BBC Radio 4's Analysis: Searching Questions, was broadcast on Thursday, 27 July, 2006 at 20:30 BST.
Bewitched, bothered or bewildered?
CPS:LINK HREF="http://news.bbc.co.uk/nol/shared/spl/hi/programmes/analysis/transcripts/27_07_06.txt" STYLE="rightarrow">Read the programme transcript
The dream is powerful: the world's information at everyone's fingertips.
And ever more sophisticated search engines using smarter websites do promise endless new benefits. We are also doing more and more of our daily activities online, everything from shopping to watching TV.
Before long, say the Web futurologists, search engines like Google will have indexed almost all the world's vital information, including video and books. We will all have personal digital identities that represent and store our whole lives in electronic form.
But how much is all this really making us better informed? While IT can clearly transform some parts of life, in other areas there is much more doubt. New research has found that many users just do not know how to judge what is out there. Vital information may be missing.
Do we have time to make the most of what new technology offers? And how far does the commercial scramble for our attention on the Web bring its own distortions and dangers?
In "Searching Questions" Diane Coyle investigates our attempts to make the most of the "information society" with experts including the author and Google specialist John Battelle, expert on the Web Professor Wendy Hall, historian of technology David Edgerton and Ralph Schroeder of the Oxford Internet Institute.
Presenter: Diane Coyle
Producer: Chris Bowl by
Editor: Nicola Merck