The Princeton Bitcoin Textbook Is Now Free Online

free princeton bitcoin textbook

Image by Jason Benjamin, via Flickr Commons

On the Freedom to Tinker blog, Arvind Narayanan, a computer science professor at Princeton, announced yesterday:

The first complete draft of the Princeton Bitcoin textbook is now freely available. We’re very happy with how the book turned out: it’s comprehensive, at over 300 pages, but has a conversational style that keeps it readable.

If you’re looking to truly understand how Bitcoin works at a technical level and have a basic familiarity with computer science and programming, this book is for you. Researchers and advanced students will find the book useful as well — starting around Chapter 5, most chapters have novel intellectual contributions.

Princeton University Press is publishing the official, peer-reviewed, polished, and professionally done version of this book. It will be out this summer. If you’d like to be notified when it comes out, you should sign up here.

The Princeton Bitcoin textbook is already being used in American university classrooms (including at Stanford) and it's also the text that supports a Princeton Bitcoin course being taught on Coursera.

You can now find it added to our collection of Free Textbooks.

via BoingBoing

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Download Marc Andreessen’s Influential Blog (“Pmarca”) as a Free eBook

Marc_Andreessen_(1)

Image by Joi, via Wikimedia Commons

For years Marc Andreessen--the entrepreneur best known for launching Mosaic and later Netscape--ran a popular blog called "Pmarca" (apparently short for "Private Marc Andreessen”) where he dispensed wisdom on startups, business, investing and beyond. If you've worked in startups, especially in Silicon Valley, you probably followed "Pmarca" fairly religiously.

Like so many others, Andreessen eventually took down his blog and began "tweetstorming" on Twitter--all while serving on the boards of Facebook, eBay, and HP, and running his now influential VC firm, Andreessen Horowitz. Before "Pmarca" could fade completely into oblivion, fans asked Andreessen to preserve the blog for posterity. And that he did. You can now download an archive of "Pmarca" as a free ebook. Available in three formats (ePub, Mobi, and PDF), the archived version can be read in pretty much the blog's original format. Start your downloads here.

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.

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18 Stories & Novels by Neil Gaiman Online: Free Texts & Readings by Neil Himself

Neil Gaiman might just be the most beloved fantasy author out there. He writes weird, twisted, exhilarating tales about hidden realities and the bizarre, fanciful creatures that live in them. His works, like Sandman, Fragile Things and American Gods, are pure escapism and a blast to read. No doubt, that's the major reason why the author has developed such a rabid fan base.

But perhaps another reason is that he is simply more available than most writers. Sure, other authors, like J. K. Rowling for instance, might have inspired an entire generation with her Harry Potter series but she prefers to keep a certain remove from her readership. Though she has a Twitter account, she uses it sparingly.

Gaiman, on the other hand, is seemingly always on Twitter - he has, as of this writing, tweeted at least nine times in the past 24 hours, interacting with fans, publishers and the press. This is the guy who once reportedly signed 75,000 copies of his book The Ocean at the End of the Lane, after all.

He has also posted a lot of his work for free up on the internet. Below is a list of Gaiman's work that you can read, see or hear online. Many are read by Neil himself. If you know of any missing texts, please let us know and we'll get them added to our list ASAP.

Above you can find videos of Gaiman reading the first chapter of his book Coraline, and also the story "The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury."

Audio & Video
Text

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Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow. And check out his blog Veeptopus, featuring lots of pictures of vice presidents with octopuses on their heads.  The Veeptopus store is here.

Creative Commons Launches Its First-Ever Kickstarter Campaign to Write a Book About Open Business Models

At Creative Commons, a lot of the work we do to support the commons is in the background. We write and steward copyright licenses that help fuel the open web. We help push through open policies at the government, university, and foundation level to increase access to academic, scientific, cultural and other types of content. We fight for sensible copyright reform. All of this work is important, and we’re going to continue to do it.

But we also want to try our hand at something more visible. Our plan is to spend the next year collaboratively researching and writing a book about business models that involve Creative Commons licensing. Even our funding strategy for this project is public-facing and collaborative. Last week we launched our first-ever Kickstarter to raise money for the project, and we hope you’ll become a part of it all by making a pledge at any amount.

Crowdfunding this project is a way to kick off the project in an open and visible way, and to gather support and excitement for our work. But it is also a way to get first-hand experience with a business model that involves Creative Commons. As we raise funds to support the development of a book we will ultimately give away for free under a CC license, we are a case study for our own book. We’re off to a strong start and we’re learning as we go.

And we’re going to do it entirely in the open. We’ve started a Medium publication called “Made with Creative Commons” to use as our digital whiteboard. Throughout the year, we’ll be writing there about the things we learn, the questions we have, the problems we face. We’re hoping to make the research and writing process as collaborative as possible. Kickstarter backers can also become co-creators of the book to receive early drafts of our writing as we go and provide input to help shape the book.

We’re really excited about this ambitious project. Creating and sharing is what CC is all about, and as we do it, we’re hoping to reveal strategies that other creators and businesses can use for their own work. We hope you’ll join us!

--Sarah Hinchliff Pearson is Senior Counsel at Creative Commons.

Commuters Can Download Free eBooks of Russian Classics While Riding the Moscow Metro

Dostoyevskaya

Image by Zigurds Zakis

They say that Mussolini's brand of fascism made Italy's trains run on time. Meanwhile, it looks like Communists and Post-Communist autocrats made the morning subway ride in Russia something of a cultural experience.

As you can see below, the Soviets designed the Moscow subway stations as underground palaces, adorned with "high ceilings, stained glass, mosaics and chandeliers." (Check out a gallery of photos here.) In more recent times, city planners opened the Dostoyevskaya subway station, a more austere station where you can see black and white mosaics of scenes from Fyodor Dostoevsky's novels -- Crime and Punishment, The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov. Somewhat controversially, the mosaics depict fairly violent scenes. On one wall, The Independent writes, "Raskolnikov from Crime and Punishment brandishes an axe over the elderly pawnbroker Alyona Ivanovna and her sister, his murder victims in the novel. Near by, a character from Demons holds a pistol to his temple." Nothing like confronting murder and suicide on the morning commute.

If these gloomy scenes don't sound familiar, don't fret. Late last year, the Moscow subway system launched a pilot where Moscow subway commuters, carrying smartphones and tablets, can download over 100 classic Russian works, for free. As they shuttle from one station to another, riding on subway cars equipped with free wifi, straphangers can read texts by Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Pushkin, Bulgakov, Lermontov, Gogol and more. Perhaps that takes the sting out of the soaring inflation.

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Download the Major Works of Jane Austen as Free eBooks & Audio Books

Jane_Austen

Why does Jane Austen feel so much like our contemporary? Is it the way she has been appropriated by popular culture, turned into a vampish, modern consumer icon in adaptations like From Prada to Nada, Clueless, and Bridget Jones’ Diary? Do these candy-colored updates of Austen truly represent the spirit of the late 18th/early 19th century novelist’s world? Or do we gravitate toward Austen because of nostalgia for a simpler, almost pre-industrial time, when—as in the rather reactionary world of Downton Abbey—the comings and goings in a single household constituted an entire human society?

Why not both? As the writers and artists in the video above from the Morgan Library assert, Austen, like Shakespeare, is a writer for every age. “The Divine Jane” as the title dubs her, had an insight into human behavior that transcends the particulars of her historical moment. But of course, the context of Austen’s fiction—a time of great English country houses and an emerging class-consciousness based on rapidly changing social arrangements—is no mere backdrop. Like Shakespeare, we need to understand Austen on her own terms as much as we enjoy her wit transposed into our own.

The Morgan Library’s “A Woman’s Wit” exhibit, moved online since its debut in the physical space in 2009, offers an excellent collection of resources for scholars and lay readers to discover Austen’s world through her correspondence and manuscripts. You’ll also find there drawings by Austen and her contemporaries and commentary from a number of twentieth century writers inspired by her work. Much of the Austen-mania of the past several years treats the novelist as a more-or-less postmodern ironist—“hotter,” wrote Martin Amis in 1996, “than Quentin Tarantino.” That she has become such fodder for films, both good and frankly terrible, can obscure her obsession with language, one represented by her novels, of course, as well as by her letters—so lively and immediate so as to have inspired a “Perfect Love Letter” competition among Austen enthusiasts.

As for the novels, well, there really is no substitute. Dressing Austen up in Prada and Gucci and recasting her bumbling suitors and impish heroines as mall-savvy teenage Americans has—one hopes—been done enough. Let not Austen’s appeal to our age eclipse the rich, fine-grained observations she made of hers. Whether you’re new to Austen or a lifelong reader, her work is always available, as she intended it to be experienced, on the page—or, er… the screen… thanks to internet publishing and organizations like Project Gutenberg, Librivox and the University of Adelaide’s eBook library. At the links below, you can find all of Austen’s major works in various eBook and audio formats.

So by all means, enjoy the modern classic Clueless, that hilarious rendition of Austen’s Emma. And by all means, read Emma, and Pride and Prejudice, and Mansfield Park, and… well, you get the idea….

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Washington, DC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Free eBook: Freud’s Couch, Scott’s Buttocks, Brontë’s Grave

Freud's Couch

Worth a quick note: Every month, The University of Chicago Press makes available a free ebook, which you can read online. This month's pick is Freud's Couch, Scott's Buttocks, Brontë's Grave, by the University of Cambridge Classics professor Simon Goldhill, who doubles as the director of the Cambridge Victorian Studies group. The press describes the book as follows:

If you have toured the home of a famed writer, seen the desk at which they worked, or visited their grave, you are a literary pilgrim, partaking in a form of tourism first popular in the Victorian era. In our free e-book for March, Freud’s Couch, Scott’s Buttocks, Brontë’s Grave, Simon Goldhill makes a pilgrimage to Sir Walter Scott’s baronial mansion, Wordsworth’s cottage in the Lake District, the Brontë parsonage, Shakespeare’s birthplace, and Freud’s office in Hampstead. He gamely negotiates distractions ranging from broken bicycles to a flock of giggling Japanese schoolgirls, as he tries to discern what our forebears were looking for at these sites, as well as what they have to say to the modern pilgrim. Take your literary pilgrimage in our free e-book, Freud’s Couch, Scott’s Buttocks, Brontë’s Grave.

The book, which got a warm review in The Wall Street Journal, can be accessed via The U. Chicago site.  Countless more free ebooks (downloadable ones!) can be found in our collection, 800 Free eBooks for iPad, Kindle & Other Devices.

Dan Colman is the founder/editor of Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus 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.

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