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DOT EVERYONE - Power, the Internet and You

Baroness Martha Lane-Fox delivers the 39th annual Dimbleby Lecture

Entrepreneur and internet-pioneer Baroness Martha Lane-Fox will delivered the 39th annual Dimbleby Lecture from London’s Science Museum, part of the BBC's Make it Digital initiative to inspire a new generation to get creative with coding, programming and digital technology.

During the lecture she outlined her vision for Britain’s digital future, tackling three main themes: understanding the internet at all levels of society, women’s role in technology and how to manage the thorny ethical and moral issues that the internet has brought about. She asserts: “It is in within our reach for Britain to leapfrog every nation in the world and become the most digital, most connected, most skilled, most informed on the planet.”

She went on to suggest that in order to deliver this vision, Britain needs a new national institution that would lead an ambitious charge to make the nation the most digital on the planet.

“I don't say this because I'm a fan of institutions. I say this because the values of the internet have always been a dialogue between private companies and public bodies. And right now the civic, public, non-commercial side of that equation needs a boost. We’re going too slow, being too incremental. We need to be bolder. A new institution could be the catalyst we need to shape the world we want to live in and Britain’s role in that world.

“It’s time to balance the world of dot com, so I would call it DOT EVERYONE.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re 80 or eight, if you’re online once a year or once a minute. Understanding where the internet came from and what it can do will help you make more sense of the world.

“If we’re going to make the most of it we need to take the chance to shape the digital world as it shapes us. That’s what DOT EVERYONE will help us do.

“We’re still wasting colossal fortunes on bad processes and bad technologies. In a digital world, it is perfectly possible to have great public services, keep investing in frontline staff and spend a lot less money. Saving money from the cold world of paper and administration and investing more in the warm hands of doctors, nurses and teachers. There is huge opportunity here to do public services differently, what we need is politicians and leaders who can escape the old assumptions.”

Baroness Lane-Fox also outlines the role that women need to play in this future:

“DOT EVERYONE, our new organisation, must figure out how to put women at the heart of the technology sector. That alone could make us the most digitally successful country on the planet and give us a real edge.

“The big internet companies we use every day and the cultures they spawn do not reflect the diversity of their users.

“The digital sector should be leading the way in our striving, as a society, to move beyond prejudice based on gender, ethnicity, sexual identity, class or disability. It should not be languishing in a comfortably monoculture world.”

And then there are the moral and ethical issues the internet has raised:

“DOT EVERYONE should help us navigate the multiple ethical and moral issues that the internet is presenting and will continue to present. Because, our current institutions and legislative bodies can’t cope. They don’t know enough to make the right decisions.

“We should be ambitious about this. We could be genuinely world-leading in our thinking. In this 800th year anniversary of Magna Carta, why don’t we establish frameworks to help navigate the online world?”

“That, for me would be DOT EVERYONE’s third big task - help us think and help us embed out national values in the digital world.

“I want to challenge us all - leaders, legislators and users to be far more ambitious for ourselves and for the country in how we approach the Internet.

“Imagine - DOT EVERYONE - a new kind of organisation - digital first, diverse - a strong mandate from government but independent. Fighting for the civic, public projects that need some weight to balance the commercial internet.

“Think of the BBC, the NHS. Let’s have no poverty of ambition - we can and should be inventing the definitive public institution for our digital age.”

WATCH FULL BBC DIMBLEBY LECTURE

Read the transcript here

Since co-founding lastminute.com in 1998, Baroness Lane-Fox has been a champion of digital culture and access in the UK. In 2013, she joined the House of Lords as crossbencher and she is currently Chancellor of the Open University and chair of Go On UK, a charity that aims to increase Britain's internet access and basic digital skills.

The Lecture was commissioned by Charlotte Moore, Controller of BBC One and Jan Younghusband, Commissioning Editor for Music and Events. It will be produced by Catherine Stirk and the executive producer is Phil Dolling, Head of Events Production.

BBC Make it Digital aims to get the nation truly excited about digital creativity. It will inspire audiences young and old through world-class TV, radio and online content, and focus on helping younger audiences discover their creative potential and take their first steps. Make it Digital will also amplify the great work already taking place across the UK through major initiatives with partners, and ensure young people can continue their learning journeys long after 2015.