Ira Glass on Why Creative Excellence Takes Time

Ira Glass, host of the beloved radio show This American Life, offers a helpful reminder that excellence doesn't come automatically. (See video below.) It takes work, years of it. And he revisits some of his early radio work in order to prove it.

The Glass video has been added to our YouTube playlist.

Subscribe to Our Feed

Art by Committee: The Story Behind the Writing of “Shake Girl”

Here at Stanford, a couple of our teachers (Tom Kealey and Adam Johnson) took a novel approach to running a writing class. They wanted to see what happens when 14 students collectively write, edit and illustrate a graphic novel. (A graphic novel is a type of comic book that features a lengthy and complex storyline.) Fast forward a few weeks, and you can see what the class produced. Their novel, "a wildly ambitious, emotionally searing story," based on a series of true events, is called Shake Girl, and you can start reading it here. Should you want to learn more about the writing of this collaborative novel, you can listen to this podcast that gives you the backstory and also read this section of the Shake Girl website.

Subscribe to Our Feed

Robot Conducts The Detroit Symphony Orchestra

File this under "Random" ...

Contribute to The Power of Dreams Music Education Fund at www.detroitsymphony.com and click on Education or go here.

Subscribe to Our Feed

Maps Explaining Why Americans Know Less About the World

Speaking at the TED Conference, Alisa Miller (CEO of Public Radio International) explains why Americans know less and less about the rest of the world. Along the way, she uses some eye-popping graphs to put things in perspective. Watch the video below or find it on our YouTube playlist ...

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

If you'd like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.

India’s Answer to M.I.T. Presents Free Courses on YouTube (in English)

Lots of newsprint has been dedicated to MIT's OpenCourseWare initiative. And, of course, it's understandable. MIT's project offers free access to materials from 1800 MIT courses, many on the cutting edge of technology and engineering. It is all great. But suddenly MIT is not the only tech powerhouse getting into the business of providing free educational resources.

In India, there are seven institutes dedicated to training some of the world's top scientists and engineers and making the country an up and coming world power. They are collectively known as the IITs, or the Indian Institutes of Technology. And now some of the IIT courses are being made available in English on YouTube for free. (The main page is here; the courses are actually here.) Some of the titles featured here include: Introduction to Computer Graphics, Core Science Mathematics, Computer Networks, Introduction To Problem Solving & Programming, Fluid Mechanics, and Environmental Air Pollution.

You can access the full list of IIT courses here. And note that we have integrated many of these courses into our collection: Free Online Courses from Great Universities, which now features more than 225 free courses.

Subscribe to Our Feed

Ninja Fast Dictionary

Long ago, I got in the habit of using Merriam-Webster's online dictionary. And I've suffered through the painfully slow page loads for the better part of a decade. But then I stumbled upon a better alternative. NinjaWords is "a really fast dictionary ... fast like a Ninja." Give it a try. You'll enjoy the speed.

PS Another cool option is Definr.com, which is fast and features a handy auto-complete function. Thanks to a reader for flagging that one for us.

Subscribe to Our Feed

1001 Books to Read Before You Die

As I write, the most emailed article on The New York Times offers a few reflections on Peter Boxall's book, 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. The Times piece makes a couple of logical points: First, there's no time to waste if you hope to read every book on the list. Reading a book per month, you'll get through 1000 books in a mere 83 years. So you had better get started now. Second, this "best of" list is bound to be controversial. (Do you really need to read Anne Rice's "Interview With the Vampire" before it's lights out?) The 1001 books on Boxall's list can be previewed here. The book itself, which runs 960 pages, is obviously more than a raw list. Each entry is accompanied by an "authoritative yet opinionated critical essay describing the importance and influence of the work in question." And also there's apparently some nice illustrations. If you're a bibliophile, it's worth a look.

For more great books, see the collection of Life Changing Books created by our readers.

Subscribe to Our Feed

More in this category... »
Quantcast