SkintNick --- the uber-intelligent webheads are working on it. That's why we're seeing the emergence of OpenID and progressively more interoperability of systems to share common information and reduce the need for duplication of that information and housing it on these huge server farms.

    It's not the technology which is holding development back, it's the business models and the laws. Company X doesn't want to share their customer database with Company Y because that database and its farmed servers are of accounting value and a competitive edge differentiator. Plus there is data privacy and IP involved.

    Still, there are green arguments about collectively reducing energy consumption and also cost efficiencies of scale that may unlock the impasse........

    That is if the powers-who-are get around to discussing it at TED / Davos / G20 meetings.


    @ Professor Nicholas of UCL --- If search engines accurately surfaced content that was relevant to our interests and needs (and according to our personal perception of what constitutes "spot on" material), then we would probably stay stickier for longer on a site instead of hopscotching and skimming.

    We skim because we click into the first page of whatever the search engine lists only to discover that the website doesn't contain what it says on the advertised can. That's most likely why 40% of us never revisit the same page.

    Also, the sites containing content where we do concentrate on the material for longer periods are often behind subscription walls, firewalls or on private access servers so would this necessarily be captured by that 8 million sample in the UCL study? Examples would include medical journals, strategy reports, Standard+Poors credit analysis, etc. That content is often in the form of 250+ pages of PDF or 50+ page Powerpoints which people download and read off-browser so that's not going to be registered in any browser cookies.

    Now that there are devices like the Kindle, upcoming iPad etc. people will concentrate for longer periods online except that the book is in digital format rather than paper print, that's all.


    On the issue of concentration, SheffTim and EnglishFolkFan previously made the most pertinent connections between our natural predispositions to education A PRIORI to us getting anywhere near to the Web or any digital / virtual engagement.


    Oh and I still have no idea whether I'm a fox or a hedgehog nor how Professor Winston would classify me since both systems have crashed whilst I filled out the tests. What's the hybrid of a fox and hedgehog, btw? A fog (aka a cloud within the Cloud)?

    LOL.

  • Comment number 24.

    I have just taken the web animal test and it says I am a leopard, very fast and specialised to find information in a hurry and more likely to trust established authority sites than random pages put up by anyone overnight and this is so much like me lol

    I love the show and hope you keep on commissioning great documentaries like this BBC :D

    Shown this to all the people I know on my various forums :)

    Sparhawke ~ England

  • Comment number 25.

    @ Z139
    Oh and I still have no idea whether I'm a fox or a hedgehog nor how Professor Winston would classify me since both systems have crashed whilst I filled out the tests. What's the hybrid of a fox and hedgehog, btw? A fog (aka a cloud within the Cloud)?

    LOL.

    ~~~

    isn't it a fohog?

  • Comment number 26.

    After wading through all four episodes I cannot believe there is no mention at all of free software (www.gnu.org) especially considering that the web is based upon free software predominantly.

    Apache web server consistently around two thirds market share
    perl/php - enable the majority of web pages to be served
    Linux - again the bulk of web-servers run on this or Solaris which originated in academia
    Netscape which developed from Mosaic
    Mysql/PostgreSQL - databases used extensively for the web
    I am sure Tim Berners Lee would be embarrassed to be described as inventing the software that enabled the web, he invented an important part, html (based on SGML), but not all

    This is not just an over-simplification but misses a vital point of the argument. Free Software is very much on one side of the divide between big business and libertarian ideals, being as it is developed cooperatively not financed by one corporation

    Also two of the main contributors Tim Berners Lee and Stephen Fry are outspoken advocates of free software and use Linux as their primary OS

  • Comment number 27.

    @Phil of 01:12am and 01:14am and on 21 Feb 2010 --- ha ha ha, you may be a leopard in the Web Animals test and Sparhawke ~ England, but you're definitely not an elephant or an eagle because you would have spotted and remembered that it wasn't Z139 but A_PERSON_NOT_A_BOT (affectionately abbreviated as APNAB on these boards previously) who wrote:

    ".....What's the hybrid of a fox and hedgehog, btw? A fog (aka a cloud within the Cloud)?

    LOL."


    Ok, let's attribute it to being late at night when you wrote those comments and an easy mistake to make. Yet you completed the WA test and triumphed as a leopard. Paradoxically, leopards are fast and alert during the morning and yet you completed the test and got this leopard designation at night. LOL.

    Anyway, you're an example of what I meant when I wrote above @ 12:13pm on 20 Feb 2010:

    "My question then to Professors Nicholas of UCL and Nass of Stanford University is whether the experiment accounts for these demographic sleep factors and so normalizes the clinical conditions for the experiment across all demographics?"


    As for "fohog" is this the same as:

    (1.) FoxNews also being known as FauxNews amongst some of the blogosphere, so a fohog is a faux hog whereby someone accumulates lots of false and inaccurate information?

    OR

    (2.) An acronym like FOAF (friend of a friend in semantic layers of the social graph) and so fohog stands for Friend Of Hyperlinked Optimal Goodies?


    LOL and, no, no offense taken at the fohog suggestion if (2.) is what's meant.



  • Comment number 28.

    Re. the Web Animals test, instead of any specific animal it would be great if we were more like Manimal:

    * http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQZxRH6uoiY


    In other words, different and appropriate aspects of our behavior is shown for different scenarios. When we NEED TO BE foxes, we're foxes. When we need to be hedgehogs and accumulate information, we do that. When speed and reliance on trusted sources is needed, we show that etcetera.

    Humans are intelligent and adaptable. There's been discussion on these boards about our brains being "plastic" (not a term I personally like, but I now understand its origins better at least thanks to the sharing of other commentators), so it would be quite remarkable for synergizing and improving intelligence if the Web can facilitate this neural flexing in a positive and meaningful way.

    Hopefully then on the Web, we are manimals with all our human attributes of language, culture, perceptions, emotions, discern, contextualization and morals whilst also showing animal traits of speed, memory, accuracy, accumulation for survival, etc.


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

    Ok and I'll do the test when I'm on a better connection and machine.



    @redtux --- I think the BBC adopted a social anthropology framework for this series rather than a technical historian one. The software development community would see the Web's evolution from a different standpoint to the typical TV audience household who may use Google, Facebook etc.

    @JJ who wrote: "The next big thing in technology is speech recognition and AI."


    Hmmn and this is why the technologists have these new toys for us:

    (1.) Siri, personal AI assistant --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MpjpVAB06O4

    (2.) Google Audio on.....an iPhone! --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rL_F6A2kT4

    (3.) Microsoft Speech --- http://blogs.msdn.com/speech/


    Yet some of the biggest voice-to-text companies being involved in controversies about how their transcriptions from the spoken word to text are not done by machines but rather by humans in a call center in the Asian sub-continent somewhere.

    There has also been talk about AI being the "next big thing" since the late 1960s and yet still no machine has passed the Turing test.

    Why not?

    Well, it goes down the to very core of the current limitations of code and the mathematics underpinning that code.

    Someone(s) (some Einstein-Babbage-daVinci-Smith-Alexander the Great-Elizabeth I-Mendelev-Shakespeare-Reimanns of this Web generation) need the imagination and technical rigor to derive some new codes.

    Then and only then would AI make that breakthrough and be able to contextualize and adapt in an equivalent way as a human brain. At the moment, AI --- like the search engines --- are approximators and probability machines. They're neither perception captors nor moral navigators.


    Anyway, in 10 years time, who knows? Maybe some of those South Korean kids we saw in Prog 4 will be "more intelligent than us" and will produce those mathematical codes and sentient AI.

    Then again.....................maybe lack of imagination and creativity might hold that discovery back.

  • Comment number 29.

    I have been watching the series and i have to say that I found them all very interesting engrossing! The points raised are valid and relevant to our time. As humans we have accepted the internet fully and without question as though we are in a coma. We need to be reminded through quality programmes likes these that the internet has both good and bad aspects. We cannot walk blindly forward and must be aware of the consequences.

    The Virtual Revolution series reminded me of the past when quality programmes were abundant on the BBC. Auntie, please please produce more of these quality programmes. Well done to the team!

  • Comment number 30.

    Please could somebody who understands both the underlying rationale to the "web animals" and Keirsey map the animals to the Keirsey Temperaments/roles/Variants? I'd also be interested in how they line up against MBTI. Any takers?

  • Comment number 31.

    First off - APOLOGIES to anyone who has experienced difficulties with the Web Test. It seems we weren't ready for the weight of traffic hitting the test all at once. I mean, when we said 'Come and take the web test on our site' we didn't think you actually would! ;)
    So, our site's strange ability to turn audience participation into a DoS attack aside... Please do try it again if you get a chance over the next few days. It would be interesting to hear what animals you are - and whether you feel it's a fair representation of your online behaviour.
    ----
    Many thanks to everyone for their considered comments on the episode and its subject. Again given the confines of a one hour programme some things have had to be missed out. That's where a blog and comments system allows us/you to fill in any gaps you feel build upon the story further - and the extra arguments and knowledge is much appreciated.
    Much to chew on here. It's interesting to see how people interpret the programme's message as optimistic / pessimistic re the web's effects upon us. Twitter search #bbcrevolution to see more discussion arising throughout the programme.
    Many thanks,
    Dan

  • Comment number 32.

    I thought it was slightly insulting that you put subtitles under the man from South Korea near the end of episode 4. I have spoken with supermarket checkout assistants and petrol station attendants in the UK who were harder to understand than him. What's next for the BBC, are you going to subtitle people from Glasgow or Newcastle as well?

  • Comment number 33.

    What on earth was Stephen Fry talking about? I agree it's great that there's so much information at our fingertips, but what about the earlier point that most of us just skim it? The only people who properly read, say, Tacitus on-line would do so in any form available.

    And call me a cynic, but it seems to me that whenever anyone uses the word "Celebrate" about anything other than birthdays / Christmas / BarMitzvahs / insert your event or anniversary of choice, they know their argument's running out of steam - particularly one as clever as he.

    Someone's probably going to tell me now that Tacitus is on Facebook, tweeting from his iClaudius.

  • Comment number 34.

    I am trying to get my hands on "good" research that can tell us if our ability to read and write for reasonably prolonged periods of time are being affected by our use of computers. Hard research to undertake. Any pointers would be welcome.

  • Comment number 35.

    Because it is easy, its not the way the brain remembers, our brains are an associate things we remember links that is how memory works. EG I remember my first girlfriends phone number because of the familiarity of all the thing associated with her and that that took time to be able to dial those numbers easilly, that took genuine biological need at that teenage time.

    So when I wish to know the capital of maine I will google and get that up and zap I will know it for a zap, The web edecates in a zap and you for get in a zap, because thats all it took. An edecation is dificult and worthwhile because you only will remember what came to you through feeling and association. Books as edecation beats the web and in time that will be realised.

    In the meantime it teaches to express but in a strange alien way it is not us or our young, but the web will respond, in the end it will find our biology.

  • Comment number 36.

    A big well done for a great series - it has been really interesting to see the finished product, after the build up with the competition, getting to watch through the interview footage and follow everything on the blog.

    I believe this has been a fantastic development for programme making - Digital/Virtual Revolution itself has been a groundbreaking TV series - from it's production, the competition, the website and blog. I really hope other television programmes follow the trend set by The Virtual Revolution - opening things up in such an innovative and collaborative way - much like what is discussed in the programme and its interview footage.

    The Digital Revolution competition was a really cool idea, encouraging people such as myself (Runner-Up... woo!) to get creative with such interesting source footage and interviews from some the great founders of the internet and would love to see more things like that from the BBC in the future.

    Once again, great series and I hope there is more to come from The Virtual Revolution team.

  • Comment number 37.

    @BBC --- Please can we have primetime programs on technology that are like a cross between ‘Click’, ‘Question Time’ and some sort of ‘Code Challenge?’ instead of more cookery shows. Cookery shows are great but maybe the UK should also educate and nurture technologists before the gap between the US, India and Asia Pacific countries and the UK is too wide?

    Roland wrote, “As humans we have accepted the internet fully and without question as though we are in a coma.” Well, there’s an entire raft of socio-economic policies from various political parties that we accept fully and don’t properly question.

    The choice of the word “coma” is an interesting one. There’s talk about us being able to build CONSCIOUSLY AWARE machines and yet, since all machines are built in our human mould, if we are not conscious ourselves then how can we build these consciously aware machines?

    “Coma” might also be used to describe how the global economy sleepwalked into the Credit Crunch and how the politicians’ lack of consciousness about technology (beyond pushing their messages via Twitter & FB groups) means that there was not a single discussion at G20 or Davos about how the Web contributed to the flows of capital and risk-taking that resulted in the financial crisis, nor how collaborative technology might be able to help economists and financiers CONTEXTUALIZE and CONNECT THE DOTS better to reduce the risks of future credit crunches happening on this scale.

    Context, collaboration and consciousness are my areas of interest in the Web and technology, btw.


    @Katherine of 9:48pm on 20 Feb 2010 who wrote: “I was interested in the ideas around educational development levels in Korea. This matches all developing countries. The necessity to develop engineers and new systems motivates learning in Science and Mathematics.”

    South Korea is not a developing country. It’s a developed country as are Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore. They are collectively known as the “Tiger economies”. It cannot be a developing country if Prog 4 informs us that its Internet connectivity speed is 10 times that of what’s available in the UK and 63% of 3-5 year olds spend at least 8 hours online everyday.

    What the program didn’t tell us is that the Oriental social networks discovered business models that work and are profitable 3 years before their Facebook, Twitter etc. counterparts. In fact, the Americans are copying those Asia Pacific business models, e.g. by offering digital goods for avatars in exchange for payment.

    Science and engineering are respected and invested in in Oriental societies for the simple fact that there is KUDOS to achieving in technically rigorous subjects. Unlike in some Western countries, scientists and engineers are not regarded as uncool, unglamorous geeks --- and unlike the “in” Bohemian dandies. Scientists and engineers are regarded as SMART in Oriental society and that’s the difference in mindsets and societal values.

    Meanwhile, scientists in the UK today don’t seem to be respected in the way they were during the Age of Enlightenment and the days of Newton, Faraday et al. In recent times, the UK's budget for science education has been repeatedly cut:

    http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/thesword/2009/12/uk-science-budget-cut-by-600-m.html


    Additionally, when there is open criticism of Baroness Susan Greenfield, until recently Director of the Royal Institution, then there too are signs that all is not so well in UK science:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blog/2010/jan/11/susan-greenfield-sacking-royal-institution


    Now compare this with the US where President Obama is increasing investment in science, undid 8 years of Bush and appoints the most senior Web people to his National Science Council:

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/President-Obama-Announces-Members-of-Science-and-Technology-Advisory-Council/

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/02/science/02nih.html

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8020930.stm

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jan/30/davos-energy

    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2004-04/aaft-upb_2041904.php


    Compare the UK’s cuts also with India, Asia Pac countries and Brazil during this period:

    http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2009/07/china-sets-huge.html

    http://www.scidev.net/en/news/india-increases-science-budget-by-24-per-cent.html

    http://www.scidev.net/en/china/news/brazil-awaits-approval-of-huge-science-budget.html?utm_source=link&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=en_china_news


    Contrast these increases with what happened to Russia when it cut its science and technology budgets:

    http://www1.voanews.com/english/news/science-technology/Report-Says-Russia-Losing-Edge-in-Science-83454687.html



    No, I’m not in education or the BBC and my perspectives aren’t oriented from any personal politics. I simply want to put into context how science and technology are regarded and valued within different societies.

  • Comment number 38.

    On the subject of how our brains are being affected by Web usage and its implications for our intelligence, education, memory recall etc. and all other elements associated with the human brain, physiology and development I have this to say:

    I likened the Web to a fishing rod in a previous thread on this blog. If we can’t catch fish or the wrong one, we shouldn’t blame that fishing rod. The responsibility is on US, OUR HUMAN INTELLIGENCE. The fishing rod cannot contextualize the terrain in which we go fishing for information. The fishing rod also cannot remember why one spot was better for fishing than another. The fishing rod also cannot determine the velocity (speed and direction) of the currents that bring the fish towards us. The fishing rod cannot tell us to step up on the rocks or to risk standing in the deep pools because that’s where the salmons of wisdom happen to be.

    We control and are responsible for the fishing rod, not vice versa.

    As for whether children should en masse get online before they have the foundations of the 3Rs………Well………..

    We learn how to sit up properly and to concentrate on what our parents are trying to communicate when they teach us how to speak before we’re taught to crawl, to stand up, to walk, to jump, to stand on one leg, to jog, to run, to sprint, to throw a ball, to kick a ball, to cartwheel, and then to apply all those skills (physiological, audiovisual spatial reasoning, collaborative) to play sports.

    Ergo, letting children sprint on the Web before they know how to sit still and concentrate or walk properly will only lead to them being easily distracted, falling over and injuries.

    Having said this, it IS possible for the Web to train our brains in a positive way. For those concerned about how it may erode our natural neurals, anecdotally I would suggest we look towards Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Vint Cerf, Steward Brandt, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Michael Bloomberg, Mark Zuckerberg, Alan Kay et al. They’ve been online most of their lives and yet are capable of great concentration, innovation and contextualization of how technology fits into society, can advance (or, at least) facilitate it and how it can be made into US$ billion businesses which create employment and corporate taxes for government to spend with.

    So should we panic about the kids being online and supposed neural development arrest (supposed since there is NO DEFINITIVE EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE YET) OR do we imagine that one of those kids --- if appropriately nurtured --- might be the next Steve Jobs and we concentrate our efforts on finding and implementing those appropriate possibilities of nurturing genius with the Web as ONE of those tools?

  • Comment number 39.

    Really liked the link you made in the fourth programme between Norbert Winer's feedback loop for anti-aircraft gunners in WWII (ie breaking down the division between people and systems) and the radical impact of the status updates within Facebook (and the likes of Twitter...).

  • Comment number 40.

    i think that the internets is a pretty cool thing, yo.

    but not facebook, i agree with stephen fry, get rid of it, it is no good for anything and should be got rid of.

  • Comment number 41.

    I'm surprised they spent ten minutes on the obvious fact that some of your Facebook friends are actually only acquaintances. As if we didn't know already.

    And our urge to reach out to our real friends via the web comes about partly because we often live isolated lives these days, community is not what it once was.

  • Comment number 42.

    the world is always changing we have different priorities as we did say 100 years ago, we no longer have the same need to physically protect our tribes from neighbouring tribes, everything is becoming esier faster and less physically stressfull.

    the internet is more a symptom of this than a cause, our lives are more segregated than ever before, in these recent times especially work and money take a priority in the care and wellbeing of our families, because of this shift in technology and the world industries moving towards a faster wired comunity (time is money) the new working generation are required to have a grasp of computers and the internet, this trend is causing a lot if not all schools and parents to teach kids about the internet, kids being kids and more inclined to talk to friends and play games that work they grow up using things like bebo and youtube and as with my generation move to facebook and other media sites that relate to their interests (forums, bbc sites, shopping).

    ofcourse there are always other factors that influence internet use and internets influence upon us, mobile internet will generally result in its users proportionally using the internet more than pc users because of its ease of access, weather this causes our brains to remember less because of the ease to which we can get information at speed i am unsure, im sure there are various studies with conflicting outcomes but i cant see that it has made a difference to my ability to remember things or my hunger for knowledge

  • Comment number 43.

    Yeah, it was a good series.
    Aleks discussing Internet addiction too! - I almost fell out of my chair.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/digitalrevolution/2009/09/aleks-krotoski-on-the-web-rewiring-us.shtml
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/digitalrevolution/2009/09/revolution-roundup-week-nine.shtml

    I hope you found this experiment in an open, collaborative production useful and the input to blogs useful to VR - and not so off-putting that you'd consider repeating it for a future series?

    I think this blog has seen a very high & focused (and courteous) standard of contribution, particularly when compared to many other BBC blogs.
    I certainly have been engaged, stimulated and challenged by many of the contributions.

    Given the amount of material you gathered in the interviews - of which only a fraction made the series - and the range of topics covered in the blogs there certainly would be scope for a second series.

    Given how fast the web and technology changes and evolves and impacts our lives in ever increasing ways there is a case that a series like VR should be an ongoing project. This ongoing revolution and how it affects us and our world is too important to ignore.

    It's been fun. Ciao.

    PS. PNAB. Keep those synapses firing. Hope your tech shapes web 3.0. :-)

  • Comment number 44.

    I think I accepted an agreement at the start of the test, that in return for my time, you were going to give me the test results. But instead your system gave me a "500 Internal Error"... repeatedly!!! Surely the least you can do when people give of their time, is to make sure your applications work!

    Now you can decide... what kind of web user am I?

  • Comment number 45.

  • Comment number 46.

    I empathise with Andi Ye (blog 44) when I reached the final 2 tests the programme failed to activate the 'YES' button to allow me to complete the tests. Based on this I was classified as a web elephant. Apart from the insulting analogy, it somewhat took the sparkle from an otherwise brilliant series. Then, to further denegrate the technology my emails were ignored!! Lookit, you're the ones who wanted to do this, so don't come back whingeing about heavy traffic, answer if we can, blah blah blah...it's the WEB remember?

    PS is Aleks on twitter?

    Cheers,

    Big James the 'Elephant'

  • Comment number 47.

    I’m coming out of the other side of middle age. I have been using computers for the last twenty years, developing with the web. They are a wonderful tool and toy.
    Watching the generations below me my fear is that the younger they are the more they appear less to know the difference. I make myself stop and read a good book because I know it's good for me. I came out of the test as a hedgehog, something I found very reassuring.
    Technology is becoming dangerous for those just walking in the street. I'm sure there are many others like me that have been walked into in the street because that person has been texting or playing games. The law has been put into place banning mobiles while driving not that it has been much use.
    We must be very careful of computers. Yes they are expanding the number and range of people we can talk to. But let's not forget how we should talk to people

  • Comment number 48.

    Ich bin Drachen!!!

    Whoops..........Wrong Chinese New Year, not one of the 8 animal classifications in the Web Animals test and I just wanted to write something in German since the commentator Evocatus rightly pointed out : "Wember "Wie informiert das Fernsehen" (we whom inform television) on the Prog 3 threads.

    :*)

    @SheffTim --- Thanks for all the kind wishes, wit and patience exploring plasticity, education and many other diverse Web elements with me and everyone else whose synapses sparked during the production gestation. All credit to TaiwanChallenges and yourself for being influences for the inclusion of the addition segment! Yes, I spotted that too!


  • Comment number 49.

    I enjoyed the series, but felt the focus was too much on the potential downsides of the Internet and was therefore overall quite downbeat and pensive. Also amazing that the subject of porn was hardly mentioned because if there is one industry that has been revolutionised by the Internet, surely this is it? And I often wonder what effect on society and growing up this will have?
    I'd like to see more generalist programmes on the Internet. I still feel that the vast majority of people haven't a clue about how to benefit from what it has to offer and are still intimidated by the whole computer thing.

  • Comment number 50.

    It's a very interesting program that brings up a lot of good points for discussion.

    Dr Aleks Krotoski says the web gives us a voice and levels society. I would have to disagree as although this is true it is dependent on if people listen (for example if no-one follows me on Twitter I do not have a voice). Also, the web does not level society as the costs to connect to the web still prohibit some people from gaining access to it.

    My parents used to complain about me using the internet too much but I would argue that they use the car too much (the car being the new technology they grew up with and are addicted to).

    Susan Greenfield's arguement is similar to the way Jamie Oliver campaigned for kids to eat more healthily, it's all up to the parents.

    Do South Korean children learn English as that is the most pervasive language on the web?

    What protest was at point 49:42 in episode 4?

  • Comment number 51.

    Not too sure how I can contribute to this phenomenal debate other than to say... As someone who just finished producing the web based teaching materials for the OCR Media Studies A2 syllabus on Media in the Online Age, Globalisation and 'We' Media, boy do I wish this had come out last year!

    This series has been so engaging, relevant and accessible. An ambitious project, to say the least, and one that I know my students and I can explore to gain a better understanding of the Online Age that we are immersed in.

    Expect lots more A-level students to join in the debate.

    THANK YOU!

  • Comment number 52.

    There's something missing from the analysis in this programme. The same old issues of assuming one-size-fits-all, or that we're all made the same way and need to be developed the same way.

    There are many different types of minds, with different capabilities. This is to be expected from an evolutionary perspective - we have the variation, and maybe what we're seeing with the internet is a change in environment that's causing a resultant change in the natural selection that's going on. Are we really seeing minds change as a result of lots of screen time? Or were internet addicts aground in medieval times, but with no internet around to select for them? The internet, and computing in general, has opened up a whole set of opportunities for the insular geek whose weird thought processes may have marked him out as a barer of ill spirits in the passed. Take a look at this:

    http://www.ted.com/talks/temple_grandin_the_world_needs_all_kinds_of_minds.html

    And, as for the social networking sites, they provide opportunities were once there were none. I'm able to keep in touch easily with my two kids who work around the world. I've met up with old school friends because regular contact has been re ignited - after a forty year gap, we're back in touch; I remember now why they were friends then. It wouldn't have happened without the internet. And even the more mundane is enhanced - I'm prompted to remember birthdays and other events I might have forgotten. I witness new great events in friends' lives and so am able to share in their life stories and offer timely congratulations where otherwise our busy lives would not have crossed paths. I don't have thousands of friends on Facebook, I have a few. Some I might not contact actively online for months - but it's nice to see theiy're still alive, and what they're up to. As I keep my eye on them I know too they will be doing the same. I don't feel any insecurity when I don't get any wall messages for a long while. I don't have a problem rejecting a request to be friends from someone - I don't expect to be buddies with everyone. I use it and I enjoy it for what it is.

    The concern about screen time is being wasted on a passing technological phase. Printed books have been with us for nearly 600 years. The personal computer screen about 30. Before the first 100 years of IT, let alone 600, the need to be sat alone at a screen will have gone - it's on its way out now. We'll have implants or enhanced brains, we'll be totally mobile connected (and if that's too spooky for you, don't worry, your probably the kind of Luddite that won't accept an anti-aging regime, so you won't be around).

    My 82 year old mother is online. Stop whining, learn how to get the best out of it, and get on with it, embrace it.

  • Comment number 53.

    So we are in the loop now just as the guns were with the radar in World War Two. We are still using this loop to 'Shoot Down Fascists' as well. In a metaphorical way of course. But is fascism always bad? When it applies to stopping Climate Change for example? And are our enemies using it through recruitment and training to shoot down what they see as our fascism?
    Surely there is a time to follow a leader when the fate of the planet and our survival is in the balance?

  • Comment number 54.

    well those russians idiots dont have the right to say that there goverment didnt had something to do with the ddos attack on estonia...
    if the people in the uk had a statue on some SS natzi soldier in the middle of london would not you want to remove it???

  • Comment number 55.

    Hi and thank you for this wonderful and inspirational series. I started my career as an ICT trainer in 1995, at a time when the internet was rapidly infiltrating commerce, education, information sharing, entertainment, etc. It is said that necessity is the mother of invention. The arrival of printing press has heralded technological advancement and opened new horizons in the world of education, but it has also highlighted a lesser acknowledged reality: that humans were becoming less capable of committing information to memory by the natural method of hearing and repetition. To quickly access stored information when our memories failed us, we developed tables of contents and indexes. Similarly, the arrival of the computers signals that humans ability to naturally memorise information has further deteriorated, therefore the necessity for digital 'memories', from the humble USB stick to digital warehouses. To quickly access this vast and ever changing world of information, we have developed hyperlinks and feeds. Computer technology is thus catering for our increased inability to retain information naturally, but is it also changing the way we discriminate which information to 'memorise'? With so much available, and for ever being updated, will we not become averse to memorising altogether, preferring to click on-a-need-to-know basis?

  • Comment number 56.

    The Web is a wonderful FREE thing , and MUST stay that way.. Say NO to the Governments "Internet 2" censorship .. Advertising is ALWAYS a choice ! People have always purchased what they wanna purchase if it be online or passing shops ! Choice Choice Choice ! Lets keep it that way!
    If search engines make money, then great ! good for them. If people get "selected" based on what they search for then there is still CHOICE to buy things or not! People who dont want sales traffic will simply soon learn to use different names & emails & ways of stopping cookies !
    Lets make sure the BBC DONT lean towards this global governments idea of a censored style internet 2 .
    Keep it FREE & keep forums & blogs live !

    So what! they get money for clicking traffic ! PEOPLE STILL HAVE TO CLICK OR NOT CLICK !
    its no different to any other targeted advertising... its as if its suggested that people dont have a choice.
    related products can also be a wonderful thing! If you dont want something SIMPLY DONT BUY IT!
    Dont let this program "The Virtual Revolution" suggest people are stupid ! in order to suggest reducing freedoms & liberty !
    Long live the wonderful internet AS IT IS ..

  • Comment number 57.

    I watched this series with interest but was dismayed by the gross over-simplification in the comment “as young South Koreans grow up in their super-charged digital world they regularly top the world’s education league tables." As an English teacher in South Korea I would suggest that Korean students top the world's education league tables because they regularly attend after school classes at academies (or 'hagwons'). I have students of ten and eleven years of age who are still studying at 11 o'clock at night and then return home to do homework and that is not unusual in Korea. As they grow older the pressure to succeed in educational terms becomes enormous. I would suggest that this reflects a viewpoint of both the Korean government and Korean parents who saw education as a fundamental tool for escaping the poverty of the country after the Korean war and it is a testament to the hard-working and self-sacrificing nature of the Korean people to how this country has developed so far in such a short time.

  • Comment number 58.

    I just want to say that i found the series very interesting. It was nice to hear from people who were the at the beginning and how it has changed over the decades... It was indeed very different back then. (9.6 Kbps modem and at national call rate)...

    One comment:
    The internet has given me more information about more subjects and potentially puts me in contact with more people, customers, at faster speeds than ever before.
    I spend more time on the web (18 hrs a day at least – not social networking -just working!) and have less time on my hands than ever before.

    One question:
    Why Stephen Fry???

  • Comment number 59.

    I am 23 years of age, and i had the internet at a very young age compaired to may people in my age bracket (the age of 9). I remember the horrible speeds of dial up and how broadband more than anything has been the driving force behind the way the internet is used in the home.

    I use the internet for most of its mainstream uses, learning, social sites, buying, gaming, streaming, downloading, uploading, holidays and reserch. Saying that i also have a large (not extencive) collection of books on computing, wargames, science and history.... sometimes you need a break from screens and to just crack open a good book.

    HAHA i even work for a major ISP, so the internet to me is a lifeline in both income and in the ability to kick back and relax, i do think my life would be totally different without the internet.

  • Comment number 60.

    Quite simply, where is the physical in all this? Getting on the bus to go to the library, walking downstairs to get the dictionary, looking through the bookshelves, catching the train to visit the man who wrote that poem..? The web/internet is encouraging stasis and immobility and lazyness. I love the internet, but this programme scared me – are we encouraging a generation of kids who stay put in front of their screens? Blob Blob Blob.

  • Comment number 61.

    Excellent programme, I particularly liked the last episode which raised the issue of how we absorb and digest information and whether the web is changing how we do so. Well, it's quite clear that it is, but surely it boils down to the QUALITY of that information which matters. I now read more words on a screen than I do in books and though I'm 49, I do the quick scan through of a webpage just like many younger people do. The difference though, is that I've read quite alot of books and have a context to put new information in, which many younger people have not, so I truly wonder where this is going to lead. Whole generations of people may end up knowing all sorts of things about alot of different subjects, but not in much depth or with much context. I really dont know, but from observing my 16 year old son and his friends, they may have access to more information than ever before and have more connectivity with social cyberspace, but they still lack a fundamental understanding of what to me are basic facts. It's not that I'm trying to put them down, what it is, is a genuine fear for their future and how they'll deal with the challenges which are going to happen in the next few decades. They'll find their way, I'm sure, but I wonder how much the web will affect their ability to process information. We'll find out soon enough.

  • Comment number 62.

    Where its Going, no one knows, (so the BBC and gov tell us so).

    I see the web as a beautiful and necessary part of evolution, bringing new opportunities and dreams to all. Alas the powers that be see it as a threat in its raw and free state, but with their assistance it can be moulded to ensure the current subjugation we all enjoy can be perpetuated for longer.
    I think they see the advent of the WWW akin to the time when man started to use money instead of bartering a chicken or a few carrots, ( for the veggies of course). Since when has the government’s given anything free or aided to the unwashed masses? Yet our G is giving poor family’s and schools aid in purchasing PC’s and web connections, is this a change of heart and a brave new world beginning? They know how uncontrollable and fickle the web can be to politicians, is this a suicidal action concocted on a Friday afternoon? On the face of it this charitable gesture looks good to the Fox’s and their limited or none existent understanding of policies enacted by G. Our “bite” sized education and easier exams ensure we have no Rebels or protesters whilst we can all check out our popularity and prestige online. The recent glitch in the banking world which caused such a catastrophe to the “simple” people who have been forced to use such facilities has demonstrated just how corrupt all of our G’s are.
    So now just imagine, we all have PC’s and conduct all of our business and education and social life online, not a problem at the moment, but once the G has full control just think how they could manipulate and control you. We need as a matter of course identification to do even simple things like open a bank account, get employment etcetera! Imagine a time when you can be paid in “credits” to be used online. Imagine a time when you “must” be registered to go online no free surfing no www connections to the unregistered. No conversation with undesirable people or company’s or any party disagreeing with the G, the option to view them just wont be there, the G knows what is best for you so trust them as you have done in the past! They will be honest, reputable and have your interests first over there own, as they have shown us in the recent past. At that time anyone wishing to buy or sell will need G’s approval. Even quality items may only be available to followers of the G of the day using the sophisticated filters that are employed at this moment in time. They could tell by your Emails, (which are again filtered at this time), where our allegiances lie. Dependant upon how well you support your G will give you “prestigious” points enabling you to improve your situation and access to more sites. Did you know that “everything” you do online in the UK has to travel through 7 BT Servers and is censored for buzz words! That’s to catch terrorists they tell us. Once we are fully dependant on the www then the G will show the real reasons for there charitable works. I no longer believe or trust what our G says, a few years ago I could chat with anyone anywhere, Iraq, Iran or even Afghanistan, not with their G’s or operatives but with their general public like you or I, and find out their thought’s, Ideas and dreams, not the unadulterated bullshit that is spewed out by the affluent west’s journalistic puppets.
    To gain more control of the web the G will tell us there are subversive forces at work that need containing and that they require more funds and power to resolve that particular problem and you my friend will say yeah!
    The WWW is almost dead and we are watching it die.

  • Comment number 63.

    " Modernape wrote:
    I'm surprised they spent ten minutes on the obvious fact that some of your Facebook friends are actually only acquaintances. As if we didn't know already. "

    Agreed, some of it was a little too simplistic. For the nigh-time dedicated audience, and all... Overall, a reasonably good documentary though.

  • Comment number 64.

    Excellent Programme... but what a frump the Presenter is, she desperately needs a make over. Why should this matter? Well a classic line in a well know movie says it all....

    If a women dresses impeccably then you don’t notice the women, you notice the person


  • Comment number 65.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbu9DTRLbjg
    The film After the news is a short film investigates one possible future. The film is educational highlighting the technology and the Internet changes and impacts on industries, individuals freedom, children safety and knowledge. Greenfield warns social networking sites are changing children's brains, resulting in selfish and attention deficient young people. Social network sites risk infantilising the mid-21st century mind, leaving it characterised by short attention spans, sensationalism, inability to empathise and a shaky sense of identity, according to a leading neuroscientist.

  • Comment number 66.

    Is the Internet Screwing Up Our Kids?

    Media researcher Wadi Hassan has made a charming and thoughtful video about two children from the next century discovering how the Internet changed their minds - as predicted in a rather alarming speech by scientist Susan Greenfield.

    Clay Nicholls from Dadlabs speaks in defence of the Net and Video games, while I muse about being part of the television generation.

    Judge for yourself with the video, but my (incredibly ill-informed) opinion is that any effects are related to behaviour and so are more of habit than biological or chemical. In other words, media consumption certainly impacts on us as social beings and so we can choose to change the impacts and effects. And often we will make more creative results out of these influences.
    http://www.charliebeckett.org/?p=2530

  • Comment number 67.

    @BCBear: Here’s one for you.

    If a person writes impeccably you don’t notice their foolishness, you notice their wit --- APNAB.


  • Comment number 68.

    In case you didn't understand that one there's always Confucius and Abe Lincoln: ’Tis better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”


    Aleks has a media column on technology and a Ph.D. on the social psychology of online communities. Meanwhile, you may want to check your spelling, grammar and punctuation and then ask yourself whether looks matter more than brains.

    For a documentary marking one of the most revolutionary inventions of our species, it matters not one iota what she or any other presenter wears.

  • Comment number 69.

    @GeorgeGee: what you call the “recent glitch” apparently resulted in global governments committing US$11.4 TRILLION (and rising) in the form of bank bailouts, fiscal measures like quantitative easing and more according to this tweet from OECD Insights in January 2010:

    http://twitter.com/OECD/status/7943404301

    Meanwhile, Business Insider quotes US$23.7 TRILLION:

    http://www.businessinsider.com/total-bailout--237-trillion-2009-7


    Now, here's a curiosity for us all.

    Both twitter and Business Insider are gaining reputations for being at the cutting-edge of technology and real-time dissemination of information not previously available; providing us with insights from within non-democratic countries and explaining how technology companies make their money, respectively.

    Yet this is also a clear example of the Web’s current limitations.

    Even though I’m reasonably adept at searching I would challenge everyone to try and qualify that tweet and that BI link by finding the original source materials that provide those figures.

    The fact is they’re difficult - if not impossible - to find.

    So what exactly is happening with search engines and our ability to crosscheck information before it becomes accepted as fact in the era of the Web?

    Also, let’s ask ourselves this, “Where are the balances and checks so that a tweet is subject to the same standards of journalism and editorialism as established media? Standards which mean that inaccurate or misrepresentative reporting may lead to legal action?”

    Next, let's multiply out from that small example of a tweet that can’t be crosschecked with all the inaccurate, unverifiable, incomplete, poorly logged, poorly tagged, absolute nonsense or unconnected information out there --- online, within banking systems, within search engines……..

    It’s easy to then see that we live in a world of imperfect and incomplete information that is not only being spread via printed books but now propagated a million-fold via the Web. This is all before we even get to whether that information is contextual and coherent, btw.

    Why does this matter?

    Well, one of Adam Smith’s key assumptions in his General Theory of Equilibrium is that there is “complete information”. This is why it’s so funny (bewildering even) for the monetarists to argue that Adam Smith provides the answer to dealing with the financial crisis. In other words, we redress the balance of the debts owed by the banks by printing more money.

    Here’s the thing: if the Bank of England / the FED etc. have INCOMPLETE INFORMATION then monetarist policy does not result in equilibrium because the basic assumptions are all awry!

    Ok, so that’s the first insight from the global crisis and people much cleverer than me like John Nash have mathematically proven that Adam Smith’s assumptions of perfect and complete information are wrong, and that asymmetric information is the actuality (asymmetric meaning imperfect).

    The next insight then is about the Web. I’ve noted before that none of the world’s great economists (Adam Smith, David Ricardo, JM Keynes, Mundell-Fleming, John Nash himself) were born or lived during the era of the Web. This means that applying their tools to what is a crisis facilitated and accelerated by Web technology is frankly MYOPIC on the part of the governments, central banks etc.

    What’s even more surprising is that they all gathered at Davos and the G20 meetings and not a single panel addressed examining how the Web and technology need to be improved to prevent a re-occurrence of the Credit Crunch.

    The Web contributed in three ways:

    (1.) Viral spread of incomplete (and sometimes inaccurate) information about mortgage products over banking systems beyond borders.

    (2.) Real-time straight through processing, which means huge volumes of money are transferred in nanoseconds of a click.

    (3.) It facilitated borderless transactions so toxic assets which were the problem of one bank in one country were moved and deposited to another bank in another country.


    So it’s not simply about bankers’ greed or these market and regulatory reforms, it’s actually about bankers trading products based on poor quality information and governments architecting reforms based on sub-standard information.

    Relevance? Well……

    Program 4 poses the question about how the Web is affecting us and our future development.

    It really should not be a situation of “them against us”:

    • government control versus freedom of people

    • oldies, Luddites and killjoys versus the tech-savvy, young and curious

    • Google and other tech oligopolies versus the SME and entrepreneurial

    • the book educated versus the online learners

    • the capitalists against the communists against the fascists against the technologists


    It should be about US AGAINST IMPERFECT, INCOMPLETE AND UNRELIABLE INFORMATION. Us against ignorance and myopia, if you will.

    It’s not the systems we need to over concern ourselves with (those we can change --- whether via a democratic vote / boycott of that company / etc), it’s the information content and the QUALITY and CONTEXT of it online that we need to tackle.

    It is up to us to move the Web towards better quality information, to be the balances and checks of that information responsibly and collectively, and to apply that information collaboratively in ways which make us all more intelligent and capable and contribute to solving problems.

    There are serious common challenges: global poverty, eradication of diseases, educational equivalence for more not less people, climate evolution, etc.

    However, we cannot solve these challenges if imperfect information exists and persists.

    Imperfect information leads to imperfect buying, trading and loss of competitiveness resulting in imperfect markets and cycles of economic disasters. Economic disasters mean that we end up not having the budgets to take care of our loved ones, wider communities or the planet.

    As for the neuroscience of it all and Professor Greenfield’s theories, well………

    I’m female and more than half her age. When I was a child, I played ‘shoot ‘em up’ electronic games and spent hours in front of computer screens and online. Contrary to being unable to concentrate or becoming sedentary I was top of my mixed English and Chinese schools and captain of sports.

    Now, as an adult and as a woman, I want to be at the forefront of developing and coding those tools that enable better quality of information, reduce spam/marketing nonsense and that put the controls of and rewards from that information back into our hands.

    So onto Rik Veda’s comments about how it’s good that search engines make money (and off us from Alek’s reportage, btw) and that we have choices over advertising (aka occasional spam targeting)……………

    Ok, I like advertising because it can encourage creative genius, commonality and aspirations. These are all positives for human development.

    However, search engines are propagating the imperfect information in the way they rank the importance and relevance of that information, so much so that Google is now subject to legal action in the EU

    http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2010/02/three-antitrust-complaints-lodged-against-google-in-europe

    http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/100226-144308


    Now, I like Google in the way I like every other search engine. I have no issues with the search companies. I do, though, have issues with the computational mathematics and some of the unimaginative and unilateral business models underpinning them.

    There are alternatives out there. Alternatives where there may even be reciprocity of rewards towards users. Admittedly, some of that computational mathematics doesn’t exist yet but it’s already imagined so……………just like Da Vinci didn’t live to see a helicopter being built, this doesn’t mean that smarter alternatives to existing search engines and their business models aren’t possible or that they can’t be built.

    Now, if I manage to get my tools incubated successfully, then as of 2012………USERS and not only the companies are going to earn money for providing better quality information.

    That’s right: USERS ARE GOING TO BE REWARDED FOR MAKING THE WEB A HIGHER QUALITY SPACE.
    That should disrupt the Web and economic models in a good way and….

    POSSIBLY PREVENT MY KIDS’ GENERATION FROM ANOTHER GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS ARISING FROM IMPERFECT, INCOMPLETE AND INCOHERENT INFORMATION.

    “Do no evil?”

    How about “Be champions of the good?”


    Oh, and it will definitely help when more women get involved in the hard coding of the LANGUAGE and structure of the Web because, otherwise, the Web will never become fully socialized, realized, contextualized or make sense. If Al Gore and others liken the Web to a "Global Brain" then think carefully about how our young brains became aware of language, context, communication, ambiguity, etc. and were shaped and socialized.

    That's right WOMEN: our mothers, our teachers, our female friends --- as much as by our fathers and other male role models.

    Maybe that's the influence of my Chinese heritage: "WOMEN HOLD UP HALF THE SKY!"

    So we need to become 50% of building the Cloud.

  • Comment number 70.

    Oh and as for the likes of Charlie Beckett of Polis (a joint effort between the LSE and London College of Communications):

    * http://www.polismedia.org/aboutus.aspx


    Instead of giving media oxygen to Professor Susan Greenfield's as-yet empirically unsubstantiated theories on how the Web is "infantilizing our brains", it may be more worth the LSE's time to actually do economic analysis on how the Web contributed to the global financial crisis since there we do have empirical data from the global electronic trading systems.

    After that, perhaps an eminent LSE professor can derive a new definition for economics that updates Lionel Robbin's one of: “Economics is the science which studies human behavior as a relationship between given ends and scarce means which have alternative uses.”


    There is a scarcity of QUALITY information and context online. Solve, please.

  • Comment number 71.

    Regarding the web animal test;
    I found it interesting how you do associate social networking with quickness, but NOT using social networking to find information with slowness.
    For example I got the "Bear" result, but I spend a lot of my time on Facebook and similar social networking; however I know NOT to trust these websites (along with Wikipedia) when it comes to looking for information because it is all written by normal people, not scientists. If I'm looking for detailed information on, say, when the Romans invaded Britain, I'm not going to ask on Facebook (or even Yahoo answers), I'm going to go to a specific website that will have the exact information I need.
    Social network use =/= quick, unthinking information gathering.

  • Comment number 72.

    The Web Behaviour Test keeps on crashing -I couldn't get past the first page. Slightly ironic.

    I do believe internet is changing our minds and culture and that we will co-evolve with our changing environment including the internet.

    I used to think there was a danger of commodifying relationships and introducing the capitalist competitive spirit to previously intimate relationships, but actually, people just treat 'virtual friends' as a new category of relationships, in themselves trivial and fleeting, and I now find it tends more to clarify the differences between aquintainces, 'friendlies' I do enjoy hanging out with when we happen to coincide but wouldn't particularly make an effort to find again, friends I do certain things together with, real close friends who we can almost read each other's minds half the time and would do whatever we could to help each other in need and know we can rely on each other, and one or two 'soulfriends' who I feel completely deeply ultimately compatible with.

    I've experienced a lot of disadvantages with the internet but overall I think it's mostly positive.

  • Comment number 73.

    @Aleks Krotoski --- A “Eureka / Badda-Bing!” epiphany happened today, all arising from serendipity. Let me share this here on ‘Homo Interneticus’ because it bridges a few themes of the program:

    (1.) Information on the Web.
    (2.) Purpose of the Web.
    (3.) Who we are and what we think, feel and believe in relation to the Web.
    (4.) How our information and digi-worth are being calculated.
    (5.) The future of information, its value, collaboration and us on the Web.


    First, here’s some situational context.

    Today I was walking past a station when I saw a stack of free newspapers, so I picked up a copy. It was a supplement to the ‘Observer on Sunday’. I thought, “Wow, that’s odd!” since it was the first time I’ve ever seen any Sunday supplement being distributed for free. ‘Evening Standard’ and ‘Metro’ during the week, yes, but a broadsheet’s supplement and on a Sunday? No.

    Now I have an admission to make: I’ve read the ‘Observer on Sunday’ less than a handful of times to-date. I don’t buy it. I don’t surf the online version either.

    Anyway, flicking through I happened on the ‘My Bright Idea’ column with Professor Vlatko Vedral, a quantum physicist at Oxford and in Singapore:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/mar/07/vlatko-vedral-interview-aleks-krotoski

    Here’s another admission: this was the first time I became aware of this column.

    The print version I read originally shows Professor Vedral with an equation written on his hand:

    I = log (1/p)


    This intrigued me. There was no definition provided about what “I” and “p” represent but I soon reasoned that I must be “information” and p is “particle” from what he said in the text. It helps to have a maths degree. Now if we assume that p is essentially the number of particles where p ≠ 1, then (as an example) in a network like the Web where there is 1 particle or computer node, we get:

    I = log (1/1) = 0
    If p=2, then I = -0.301029996
    If p=3, then I = -0.477121255
    If p=1,000,000, then I = -6

    So what does this mean? Well, if we assume Professor Vedral’s equation is valid, then the more number of particles there are the quantitative value of the Information decreases. In other words, as it relates to the computing nodes of the Web, the more the number of nodes, the lesser the value of the information.

    So is this not contrary to the network effect theory as well as the fact that more nodes means a multiplication of information rather than a reduction?

    Well, it could be argued that we’ve seen a proliferation of computer nodes (whether as servers, as PCs, as mobile devices like the iPhone, as social networks, as search engines) and the value of all the information churning out from these sources has exponentially decreased simply because………

    THERE’S TOO MUCH OF IT AND NO WAY TO CONTEXTUALIZE IT!


    Next let's tie this in with the what I'm calling the "Probability Paradox of Non-Qualifiable Value". For those unfamiliar with mathematics that equation, I = log (1/p), can be related to the Poisson distribution theory. An explanation can be studied here:

    http://mathworld.wolfram.com/PoissonDistribution.html

    Now you (Aleks) asked an important question: “How can you explain the emergence of free will, of faith, of any subjective construct if information defined in your theory is binary, a yes or a no?”

    Dr Vardal makes an important concession that “I just don't think anyone yet knows how to approach it.”

    “So what?” you may all ask. “What does quantum physics have to do with the Web and this documentary?”

    The APNAB answer is this: Voilà, the Probability Paradox of Non-Qualifiable Value. Therein lies the reason the search engines and sentiment engines, whilst they can index a lot of information, have no way of contextualizing any of it beyond absolute determinants (+1, 0, -1, noun tags, the probability of that tag being associated with that tag to make recommendations based on percentage of overlap).

    Therein is also the reason the search engines accumulate more and more data points from our emails, our tweets, our social network threads etc. via scraping or extraction cookies because the fact about systems based on Bayes and probability sets is that the larger the data set the greater the confidence that the spread of the information variability is low, i.e. more accurate and relevant.

    However, as is being shown time and time again………search engines are flawed and don’t surface 100% PRECISELY we’re really looking for, only a probability that this is what it calculates what it infers we’re looking for.

    Even with the current approach to semantic structuring in the Semantic Web Stack this is the case.

    Yes, it’s great there is deterministic and probabilistic mathematics --- a marriage between Newtonian mechanics and Pascalian randomness (Blaise Pascal, btw) --- but……..

    WHERE IS THE CRICK-WATSON GENETICISM (and more)???!!!

    It’s no wonder search engines (including semantic ones), sentiment engines and information they extract is non-optimal. It’s no wonder they can’t capture ambiguity or subjectivity when the probabilistic algorithms behind them are reliant on -1 / 0 / +1 quantities.


    Anyway, Professor Vedral’s supposition in the article --- whilst interesting and there's no doubting his qualifications --- is open to question in order to derive some answers instead of some more questions. He argues that information is a necessary precursor to particles, which are a priori to atoms. I use the term “precursor” deliberately because then the information would be iterated and be put into a recursive loop until it somehow transformed into a particle.

    Yet Newton’s first law of motion (also known as “law of inertia”) states: “Every object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force.”
    Ergo if Newton holds true, then that information quantity postulated by Professor Vedral would simply traverse in a loop or stay stationary and NOT transform into a particle unless……….it’s impacted by other information.

    Likewise, on the Web, information (of and in itself) is a quantity with no velocity or value until some force brings another piece of information to the party.

    A-HA! But………………….how can that information be QUALIFIED to determine whether a particle can be made with it???!!!

    When a search engine, recommendation engine or sentiment engine surfaces a quantitative list of links that are PROBABILITY INDEXED, where are the tools to qualify that information to determine whether a particle can be made from it?

    The APNAB answer is this: They don’t exist yet because the computational mathematics doesn’t yet exist. The computational mathematics doesn’t yet exist because few have had the imagination to source --- even invent ---- alternatives to Bayes, natural language and chaos theory to the problem of ambiguity and non-probabilistic inheritance capture.

    I’m already on that journey, though, if it helps.


    Professor Vedral also says, “When you strip out all the unnecessary baggage, at the core is the concept of probability………Once you have a probability that something might happen, then you can define information. And it's the same information in physics, in thermodynamics, in economics.”

    Actually, it’s not the same “information” in economics at all. Information in economics is derived from subjectivity. The quantitative information may be all there: price, location where it’s being sold, comparative saving relative to a competitor, volume of units sold, time period on which item is on sale. However, it’s the QUALITATIVE information that drives all that quantitative information. Just as in Newton the quantitative information, of and in itself, is not a particle (a whole) until it’s acted upon by the qualitative information.

    So………if the search engines, recommendation systems and sentiment engines like Twitter’s continue along their quantitative loops………………….

    The quantitative value of the information online will only decrease exponentially as will the economic benefits derived by us.

    This exponential decrease would completely undo the Singularity theory whereby the conflagration of information increase and processing power increase (derived from nanofication of circuitboard surface relative to processing capacity and the contingent Moore's Law) SHOULD lead to conscious machines that can then map and slingshot information around to solve major mathematical problems like, "How much renewable energy do we need to produce to enable us to colonize Mars and how much will it cost us? is it worth it?"

    Worth takes me onto the second point of “Eureka / Badda-Bing!”…………..


    JARON LANIER
    =========

    Now, since I read that article on Professor Vedral in print version once I was online I decided to search for it. I input the search terms “my bright idea Aleks Krotoski numbers” and this link came up top of the page:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/feb/21/my-bright-idea-jaron-lanier


    Again, I thought, “Wow, that’s odd!” since the title of the Vedral article in print version was something like ‘Think about the numbers,’ whereas the word “numbers” only appears in the last paragraph of the Lanier article online.

    Anyway, I read through it for the first time.

    In it he explains what he means by “digital Maoism” as well as publicizes his book, ‘You are not a gadget!’ This made me LOL. Firstly, I’m Chinese and the Chinese typically have a great reverence for Mao (his picture graces Tiananmen Square, after all). Secondly, I decided on the moniker A_PERSON_NOT_A_BOT because a friend of mine once joked with some other friends that I may be an advanced AI (artificial intelligence agent / cyborg). Also I reasoned that if I’m not a bot I don’t spam but have the intelligence to contextualize my thinking and responses, accordingly. Plus A_PERSON indicates that that I’m organic, can develop with others’ inputs and I’m fallible. Thirdly, I LOL'ed because I’ve been arguing the case against Chris Anderson’s “theory of free” --- in particular any school of thought on the Web economy which is detrimental for the contributors (prosumers / produsers / whichever term people like to use)………………

    All before I read about Jaron Lanier!!!

    Yet another admission: I have heard and/or read of Stewart Brand and Kevin Kelly who are mentioned in that ‘My Bright Idea’ piece, but never Jaron Lanier.

    It’s doubly funny because that “universal micro-payment system” is precisely what I’ve built into the system and the business model I’m developing!!!

    My solution that also (coincidentally) tackles the question of information on the Web not merely as quantitative “Yes/No” type probabilistic objects, but as qualitative captors for ambiguity and subjectivity.
    Yes and, even though I’m a maths graduate, I know that maths provides a language to solve QUANTITATIVE scenarios but not necessarily QUALITATIVE ones. That’s why I re-mapped my imagination, applied the cultural influences of my intelligence and synergized a handful of tools from somewhere other than mathematics.

    When mathematicians / theoretical physicists / economists argue that mathematics is the natural language that unlocks the answers and the be-all-end-all to the Universe, my reply is this:

    “SO HOW CAN MATHEMATICS VALUE LOVE? Do you go around telling your parents, ‘The probability that I love you is 88%? 12% of me doesn’t love you because you grounded me when I was a teenager about once every month --- or with an annual probability of just over 8%....”

    LOL, of course we don’t!!! We are………….people not robots or calculators or as Babbage would call us “difference machines”!!!


    LOOPING IT ALL LIKE FB
    ===============

    To close, I want to inject my information and loop it back into Professor Vedral’s piece of information and impact that (to create a particle, ha ha). You (Alex) wrote:

    “The 39-year-old, originally from Belgrade, passionately believes units of information – not particles – are the building blocks of humanity and everything that surrounds us. Information, he maintains, is what came before everything else. It is akin to God.
    :
    :
    :
    I do believe one day that we will be able to explain complicated phenomena such as love, for example. I just don't think anyone yet knows how to approach it. But quantum mechanics does bring all kinds of shades of grey between the binary digits.”


    A few comments:

    (1.) It’s not the shades of gray we need. It’s full color --- that’s inbuilt into my solution too.

    (2.) Information cannot precede everything else since without consciousness, serendipity, imagination and culture (specifically language), we wouldn’t be able to do this:

    a. be aware of “information’s” potential existence;

    b. be in the right place, right time, right (curious) emotional state to discover it;

    c. accept the possibility of its existence; and

    d. know to label it as “information”.

    (3.) Information cannot be the building block of humanity. Information has no ability to emote, evoke or empathize. Humanity includes all three and more.


    Now, I chose the word “potential” instead of “possible” existence for a specific reason. Earlier, Dr. Vardal said, “the key concept behind information is probability.” Well, here's the thing: “probability” relates to a quantitative tool with no capture of the qualitative. Meanwhile “potential” relates to a tool that can measure quantitative and qualitative values.

    So the way to capture complicated phenomena like love or what people mean and feel on the Web --- or the consciousness with which they relate to a piece of information and then decide to collaborate to either create a particle (a whole) or to spend time / money / intelligence / effort is…………………..

    CONTINGENT ON POTENTIAL AND NOT PROBABILITY ALONE!

    And as Lanier would (probably) agree with me: POTENTIAL IS PAYABLE since…… so is electricity.


    There, that’s something for all coders and contributors to the Web to carefully contemplate.

    LOL.


    Oh and instead of E=mc2, for the Web it’s probably something like:

    E = C*I*S

    Enlightenment = consciousness * information * synergy


    where * is the matrix cross-product of supporting variables, so in the case of synergy this would include location, time, emotional state, context.


    Yes, once my solution is all finalized I’ll potentially write a paper on my journey of discovery and explain it with some nice double integrals from mathematics cross-pollinated with cool tools from other contributing disciplines.

    Ah and instead of trying to originate the computational methodologies involved (which if I’m successful with, it will contribute to cracking the Turing Test, dimensionalizing Nash’s Equilibrium with emotion constituents, proving how culture is transmitted in DNA and how this applies in inheritance within programming code and more…..--- enough to earn a Nobel Prize in Economics for a lifetime’s mission)…………

    I should be thinking about handbags, shoes and make-up, :*).

    After all, I need to avoid looking like a frump in case someone like BCBear takes issue with my looks rather than my brains.

    LOL!

    Actually I look and am way too glamorous for my own good!

  • Comment number 74.

    Also, to loop back and tie loose ends for that long comment about the two 'My Bright Idea' articles with my previous comments on the global financial crisis, it's informative that Professor Vedral said: “When you strip out all the unnecessary baggage, at the core is the concept of probability………Once you have a probability that something might happen, then you can define information. And it's the same information in physics, in thermodynamics, in economics.”

    There are intrinsic risks in this position.

    I've already explained that the absolute belief in and application of probability is the root of the flaws in search engines, recommendation systems, sentiment engines etc. Now let me provide this fact: the risk management systems in the banks are predominantly based on probability mathematics. These have obviously contributed to the global financial crisis, over and above whatever greed/ego is lobbed at the bankers.

    As I said earlier, "So it’s not simply about bankers’ greed or these market and regulatory reforms, it’s actually about bankers trading products based on poor quality information and governments architecting reforms based on sub-standard information."

    It's about people designing risk management models based on poor quality information. Sure, they have quantities of it to calculate probabilities of mortgage default but whilst it's possible to input economic figures into a system, it's almost impossible to quantify what the fear of default or bank collapse feels like (and "fear" is a subjective factor which is a potential qualifier).

    Also, if information is treated as being all the same then the numbers generated as outcome products are probability QUANTITIES and not QUALIFIERS. In other words, 99% of something happening or a score of 90/100 still provides us with no qualitative information on WHY that information is valid or where it is applicable.

    This is an important distinction which seems to have been lost. A probability is a quantity not a quality. Strategic decisions based purely on quantitative information in the absence of qualifiers (contextual, non-numeric resources) ===> global financial crisis.

    Information which is precise and appropriate in thermodynamics and physics is not at all the same or equivalent to the information in economics. We can transform:

    Thomas Jefferson's "All men are created equal" via

    George Orwell's addendum: "All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others," to produce

    APNAB: "NOT ALL INFORMATION IS EQUAL AND SOME INFORMATION HAS SUBJECTIVE QUALITIES BUT (AS YET) NON-QUANTIFIABLE VALUE."


    That's what I mean when I wrote above that: "it’s the QUALITATIVE information that drives all that quantitative information" as far as how price etc. are determined. The qualitative information includes subjective inputs like our emotional state, our price consciousness, our concepts of loyalty, our susceptibility to advertising, etc.

    I write "(as yet)" even though I have figured out a methodology to potentially synch what were two separate mathematical paradigms.


    Anyway, it all goes down into the very code of the Web itself how information is currently treated and should be treated in the near future, and then how we can be reciprocally rewarded for our contribution of contextualizing / qualifying that information via micropayments --- so that revenue is not a unilateral stream that flows only towards the company / search engine.

    You all better hope I don't suddenly decide I want to be a WAG / MAW / other obsessive about looks and frocks over brains......

    LOL.

    Without me, the Web will likely continue down its probabilistic paths and an "all information is the same" stance when it comes to indexing rather than contextualizing.

  • Comment number 75.

    Here’s a glimpse into the next 20 years of the Web with Open Data as Sir Tim Berners-Lee explains:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YcZ3Zqk0a8

    It’s inspiring and clear in the video that there are and will be amazing crowd-sourcing tools to show and share our humanity and consideration for others --- please watch what they do with mapping the relief stations in Haiti following the earthquake in January 2010.

    Prog 4 asks the question about how the Web is affecting our identities, our relationships and our future.

    Some social researchers have expressed concerns that the likes of Facebook, twitter etc. means that we're losing the art of conversation and concentration as well as the depth of interactions and relationships. It’s become a narcissistic popularity contest about how many “friends” or “followers” can be accumulated but those connections are transient and inconsequential, they claim. Moreover, how meaningful can 140 characters be?

    Interestingly, there is fresh research from the University of Arizona about meaningful conversation --- more than small talk --- being a positive contributor to our health and happiness.

    http://news.health.com/2010/03/05/can-you-talk-your-way-to-happy/

    This would indicate that whether online or offline, meaningful conversations and strong social networks of support are healthier for us.

    So the question about the next 20 years of the Web is probably this: “How can we make it more meaningful and supportive as a tool and what can we do to apply it to advance humanity? Let’s step outside of the bubble of status updates for a second. How many of us are using Web tools to collaborate to solve projects rather than to compete about our personal popularity?”


    The future need not be one where the corporate pursuit of profit means there is digital Maoism, search engines are converting OUR search terms into their digital gold, companies are marketing / spamming us via social networks, our privacy is being eroded, etc.

    The future could be one of quality data, revenue reciprocity (so we share in the revenue streams directly), improved economic models and corporate objectives wherein advancing humanity is an intrinsic and non-negotiable commitment.

    It’s up to us and our imagination. IT'S OUR REVOLUTION TO REALIZE.


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

    With that APNAB congratulates the BBCVirtRev team for their endeavors (who knows it may be nominated for 2011 BAFTA Best Documentary, :*)), thanks all fellow contributors for being good sports and humoring her lengthy comments and………..

    Bids “Adieu” to focus on realizing her solutions.

    :*).

  • Comment number 76.

    Ah and the Web Animal she is is...............................................HUMAN, LOL.

  • Comment number 77.

    @A_PERSON_NOT_A_BOT

    I have read your posts with great interest and tried to keep up with your threads of knowledge. My comment regarding “recent glitch”, was a tongue in cheek poke at the economic state of the “civilised” western world. I hear what you say regarding the dis-information rampant on the web. I hear you say you will fix this, whilst giving up the chance to become a wag and the world must sigh with relief at your sacrifice. I am probably wrong but could you explain, in very simple terms, how you intend to correct the “imperfect. incomplete and unreliable” information posted on the web? Or do you intend to revert the web to its original birth, i.e. an intranet between UK universities for the sharing and collaboration of ideas within the countries educational system on a broader base of course? You did not address any of my comments on government interference and ultimate control of the web. Given that Governments, Bankers and economists are the gods of the day. In the future your comments would not be acceptable under one of the new laws that are surreptitiously being enacted as we chat. You say the near meltdown of the banking system was a catastrophe, as if this was something new, have a look at how “revolving” credit was started, Argentina said to the IMF sorry I no longer wish to pay back the loan you gave us! Hells bells the western world nearly went out of business, so their solution was to “advance” Argentina LOANS on a monthly basis to cover interest only on their original loan! Now I am a simple man, ( being a man, I hope that does not spoil our relationship), but who does this sort of arrangement help?
    You did not address my comments on the reduction of higher education and the idea that knowing a little about a lot is somehow better than being focused on specific fields for enhancement and research into the problems prevalent throughout our sick world.

    For a young woman you certainly have read your fair share of economic and current affairs books, or did you google the quotes and skim the subjects, please do not be offended it is a serious question. People like you are precious and rare, becoming scarcer which is criminal and the point I was trying to make.

    10 years ago it was very simple to speak with people throughout the world, no matter what the political views were, that is no longer possible today could you please explain why this has happened and how you see the future taking this as one of the steps on the way to “utopia” or hell?

    If people are educated well they should be able to sift through dis-information on the web, the idea that we ever take all of what is shown on the web as gospel is a "CATASTROPHE" valued at alot more than the 11 trillion dollars you purported the glitch cost!

    Lastly I would like to thank you for your posts which show you as enlightened albeit young with your dreams still in tact.

  • Comment number 78.

    It is the familiarization of associative thinking through the Internet helps develop multi-dimensional thinking and collaboration among the users (Lazar 2003). Researchers have shown that the younger generation who are closely involved with Internet use have better performance for online tasks than the older generation because they can act more quickly and avoid losing concentration. Thus Internet displays positive influence on education in a long-term perspective. Furthermore, Internet has enabled users to connect and collaborate more closely in social events and politics. The success of Obama election online campaign is a good demonstration.

    FOR FULL STORY OF A DETAIL ANALYSIS OF THE SHOW, PLEASE VISIT BLOG http://emarketforensics.blogspot.com
    Reference:
    Lazar, J., Bessiere, K., Ceaparu, I., Robinson, J. and Shneiderman, B. (2003) 'Help! I’m Lost: Users Frustration in Web Navigation'. IT & Society 1, 18-26

  • Comment number 79.

    “Happy Ada Lovelace Day, all!” which inspires me to re-engage.


    @GeorgeGee: Thank you for your generosity of spirit and concerns for the way society, education and the Web are shaping up.

    I know your “recent glitch” comment was said with an ironic tone. That’s an example of our human ability (some of us) to interpret intent, wit and associative connotations based on experiential amalgamation of Life-acquired knowhow……………….and not only the literal meaning or some artificial semantic translation --- as currently happens with natural language programming, AI and all other cutting-edge technologies.

    My post was not directed in response to your post in entirety, purely as a specific observation about the “recent glitch” and how difficult it is for information to be verified online, using Twitter and Business Insider’s examples of reported figures for the cost of the global bailout.

    Not my purported figures, THEIRS.

    Like many others I’m aware that information quality, transparency and applicability are causing all sorts of issues online. The inaccuracies with some Wikipedia entries are widely known and the authority of people is also subject to doubt given the widespread use of anonymity or pseudonyms (mine included) and also popularity inflation --- otherwise known as “social kudos ramping”.

    Additionally, clearly the information about MPs’ expenses, whatever various senior or *star* BBC staff earn and what information exactly is going into risk management systems of banks or election polls (the Iranian situation, Bush v Palm Beach County – US Election 2000, anyone?) has also contributed to the mix on, “How much can we TRUST that information online, rely on it to act upon and if something goes wrong………what can be done about it all?”

    Those of us who are capable of concentration, cogency of thinking, commitment of doing and commonality of Web ethos are collaborating hard to find serious solutions. It’s not easy. Most days it’s like wading through treacle and quicksand.

    Of course, the Web is not there yet. Tim Berners-Lee and the original Fathers of the Web’s honorable visions about connecting humanity to solve common problems has taken detours, been hijacked or misused. The tools also don’t yet exist because the computational mathematics underpinning the Web is incomplete. Of course it also risks adverse interference by politicians whose tech literacy is questionable. Imagine if there were 3Rs tests for this……..A majority of them would risk failing.

    Nonetheless, there is an amount of progress having been made to enable democratic public participation via social media tools which helps clarify and filter information better.

    There are also the seeds of global volunteerism facilitated by social media as this new venture by Chris Hughes, the co-founder of Facebook, shows:

    * http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jose-antonio-vargas/jumo-chris-hughes-faceboo_b_503720.html

    Is actual modern democracy and social consciousness on the Web as principled as those postulated by Plato, Aristotle, Wittgenstein, Descartes, Russell et al for nation states? No but instead of an absolute elite of intellectuals and powers-who-are controlling everything all the time………We have scenarios like when ‘Rage Against the Machine’ makes Christmas #1 instead of an ‘X Factor’ song. We have Cadburys chocolate bars like ‘Wispa’ being reintroduced as a direct result of consumer campaigning. We have companies and brands being scrutinized, held to account and engaged with like never before on social networks and the blogosphere. We have Open Source software as a viable alternative to expensive, exclusive, closed-garden software.

    We have glimpses into the future of what Open Data and semantics applied appropriately might offer in terms of transparency, accountability and humanity:

    * http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YcZ3Zqk0a8

    As an example of increasing democracy, in the media of yore we would have read Aleks Krotoski’s interview with Professor Vedral in the print version. At the most, those of us so inclined, would have submitted a “Dear Editor” letter and waited for a few days (even weeks) before our comment was published --- if at all, if it didn’t offend the newspaper’s loyalties or the lawyers.

    Now I don’t know Professor Vedral personally and have no motivation or desire to affect his reputation. I used that interview as an example of how the intelligent, still-thinking ones amongst us can distil, reason and share information which proves that contrary to us necessarily becoming the so-called “attention-seeking, concentration deficient, hopscotching schizophrenics whose Web usage is infantilizing their brains,” as some of the academics claim, we can sanity-check information and we can be the Web’s missing smart filters and share our knowhow with others constructively.

    George Gee, you wrote, “If people are educated well they should be able to sift through dis-information on the web.” Given that a major report from the OECD in 2009 shows that in the past six years, the UK has fallen from eighth to 24th place in the international league table for maths, from seventh to 17th place in reading and from fourth to 14th place in science, will this generation and future ones be well educated enough to sift through disinformation?

    http://www.oecd.org/document/31/0,3343,en_2649_35845621_42592351_1_1_1_1,00.html

    Would other educated people necessarily have picked up on Professor Vedral’s accidental misinformation – or rather, to put it more contextually, personal interpretation? Particularly since fewer people in the UK study or grasp science, according to various education league tables.

    According to Professor Vedral, “And it's the same information in physics, in thermodynamics, in economics.” That’s his educated opinion and it’s certainly not how I regard information or was taught how to treat information in each of the three disciplines. After all, the first two are phenomenon of NATURAL LAW and OBJECTIVE scientific reductionism is supposed to be applied to arrive at the ultimate proofs of concept whilst the latter is a MAN-MADE MARKET. That’s why economics is called a SOCIAL SCIENCE because there is a subjectivity involved in all market transactions; that subjectivity arising from emotion, ego and evocation by advertising.

    Comparing the information in those three disciplines, on a par, as if information is equivalent and commutative (or in simple terms, all of them are apples rather than some are apples and others are animals) breaches some core principles of scientific analysis and mathematical discipline. Opinion then becomes fact without empirical rigor, soundness or coherency.

    Ergo, for an Oxford don like Professor Vedral to say, “And it's the same information in physics, in thermodynamics, in economics,” and not make that delineation between NATURAL SCIENCE and SOCIAL SCIENCE and thereby inadvertently abjugate the contributions of human emotions and ego to a man-made creation that is economics is another reason someone like me (a regular person, not a Professor) needs to highlight it on the Web. That’s another example of how the tools necessary for information interpretation, extraction and clarification need to be improved.

    Our human brains and language skills can contextualize but certainly the machines (the natural language, the AI, the semantic bots) can’t, and yet paradoxically these are the very tools indexing, browsing, crawling etc. our information online, categorizing it all and serving it back to us as “This is the prioritized list of links you should click.”

    So already the flawed machines and their ignorant, unconscious codes are controlling us via the quality of information flowing towards us --- we, the conscious organic moral species. We don’t even need to wait for Skynet!

    See how the misinformation propagation takes place? Next time someone searches for “thermodynamics” and “economics” top of the search might be the sentence “And it's the same information in physics, in thermodynamics, in economics.”

    Then whoever is over-reliant on search engine accuracy or too lazy/distracted to delve more might even accept it in the same way that known inaccuracies in Wikipedia and within risk management models in the banks become accepted. After all, Professor Vedral is considered an “authoritative source from an authoritative institution”. Will his impressionable students also adopt this “And it's the same information in physics, in thermodynamics, in economics” position?

    Will the bright Oxford graduates of the future be unable to make the distinction between natural law proven via scientific deduction and social constructs designed by subjective desires?



    As for me,

    Alas I am not as clever as he,

    I have no PhD,

    Nor views of dreaming spires can I see.

    (Rhyming couplet, btw --- LOL).



    How we code machines to treat information, classify it, contextualize its various connotations etc. is CRITICALLY IMPORTANT at this time juncture in the Web’s development. For a few years now “The Semantic Web” has been the hot topic for those at the very lead of what happens next to our lives online. It is a step in the right direction --- trying to structure data to be more meaningful for the machines to comprehend what we’re typing.

    However, from personal experience of a handful of semantic platforms and applications, I can say that there too we are at risk of search bots spamming us with unwanted marketing because companies will still be NO MORE INFORMED about who we really are / what we want / how to provide for our needs. There’s a risk of an increase in information misinterpretation by the machines --- particularly, if we assume that semantic filtering should be completely automated with some code and we cut out human input and ability to contextualize from diverse cultures.

    Unfortunately, that self-automated code will merely mutate the meaning out of our context and intent.
    Moreover, any attempt to over-homogenize the Web towards any one culture and disenable our ability to interact, engage and learn from other political and cultural perspectives will lessen rather than increase our intelligence.

    HOMOGENEITY ELICITS ARTIFICIAL NARCISSISM WHEREAS HETEROGENEITY EMBRACES NATURAL EVOLUTION.

    Yes, it’s worth pondering such multidimensional and inter-related aspects of the Web; about code DNA and information mutation, inefficient markets of repeated booms and bust (arising because of incomplete and inaccurate information which disables coherent strategy by financial institutions and businesses) and the cultural diversity of humanity and its ecosystems.

    Now do I even know any economics from disciplined learning rather than autodidactic skimming of Google?

    I probably read some books on economics at some point since essays often returned with an A or the highest marks in class --- including from a very precise former Cambridge don who used to chide us about what he called ‘Mickey Mouse’ degrees --- and I do remember having a copy of the ‘Wealth of Nations’ and poring over voluminous sources on ISLM models (interest, savings, liquidity of money supply for the uninitiated).

    As for Argentina, please……soy el minnow! Let’s not even get into the credit derivatives issue from the latest global financial crisis (not G20 but GFC). Argentina’s debts pale into insignificance compared with the US$55 TRILLION market in CDs which some analysts feared would really unravel the global markets:

    http://money.cnn.com/2008/09/30/magazines/fortune/varchaver_derivatives_short.fortune/


    US$55 trillion makes the US$11.4 trillion mentioned in that OECD Insight tweet seem trivial.

    Next, am I aware of the scything of higher education budgets, notably in science? Yes, but amidst the GBP600 million cuts there is the GBP30 million new investment in the Institute of Web Science:

    http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/thesword/2009/12/uk-science-budget-cut-by-600-m.html

    http://webscience.org/home.html

    As for my solutions to improving information quality, they’re proprietary and competitive market reasons means that until they're publicly released in due course (around 2012) they cannot yet be disclosed.

    I can, though, say that there are much smarter ways to filter our search terms and content items for relevance than, for example, the latest starring-bookmarking feature Google has come up with:

    http://searchengineland.com/google-news-adds-stars-34963

    Interestingly, in October 2009 YouTube (which is owned by Google), decided that its 5 star rating systems don’t work:

    http://techcrunch.com/2009/09/22/youtube-comes-to-a-5-star-realization-its-ratings-are-useless/

    So when YouTube re-launched in Jan 2010………the star system disappeared:

    http://techcrunch.com/2010/01/21/new-youtube/

    Then a month later Google search launches ITS star bookmarking. This is obviously aimed at reducing the number of times we’d use Firefox, Safari or Internet Explorer to bookmark and, of course, supplement Google’s search algorithms. In a few months will this go the same way as YouTube’s 5-stars? Will the star-bookmarking “load” the results? How much search traffic will it take from Google’s competitors? Who knows?

    Look also at how Google Translate or any other high-end translation software is being deployed and we have another example of the machines being misinformed and spreading that. NOT ALL INFORMATION IS THE SAME AT ALL and never is this truer than in existing translation software. It’s said they’re based on natural language programming………

    Everyone should see the fun and games I’ve had with Google Translate or semantic search. LOL.

    Yes, I can speak several languages; also not acquired via skimming online resources but via structured classroom-based learning and then supplemented by online interactions. Computing code is yet another language, just as mathematics is.

    I would definitely not return the Web to an intranet between UK institutions nor to an intranet for the bankers nor one for the MPs/MEPs/Senators. The Web of the future is “for the people, by the people and WITH the people.”

    My observation would be this: the Web has increased the level of scrutiny and transparency of several sources of misinformation (whether accidental, hereditary, or intentional). Without the Web, I would probably have bought Professor Vedral’s book and said to myself, “Wait a minute…….information isn’t the same in physics, thermodynamics and economics…….,” and been unable to share my analysis on this statement with many who read the BBC blog. Meanwhile, millions may read his book or Alek’s interview and accept that information is all the same and it becomes a fact.

    IT IS NOT.

    Ditto Professor Greenfield’s anecdotal opinions about infantilization of our brains, one politician or other telling us that the global bailout is only in the low US$ hundred billions and reports of alien sightings in Alaska by Sarah Palin’s neighbor who may or may not be able to also see Putin doing press-ups from their gardens.

    LOL. A good sense of humor about perspective and empirical veracity aside……..

    IT IS UP TO THIS GENERATION TO SHOW THE BRAINS, THE WIT, THE WHEREWITHAL & THE HUMANITY TO RENAVIGATE THE WEB TO ITS OPTIMAL SERVICE: solving common global problems and enabling us all to make progress and become smarter.

    One of the obvious hurdles to overcome is to better orientate consumption and demand so that it’s based on actual need and accurate information rather than marketing spam or information overload.

    For this we need…………quality information, quality people and quality imagination.

    I may be young and this doesn’t mean that others haven’t tried to destroy my ability to dream or that my imagination isn’t tempered by pragmatic realities. Commerce is the lifeblood of nations and my tools should contribute to that flow rather than to any clots or ruptures. Academia and learning is all very well to encourage thinking, but it should also connect with commercial interests and human actualities rather than be done from ivory towers and with pure abstract theory.

    It’s my belief that, regardless of demographics, EVERYONE WITH A CONSCIOUSNESS CAN DREAM and in the time they have here to realize it, it is their opportunity of life to do so and contribute their tiny strand of DNA to make humanity that much better.

    Ergo, as far as the Web is concerned, we can start by coding smarter tools to deal with information in smarter ways……..maybe even beyond what the current semantic approach offers……

  • Comment number 80.

    @emarketforensics ---

    Associative thinking is all fine and well as an academic theory but the reality is that the machines are some way away from being able to do associative thinking or lateral cognition (à la Edward de Bono) in the way the human brain does.

    Moreover, it’s not associative thinking (or connecting the dots or clustering information as per what happens in social network groups) which count. It’s actually in combining risk-reward quant models with HUMANISTIC MORAL-EMOTIONAL DECISION MAKING where it really matters and an area where technological advancement needs to be made.

    There are countless super machines out there which can calculate sophisticated risk-reward models; NASA and the investment banks being two examples of where these machines are housed. There are also countless internal collaboration tools in-house at big banks and big businesses.

    However, as is evident from the global financial crisis, these risk-reward models and collaboration tools based on deterministic and probability algorithms are…………

    SIMPLY ARE NOT SMART ENOUGH.

    If they were smart enough, would the governments now be bailing everyone out to the tune of US$ hundreds billions even US$ trillions? Would big businesses have completely been unprepared for the crisis and shed so many jobs, contributing further to the downward pressures of recession?

    Answer: no.

    Professor Vedral made the observation, “I do believe one day that we will be able to explain complicated phenomena such as love, for example. I just don’t think anyone yet knows how to approach it. But quantum mechanics does bring all kinds of shades of grey between the binary digits.”

    As I noted above, it’s not the shades of gray between the binary digits we should be looking to crack in computing code; this is just more risk-reward quant. It’s the entire rainbow spectrum of HUMANISTIC MORAL-EMOTIONAL DECISION MAKING. That’s where the quality is and where the algorithms need to be coded anew.

    That’s how banks and businesses of the future can better assess the real risks of the transactions they’re undertaking and also take care of the moral responsibilities they have towards society.

    It’s codeable and I know it to be codeable since I’ve created a converter that will enable the capture of those humanistic, moral-emotional phenomena that Professor Vadral says “I just don’t think anyone yet knows how to approach it.”

    We approach it not only by applying the male side of our brains but also the female side of our brilliance as a species: risk-reward with linguistics, social collaboration and discern.

    On Ada Lovelace Day, I will say again that the future of the Web and of code needs to also be informed by female contributions. Babbage would never have successfully built his difference engine without Lovelace just as Alan Kay benefited from Adele Goldberg in the creation of the smalltalk language.

    It's when both genders cross-pollinate their knowhow that remarkable and dynamic thinking and production takes shape. It's more than associative thinking. It's collaborative and contextualized realization.


  • Comment number 81.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 82.

    Typo: 170 years.

  • Comment number 83.

    Hi I just watched the homointerneticus edisode for the second time and still not clear about the conclusions the presenter is hinting at. One of the last things she says is that the internet might make us more intelligent collectively, as we get to access more information and share it with one another to solve problems. But what is not clear is whether the fox-like way of solving problems is as good or better than the hedgehog way. She seems to suggest that they are simply different, at one point also suggesting that the human brain accesses information in a fox-like manner, and therefore the web simply allows the brain to do more of what it does naturally and to do it more effectively and efficiently. But then we hear some authority saying that no patient would go to a doctor who has learned his medicine in a fox-like manner (these are not the exact words, of course). I tend to want to argue that true understanding cannot come from any procedure that is not "hedgehog-like". I am not sure that this is what Dr. Aleks was suggesting in this edisode. Overall, great programme...I watch it every week!

 

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