The Best of Open Culture 2009

Couldn't let you down. Couldn't let the year end without giving you a "best of" list. So here it goes. A purely subjective list. 25 items. Some educational; some a little more entertaining; some popular, etc. I hope you enjoy, and you can always search through our complete archive here. Thanks all, and best wishes in '10.

Free eBooks for Your PC, iPhone, Kindle & Beyond

Today, we're rolling out a sizable collection of Free eBooks, most of them classics, that features major works written by James Joyce, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jane Austen, Nietzsche and others. (We have even thrown in a little Paulo Coelho.) You'll find 100+ free ebooks in total, and you can download the texts to your computer, smart phone (iPhone, Android, etc.) or Kindle, depending on the format you choose.  Our eBooks Primer overviews the different download options, so please give it a quick read over. Below, we've posted a quick sample from the new collection (plus a link to the entire list of Free eBooks). Feel free to offer feedback and share the list with friends. Down the road, you can always find this collection in the top navigation bar. Just looks for eBooks.

For more ebooks, please visit Free eBooks: Great Books on Your PC, iPhone, Kindle & Beyond

Note: Don't forget to check in on Seth Harwood's big Kindle experiment. What happens when you sell your book for 99 cents on the Kindle? Find out as the experiment unfolds. Story here.

10 Power Tools for Lifelong Learners

Every now and then, we like to remind readers of the audio/video resources that Open Culture makes available to lifelong learners. These collections are all free, and can be downloaded to your computers and mp3 players. When you add it all together, you will find thousands of hours of free educational content here from quality sources. If you have a chance, please
  • Free Audio Books:  This page contains a vast number of free audio books, including many classic works of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. Jane Austen, Arthur Conan Doyle, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, Kafka, Shakespeare, Orwell and much more. You can download them all straight to your computer or mp3 player, then listen any time. (On a related note, you might want to see our list of Life-Changing Books, according to our readers.)
  • Free Courses from Major Universities: This list brings together over 250 free courses from leading universities, including Stanford, Yale, MIT, UC Berkeley, Oxford and beyond. Theses full-fledged courses range across the humanities, social sciences, and sciences, including computer science. The page is a gold mine for lifelong learners.
  • Learn Languages for Free: Spanish, English, Chinese & 37 Other Languages: Centralized in one place are free lessons that will teach you 37 languages. Spanish, French, Italian, Mandarin, English, Japanese, Russian, Dutch, even Finnish and Esperanto -- they're all free and portable.
  • Free eBooks: Here's a new collection that features over 100 Free eBooks, most of them classics, that you can access on your PC, smart phone (including iPhone), and Kindle.
  • Ideas & Culture Programs/Podcasts:  In this one collection, we have gathered together some of the most intellectually stimulating programs available via podcast. The programs will keep you thinking and culturally up-to-date, as will our collection of science podcasts. All can be downloaded straight to your mp3 player.
  • The Best Intelligent Video Sites: Where can you go to find intelligent video? We have listed 46 web sites that feature a steady stream of intelligent content: documentaries, lectures, educational programming and much more.
  • Smart YouTube Collections: It's hard to separate the wheat from the chaff on YouTube. But we have done it. Here you will find upwards of 100 YouTube channels that regularly serve up smart video content.
  • Our YouTube Picks: Over the past few years, we have featured several hundred YouTube videos on Open Culture. And some of the best ones we have brought together in our own YouTube channel. You can subscribe to this collection and watch new videos as we add them.
  • Great Classic Movies: Our new movie collection features landmark films for the student of cinema. Here, you'll find numerous Chaplin films from the silent era, 12 Alfred Hitchcock films, and many other great works from the 1920s, 30, 40s and 50s. You'll even find some great contemporary films as well. Many of the great American directors are represented here.
  • Open Culture iPhone App: A little something special for iPhone users. When you download our free iPhone app, you can take with you, wherever you go, many of the items listed above. Free Audio Books, Free University Courses, Free Language Lessons, Music and Science Podcasts, etc. Give it a try and tell a friend. Note, that per Apple's requirements, you will need access to Wi-Fi.

Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Film Noir, Documentaries & More

Where to watch free movies online? Let's get you started. First, we have listed dozens of free, high quality films that you can watch online. Then, below, you can find movie sites that feature free movie collections. Classics, international, film noir, documentaries, indies -- they're all here, waiting to be watched. So please

  • A Farewell to Arms (1932) With Gary Cooper and Helen Hayes.
  • A Woman (1915) With Charlie Chaplin.
  • A Story of Healing (1997) Academy Award for best documentary short subject.
  • Alexander Nevsky (1938) A historical drama film directed by the great Russian filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein.
  • Alice in Wonderland (1903) The first-ever film version of Lewis Carroll's tale. Based on Sir John Tenniel's original illustrations.
  • All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) This is a classic based on a novel by German author Erich Maria Remarque.
  • Angel on My Shoulder (1946) A gangster comedy starring Claude Rains and Paul Muni.
  • Baby Doll (1956) Directed by Elia Kazan. Written by Tennessee Williams. With Karl Malden and Carroll Baker.
  • Battleship Potemkin (1925) Directed by the great Russian director, Sergei Eisenstein.
  • Behind the Screen (1916) With Charlie Chaplin.
  • Birth of a Nation (1915) Directed by DW Griffith. A landmark work in film history (1915) with racist undertones. Also see his later movie, Abraham Lincoln.
  • Beat the Devil (1953) Directed by John Huston, with Humphrey Bogart and Peter Lorre.
  • Blackmail (1929) Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
  • Bon Voyage (1944) A French language WWII propaganda film by Alfred Hitchcock. Also see Aventure Malgache.
  • Breathless/Au bout de souffle (1960) Godard's classic with Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg.
  • Burroughs the Movie (1985) A Howard Bruckner documentary on the beat writer, William Burroughs.
  • Carnival of Souls (1962) A low budget B film that became a cult classic.
  • Charade (1963) Starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. (US viewers only)
  • Cry Baby (1990) One of Johnny Depps early ones. (US viewers only)
  • Cul-de-Sac (1966) By Roman Polanski.
  • Death Mills (1945) Billy Wilder's documentary in German showing what Allies found when they liberated Nazi extermination camps.
  • Death Rides a Horse (1967) Giulio Petroni's top spaghetti western.
  • Dementia 13 (1963) A horror film that was one of Francis Ford Coppola's early mainstream efforts..
  • Detour (1945) Edgar Ulmer's cult classic noir film shot in 6 days.
  • D.O.A. (1950) Rudolph Maté's classic noir film. You can also watch the movie here.
  • Downhill (1927) Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
  • Dressed to Kill (1946) Brings Sherlock Holmes to screen.
  • Dry Summer (1974) Turkish film restored by Martin Scorsese's WCF.
  • My Brother is Coming (1919) A Hungarian film by Michael Curtiz, who went on to direct Casablanca.
  • Eyes Without a Face (1960) Directed by Georges Franju. French film subtitled in English.
  • Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) Starring Johnny Depp. (US viewers only)
  • Happy Go Lovely (1951) A classic comedy with David Niven and Cesare Romero.
  • Hell's House (1932) With Bette Davis.
  • Henry Miller Asleep & Awake (1975) Tom Schiller's 34 minute voyage into the world of Henry Miller (Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn)
  • Hiroshima mon amour (1959) Major French film directed Alain Resnais. Written by Marguerite Duras.
  • His Girl Friday (1940) Directed by Howard Hawks. A classic comedy with Cary Grant.
  • Home (2009) Yann Arthus-Bertrand's film that will make you look at our planet in a new way.
  • Impact (1940) Arthur Lubin's well reviewed noir flic.
  • In Cold Blood (1967) With Robert Blake. (US viewers only)
  • Intolerance (1916) D.W. Griffith's most ambitious silent film is one of the landmarks in cinematic history.
  • It Happened One Night (1934) Directed by Frank Capra, with Clark Gable.
  • It's a Wonderful Life (1946) Directed by the great Frank Capra. Starring Jimmy Stewart.
  • J'attendrai le suivant (I'll Wait for the Next One) (2002) A French film nominated for an Academy Award for the Best Short Film in '02.
  • Kid Auto Races at Venice (1914) With Charlie Chaplin.
  • King Lear (1987) Jean-Luc Godard does Shakespeare.
  • La Femme Nikita (1990). Directed by Luc Besson. (US viewers only)
  • Le Voyage Dans La Lune (1902) French science fiction black and white film. Loosely based on two popular novels by Jules Verne and H. G. Wells.
  • Logorama (2007) François Alaux and Herve de Crecy’s 17 minute film, Logorama, won the Oscar for the best Short Film (Animated) in 2009.
  • Lost Horizon (1937) A romantic fantasy and science-fiction adventure film directed by Frank Capra.
  • Lumiere (1966) A very short film by David Lynch. 55 seconds.
  • M (1931) Directed by Fritz Lang, with Peter Lorre. In German.
  • McClintock! (1963) with John Wayne.
  • Meet John Doe (1941) Frank Capra's comedy, with Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck.
  • Meetin’ WA (1986) In a short film Jean-Luc Godard meets Woody Allen.
  • Metropolis (1927). Fritz Lang's silent German expressionist science fiction film.
  • Monty Python's And Now For Something Completely Different (1971)
  • Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) Directed by Frank Capra, with Jimmy Stewart.
  • Murder! (1930) Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
  • My Best Friend's Birthday (1987) Directed by Quentin Tarantino.
  • Nanking (2007) Directed by Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman. Premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival.
  • Night and Fog (1955) Alain Resnais's film on the Holocaust. Truffaut called it the greatest film ever made.
  • Night of the Living Dead (1968). A cult horror classic.
  • Nosferatu (1922) Classic German silent film.
  • Olympia (1938) Leni Riefenstahl's film of the Berlin Olympic Games (1936). Considered one of the greatest sports documentaries.
  • Panic in the Streets (1950) A great noir movie directed by Elia Kazan, with Jack Palance.
  • Paradise Canyon (1935) Starring John Wayne.
  • Penny Serenade (1941) With Cary Grant and Irene Dunne.

Free Movie Sites

Internet Archive - Feature Films: When you're looking for free movies online, the Internet Archive should be your first stop. It features large collections of classic comedies, film noir and sci-fi/horror flix. Many films listed above come from the Internet Archive.

Google Video: For some time now, major classics have appeared on Google's site. You will find many such films above.

Australian Screen Archive: The Australian National Film and Sound Archive provides free and worldwide access to over 1,000 film and television titles – a treasure chest of down-under video 100 years in the making.

B Minus Movies: AMC is your new go-to site for B-movies by the likes of John Carpenter (Dark Star) and Roger Corman (Saga of the Viking Women). Want to see international icons before they made it big? Check out Raquel Welch in A Swingin' Summer or kung fu king Sonny Chiba in Terror Beneath the Sea. Looking for the unexpected? How about The Ruthless Four, a spaghetti Western starring Klaus Kinski.

Babelgum Films: Babelgum’s goal is to act as an international ‘glue’, bringing a huge range of professional and semi-professional films to a global audience – like a modern-day Tower of Babel. They’re also making an effort to get their content to smartphones. They have an iPhone app now and apps for other phones on the horizon. Get more detail on the mobile apps here.

BestOnlineDocumentaries: As one reader previously told us, "This site is a bit out of date and some of the links are broken, but it’s still a great compilation of online documentaries." For more documentaries, you should also see Snagfilms mentioned below.

Classic Cinema Online: This site nicely pulls together hundreds of classic films, ranging from Action to Westerns and even old cinema shorts and news reels. If you're looking for more mainstream movies, here you go. This is Sony's online movie play. Note: there's probably some geo-blocking that comes with this. Also, one of our readers has also suggested the UK-based Blinkbox, which seems to offer another platform for more mainstream films.

Creative Commons: The folks who gave us the Creative Commons license host a wiki where you can find a good number of freely available films. Handy and worth keeping an eye on. I'd also suggest keeping tabs on CC's Video blog.

Daily Motion Movies: This YouTube-style video site features a section that offers short films in HD. The collection is small, and you won't find well known films here. But some movies get decent reviews. This looks to be part of a beta project that could expand.

Documentary Film Network: This site has been archiving documentaries for the past 4 years and serving them free of charge. Among the 181 films, you can find some of the Nixon-Frost interviews and a Che Guevara Biography.

Europa Film Treasures: Thanks to Europa Film Treasures, you can spend hours looking back through an archive of European film. Theses films range from “comedy to science fiction, from westerns to animation, from erotic to ethnological movies.” Highly recommended by our readers.

Fancast: This Comcast-owned site features a long list of free movies.

Film Annex: This site has one of the largest selections of online films for you to watch or download. You can find free classic movies and television shows right here. And you'll also find at the Film Annex many films from independent filmmakers and directors. The site gives you the ability to download or stream films to your PC, laptop or iPhone. The films are ad-supported.

FMO: FreeMoviesOnline features a large selection of public domain films.

Free Documentaries Online: The name says it all.

Free Documentaries.Org: Specializes in showing provocative documentaries for free.

Free Movies Cinema: A mixture of yet more free films, which includes Quentin Tarantino's early film, My Best Friend's Birthday.

Hulu: Unfortunately Hulu limits its programming to a US audience (a policy that really needs to change), but it's the 800 pound gorilla in the US, and there are some decent films here. You will find some Hulu titles sprinkled in above.

IMDB: This is perhaps a little redundant, but the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) also hosts some free online films (as well as TV shows) on its site. From what I can tell, it's done in partnership with Hulu. But this collection has the advantage of pointing you to some decent films. Click here and scroll down. You can also find another re-packager of Hulu flix over at

Indie Movies Online: Just as it sounds. A good place to watch full-fledged indie films on the web. Right now, you can find Peter Greenaway’s film, Rembrandt's J'accuse and The Future We Will Create - Inside the World of TED. The site seems to be available in the US, UK, Canada and Australia, but perhaps also beyond.

Jaman: Jaman is mainly a pay-per-download site that focuses on indie-style films, but they do host some free movies. Even though they have a page devoted to their free films, it's actually not that easy to find the freebies. You have to fish around a little.

Legal Torrents: Pretty much what the name says. hosts high quality open-licensed (Creative Commons) digital media and art. This link takes you to their movie section. is a web site where you can watch films produced by the National Film Board of Canada. It offers access to 100s of documentaries, animated films and trailers. You can also access this collection via a free iPhone app. (p.s. You should also check out our own free iPhone app, which will let you download free audio books, free courses, free language lessons, and other types of intelligent media.)

OVGuide: If you're looking for more free films, you should pay this site a visit. OVGuide is an up-to-date guide to online video, including TV shows, movies, and video games. It offers another way to find free movies online.

PBS Video: PBS hosts online a new film based on Michael Pollan's bestseller, Botany of Desire. Other PBS productions are also housed here.

QuickSilverScreen: This site essentially puts torrents online and lets you watch films posted by other users, including many new films. It's hard to believe that this site is entirely kosher, but it's very popular (one of the top 3,000 sites on the web) and hardly a closely held secret. This collection contains some dreck, but also some decent documentaries and classic films. So it gets on the list.

SnagFilms: SnagFilms "finds the world's most compelling documentaries, whether from established heavyweights or first-time filmmakers, and makes them available to a wide audience." You can watch full-length documentary films for free. Currently includes over 550 films.

Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive: This online catalog "provides access to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive. The Archive serves as a comprehensive informational and archival resource worldwide for moving image materials pertaining to the Holocaust and related aspects of World War II. "

The Though this site typically offers arts films on a pay-per-view basis, it does feature a series of free films. Each month, a free film is featured (see example here). The site also hosts free international films restored by Martin Scorsese's Word Cinema Foundation, mentioned below. And you can find another set of free films here.

UbuWeb: Presents dozens of avant-garde films & videos for your viewing pleasure. Tends to redistribute films from Hulu but some other gems one can be found here.

Video on Demand at Ok, it's not the most enriching collection of films. But if you're looking for something light...

World Cinema Foundation: The WCF, created by Martin Scorsese in 2007, has restored a series of classic international films. You can watch them for free online.

YouTube Movies: YouTube hosts a series of full-length movies (that are likely geo-restricted).

YouTube Screening Room: The Screening Room presents high quality, short independent films to YouTube users and promises to roll out four new films every two weeks. The collection includes some Academy-Award winners and other quality films. More info here.

Sources Used to Create This List

For more Free Culture, see our other major collections:

Free Courses Online

Free Audio Books

Free Language Lessons

Intelligent Video: The Top Cultural & Educational Video Sites

Top Ten Reasons Why the Kindle Won’t Be an iPod for Books

A little sidebar to our previous post that wonders whether Amazon's Kindle can revolutionize the book industry...

1) When you buy an iPod, you can transfer all of your current music onto it. With Kindle you have to start buying all new books.

2) The paper-form book (aka “dead tree version”) is still the best technology for reading: fully portable, a nice thing to own and put on shelves, great for sharing, good in bed, at beach, etc. If you lose it or get it wet, no big deal—easily replaceable.

3) Music has constantly found new formats that improve on the old. Same for the iPod. It’s unquestionably better than that bigger, skipping CD player. Books haven’t been able to improve on the form for centuries.

4) Holding 100 albums in your hand is great. Holding 100 books? Not as much.

5) How often do you really go away for so long that you need 10+ books? (Bookstores are everywhere.)

6) Kindle is too expensive (see #1) and too big.

7) Books take much longer to consume, don’t work well in individual (shuffled) parts, and we often only read them once.

8.) Now that you can carry music on your phone, and the iPhone has bundled music, email, internet, and telephone in one small size, is anyone really willing to buy a bigger iPhone or Kindle just to read books on it?

9) Most of us spend more time listening to music than reading. We just do; it’s easier to do while we’re involved with other things.

10) Books: they’re better!

Seth Harwood podcasts his ideas on the publishing industry and his fiction for free at He is currently figuring out how publishers should best approach the new, emerging e-book market. Hear his ideas in his latest Hot Tub Cast™ and read them here soon. His first novel is JACK WAKES UP, in stores now.

Intelligent Video: The Top Cultural & Educational Video Sites

Looking for great cultural and educational video? Then you've come to the right place. Below, we have compiled a list of 46 sites that feature intelligent videos. This list was produced with the help of our faithful readers, and it will grow over time. If you find it useful, please share it as widely as you can. And if we're missing good sites, please list them in the comments below.

ABC Documentaries: This site pulls together some of the best documentaries aired on ABC television in Australia.

Academic Earth: Some call this "the Hulu for education." The idea is to take academic videos from top-notch universities and let users watch them with a very user-friendly interface. Though a young site, many users are giving it high marks. The site gathers together "the very best films and photographs of the world's species into one centralised digital library, to create a unique audio-visual record of life on Earth." A great site for naturalists and nature lovers.

Australian Screen Archive: The Australian National Film and Sound Archive provides free and worldwide access to over 1,000 film and television titles – a treasury of down-under video 100 years in the making.

Babelgum: Babelgum's goal is to act as an international 'glue', bringing a huge range of professional and semi-professional content to a global audience – like a modern-day Tower of Babel. They're also making an effort to get their content to smartphones. They have an iPhone app now, and apps for other phones on the horizon.

BestOnlineDocumentaries: As one reader describes it, "This site is a bit out of date and some of the links are broken, but it’s still a great compilation of online documentaries." For more documentaries, you should also see Snagfilms mentioned below.

BigIdeas: This show, which comes out of Canada, "offers a variety of thought-provoking topics which range across politics, culture, economics, art history, science.... The program has introduced Ontario viewers to the impressive brainpower of people like Niall Ferguson on American empire, Daniel Libeskind on architecture, Robert Fisk on the Middle East, George Steiner on the demise of literacy, Camille Paglia on aesthetic education, Tariq Ramadan on being a Western Muslim, Noam Chomsky on U.S. politics, Leon Kass on dying, Janice Stein on accountability and governance." See the full list of videos here.

BigThink: "Offers high quality video interviews and insight from the world's most influential experts in business, entertainment, education, religion and media." BigThink was founded partly with the help of Larry Summers, formerly the president of Harvard, now Obama's right hand economic man.

Bloggingheads.TV: We had several readers highly recommend Here is how bloggingheads has been described elsewhere: "a political, world events, philosophy, and science video blog discussion site in which the participants take part in an active back and forth conversation via webcam which is then broadcast online to viewers."

Channel N: Get brain & behavior videos with Sandra Kiume. Part of PsychCentral.

CultureCatch: has over 160 half-hour interviews with today's seminal artists in film, theater, music and literature.  Here you'll find in-depth interviews with smart culture individuals dissecting art, comedy, fashion, film, music, politics, television, theater, even cooking. Video: is run by John Brockman, literary agent to some of the most important science writers in the US and beyond. You'll find videos featuring these thinkers on the Edge's web site.

Europa Film Treasures: Thanks to Europa Film Treasures, you can spend hours looking back through an archive of European film. Theses films range from “comedy to science fiction, from westerns to animation, from erotic to ethnological movies.” Highly recommended by our readers. A non-profit that showcases the good works of non-profits internationally. Lots of great educational topics from Tiananmen Square to Jerusalem to Orcas. The site itself hosts tons of film and photographs.

Folkstreams: A collection of short films and mini-documentaries on American roots culture, including music, folkart and traditional customs.

Fora.TV: A large site that gathers video from live events, lectures, and debates taking place at the world's top universities, think tanks and conferences.

Forum Network: PBS and NPR have jointly launched the Forum Network where you will find free lectures online. I expect this to be a rich resource as time goes by.

Free Documentaries Online: The name says it all.

Global Oneness Project:  Global Oneness produces documentary films and interviews that are exploring our modern day struggles within the ecological, economical, and social systems and how these battles aren't isolated but part of a interdependent whole. Features over 200 short films and interviews.

Hulu's News & Information Channel: Within this channel, you'll find some intelligent programs. It includes documentaries and biographies, science programs, news, and more. In the past, we pulled together a list of high-quality feature films available on Hulu. Catch it here. And know that Hulu unfortunately limits this programming to a US audience -- a policy that really needs to change.

Intelligent Life on YouTube: Yours truly created a handy list of the intelligent video collections available on YouTube. Have a look and also see the list of our favorite individual YouTube videos.

Internet Archive - Feature Films: This archive of feature films contains some important classics from the 1920s, 30s, 40s and 50s. We’ve featured ten good ones in a previous post. Annenberg Media presents an impressive video collection that will appeal to lifelong learners and teachers. It includes a lot of high quality programming on American history, world literature and music, science and much more. Thanks Julie for the tip.

LinkTV:  "Global and national news, uncompromising documentaries, diverse cultural programs, connecting you to the world."

Living Room Candidate: Television ads have changed our political system, and this site maintains more than 300 commercials from every presidential election since 1952.

Long Now Seminars: Stewart Brand's Long Now Foundation presents monthly talks that provide a counterpoint to today’s “faster/cheaper” mind set and promote “slower/better” thinking. Theses talks given by prominent thinkers are hosted by FORA.TV.

MeaningofLife.TV: Sponsored by Slate, this site brings you "cosmic thinkers" on camera. Here, you'll find talks by Karen Armstrong, Freeman Dyson, Stephen Pinker and others.

MITWorld: MIT World "hosts lots of inspiring talks by some of the most innovative thinkers and doers in town." - Tony

Moving Image Collections: A window to the world's moving images. is a web site where you can watch films produced by the National Film Board of Canada. Offers access to 100s of documentaries, animated films and trailers. You can also access this collection via a free iPhone app.

One World TV: A unique public platform for filmmakers, video journalists, NGOs and just about anyone with an interest in video and a concern for a better world.

Open Book TV: Open Book focuses on the writers and other storytellers living and working in a different spot on the planet each week.

PBS Video: Everyone knows that PBS regularly produces intelligent video. You can watch a good number of their original programs here.

PeoplesArchive: "Dedicated to collecting for posterity the stories of the great thinkers, creators, and achievers of our time."

Pop!Tech Pop!Casts Videos: Kind of like TED, Pop!Tech features "a community of remarkable people, and an ongoing conversation about science, technology and the future of ideas." Scroll down to the find their videos. Reader says: "Although this website doesn’t host video, it brings together all sorts of media (including courses) on the topic of psychology, neuroscience, and psychiatry, for those interested."

Research Channel: Based out of the University of Washington, the ResearchChannel brings together content from leading research and academic institutions (see member list here), and distributes it to consumers mostly through satellite and cable, but also via the web. iTunesU is a fairly new distribution channel. And even newer is YouTube. (See their channel here.) Get more info on The Research Channel here.

ScholarSpot: A new web site that promises a "free university." Site is live in beta. Stay tuned for more.

Science Network: As the title suggests, lots of good science here. You can start with this popular program, Beyond Belief, which we previously mentioned on this blog.

SnagFilms: SnagFilms "finds the world's most compelling documentaries, whether from established heavyweights or first-time filmmakers, and makes them available to a wide audience." You can watch full-length documentary films for free. Currently includes over 550 films. And, as one reader notes, "The best part ... is you can give back to the charitable foundations behind each one of the documentaries."

Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive: This online catalog "provides access to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive. The Archive serves as a comprehensive informational and archival resource worldwide for moving image materials pertaining to the Holocaust and related aspects of World War II. "

TED Talks: Riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world. The talks largely come from the big annual TED conference. And, hands down, this site is the most frequently recommended by our readers. You can find a handy spreadsheet listing every TED video here.

UbuWeb: Since 1996 this site has hosted a vast archive of online avant-garde media. You'll find a large mp3 sound archive, alongside an extensive film/video collection that features work by such artists as Andy Warhol, Philip Glass, Allen Ginsberg and many others.

UChannel: Spearheaded by Princeton University, this video service presents talks on international/political affairs from academic institutions all over the world.

UCTV: Launched in January 2000, University of California Television (UCTV) is a non-commercial channel featuring 24/7 programming from throughout the University of California, the nation’s premier research university made up of ten campuses, three national labs and affiliated institutions.

UWTV: UWTV is an award-winning television channel brought to you by the University of Washington. Offers original, non-commercial educational programming — 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A unique educational resource, UWTV provides its audience with direct access to world-renowned scientists and researchers whose insights and discoveries are changing our world.

VideoActiveVideo Active presents a vast collection of television programmes and stills from audiovisual archives across Europe. It also provides articles and comparative analysis on European TV history.

VideoLectures.Net: Based in Eastern Europe, this site provides free access to high quality video lectures presented by distinguished scholars from many fields of science.

WGBH Video Lectures: "The WGBH video collections brings together talks from the world’s leading scientists, educators, policymakers, artists, and authors. Some pieces come from PBS, NPR, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and The Lowell Institute."

YouTube hosts a number of intelligent properties worth giving your time to. Some key properties are:

  • YouTube Edu: Finally, YouTube gave us an easy way to separate the wheat from the chaff. Now you can easily watch videos from hundreds of universities worldwide. Includes a large number of free courses. More info here.
  • YouTube Screening Room: The Screening Room presents high quality, independent films to YouTube users and promises to roll out four new films every two weeks. More info here.
  • @Google Talks: Some of the world's leading thinkers and political players make a point of speaking at Google. You can catch them all here.
  • Intelligent Video Collections: Over time we have created a long list of the smarter video collections available on YouTube. It now features close to 100 video channels. Have a look and let us know what we're missing.

How I Sold My Book by Giving It Away

Today we're featuring a piece by Seth Harwood, an innovative crime fiction writer who has used the tools of Web 2.0 to launch his writing career. Below, he gives you an inside look at how he went from podcasting his books to landing a book deal with Random House. If you want to learn more about how writers will increasingly build their careers, be sure to give this a read. Take it away Seth...

Before it ever hit print, my debut novel JACK WAKES UP was a free serialized audiobook.  And giving my crime fiction away for free turned out to be the key to becoming a published author—that last piece of the puzzle that eludes so many aspiring writers. 

How did it work? Well, I got my MFA from a prestigious writers’ workshop.  I got a dozen stories placed in literary journals.  In short, I was doing all the things “they” (the literary establishment) tell you you have to do in order to become a successful author.  And it wasn’t working.  Agents were saying nice things about my crime fiction, but weren’t willing to take me on as a client.  Eventually I started looking for another way to drive my own career and put my work in front of people. Having had a little success with a published story online—my friends could read it and I was hearing from strangers who liked it, two things that had never happened with the dozen stories I’d slaved to publish in literary journals—I could see that the web was the way to do this. But I couldn’t imagine anyone reading a novel online, or even on his or her computer. I did have an iPod though, and didn’t I listen to it all the time in the car and at the gym? Wasn’t I taking out books on CD from my local library for my drive to work? Sure I was. So when a friend showed me how he’d been using his iPod and a thing called podcasting to get free audiobooks from an unknown author named Scott Sigler, I knew I had to figure out how this was done.

Turns out that making MP3 files costs nothing. Distributing them costs me less than $10 a month, no matter how many episodes go out. Each week, I release a free episode—usually a couple of chapters—to thousands of subscribers. You can think of this as a throwback to two old forms of crime distribution: either the pulp magazines or the old-time radio plays that introduced detective adventures to early listeners on the radio. (more…)

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