10 Signs of Intelligent Life at YouTube (Smart Video Collections)

intelligentlife3.jpgIt's been a constant lament that YouTube offers its users scant little intellectual content. And that content is itself hard to find. Just visit YouTube's so-called Education Section, and you'll be hard-pressed to find anything actually educational. But the good news is that we're seeing some recent signs of intelligent life at YouTube. The video service hosts an increasing number of intellectually redeemable video collections. And so we figured why not do some heavy lifting and bring a few your way. If YouTube won't make them easy to find, then we will. (By the way, I first posted this right between Christmas and New Years, when everyone was tuned out. So it seemed worth posting again.)

1.) UC Berkeley: We have mentioned this collection before, but we might as well mention it again. UC Berkeley launched in October a YouTube channel that contains over 300 hours of academic programming. And, most notably, you'll find here a series of university courses that can be watched in their entirety (for free). It's a deep collection worth starting with.

2.) @GoogleTalks: Many big names end up speaking at Google. That includes political figures and cultural figures such as Paul Krugman, Steven Pinker, Joseph Stieglitz, Jonathan Lethem and more. Since Google owns YouTube, it's good to see that they're making an effort to record these talks and raise the intellectual bar on GooTube just a bit. Have a look.

3.) The Nobel Prize: TheNobelPrize channel presents current and past Nobel Laureates -- courtesy of Nobelprize.org, the official web site of the Nobel Foundation. The collection features official Nobel Prize Lectures and also more casual presentations. It looks like talks by the 2007 winners are being added slowly.

4.) TED Talks: Every year, a thousand “thought-leaders, movers and shakers” get together at a four-day conference called TED (which is short for Technology, Entertainment and Design). In recent years, the list of speakers has ranged from Sergey Brin and Larry Page to Bill Gates, to Herbie Hancock and Peter Gabriel, to Frank Gehry, to Al Gore and Bill Clinton. In this collection, you'll find various talks presented at the conference. They usually run about 20 minutes.

5.) FORA.tv: In case you don't know about it, FORA.tv is a web service that hosts videos featuring important thinkers grappling with contemporary cultural, social and political questions. It's like YouTube, but always intelligent. You can find extended videos on FORA's site, and a decent sampling of their content on YouTube.

6.) Philosophers and Theorists: The European Graduate School (or EGS) hosts a video collection on YouTube that includes talks by some very important theorists/philosophers of the past generation -- for example, Jacques Derrida and Jean Baudrillard. There are also some filmmakers mixed in — take for example, Peter Greenaway and John Waters.

7.) Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting: This channel promotes coverage of international affairs, "focusing on topics that have been under-reported, mis-reported - or not reported at all." Most of these videos were featured on the public television program "Foreign Exchange with Fareed Zakaria."

8.) BBC Worldwide: The leading British broadcaster is now live on YouTube, and there's some good content in the mix, although it won't leap off of the homepage. The trick is to look at their playlist where you will find more educational pieces of video: documentaries, science, drama, travel, and more. The notable downside is that the videos typically fall within YouTube's customary 10 minute video limit. (Many others cited here run longer.) Too bad more couldn't have been done with this opportunity.

Other smart media properties that have opted for the soundbite strategy here include National Geographic and PBS.

9.) UChannel: Formerly called the University Channel, this video service presents talks on international/political affairs from academic institutions all over the world. It's spearheaded by Princeton University, and you can find an even more extensive video collection on their web site.

10.) Other University Channels on YouTube: UC Berkeley launched the biggest channel on YouTube, but there are some others out there. Unfortunately, finding them is something of a crapshoot. We've managed, however, to pull together a good list of ten. See 10 University Collections on YouTube

Bonus: We cobbled together our own playlist of smart YouTube videos that will grow over time. Have a look.

In putting together this list, one thing became clear: YouTube has enough quality content to keep you busy, and there's clearly more that I don't know about (again, because they don't make it easy to find). If you want to add other good YouTube collections to our list, please list them in the comments and I can add them selectively to the list.

Want more smart media? Check out our big list of free university courses available via podcast.

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14 Easy Ways You Can Be An Everyday Environmentalist

The Nature Conservancy asked its staff and leading environment bloggers how you can make "personal, science-based choices to help save the planet." Here are their 14 suggestions.

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How Evolution Happens (in 5 Minutes, 48 Seconds)

This video was apparently developed with scenes taken from the BBC series Walking with Monsters. (But don't completely quote me on that.)

For more smart videos, see our YouTube Playlist.

How Camera Lenses are Made

On a related note, also see Learn the Art of Photography: The Nikon Way

Is Morality Hardwired in Us?

Is morality a sixth sense that's in all of us, and is it perhaps a product of our biological evolution? Writing recently in The New York Times Magazine, Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker suggests that morality may well be hardwired. And he points to fascinating new research that backs up this belief. Pinker's article covers pretty much the same ground as does this engaging Radio Lab podcast (MP3 - iTunes - Feed - Web Site). Taking an hour-long look at the "science of morality," the program gets into some fascinating stuff. It gets into the great Trolley moral dilemma, into what brain scans (MRI's) reveal when human brains grapple with moral questions, and into how scientists think that we inherited moral instincts from our primate ancestors. You'll learn all about how morality is our "inner chimp." If this is not enough, you can also listen to Pinker's interview yesterday on NPR's Talk of the Nation. Get it here.

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Cha-Cha-Changes: Politicians Sing Bowie

You need to give it a minute:

via The Daily Dish

Turn Your iPod into a Travel Guide: 20 Travel Podcasts





Over the past year, we've seen a steady supply of new travel podcasts coming online. Some are produced by the publishers of major travel guides; others by passionate individual travelers. Many are in video, some even in HD. These podcasts will generally help you travel much more knowledgeably. And, in most cases, they'll say something about a travel destination that a traditional guide never could. This collection will grow over time. You can find it housed permanently in our Podcast Library located on the top right of each page. (There you can also find our collection of Free Language Lessons, which will be handy, too, for your travels.)

  • A Year in Europe iTunes Feed Web Site
    • A well reviewed podcast. "Scott and Sheryl quit their jobs and sold their home. Now they’re on a year-long excursion through Europe where they’re exploring the places they’ve read about and dreamed of visiting. Follow them on their journey as they experience the cultures, art and history they find fascinating."
  • Amateur Travel Podcast - Video iTunes Feed Web Site
    • Focuses on travel stories with a dash of travel news, travel tips and travel resources. And, yes, as the title suggests, it's in video.
  • Anthony Bourdain - No Reservations iTunes Web Site
    • Produced by the Travel Channel, this video podcast combines travel with the love of food.
  • Beautiful Places (iPod/iTunes) iTunes Download Web Site
    • This video podcast focuses on the great outdoors. Destinations explored here include Big Sur, Yosemite, Rocky Mountain National Park, etc. You can find an HD version of the podcast here.
  • Big in Taiwan HD iTunes Feed Web Site
    • These videos highlight the people, culture, sights & sounds of Taiwan.
  • Copenhagen Podwalks iTunes Web Site
    • Podcasts that will get you around Denmark's capital.
  • Discover France with Sebastien iTunes Feed Web Site
    • Gives you a good look at French towns. In video.
  • Finding America iTunes Feed Web Site
    • See the real America in video. Travel every major road in the USA and see the country from something other than a glossy, manufactured perspective.
  • Frommer's Podcast iTunes Feed Web Site
    • Travel info from Kelly Regan, editorial director of Frommer's Travel Guides, and David Lytle, editorial director of Frommers.com. So far audio only. (It's curious that the big publishers are producing less dynamic podcasts than the small guys are.)
  • Inside Grand Canyon iTunes Feed Web Site
    • Learn about Grand Canyon National Park with a park ranger as your guide. This is a video podcast.
  • iPod Traveler iTunes Feed Web Site
    • Two Londoners give you their personal look at Europe. This audio podcast was discontinued in 2007, but the extensive archive remains.
  • Italy From the Inside iTunes Web Site
    • A native Italian tells first-time travelers how to make the most of Italy. Some in audio; some in video.
  • Let's Travel Radio iTunes Feed Web Site
    • An internet travel radio show that takes you to the four corners of the world. Features talks with globetrotters, artists, chefs and musicians.
  • Lonely Planet Travelcasts iTunes Feed Web Site
    • Produced by one of the leading travel guide publishers, these podcasts are very international in scope. Audio only.
  • London Landscape TV HD iTunes Feed Web Site
    • A visual HD guide to the great city of London.
  • Samantha Brown: Passport to Latin America iTunes Web Site
    • Produced by the Travel Channel, this well-reviewed video podcast often focuses on Central and South America, which is something that's hard to find .... at least so far.
  • Unabellavista: How to Tour Italy iTunes Feed Web Site
    • Learn about Italy's art, history, architecture, food, and language. In audio.
  • Walks of a Lifetime iTunes Feed Web Site
    • Produced by National Geographic Traveler. "Stroll across the world, from crowded city centers to rustic country routes, with travel expert Rudy Maxa in National Geographic Traveler magazine's selection of the world's greatest walking tours." In audio.

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