On the Blogging and Cultural Virtues of Twitter

twitterimageEarlier in the month, we made the leap into the world of Twitter, prompted partly by Makeuseof.com, which mentioned our site in a Twitter-related article. (Thanks Mark for that.)

When we first created our Twitter feed, my hopes weren't especially high. And while I'm still not completely sold on the personal uses of Twitter, I'm definitely liking the way that it works for a blogger. For starters, Twitter has given us insight into who actually reads Open Culture. Since we started things in October 2006, I haven't known much about who visits the site. I've been flying in the dark, to be honest. But now Twitter gives us a snapshot of our regular readers. Because you can see who subscribes to your Twitter feed (something that doesn't happen with RSS feeds), you can get a feel for readers' geographical location, their general age range, and most importantly their professional and personal interests -- all of which helps us tailor the blog's content a bit better.  

Still more perks come from our subscribers. Twitter gives you the ability to see who your "followers" also follow. And that inevitably means that your subscribers, sharing similar tastes, will turn you on to new and different sources of information/inspiration. Essentially, your subscribers help you develop intellectual affinity groups that provide good grist for the mill. In addition, our readers also do their own microblogging on Twitter, and, here again, their short, pithy 140 word "posts" have surfaced interesting content that we bring back to you ... with proper attribution, of course.

Based on our brief time with Twitter, we've put together an initial list of culturally-redeeming Twitter feeds. Have a look, and feel free to let us know if we're missing some good ones. Of course, this list will grow over time.

Lastly, if you're not on Twitter, it's time to get on and see if it works for you. Join here. And if you want to subscribe to our feed, click here and then click "Follow."

Sounds of Opera 1907

In 1907, executives from the Gramophone Company headed to the basement of the Paris Opera and sealed up some wax recordings of famous opera singers. Now, a century later, these recordings have been opened, dusted off, and (yes) even commercialized. Later this month, EMI will release the recordings under the title, “Treasures From the Paris Opera Vaults.” If you click on this NYTimes article and scroll down a little to the Multimedia section, you can sample these century old recordings. The Times collection features outtakes from Verdi's Aida, Otello and Rigoletto. Find them here.

Swapping Your Way to Enlightenment: A Recession Special

Here's a handy way to weather the recession with your intellect and pocket book intact...

In this very down economy, you can keep feeding your reading habit by book swapping. Yes, that's right, book swapping. What goes on here is fairly straightforward. You give away books that you've already read. In exchange, you get books that you want to read. And the cost (aside from shipping fees) is zero. Plus you'll save more than a few trees.

On the web, you'll find two major online book swapping services. The first is PaperBackSwap.com. The second is BookMooch. You can learn more about each service (respectively) here and here.

John Cheever Story Revived Online

John Cheever's story "Of Love: A Testimony" hasn't been anthologized or reprinted since it was originally published in 1943. Now, you can find it online at Fivechapters.com. Throughout the week, Fivechapters will roll out the story in nice daily installments, as is their general custom.

via LA Times Books

The Art History Web Book

cezanneNow there's a nice alternative to the traditional, expensive art history textbook. The folks at smARThistory have created a free multi-media web-book that offers a dynamic survey of art history. The online resource combines traditional images with audio and videos, and the beauty is that you don't have to read this web-book in a linear fashion. Rather, you can sort through things by time period, style and artist and find the information that you want. In case you're wondering about the credibility of this resource, it doesn't hurt to mention that one of its founders, Beth Harris, is the Director of Digital Learning at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and the other, Steven Zucker, is Dean of the School of Graduate Studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology, part of the State University of New York. Have a look.

Harper’s Index Now Open

From Harper's:

In celebration of its 25th year, the Harper’s Index–12,058 lines spanning 300 issues–is now open to all for searching and browsing, with more than one thousand linked categories. Some starting points: AdulteryChinaBeerVegetablesSweets,American MenAmerican WomenCatsDogsFrogsBears, and Pandas.

Who Believes in Evolution?

evolution

This chart comes from a new Pew Research Center study that looks at the worldwide acceptance of evolution 150 years after Darwin's On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. At least in the United States, only a minority of the public believes in evolution, largely because evangelical protestants (a large portion of the American population) resist Darwin's thinking far more strongly than other world populations. (The chart makes that simple fact fairly clear.) A piece newly published by the Pew Center goes on to add:

Recent public opinion polls indicate that challenges to Darwinian evolution have substantial support among the American people. According to an August 2006 survey by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, 63 percent of Americans believe that humans and other animals have either always existed in their present form or have evolved over time under the guidance of a supreme being. Only 26 percent say that life evolved solely through processes such as natural selection. A similar Pew Research Center poll, released in August 2005, found that 64 percent of Americans support teaching creationism alongside evolution in the classroom.

For more information, see the Pew Center's larger web collection dedicated to the Darwin debate. Also see a new Gallup poll that puts American belief in evolution at 39%.

via The Daily Dish

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