Princeton Students Pan the Kindle DX

Earlier this year, Amazon rolled out the Kindle DX. This new, supersized e-book reader had one basic goal: to give readers digital access to textbooks, newspapers and other larger format publications. This fall, the rubber has started to hit the road, and the Kindle DX has been getting tepid reviews, at least at Princeton University. There, students in three classes (Civil Society and Public Policy, U.S. Policy and Diplomacy in the Middle East, and Religion and Magic in Ancient Rome) were given free Kindles, and then started working with them. According to the Daily Princetonian, many of the 50 students participating in the pilot program said that "they were dissatisfied and uncomfortable with the devices." One student had this to say:

I hate to sound like a Luddite, but this technology is a poor excuse of an academic tool. It’s clunky, slow and a real pain to operate. ... Much of my learning comes from a physical interaction with the text: bookmarks, highlights, page-tearing, sticky notes and other marks representing the importance of certain passages — not to mention margin notes, where most of my paper ideas come from and interaction with the material occurs... All these things have been lost, and if not lost they’re too slow to keep up with my thinking, and the ‘features’ have been rendered useless.

These feelings were shared not just by students, but by professors as well. For more, I'd encourage you to give the Daily Princetonian piece a read.

Thanks to Bob for the tip, which comes via a mention in Engadget. We love tips. Keep them coming.

Nabokov Makes Editorial Improvements to Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis”


Vladimir Nabokov admired Franz Kafka's novella, "The Metamorphosis." Hence the lecture that Nabokov dedicated to the work here. But he also saw some small ways to improve the story, or at least the English translation of it. Above, we have some edits that Nabokov penned himself. And, just as an fyi, you can download a free versions of Kafka's work in our collections of Free Audio Books and Free eBooks.

Filmmaker Roman Polanski Arrested After 31Years

A little bit of breaking news coming out of Zurich, Switzerland. More coverage in The New York Times here.

Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking Remixed

It's rare that a video trending on YouTube actually fits the mission of this blog. But here you have one. As the producer of this video writes, this is a "musical tribute to two great men of science. Carl Sagan and his cosmologist companion Stephen Hawking present: A Glorious Dawn - Cosmos remixed. Almost all samples and footage are taken from Carl Sagan's Cosmos and Stephen Hawking's Universe series." You can download the track here. And, meanwhile, I've added this clip to our YouTube Favorites.

Michael Sandel’s Course on Justice, the Most Popular Course at Harvard, Now Free Online

Harvard University and WGBH Boston have posted online Michael Sandel's very popular course, "Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do?" How popular is it? Over 14,000 Harvard students have taken this course over the past 30 years. The course takes a close look at our understanding of justice by exploring important, contemporary moral dilemmas. Is it wrong to torture? Is it always wrong to steal? Is it sometimes wrong to tell the truth?  We have posted the complete playlist of lectures above.

You can watch the video lectures on YouTube and iTunes and get more information on this course at this Harvard Web Site. The lectures have also been added to our collection: 1,500 Free Online Courses from Top Universities, where you can also find more than 140+ Free Online Philosophy Courses.

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Math & Science Tutoring on YouTube

This comes to us via a tip from Twitter. The Khan Academy has now posted on YouTube over 800 videos (find a complete list here) that will teach students the ins-and-outs of algebra, geometry, trigonometry, calculus, statistics, finance, physics, economics and more. The clips have been recorded by Salman Khan, a Harvard Business School and MIT grad. And to give you a feel for them, we've posted above the first in a long sequence of lectures on differential equations. (The remaining lectures can be found here.) This YouTube channel, which now appears on our list, Intelligent YouTube Video Collections, is one of several video sites that provide free online tutoring via video. As mentioned in the past, you can find online good video collections dedicated to chemistry and calculus.

Armstrong’s Case for God

In recent years, we have seen a number of books published that have made the case for atheism: Richard Dawkin's The God Delusion, Christopher Hitchens' God Is Not Great, Sam Harris' Letter to a Christian Nation, and Daniel Dennett's Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon. It was almost as if a dam had broken, and suddenly a voice that hadn't been heard in some time, at least not in the US, was let loose. The books hit hard, one after another, and they made their point. And now Karen Armstrong, who has written more than 20 books on Islam, Judaism and Christianity, offers a reply. Her new book published this week, The Case for God: What Religion Really Means, takes a historical look at God and concludes that we moderns (atheists, evangelicals and the rest) are working with a facile conception of God. And then she suggests an alternative way of seeing things. You can get a taste for her thinking in this NPR interview conducted this week: Listen with the player below, or via these links (MP3 - iTunes - Stream):

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