The that was presented by Dr Aleks Krotoski, and

The Virtual Revolution is a British television
documentary series that was presented by Dr Aleks Krotoski, and was firsts
aired on BBC Two 30th January 2010. Dr Aleks Krotoski is an Emmy, BAFTA and Radio
Academy Award-winning Journalist, with a background in psychology and
technology. This four-part series was a huge undertaking where Dr Krotoski(“The
Cost of Free, The Virtual Revolution – BBC Two”) looks at how all
our lives have been shaped and reshaped by the invention back in 1989 of the
World Wide Web. In the documentary Dr Krotoski is accompanied on her travels in
part by the Web’s inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee. It is a far-reaching
documentary with Aleks speaking to famous names from the World Wide Web such as
Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Al Gore and Stephen Fry. She charts the rise of
blogs, YouTube and Wikipedia and explores the question, is the Web is actually
living up to its original promise.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee first proposed the World Wide Web
in March,1989 and gave it to the world. Back in March, 2017 on the 28th
anniversary of its creation he outlined in an interview with The Guardian, that
he originally “imagined the web as an open platform that would allow everyone,
everywhere to share information, access opportunities, and collaborate across
geographic and cultural boundaries.”(Berners-Lee)

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Just over a decade after the Web’s launch Lawrence
Lessig outlined in his book “The Future
of ideas. The Fate of the commons in a connected world”, the remarkable
growth in creativity and innovation that this launch brought with it. Lessig
outlined very eloquently the opening up of a whole new world of promise
following the invention of this extraordinary platform of the World Wide Web.
He enthusiastically praises the open source world created by sir Tim
Berners-Lee. “All around us are the consequences of the most significant
technological, and hence cultural, revolution in generations. This revolution
has produced the most powerful and diverse spur to innovation of any in modern
times.”(Lessig_FOI.Pdf)

Lessig is the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law at
Harvard Law School and from his background in Law very strongly argues
that large corporations have manipulated the law for their own purpose. These
powerful institutions have established themselves as gatekeepers of the
net.  “changes in the architecture of the
Internet—both legal and technical—are sapping the Internet of this power.
Fueled by a bias in favor of control, pushed by those whose financial interests
favor control, our social and political institutions are ratifying changes in
the Internet that will re-establish control and, in turn, reduce innovation on
the Internet and in society generally.”(Lessig_FOI.Pdf) The expansion of
property rights and copyright law into the arena of creative intellectual
property has brought significant negative side effects to the open and free
platform originally imagined by Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

Lawrence Lessig in 2001 and nearly a decade later, Dr
Aleks Krotoski, both outline the clash between freedom that the technology of
the World Wide Web offers and our human unbending attachment to property and
our desire for profit and control.

In the documentary, “The Virtual Revolution – the cost
of free”, Dr Aleks Krotoski “tells the story of a silent revolution, that
effects every person on the planet. We have become complicate in a deal that is
reshaping our world.” Lessig had already highlighted this silent revolution in
2001, “The freedom that is my focus here is the creativity and innovation that
marked the early Internet… This freedom has been lost. With scarcely anyone
even noticing.” (Lessig_FOI.Pdf
pgvii)

 “The World Wide
web offers unprecedented free access to information.” But what exactly does
Free mean. This adjective Free is used in two ways. “Gratis is cost free, it
means free to read. Libre is cost free & permission free, it means free to
use.” (Suber & Harnad 2008).  We are
aware that everyday web use is overwhelmingly free.  One of the biggest internet companies whose
business model and platforms dominate the web, is Google. We search on Google,
we share photographs on Flickr, we send and receive emails, get directions
using Google maps, read the news, read blogs, connect with friends. It feels
like it is free! Where in fact all this is funded by a very sophisticated and
clearly very lucrative advertising model. As Dr Krotoski highlights in the
documentary, there is an individual, moral and social cost of free.

We have become very attached to Google. Google helps
make sense of the World Wide Web.  Here
Google is operating true to the original ethos of Sir Tim Berner-Lee’s free web.
But, every time we use Google we are helping them make money! Google is the
biggest money-making machine in history. Free is an allusion. Google uses the
information we provide, gathers information on the searches we carry out to
sell highly targeted advertising. Google gather and store information on
“Things that make you, you” (Google, 2017). There is free access to
information, this touches anyone who has access to the internet. But we are
paying for that free access with a very precious commodity, personal and
intimate information about ourselves. Our thoughts, ideas, desires expressed on
the web are to paraphrase Dr Krotoski being traced, tracked and trailed in
pursuit of profit.

On the 12th March, 2017 Tim Berners-Lee
writes for The Guardian “I invented the web. Here are three things we need to
change to save it.”

” We’ve lost control of
our personal data

It’s too easy for
misinformation to spread on the web

Political advertising online
needs transparency and understanding.”(Berners-Lee)

 

In the 28yrs that have followed the creation of the
World Wide Web, we have been given an intriguing insight into the open source
movement and it has opened up a world of promise. But also in that time from
very early on we have been warned that very worrying trends were emerging and
this new technological infrastructure of the Internet was changing from its
original purpose of being “a web that gives equal power and opportunity to
all.”(Berners-Lee)

Lawrence Lessig’s book teaches us a lot about
ourselves. Dr Aleks Krotowski’s documentary teaches us a lot about the
relationship between the world of commerce on the web and us the consumer and
our notions of privacy and personal space. Tim Berners-Lee just a few months
ago puts out a call to action “It has taken all of us to build the web we have,
and now it is up to all of us to build the web we want – for everyone.”(Berners-Lee)

Solutions to this will not be simple. Awareness,
information and knowledge of what is happening is key. The Webfoundation.org is
a great resource here to keep abreast of news. I agree, Freedom and open access
is key to innovation, creativity and development, we know that there is a cost
of production involved. The subject we need to look at is Control. Financial
interests favour control. We need a response to the concept of Control.