Alan Yentob's Imagine - Everything you mostly already knew about the Web

I just watched Alan Yentob's Imagine tv programme on the topic of the web, mostly because it was on after the news and happened to catch my eye. The programme starts with the invention of computers, romps through creation of the Internet and soon whizzes past the introduction of the world wide web (albeit via some nice soundbytes from TBL). Then, the programme systematically passes through every major web phenomenon, from blogs to Wikipedia to MySpace to YouTube to Second Life. At every step, Yentob plays the ignorant role, and so talks to a range of people, from Jimmy Wales to early Arctic Monkeys fans and a few random bloggers, in order to tell the story. Oh, and there's a random 23 year-old 'young chap' on a sofa, showing Yentob how this newfangled web thing works.

So, mostly quite predictable, but competently researched, and with a few things/people I didn't know of. Eyedropper is spot on to call out on the lack of a web presence for the programme, which is a bit ridiculous, especially as there were a few links in the programme that I would like to read more about.

During the course of the programme, we see Yentob create a blog and a myspace space (helped by his token geek friend of course), but there's no call-to-action suggesting that he might actually want to use these to engage with the viewers for real. After ten minutes of Googling, I can find neither of his pages, just a few traces of his attempts to understand Second Life and YouTube. Maybe he's deleted them, like he has done with his YouTube video.

Despite all that though, the programme does manage to cram in a lot of ideas into a fairly short programme, and in a fairly compelling and well-told way. This is a programme your gran could watch, and probably get (if she's not blogging already). The Long Tail, the transference of authority from institutions to processes, the erosion of what it means to be a broadcaster - it's all in there.

With so much apparent understanding of the way the web works, I was half-expecting Yentob to announce at the end of the programme that the whole thing would be available for viewing on YouTube. Sadly, that wasn't to be (no doubt because of some crap rights-related or 'commercial sensitivities' issue). If you missed the programme, though, I'm sure someone will do the honours and it'll be available on a Bittorrent/YouTube page near you...

Update: Stu has put together this great list of links connected with the programme. I considered doing that, but couldn't be bothered, so thanks! I've been checking out Strand Venice and the Newsroom blog.