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Programme three : Inside v Outside

Sunday 12 August, 1925BST BBC Two
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The internet has transformed our working conditions and meant that people who were once "on the outside" can now be part of the mainstream world of commerce or entertainment.

Take the programmer in Estonia who's become a valued "e-lancer" for a US company despite working seven thousand miles away from their HQ.

In the third programme in the series, Michael Lewis meets 23-year-old Andrei Filonov and finds out how he is making use of online communication to outbid better-paid US competitors for work he can easily do from the low-wage economy in which he lives.

It has just one example of how technology is giving outsiders the power of insiders. It's no longer a disadvantage to be on your own, in the middle of nowhere, without a big corporation to back you.

People power

British band Marillion has discovered how to sidestep its former bossy record companies, and deal directly with its fans.

Mark Kelly and Steve HogarthMarillion's new album is being funded by fan subscriptions, collected through the band's website.

The customers pay in advance, and Marillion have the freedom to do exactly what they want, without having to answer to record company bosses pushing for a more commercial product.

All the fans ask in return is that they get a mention on the record label.

The UK band, Marillion, describes how the internet has made it possible to compete on a level playing field.  real 56k

Keyboardist, Mark Kelly says: "The internet is making it a level playing field for any band, anyone who can play a song can enter and it hasn't been like that for a long long time.

"So it's going to be good for music. It might not necessarily be good for the music industry."

David and Goliath

Metallica's Lars UlrichThe music industry tells the story of outsiders in another way too. It has been under siege from the internet company Napster, which allowed its users to download music for free.

But Napster's legal battle - which meant it had to suspend operations in that area - shows that it is still vulnerable to corporate power.

Metallica's Lars Ulrich defends the rights of musicians.  real 56k

Gnutella, another piece of software available for free on the internet, allows the transfer of files without a central organisation or even a central computer server, and is therefore a much more formidable threat to the corporations.

Lewis visits Paris and Oldham to meet two of the developers of the Gnutella software. He sees how teenagers have formed cyber-groups to work on the new file-sharing software and spread it across the world's computers.

Crossing the boundary

The world of culture is also finding itself open to subversives on the fringe. A former 'Simpsons' animator known simply as "the Doodie", is taking his work direct to his audience, with a daily cartoon which no TV company or mainstream magazine would consider publishing.

The internet audience has no worries about "the Doodie's" work, and the artist behind the project finds the experience liberating. "It's a great way for an artist to put their work on there unedited, uncensored, without anyone's permission and let the world decide," says the Doodie.

Why young Finns love their mobile phones.  real 56k

Lewis visits Finland to find what he sees as a whole society moving from the fringe to the centre of the world, thanks to the success of the phone company Nokia, which allows them and us to communicate remotely.

The technology that, Finns admit, fits well with their own personal reticence, gives everyone the chance to operate as outsiders.

Crossing continents

"Let's give television a run for their money", Keith Chegwin.  real 56k

Keith ChegwinFinally, in a rural home in England, Lewis meets Keith Chegwin. 'Cheggers' has converted his bedroom to an internet broadcasting studio, from which he performs live to the world for hours every day.

Keith says: "Australia, America, you name it, they're all watching. I'm absolutely flabbergasted by it all. One minute we might be talking to a guy in Mississippi and then putting him in touch with his mother in Hull."

Related Internet Links

www.elance.com
www.marillion.com
www.napster.com
www.doodie.com
www.activeworlds.com
www.cheggersbedroom.com

Internet links: the BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.



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