As a student of interactive media I have an inherent, sometimes obsessive interest in the history and theory of the web. To my absolute delight, the BBC is currently airing a documentary series covering the last 20 years of the web and, as they put it, exploring how it's reshaping almost every aspect of our lives. It's fantastic stuff I tell you!
The first episode of The Virtual Revolution dropped last Saturday and gave an informative overview into the Internet's history and the resulting issues with it's fundamental feature, openness.
This evening brought with it episode 2 which focussed on how the freedom given by the open Internet can prove damaging, and how some entities are trying to restrict that freedom. The result is an online battle between sophisticated defence mechanisms [the censorship], users [the free people], and technology providing a means of bypassing said defences. Censorship is an area of the web that is very young and one that will prove increasingly important to everyone who uses it, regardless of location.
So far the series has been insightful but most importantly, because of it's airtime on BBC 2, it is allowing the general public to learn about the hidden issues that affect them in so many ways. Unfortunately the web and the technology behind it is still seen as something that only geeks are allowed to know about. I hope this series will change that.
There has already been quite heated debate on social networks about the topics covered, and this is a good thing. Previously such topics would be unknown to most and left alone to do as they wish. Maybe this new audience will be moved to do something about the most important issues, maybe not. What matters is that the magic of the web is being laid bare in format that all can understand.