Digital Nations and Virtual Revolutions

I’ve been enjoying catching up with the Virtual Revolution series on the BBC. A few firsts for the BBC – the first iPlayer programme available worldwide, and almost all of the uncut interview rushes are available to view online or download – and with a permissive licence allowing editing and resuse. The interviews are available here. Interviewees include:

  • Tim Berners-Lee
  • Sherry Turkle
  • Howard Rheingold
  • Arianna Huffington
  • Stephen Fry
  • Vint Cerf
  • … and many others

A fantastic learning resource.The series itself is good viewing, though in a few places I thought the narrative imposed in the first couple of episodes a little off.  The first episode almost seemed to claim that the big professional blogs (e.g. Arianna and the Huffington Post) as a self-imposed elite attempting to control the blogosphere. But the Huffington Post doesn’t stop anyone who wants to from creating their own blog – and the rise of the professional blog can hardly be blamed for the millions of dead blogs out there. The bit on ‘balkanization’ was spot on however.

In Episode Two Aleks very conveiniently met the Russian teenager responsible for all the cyber-attacks on Estonia. How do we know he was responsible for all the cyber-attacks? Because he said so. The rushes of that interview are not online though, but wish the link between botnets and other forms of crime were hammered home in that interview. The only people in control of botnets are criminals – so if he was responsible for even some of the attacks, what other criminal activity is he involved in? I have to accept though that Aleks was almost certainly caught off guard with the confession – I’m not sure I’d be able to retain enough composure to ask the right questions in a similar situation.

While leaves Digital Nation, a PBS programme from the US. This has a good collection of interviews online too – mostly from members of the public, and these make a good resource for anyone interested in looking at the effects the internet and mobile technologies are having on modern lives. Check them out here.

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