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45 minutes
First broadcast:
Monday 14 December 2009

Tom Sutcliffe explores the pitfalls of the web, with Evgeny Morozov arguing that it's exploited by dictators, and Andrew Dalby gives his views on Wikipedia. Amanda Goodall decries the prevalence of the professional manager, and the art historian David Boyd Haycock talks about the 'crisis of brilliance' of the Young British Artists of the early 1900s.


    Its founders declared it would provide access to “the sum of all human knowledge”. Eight years on, Wikipedia is the biggest encyclopaedia in the world, and one of the most popular websites. In The World and Wikipedia: How We are Editing Reality, Andrew Dalby looks back at its history and how both experts and amateurs have contributed to the more than 3 million articles in English. But its success has been tarnished by problems with accuracy and reliability, and critics argue it’s merely a haven for “volunteer vandals with poison-pen intellects”.

    The World and Wikipedia: How We are Editing Reality is published by Siduri Books.

    Andrew Dalby

    The protests against the Iranian elections last summer demonstrated the power of online political activism, affirming optimistic views about the democratic potential of the web. Social media expert Evgeny Morozov believes that we have a rose-tinted view of the internet, which is as likely to be used as a tool for oppression as to spread democracy. While activists use the internet to bring attention to government abuses, the same governments can easily track their movements online and drown out their message with an army of state propaganda bloggers. Evgeny Morozov challenges the widely held belief that online protest can challenge corrupt regimes and explains “why dictators love the web”.

    Evgeny Morozov’s article, How Dictators Watch Us on the Web, is in the December edition of Prospect magazine.

    Evgeny Morozov

    Experts, not managers, make the best leaders. Amanda Goodall argues that specialists have ceded too much power to generalists. The rise of the professional manager was championed by Margaret Thatcher, but has continued unabated. By looking at the example of university leadership, Amanda Goodall finds that the majority of successful universities are run by some of the most well-respected scholars. She calls into question the wisdom of hiring CEOs from unrelated industries or allowing hospitals to be led by administrators.

    Socrates in the Boardroom: Why Research Universities Should Be Led by Top Scholars is published by Princeton University Press.

    Amanda Goodall

    When Siegfried Sassoon wrote his letter of protest at World War I to The Times, it caused public outrage. Yet at the same time, the war artists Nash and Nevinson were graphically depicting the horror of the trenches and exhibiting their work to critical acclaim. David Boyd Haycock’s A Crisis of Brilliance explores the meeting of a group of gifted art students at The Slade just before World War I and the effect of the war on their lives and work. David Boyd Haycock talks about the paradoxical effect of a war which shattered their lives, but also acted as the catalyst for the development of a new style.

    A Crisis of Brilliance: Five Young British Artists and the Great War is published by Old Street Publishing.

    David Boyd Haycock


Arts & Culture selection

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