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Series Premiere

The Virtual Revolution: Season 1

1x01 The Great Leveling?

  • 2010-01-30T20:30:00+00:00 on BBC Two
  • 60 mins
  • United Kingdom
  • English
  • Documentary

Twenty years on from the invention of the world wide web, this major new series takes stock of its profound impact on how, for better and for worse, the digital revolution is reshaping our lives.

Over four themed episodes that criss-cross the globe, journalist and academic Dr. Aleks Krotoski explores the meaning of a phenomenon that is transforming everything, from how we learn to how we shop, vote and make friends. With a quarter of the planet connected so far, this series examines what is in store for the remaining 75 per cent of the world's population as they come online.

The first episode, The Great Leveling?, encounters some of the biggest names associated with the web today, including Bill Gates, Al Gore, Arianna Huffington, Wikipedia creator Jimmy Wales, YouTube CEO Chad Hurley and the inventor of the web himself, Tim Berners-Lee. Aleks discusses with them whether the web has lived up to the early dream of its pioneers to help empower people by providing equal access to global, instant and free information.

Tracing the libertarian values and outlook of the early web back to the counterculture of the Sixties, Aleks explores just how far the web is overturning old notions of ownership, expertise and creative freedom.

But rather than a simple "leveling" of humanity, she identifies a more complex cycle of revolutions at play in the web on a continuing clash between technological possibility and our desire to control and profit. It is this tension, she argues, that makes the web the extraordinarily diverse, fast-moving and powerful phenomenon that now has a grip on our lives.