The Virtual Revolution - the last post

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Dan Biddle Dan Biddle | 14:26 UK time, Monday, 29 March 2010

So, we come to the close of our production and our project. The Virtual Revolution series has run its course, topped off recently by the news that we've been nominated for a Digital Emmy!

Essentially this last post is a thank you to everyone who got involved with the project. The early days: the Web at 20 launch event, The Web Is... videos; our early production blogs - the ideas we were developing for the series, both good and... not so good - your participation, opinions and advice has been greatly appreciated.

Likewise, your interaction with our rushes clips - we hope you enjoy them, continue to use them for your own films and enjoyment. Massive thanks also go to those who took part in the short film competition. The winners and runners up can be found on the competition page.

Thanks also go out to everyone who participated with the programme around transmission in January and February 2010 - raising issues, concerns, debate on the blogs for each programme, as well as picking up the Twitter tag #bbcrevolution and joining us throughout the actual programme 140 characters at a time.

And thanks to those who have participated in the Web Behaviour Test. Especially to those who experienced the teething troubles we had straight after the show, but stuck with us. The test remains live, so you can still find out what web animal you are (for the record: I'm a fox). The data collected continues to inform the scientific research being undertaken by Professor David Nicholas' team at University College London.

So, there we have it - The Virtual Revolution. Hopefully we have managed to thank everyone who helped us so much during this open source documentary production. We'll let you know if we win the Digital Emmy with a celebratory tweet from @bbcdigrev - so keep your fingers crossed.

Regardless of awards, we're hoping that the experiences this open source documentary will feed and inspire other BBC productions in the future, to find new and interesting ways to engage and share with audiences more. We'll leave the blog open for comments for one more week, in case you want to add your own final evaluation of this production process, after which time, we will close the blog comments. All of the content will remain here on the site, of course, but no further interactions will happen on the blog.

Who knows - maybe we'll reunite for an examination of the web at 40 years-old? But until that day...

Many, many thanks,

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.

Virtual Revolution episode three - The Cost of Free

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Dan Biddle Dan Biddle | 16:23 UK time, Friday, 12 February 2010

The third episode of Virtual Revolution is called The Cost of Free - and it's not as oxymoronic as you think. The Cost of Free examines the trades made online by users of the web as they share their thoughts, their preferences, their curiosities and their desires with the many search engines, services and media which appear to be delivering information online for free.

Jo Wade, Assistant Producer for programme three, highlights these issues in her article on BBC Technology News today:

'Every day in Britain millions of searches are carried out on Google for free. Every month we spend millions of hours on Facebook for free and read millions of articles from free newspapers.

But now look at it the other way round.

Every day Google gathers millions of search terms that help them refine their search system and give them a direct marketing bonanza that they keep for months.

Every week Facebook receives millions of highly personal status updates that are kept forever and are forming the basis of direct advertising revenue.

Every month free newspapers plant and track a cookie tracking device on your computer that tells them what your range of interests are and allows them to shape their adverts and in the future, even content around you.

So you're not just being watched, you're being traded. The currency has changed.'

Presenter Aleks Krotoski, offered her thoughts on the cost of the e-ticket on our blog early in the production process; on the show she discusses the potential price we may be paying for free with web practitioners and experts such as Chris Anderson, Chad Hurley (founder of YouTube), Dana Boyd, John Battelle, Sherry Turkle and many more. You can watch, embed, download longer rushes clips of those interviews on our site.

So what does this mean for privacy? How much do you know about the deals you may be making with your data? Enjoy the programme and let us know what you think in the comments below.

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