Hardware, Software, Anywhere

Episodes

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20191116

Nick Baker’s collection of programmes and interviews reflects on how the impact of technology has changed, from the dawn of language to the age of virtual reality.
In the first hour, called HARDWARE features Stephen Fry along with an edition of FRY’S ENGLISH DELIGHT about the physicality of written language, from its earliest scrawlings to the digital age.

In THE PERSISTENCE OF ANALOGUE tech writer Leigh Alexander says despite all the boundless conveniences of the digital world, it can sometimes feel as if something has been lost in the transition to an always-on virtual society.

In the second hour called SOFTWARE Nick Baker revisits two of the past music software formats that used to dominate. In THE CURSE OF THE CASSETTE, from 1997, he recalls the downside of a much reviled format.
In the AB of CD (from 1988) Simon Bates looks at what the then revolutionary medium would bring to pop music and Nick meets Simon Rooks from the BBC archives.

In the third hour, ANYWHERE, Nick looks at bigger changes in our physical perceptions, and experiences a new medium – Virtual Reality, as developed in the BBC Virtual Reality hub. But there’s a different, more subtle way in which digital tech changes our perception of personal space, and that idea’s probed in an edition of THE DIGITAL HUMAN presented by Aleks Krotoski, called Between.

The sequence ends with a warning from literature, and from history. Stephen Fry and Nick Baker discuss the 1909 Novella, THE MACHINE STOPS, which envisages a physical world changed, if not destroyed by technology. But what happens when that technology breaks down?

Nick Baker collects some programmes about how technology has changed our physical world.