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Stephen Fry on your attempts to re-name the Digital Revolution series

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Dan Biddle Dan Biddle | 09:00 UK time, Monday, 12 October 2009

Wordsmith, wit and irrepressible technophile, Stephen Fry, launched the quest to name the TV series that Digital Revolution (working title) will eventually become in 2010, with a request to his Twitter followers to help us crowdsource or namestorm a title for the BBC Two programmes, using the Twitter tag #bbcnamestorm.

Joined by our presenter, Aleks Krotoski, Stephen also took the time to consider a few of the titles we had already come up with in previous naming sessions, and muse upon the suggestions that streamed in from the Twittersphere in response to his call to action that morning.

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As Stephen's impassioned appeal makes clear, our series still languishes without a name. A working title, Digital Revolution - yes - but, mere overalls, fine for this stage of the production, where the paint's flying, but when the programme launches in 2010, we'd like a name to suit the series better - a tux of a title, if you will.

We have been flooded with ideas so far. You can see all of the titles suggested by searching for the hash tag #bbcnamestorm; you can also see the names that were longlisted as contenders via our Twitter favourites page. Of these, our favourites (though not necessarily final shortlisters) are:

2010: A web Odyssey
A brain the size of a planet
all together now
Civilisation +
Around the world in 80 nanoseconds
How the web was spun - already ours, but favoured by Fry and Aleks, so still in play
How the world was shrunk
Unbound: the World Connected
The World Mind
The Age of Dreams
The end of Distance
The Links That Bind Us
Shift: the new digital paradigm

We also had a curious affection for '1% useful' - an adaptation of 90% porn, 9% Geek, 1% useful.

Series Producer, Russell Barnes, has some guidance regards directions and themes of thinking of further names:

  • Universal / galaxy / planetary - our graphics for the series are more and more visualising the web as a galaxy of planets and stars, so a name such as 'The brain the size of a planet' or 2010: A Web Odyssey has some legs for us.
  • Historical paradigm shifts, such as Age of Dreams or Civilisation +
  • Epic / biblical ideas, such as How the web was Spun, or Let There Be Links

So that's the story so far. An enormous response, for which we're incredibly grateful, and some really nice points of connection for us, ideas worth pursuing. But we don't think we're there yet. So please, please keep the suggestions coming - either to @bbcdigrev with the hash tag #bbcnamestorm or as replies to this blog.

To reiterate the terms of the Digital Revolution namestorm: this is not a competition, nor is it a vote. We are looking for suggestions from which the production team will choose a longlist (deadline 15 November 2009). The series producer and executive producer will take a shortlist of six names to BBC Two, and they will choose at least three of these from the longlist of your names. The final decision will be made by the BBC.


  • Comment number 1.

    I humbly suggest “42”

    (though you'll probably want a subtitle involving “Life, the Internet, and everything”)

  • Comment number 2.

    How about...

    "People 2.0: a planetary upgrade" or
    "Society 2.0: Install now? Remind me later?" or
    "People 2.0/an upgrade/Install now? Remind me later?" - just to go the whole hog ;-)

  • Comment number 3.

    I'd still go for 'Evolution 2.0' as it suggests how far reaching this digital revolution is. For the first time in history, people can overcome geographical separation and collaborate in a digital community. This is transforming the way we work, think and behave.

  • Comment number 4.

    Wonderwebs of our Minds.

    This is a reference to 'Windmills of Your Mind" and I was thinking about windmills because I watched Jon Stewart's 'Daily Show' --- his team are satirical geniuses --- and found out about the remarkable story of William Kamkwamba, the boy who harnessed the wind:

    * https://williamkamkwamba.typepad.com/williamkamkwamba/2009/10/watch-me-on-the-daily-show-with-jon-stewart-last-night.html

    * https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crjU5hu2fag&feature=related

    We've been jousting here with the likes of Nicholas Carr and Maggie Jackson about the behaviors Google is inducing in our ability to search and make use of information.

    Well, in the Jon Stewart interview William Kamkwamba describes finding out about something called the Internet and something called Google: "Where was Google?!" --- to indicate that if he'd had access to Google's "how to build...." resources he might have built his windmill better and quicker.

    It's definitely an interview worth watching, although it doesn't seem to be available via video streaming in the UK.

    * https://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-october-7-2009/william-kamkwamba

  • Comment number 5.

    I like both @nevali's '42 - Life, the Internet, and everything' (continuing an excellent Douglas Adams theme which has recurred through the #bbcnamestorm). Also really like (and these are both MY opinions, not necessarily anyone else on the production's) @GaryGSCC's 'People 2.0: a planetary upgrade'.

    @corinaw 'Evolution 2.0' - I can see the appeal too, but I think the team have started to steer off the evolutionary link. (But nothing is out of play at this stage really!)

    @APNAB The windmills story is really inspiring. I think we embedded it in a Revolution Round up when you suggested it before. Thanks for the further links :)

    And thanks again all for the names.

  • Comment number 6.

    Click : And The World Shrank

    The Newest Universe

    Here Comes The World

    It's A Small Planet

  • Comment number 7.



    We are the Web

    By the way, instead of The World Mind there's an emerging concept of the web as The Global Brain. This is because with the advent of neural networks and the application of NPL as well as artificial intelligence. Techies are building infrastructure and apps which proxy the synapses and nodes in our brains.

    The Global Brain connection means that I coined it as GUNK (Great Universal Neural Kinesis). The reasoning being that in mereology, "gunk" is actually the philosophical term for any whole whose parts all have further proper parts.

    * https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/mereology/

    In hair care, it’s a British colloquialism and denigration fired at teenagers when they put too much product on their hair which makes it look greasy, sticky or OTT. The product is referred to as “gunk”. It’s also a wordplay compound on “junk” and “goo”.

    Plus some of us believe humans have too much junk in our heads (from tennis scores to family memories to recipes), our brains are nothing but goo-ey matter, and yet that so-called “junk” and “goo” can be kinetically converted into the “gunk” of the mereological variety.

    In other words, silo pieces of data (some invaluable which are key to creating a more Enlightened whole picture as well as the seemingly worthless junk) can be and is naturally connected and cross-pollinated in our brains.

    One of the key rationales behind the progression to the Semantic Web is to structure those silo pieces of data so that they have a better relationship reference to other silo pieces of data --- which will eventually lead to "any whole whose parts all have further proper parts".

    Ergo, I think my GUNK label is both LOL and approp'.

    +1 for How the Web was Spun. Of the list above, this is my favorite for these reasons:

    (1.) It's universally understandable and wouldn't be lost in translation if written in any of the Top 5 major languages.

    (2.) The concept of us knitting and spinning the web is established and in general lexicon.

    (3.) Reference to spaghetti westerns and the notion of us being pioneers.

    Oh and whilst it's on my mind re. William Kamkwamba's story and his country's famine situation, Google translated into Chinese literally is "grain brother" or your brotherly provider of grain.

    As I've noted before it's all about LANGUAGE and cultural references. Although some of the names suggested to-date are ingenious, they're rooted in English references (Bowie, Douglas Adams, Jules Verne) and How the Web Was Spun is one of the few which is universal and accessible --- culturally and demographically.

  • Comment number 8.

    PNAB. Re. Gunk. Erm, I’d check out the Urban Dictionary first before deciding to stick with the term; some other meanings are decidedly indelicate. As you say it’s a cultural thing.

    I also liked ‘How the Web Was Spun’ - if the emphasis is on the history of the Web; but I get the impression the emphasis is more on the effect it has on our lives here and now?
    I also liked Where’s your Head @ - but with reservations about the 30% in the UK that are not digitally included and would be unaware of the significance of the @ symbol.
    I also liked most of those others listed by Dan above.

    The only suggestions I can come up with are:
    Civilisation 2.0
    Rewiring the World (and maybe our minds too?)
    Rewired Minds
    Digital Society

    Personally I think William Gibson much more significant (in regards to the Web, AI, Singularity etc) than Adams; so – Neuromancer Generation - should you want a SiFi reference?
    Adams inspired. A plain, simple - Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Web – would suffice.

  • Comment number 9.

    Based on "carpe diem" I suggest "carpe digital"

  • Comment number 10.

    @SheffTim --- ha ha, thanks, I see what you mean about the Urban Dictionary. Now that's another frame of reference in itself!

    Since there's a move towards planetary systems should we start thinking of wordplay on these:

    * Star Wars?
    * Star Trek?
    * Dr Who?

    The Web is with You.

    Spin us up, Scotty.

    Or-i-gin-ate! (instead of "Exterminate!")

  • Comment number 11.

    ... and the geek shall inherit the Earth. Ahem.

  • Comment number 12.

    Despite Sir Tim Berners-Lee being somewhat ambivalent over their use now, I feel that something like


    or the word form

    Colon Slash Slash

    would be instantly tied to the web in people's minds. It's also terribly slightly nerdy.

  • Comment number 13.

    The Cyber Bang

  • Comment number 14.

    On the very current theme of digital inclusion, how about:

    Will you miss the 'digital boat'?

    Lots of great content following the digital britain report and the digital inclusion taskforce, which I'm sure must be included in this show at some point.

  • Comment number 15.

    Please don't choose a title with 2.0 in it - unless you only want the series to appeal to geeks! I have to say I quite like Digital Revolution as a title...

  • Comment number 16.

    "All Your Internets Are Belong To Us"
    Take the 'us' how you will - Big Brother, snooping on us all. Or, we the people, purveyors of all we surf.
    Gaming reference, of course. And, also how the web is driven by a collective freedom/ownership, with no one person driving it all.

    "I Remember When All This Was 1's and 0's"
    A slight nod towards when computers were solely for the computer scientists. Yet, now their usage is so ubiquitous (and easy) that many won't realise binary is at the basis of everything digital.

    "The Web is People"
    Lifted straight from Jay Rosen. Undertones of 'Soylent Green', and it describes nicely what the Internet is for.

    "How We All Became Geeks"
    Another on the ubiquitousness of the technology that sits behind the web.

  • Comment number 17.

    My suggestions:

    The Quantum Connection
    The Quantum Power Connection
    Quantum Connect
    Quantum Power Connect
    Quantum One-connect
    Quantum Power One-connect
    The Quantum Paradigm
    The Quantum Power Paradigm
    The Quantum Chronicles
    The Quantum Power Chronicles

  • Comment number 18.

    Call it DigRev. The internet is impatient and is thus always coining new words or squeezing phrases together. DigRev does the job - and it can also be seen as an imperative. ;)

  • Comment number 19.

    Just a bit boring but as the pattern for naming BBC Series seems to have taken on a format for simplicity, thus translating easily into other languages/cultures by using single/double nouns as in: 'Life' 'Blue Planet' etc, what is wrong with what the subject is all about:

    The Web

    and expanding the description with the original title which does cover the programme contents very well:

    The Web - a Digital Revolution

    I am a bit concerned with the title being too 'techno geeky' and this not making sense to quite a big part of the BBC audience both in the UK and abroad who will have limited online web experience, after all is it not them we want to inspire and join in.

    Another thought - because this title suggestion has created such an excellent and wide response from the team and the online public and perhaps a 'cloud' could be depicted graphically from all of them (or a selection of chosen names) and the final title word/s emerge ..........

  • Comment number 20.

    Planet Earthed


  • Comment number 21.


  • Comment number 22.

    Simply: What a Wonderful World

  • Comment number 23.

    Digital Deity - The Web and its Worshippers

    Digital Pandora

    Together in Digital Dreams

  • Comment number 24.


    Forward Slash

    The Mouse That Roared

  • Comment number 25.

    I simply suggest

    digital is us .soc

    for many reasons...it is very plain and I would put a heart and foxglove purple flower as a symbol!

  • Comment number 26.

    oh yes... the .soc in

    digital is us .soc

    could stand for society


  • Comment number 27.

    One World Protocol

    Because after TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) everything in the world connects peer-to-peer to everything else. And before nothing did.

  • Comment number 28.

    Digital reality - As out daily reality is so dependant on the internet, it is part of our reality.

    data with meaning - information

    paint by IP or paint by protocol - for a laugh, based on paint by numbers

    the DNS phonebook - without DNS we would not be able to use the net as we do

    25% of the world - based upon the general figures on https://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm that only 25% of the world has internet access.

  • Comment number 29.

    The Difference Engineers

    JH Muller came up with the idea for a computer (The Difference Engine) 30-odd years before Charles Babbage thought that this concept would work as a mechanical device...the first computer.

    So The Difference Engine was the first computer and maybe Babbage was its first engineer, but today, with the massive explosion of User-Generated Content on the web, we have all become Engineers who have made a 'difference' to the development of a curio, to an instrument of great mathematical wonder, to a military device to an open doorway to a new universe. We are also making a difference in people's lives...people are falling in love using this engine, they are living, they are being murdered, they are creating new thought, they are felling injustices, they are committing suicide, they are following and they are innovating...ultimately, we will come to recognise The Difference Engine and its modern Engineers, us, as the Great Explorers; pioneers of a new, universal Universe.

    That is why this series should be called The Difference Engineers.

  • Comment number 30.

    Web Shift

    Its not that culture or society has been transformed out of recognition as digital networks have been integrated into everyday life. Its more that they have shape-shifted, moved onto new grounds, altered, become accessible in new dimensions: that's webshift.

    Webshift is 'real' - because it is made up of new technologies and the new social and cultural practices that emerge through them. But its is also a matter of perception: the networked world seems more or less 'new' depending where you stand, who you are, how much access you have, what kind of life you lead.

    And handily enough- given your astronomical predilections - webshift plays on redshift

    The latter is an astronomical term for (a particular kind of) change in wave-length, exploited amongst other things as a means to understand explore space...

    so Web/Shift.

    It grows on you.

  • Comment number 31.

    I know it's late, but could not resist posting this definition from Eyal Sivan at the Connective site (https://theconnective.org%29:

    The proliferation of information technology is driving a universal shift in how we organize ourselves, and the world around us. This shift has already clearly been observed within such diverse contexts as economics, sociology, philosophy, politics and science. The Connective is an attempt to describe this shift in an inter-disciplinary manner.

    The Connective Hypothesis states that the dominant organizing pattern of global culture is shifting from a top-down hierarchy to a distributed, self-organizing network.

    Structures that embody the existing dominant pattern are often referred to as organizational hierarchies. Irrespective of politics, virtually all of our principal institutions are bureaucratic products of the industrial age. They have their parameters defined by committee and demand adherence to a set of absolutes. In this general sense, these prevalent structures can be referred to as collectives.

    The Connective refers to structures that embody the new emerging pattern, the network, as connectives. A connective refers to a distributed network made up of voluntary participants, organized around a specific interest or context, with each member seeking to achieve an individual goal. This new structure is neither individualistic nor socialist. It is something that is an intricate mixture of the two; a third way. Rather than trying to capture and freeze absolutes, connectives bend and flex, and acknowledge that the world around them bends and flexes as well.

    As our organizational perspective shifts from collectives to connectives, every role we play in our lives is being drastically altered, even how we see ourselves. To that end, the Connective Hypothesis is divided across five broad roles: consumer, producer, citizen, innovator and self. Using these five roles as a structural guide, the goal of the presentation is to explore this coming shift to connectives, and the impact it will have on society and identity.


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