The Virtual Revolution

Apr 16, 2022 | Science, Videos

In this documentary Dr Aleks Krotoski looks at how 20 years after the invention of the World Wide Web, every aspect of our lives is being influenced.

The web’s biggest names – including the founders of Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft, and the web’s inventor have joined her to explore how far the web has lived up to its early promise.

The founding father of the Web, Tim Berners-Lee, believed his invention would remain an open frontier that could not be owned by anybody and that it would take power from the few and give it to the many.

In a provocative, strongly designed argument, Aleks Krotoski re-assesses unverified claims like these, made over many years by the torch bearers of the digital revolution – and test them against the hard realities of the emerging Web today, exploring how the possibilities of the pure technology have not only been constrained but even distorted by the limitations of human nature.

Aleks maps out an ongoing clash between the freedom the technology offers us, and our inherent desire to control and and make money, by charting the unexpected rise of blogs, Wikipedia and YouTube in the first of this four part series, The Great Levelling

With contributions from Al Gore, Martha Lane Fox, Stephen Fry and Bill Gates, Aleks explores how interactive, unmediated sites like Twitter and YouTube have encouraged direct action and politicised young people in unparalleled numbers in the second part, Enemy of the State

In the third part, The Cost of Free, she tells the inside story of the dotcom bubble and reveals how retailers such as Amazon learned the lessons. She also traces how, Google forged the business model that has come to dominate today’s web, offering a mind boggling range of highly attractive, overtly free web services, including search, maps and video, that are in fact funded through a sophisticated and highly lucrative advertising system which trades on what the users look for.

Joined by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Al Gore and the neuroscientist Susan Greenfield, Aleks examines the popularity of social networks such as Facebook in the last part of this series, Homo Interneticus, and comments on how they are changing our relationships. And, Aleks investigates how the Web may be distracting and overloading our brains in a ground-breaking test at University College London.

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Riyan H.