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The Virtual Revolution - episode one

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Dan Biddle Dan Biddle | 13:34 UK time, Monday, 1 February 2010

The wait is over. The Virtual Revolution aired on BBC Two Saturday 30 January 2010, and can be watched on iPlayer for the next seven days (of which, more later!).

So what did you think?

We know this first episode in the series was generally very well received from the twittersphere's buzz around the weekend - search for #bbcrevolution or Virtual Revolution on Twitter for the most recent mentions.

No small amount of tweets came forth with the promotion of a hashtag on the screen at the top of the programme: 

@catherineelaine Really? This documentary comes with a hashtag (#bbcrevolution) for you to tweet about the programme. Oh, I love the internet :)

@Snips #bbcrevolution Innovative and fun to see a hashtag used to co-ordinate twitter comment. Every TV show should have an onscreen hashtag :-)

This #bbcrevolution tag was debated / derided by some who argued that it was too long a tag for tweeting purposes - suggesting #vrev as an alternative; although this suggestion was made before the tag had appeared on the screen, and #vrev wasn't generally used thereafter.

@mikebutcher Watching The Virtual Revolution on BBC2 8.30pm with the longest official hashtag ever: #bbcrevolution ( #vrev ?)

It's true that #bbcrevolution is quite long, but even if we'd gone with #vrev it would have had to have been #bbcvrev (sorry, house rules) - saving 6 characters, yes, but hardly a beautiful, tongue-roller...!

Other matters arising - iPlayer and international audiences. During the show Aleks tweeted a response to a question on twitter to confirm that the series would be available internationally on iPlayer, however this was a wires-crossed moment, as we aren't able to make the programmes available in this way.

@stewartcuk Find it ironic that Saturdays #bbcrevolution documentary promoting the open values of the Internet was only available in the UK on iPlayer

We recognise the international nature of this content and have endeavoured to make all of the video content on our website internationally available for viewing, embedding, download and re-use. We have certain constraints as a UK publicly-funded broadcaster, however this production has made unique efforts to make our content as universally accessible as possible.

Furthermore, everyone will be able to access considerable sections of the documentary series through our 3D Documentary Explorer (available after episode two), where you can watch the documentary in the context of the programme's research, interview rushes and surrounding information.

So these issues aside - what did you think?

I know there are issues arising from comments on other blog posts: our discussion of internet piracy on the programme has raised some argument; we'd love to hear more from you - please leave your comments below.

One final thought/plea: quite a few people wondered whether we had missed out key issues, ignored important, vital debates in this space... More than likely we may have, but for now, please hold off judgements or comments of this nature until the series has concluded. There's three more episodes; three more hours of considered information and analysis - it would seem most fair to reserve the debate on 'missing pieces' until we've seen the series as a whole. You can check out the forthcoming series themes here.

Many thanks to all who have watched and commented already. We look forward to hearing from you throughout the series!


  • Comment number 1.

    I know you have explained the reasons why, and probably wish the whole subject could just be laid to rest, but I must make some further comment regarding the lack of international distribution of the finished programme.

    It's not just that the nature of the content is international, what I have a problem with is that you have been crowdsourcing globally for months now to help with this project and it is particularly galling that large numbers of people who contributed can't see (legally) the finished product. It's all very well for you to say that the rushes and interviews are available, but this is not the same as the finished programme.

    Heck, even some of the people interviewed in the programme are disappointed to not have access. I ended up having a twitter conversation with Howard Rheingold regarding this. @hrheingold asked Aleks when the full video will be online and I (@SteveBrammer) explained to him that @aleksk had already said this would not be happening now. @hrheingold hoped he would be considered enough of a 'relative' to get a DVD from Aleks.

    You really have to ask yourself are the copyright laws we have fit for purposed in the digital world when situations like this occur?

    Also, I don't know if this is also crossed wires or a misunderstanding, but I asked Aleks earlier today, on her blog, if the Interactive 3D Documentary viewer can also be used in a 2D linear way. To which she replied "Yup!". If this is the case then the regional restrictions on iPlayer seem a bit pointless if we can view the programme via the Interactive 3D Documentary viewer anyway (or maybe I'm missing something).

    I know in this kind of forum I am preaching to the converted, but I just had to pull you up on the international rights issues. I think public service broadcasters around the world should be showing the way in this area but it seems more and more often they just roll over and accept the overly restrictive demands of rights holders instead of challenging them.

  • Comment number 2.

    I'm rather disappointed in the one sided portrayal of Microsoft as the bad guys in this program. They are one of the biggest reasons for the use of the internet beyond the hippies and the hobbiests. They are one of the driving forces behind the personal computer as a consumer product. They put the internet into the hands of the people by baking the tcp/ip stack into Windows 95 and giving away internet explorer.
    I remember the rigmarole that was involved in going online before that: telneting into the isp's server to download the dialer and netscape. And if Microsoft has paved the way for Amazon and eBay to make money from the Internet I don't see this as a bad thing.
    I can understand individuals giving their opinions on this but the overall tone of the program seemed unbalanced.

  • Comment number 3.

    Hopefully we can get along without the BBC resorting to CENSORING a real and meaningful discussion about the internet's current direction of travel and the concerns and hopes about what it may become.

    In an age of Government D/DA notices and Corporate Super Injunctions, it is a course of great concern that the BBC feels it has to tread so warily in discussing a subject so important to mankind's future and the hopes of BBC in being allowed to play a meaningful part.

    Whilst like yourselves I wish to tread carefully, I am only too aware of the forces at play here. However I think most of us are aware that allowing the future of mankind to be shaped by the narrow and selfish interests of an ever tighter political and corporate elite that have little concern or respect for the rest of us - is equally dangerous.

    Robin Rowlands Guildford Surrey

  • Comment number 4.

    @Steve Brammer - Hi Steve, I think I've said about all I can on the issue of the internationalisation. One thing to consider though is that you bring issues of copyright into this debate - that's not really what this is about - it's about the arena of UK public licence funding which the iPlayer works within, not about the IP of the programme. (Although, there would be rights issues in there too.) Whether copyright (international or otherwise) remains fit for purpose in the digital age isn't a debate we can get into here.

    @aidanfolkes - this is really interesting; the presence of Bill Gates on the show has really divided people, and you might think they'd seen different versions from the divided opinions of his appearances. You say we've cast him/Microsoft as bad guys, yet others (on Twitter) have questioned his right to be anywhere near the series, eg:

    @john_jameson Enjoying #bbcrevolution, but why do we keep getting snippets of Bill Gates? I'm not a Microsoft basher, but what have they done for the web?

    @ianodonnel Anyone else find Bill Gates talking as an expert on the #bbcrevolution slightly odd considering his early antipathy to the internet?

    So hopefully this suggests there's enough balance in the programme to allow people to draw their own conclusions from his representation.

    Many thanks,

  • Comment number 5.

    Sorry Dan you are right, it's not a question of copyright and we don't need to discuss that here.

    However you say the problems lie in the area of UK public licence funding. If this means that the problem just boils down to the fact that UK license fee payers have paid for the programme and therefore get it free to stream and download whereas others have not contributed financially and so they don't get access. Then the simple solution is to make overseas viewers pay. I don't want to be forced into stealing the program via bittorrent and I am quite happy to pay for access to iPlayer, it's just that this option does not exist!
    The BBC must know this so it just begs the question why is it taking so long? For programmes that the BBC owns all the rights to this should be a simple process. The TV industry is making all the same mistakes as the music industry. It had a chance to nip the illegal filesharing problem in the bud by providing good quality paid for alternatives, but it's taking too long. By the time they come up with a solution it will fail because everybody is already using bittorrent or some other alternative filesharing technology which is out of their control.

  • Comment number 6.

    As this is essentially an educational programme I was initially surprised how easily the terms 'World Wide Web' and 'The Internet' (note the capital 'I' !) were swapped, incorrectly.

    However, although it wasn't until over 20 minutes into the first episode I must commend you for explaining in an easy to understand way what the Internet and Web actually are and how they are related to each other.

    Hopefully by presenting that essential information on national TV will resolve common misunderstandings and help Internet users to be more aware of what they are using !

  • Comment number 7.

    Point out a single 'copyright' statute that governs this decision. Aside from the age of the most recent copyright laws, nowhere is there a law that would mean the iplayer cannot be used in the same countries where the BBC currently broadcasts. Its nonsense ,lazy and more importantly Dishonest

  • Comment number 8.

    No series catchup for this, so it doesn't expire after 7 days?

    Interesting that the graphic showing packets going different ways, that was previewed here, got chopped so we never saw them combining!

    A couple of things were presented differently from how I've come to understand them, but maybe my understanding is wrong:

    The "no centralised control" nature of the internet was related to the libertarianism philosophy around at the time, but I thought it was more to do with the technical requirements of a military network - you want nodes to be able to leave and join, and if something goes down for everything to route around it.

    Also, I think the way Microsoft "got" the internet was more subtle than presented. Bill Gates "internet tidal wave" memo came out after Windows 95 was out. Their response was to develop MSN, as a rival to the AOL walled garden. They gave away IE for free, which I don't think was mentioned, which is not an obvious thing for a company trying to make money. A company that was, Netscape, suffered as a result of that.

    I greatly enjoyed the episode and I was glad you got interviews with some key people.

  • Comment number 9.

    @BBC Hypocrisy - er... I just said that this isn't about copyright, so I don't need to point to any 'copyright' statutes; I haven't said anything about 'laws' governing decisions either, so the same applies.

    @Steve Brammer - aha, now there's a different kettle of fish - and you make an interesting argument. I'm not sure where iPlayer stands with such ideas for the future, so I won't pretend to. The BBC Internet Blog is a better arena for that sort of wider discussion about the iPlayer and its online context.

    @LPW - thanks, and I know what you mean - watching for the first time, I too wondered about the clarification of Internet and Web - will it ever come? I suspect that, given the need to open the subject to a wider audience, there was sound reason for delaying the technical differentiation until the show was warmed up.

    Many thanks,

  • Comment number 10.

    @Dan Biddle - Thanks for the suggestion about looking at the BBC Internet Blog for better information and discussion regarding an international iPlayer. Unfortunately looking at, and searching through the blog just made me more depressed and cynical. I could not find a single specific discussion about an internation iPlayer, just a mass of comments from potential viewers, like myself, raising the question inside the comments to unrelated discussions in a desperate attempt to be heard and find some answers. It looks like I will have to continue to use bittorrent to get hold of programmes I am willing to pay for but the BBC are unwilling to sell to me either digitally via the internet or physically in the form of a DVD or Blue-Ray. As an example, will "Virtual Revolution" be released on DVD and sold abroad? If not, how does the BBC expect the rest of the world to see this programme legally?

  • Comment number 11.

    I enjoyed the first episode and look forward to the rest of this informative series, but it is unfortunate (and annoying) that the presenter consistently pronounces such an important word to the topic as "imformation". I'm surprised this wasn't picked up in shooting and editing. Is it too late to overdub the remaining episodes?

  • Comment number 12.

    aidanfolkes: Whilst the TCP/IP stack was in the first release of Windows 95, Internet Explorer was not, there was the original X25-based The Microsoft Network.

  • Comment number 13.

    Excellent programme and presenter. However I felt the omission of any mention of Mosaic and Netscape's contribution to the web was unfortunate and might have given less informed viewers the impression that Microsoft pioneered the browser when they came in fact rather late to the party.

  • Comment number 14.

    BBC Virtual Revolution - UK Only!!!

    Pushed this Blog could get interesting.

    Especially if the Episodes are not set and can react dynamically.

    It all hangs on who comes to the blog and what they bring to the discussion.

    Robin Rowlands Guildford Surrey

  • Comment number 15.

    Let's stop the nonsense. The Trust told me that the BBC is for anyone who wants to use its services WHO IS IN THE UK. It is financed by a license fee which it holds in trust for carrying out it prime functions. There are many things the BBC does to enable its work to be seen all over the world. The question is why was this programme financed the way it was and then more widely why is there no iPlayerTVI (iplayerTVInternational) funded off the BBC Budget.
    Incidentally radio as far as possible is given away (true at low quality)

  • Comment number 16.

    Watched VR on Saturday; really enjoyed it. Looking forward to how the themes develop over the next three episodes too.

    Steve Brammer, Robin Rowlands & cping500.

    Comments about iPlayer should be directed towards the Internet blog which covers iPlayer topics, amongst others.

    You are by no means the first to raise points about restrictions on BBC programs and international viewers; I can understand your frustrations and you make some good points, but those type of decisions are made much, much higher up the BBC hierarchy.

    Occasionally the Editors blog will cover iPlayer too, but you need to keep looking in on both blogs to see when the topic comes up.

    This blog is just about one program series, the producers here have no say in the constraints iPlayer operates under.

    Personally I think the history of computing is too easily lost, there have been a few TV programmes and books on the early pioneers, but most people are unaware of this history.

    A series such as VR is a valuable contribution in both documenting and discussing the development of the Web; I hope one day this series will be permanently available on, say, the BBC channel on YouTube.

  • Comment number 17.

    I enjoyed the first programme in the series. I am not really into computers. Thanks LPW, I've always been confused over the various terms that are bandied about - like the difference between the web and the internet (I thought they were the same thing) but I must have missed the explanation or else it went over my head (quite possible). I'll have to watch it again and pay more attention. Looking forward to the rest, just hope they don't get too technical or else I'll be lost. Oh and please tell Dr Aleks - love the hair!!

  • Comment number 18.

    One analogy I've used with the difference between web and internet is cars and roads respectively. Cars aren't the only things on roads, and we had roads before we had cars.

  • Comment number 19.

    @paulmorriss - I used the same analogy with a friend the other day - great minds :)

  • Comment number 20.

    AndrewH - Yes, I would definitely recommend watching the explanation in the programme (at around 24 mins into it, or so) as it also uses graphics - 'a picture paints a thousand words' !

    I am fairly well versed in the nuances but not a guru (or Doctor as Aleks Krotoski is !) but it is important to realise that the Internet is the 'Big Daddy' which also provides the services such as ftp and e-mail.

    Some sources state that the capitalisation is often (or can be) omitted, which is wrong and usually done due to laziness or ignorance, and it not only demonstrates you don't properly understand the subject but the distinction can be important (ie there is ONLY one Internet in existence but there are many, many internets + eg you could be somewhere which has an internet that offers Internet access !).

    The explanation in the programme also mentions those Internet services but not necessarily in a specific overt manner. I am not sure I agree with the explanations others have given in this Blog (hence my recommendation to get it 'straight' by watching the relevant bit in the programme - I would not dare to define it in just a few words...).

    But do be wary as I think Dr Krotoski (and other contributors) continue to confuse the terms themselves - which doesn't help !

  • Comment number 21.

    Ok, I've watched the programme again and am now totally confused. I thought that the Web was the thing that carried the internet/Internet (whatever), but the picture before the Tim Berners-Lee interview seems to say it's the other way round. However, from what Mr Berners-Lee said, it appears to me that the Web is the software that allows everyone to connect up to the internet. Which is right? Help!
    paulmorriss & Dan Biddle - re 'cars and roads' - which is the cars and which is the roads?
    LPW - 'ftp'??

  • Comment number 22.

    @AndrewH I should probably let @LPW clarify this, as I'm pretty sure they'll do a better job :) But in my analogy (and it's not perfect!) the internet is the road, the web is the cars.

    The internet is the structure; the web is an application that works on top of the internet. The web is, most likely, what you have primary interaction with when you're online.

    Unless, as has been pointed out on another blog post comment by Richard E, you're accessing data via other internet applications - eg Twitter can be accessed via a website (on the web), but it can also be accessed via a number of other applications working on the internet - Tweetdeck, Seesmic, many mobile apps... Using these accesses the same data, but they don't use the web to do it - they use the internet.

    To oversimplify again - if the internet is the roads, the web is the cars, then those other twitter applications are motorbikes.

    I feel like I may have fallen down a well of botched facts, here. Anyone want to help me out? :)


  • Comment number 23.

    As mentioned before, I don't think this forum can be used to adequately explain the terms 'Internet' or 'WWW' and I can understand the confusion that has become apparent to others as I don't think the first programme did a good enough job of it and all too often confused the terms.

    An analogy I can think of which might go some way to starting the job (I suggest you forget about forget about roads, cars etc) would be to compare the Internet and WWW to a computer and an operating system (OS) such as MS Windows.

    A computer offers many functions and services but requires an OS to access them; initially this was done with an OS such as 'DOS'. Whilst DOS satisfied the need it was difficult to use and not very intuitive. MS Windows (for example) 'replaced' the job done by DOS as an overlay (eg which is why you have to wait for it to 'load' up over DOS, which is actually still there to start with and in the background ...) and presented a graphical and easy to use way of accessing those exact same computer functions. Windows is still using the core computer services, but everything is integrated, easier to access and given more 'user-friendly' names; such operating systems were obviously a revelation for us 'mere mortal' computer users !

    In my analogy, the Internet is the computer which offers a wide array of functions and services but it is not very user-friendly to use or access as it is essentially command-line orientated (as is DOS). In very basic terms, the brilliance of the invention of the WWW was that (in much the same way as Windows) it provided an easy to access and far more intuitive method of using what exists on the Internet and accessing data stored on computers connected to the Internet. When you begin you hopefully appreciate that you are making a connection to the Internet and not the WWW (as the Internet is the source) but most people then use a Web Browser from then on and access the WWW to use those Internet services.

    The most obvious feature of the WWW is the use of Hypertext (ie links) to provide an easy and efficient method of accessing data available on the Internet and that is normally achieved with the use of the aforementioned Web Browser. It might help to add that a browser such as Internet Explorer has a command-line where users usually insert commands starting with 'www', but you might notice 'http' precedes this (which is essentially the Hypertext 'function' being accessed). That hopefully explains why the browser is called 'Internet' Explorer and not 'World Wide Web Explorer', as it is actually accessing the Internet albeit usually via the easy to use WWW 'interface'.

    Finally, to expand on that explanation, Internet services such as 'mail' and 'ftp' (File Transfer Protocol, a file transfer/management function used by the Internet) are still there and utilised by the WWW, but users might not realise this as they are not always referred to in that way or even mentioned ! For example, when you 'download' a file or use the 'Listen Again' feature available from a WWW site you are essentially using the ftp service provided by the Internet, but the method of usage is far easier to do and appreciate than if you tried to achieve the same objective by using ftp directly via an Internet-enabled terminal. As an aside, you might notice that the term 'ftp might be in your web browser command-line as that Internet function is being accessed directly instead of via a user-friendly link on a webpage....

    I hope that helps. I'm not a teacher (and to repeat NOT an expert, merely well-educated by others/usage on the matter over many years) and to repeat this is merely a 'starter' on the subject; perversely, I think a well-written book on the subject is the best way to learn the basics - and preferably an older edition as, as the Web evolved, is less likely to have been affected by explanatory errors as authors made the same mistakes I think exist in this TV programme ! I also feel as though I'm involved in some sort of issue related to that classic film 'The Matrix' !

  • Comment number 24.

    Thank you to Dan Biddle and LPW. Though I have to say my head hurts now.
    Dan - I looked at Richard E's comment but didn't understand a word. Also, what's with putting '@' in front of everyone's name?
    LPW - Thanks, but I'm sorry it's all a bit too much for me to take in. Terms such as 'command line orientated' mean nothing to me. You say you're not an expert, but a 'mere mortal computer user'. I doubt that very much. If that's a starter on the subject, it's clearly aimed at someone much brighter than me.
    Seeing the OU link on the website should have given me a clue. When OU programmes used to be on Saturday mornings on BBC2 at least I knew to steer well clear as they'd just go over my head. Hands up, I never went to college or university but I hoped that in this series things might be explained for us thickos out there, but it seems more suitable for IT bods and people who have PHDs (and know what they are!).
    Sorry, rant over. Thanks anyway, chaps. I'm not sure if I'll watch any more - my head may explode!

  • Comment number 25.

    Why was episode 1 only available on iPlayer in "normal" form for 7 days? Most series such as this make all episodes available for up to 7 days after the final episode has been broadcast. Indeed I did find a link to the first episode on the series site but this was to the HD version only. Unfortunately I don't have the bandwidth to watch HD online and there is no download link for this episode either. I had planned to catch up on the series this evening but found my plans were thwarted. Since I'm on Virgin I checked the Series Catchup section in iPlayer on my set top box. TVR is listed but with only 1 episode so far - episode 2! What was in episode 1 that you are so keen for me not to watch?

  • Comment number 26.

    @AndrewH - the @ is a throwback from Twitter protocols, I guess. It signifies I'm replying and/or I'm refering to someone who has a presence on the blog comments...

    @Mike Storey - I'm not sure why iPlayer has taken that approach; sorry if you've missed the first episode - not a conspiracy to keep you from watching John Perry Barlow recite his Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, I assure you.

    You can catch much of the episode (and a great deal more information surrounding the episode's content and research) via the 3D explorer on our site. I hope this helps.

    Many thanks,

  • Comment number 27.

    Comment from a different angle. The presenter of this documentary is so unwatchable, I can hardly go through this documentary. Maybe (or even definitely from what I see) she's got knowledge but is unsuitable for TV.

  • Comment number 28.

    I'm as puzzled as Mike Storey is. I managed to miss the first episode, but have watched the second online, where it is available for download, or streaming in standard definition. Naturally I want to see the first episode too, but it's only available in streaming HD! Why? If this is a series covering the ease of access of information from the internet, and makes a big thing on its website about how interactive it is, surely the simplest thing – being able to watch it! – should be possible! :-(

  • Comment number 29.

    To respond to my own comment. I see the packet sequence was played in full on episode 2, as was a bit more detail on the military origins.

  • Comment number 30.

    I learned some interesting facts from "Virtual Revolution: the Great Leveller" -- for example, I had not previously heard the story of the The Well in San Francisco. However, especially in regards to the main premise of the programme, I wholeheartedly agree with Jimmy Wales when he said to Dr Aleks: "I don't even agree with the terms you are using in your question."

    One significant error is the contrast between Tim Berners-Lee and Bill Gates - Gates being the bad guy because he insisted on being paid for his software. The error is that it's comparing apples and oranges; it is just wrong to characterise Bill Gates as having anything much to do with the pioneering of the internet at all, because he just did not have much to do with it. Gates' insistence on making profit was completely centred on sales of personal computer software. The example in the show, when Gates complained about people copying his BASIC, is from 1975, more than a decade before civilians could access the internet on their own computers. In fact, it was clear to any of us who were in the field at the time that the power of the internet forced Gates to back off his insistence on charging for Internet Explore He could never understand why Netscape didn't charge; only when he stopped charging as well did IE win out.

    To characterise the pioneering of the internet as hippies versus capitalists is just not true either. The internet had its roots in the American military, with connections to American universities (the university connection surprisingly did not even get a mention in the show), but it did not take too long for commerce to successfully argue its right to the forum as well. Some of the earliest commercial players were AOL and Compuserve where one could log in and purchase airplane tickets. This was only seen as empowering and convenient, not any sort of betrayal.

    I would say that the idealistic vision of the internet was and continues to be the fact that it offers even a chance of a meritocracy. If you are a talented musician who has no access to the recording companies, you may make your own access to your own audience via Youtube or Jamendo. If you are a talented blog writer who knows your stuff, you may be offered paid work by the editor of a traditional periodical who has read your blog. These things happen not infrequently on the internet.

    Finally, why does Dr Aleks persist in saying "the web" when she is clearly talking about the internet? She is shown doing things on the iPhone which for most of its functions utilises the internet but not the web; she is shown in Africa where the fastest-growing method of access to the internet is not via browsers on computers but via mobile phones -- again, using the internet but not the web. At one point, she said something to the effect that "we use the words interchangeably" -- well, maybe she does but not everyone does, and it's confusing. Words mean things, and it's important for a communicator to use the word that identifies the thing you mean. This should be obvious.

  • Comment number 31.

    I agree with #13. The reason that Microsoft became involved at all was because the net, and the WWW in particular, were taking off with users of Mosaic and (Netscape) Navigator and it looked like a risk to their software dominance. Internet Explorer was a defence, not an innovation. Omission of Mosaic’s and Navigator’s vital part creating this momentum in this is misleading.
    #30. You are perpetuating an urban myth by suggesting Netscape gave away its products for free. Netscape’s revenue came from selling its browsers to commercial users. Netscape made versions available for free download for non-commercial use only. Microsoft’s decision to pre-install its browser on Windows and not charge anyone for it is a standard commercial tactic to remove competition by destroying their revenue stream. It worked very well. This was of course illegal and they were convicted of abusing Window’s PC operating system monopoly. If they had just made it a free download to everyone and not bundled it, it is unlikely they would have ended up in court. That approach would have given users a choice, but it would not have crippled Netscape anywhere near as well (if at all).
    On the whole though, it was good value for money for Microsoft as they then had no credible competition for over five years which saved them the cost of any significant developments to their product over the period; and most people forget about the little detail of the monopoly abuse conviction anyway.

  • Comment number 32.

    Virtual Revolution episode 1 - very disappointing that there was no mention whatsoever of the Association for Progressive Communications in the history of the internet. Sure you interviewed the usual suspects - Brand, Gates, John Parry Barlow - but these people were serious as well as politically active, not breadheads, deadheads or amateur rocket scientists. Founded in 1990, they expanded a network of networks created in the 80s by PeaceNet/EcoNet and GreenNet, and in 1995 they were given consultative status to the UN!

    I mean, what kind of research did you actually do?

    No mention either of TCP/IP developed in the 70s, without which there would have been no internet to connect Tim Berners-Lee's web. I mean, just a mention - no need to get all technical.

    At the end of the programme Dr Kotoski muses on the power struggles of information control and hierarchies being imposed on the internet by corporations. Doesn't she know that the internet is a self-organising system? It is autonomous and is governed by the cybernetic principles of Ashby's law of requisite variety and Beer's viable system model. If it ceases to be viable, it will cease to exist.

    A good effort but could do much better.

  • Comment number 33.

    Its good to see this documentary showing the history. But when it comes to sharing of files they showed their true nature. Her great speech about democracy, sharing of ideas etc vanished.

    They completely ignored the community of people who like to share knowledge and files legally. Initial computer programmer's group believed in sharing of programs. During 1984 a new community began. Their name is Free Software Foundation. Today more than 29 million people uses their work. They developed an Operating system name Gnu/Linux that can be shared. Instead of copy right they believe in Copy Left. Those computer programmers work motivated a lot of people in different domains. Artists and musicians are among them.

    They created Free Art License and some Creative Common kind of licenses. They created communities like Jamendo and Magnatune, where people are allowed to share music. There is no mention of these kind of movements, where musicians are getting most of the money where as traditional record industry they get only 5%, in BBC's documentary. 95% of the money that record company gets goes to non- musicians. Instead of revealing the real pirates, the corporate, they gave chance to Metallica to talk about his losses by Napster kind of file sharing like in the old story of Neapolitan and small fisherman.

    Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich asking plumbers and car mechanics whether they would like it if he used their services for free. There are answers for these questions. But Aleks Krotoski, who calls herself as a journalist, did not tried to get those answers or ignored the answers.

    Music is not a new thing that Metallica invented. It was there from the beginning of civilization. Classical arts, music etc are protected and encouraged by King/State and folk kind is protected and encouraged by the people. Nobody was restricted to performing or enjoying it.

    But when Thomas Alva Edison invented the recording technologies then it become a weapon. Now these arts and music got owners. With age old copy right laws from the time of Guntert, they attacked people asking for money. This new digital media is designed for easy copy. You cannot change its property. So they brought Govt. and made anti-social law against people by using their enormous amount of money.

    Its really bad that BBC missed this side. You are rhetoric about the democracy, openness of internet and gate keepers role in internet, but you yourself showed censoring of ideas. That is the real problem. I am not saying that you should be in our side. But what I am saying is that just show the people that there another perspective in legally sharing of file as per Gnu General Public License.

    If all the knowledge world has available to everyone, then we can solve all the issues in the world. But people like you manipulating people by hiding the truth. Shame on you.

  • Comment number 34.

    it was not Napoleon but it was Alexander the Great.


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