Stephen Colbert Brings Laughs and Book Tour to Google

Stephen Colbert is one of the most refreshing comedians working today. He maintains his character’s obnoxiousness during his own show, riffing and improvising during interviews with everyone from Bill O’Reilly to Elijah Wood, building his character to deadpan heights even with Jane Fonda's tongue in his ear.

But in the hot seat himself, as an interviewee on Letterman, Oprah or even with Playboy magazine, Colbert is authentic, candid, funny and a fast-on-his-feet smartie. In early December Colbert visited Google’s New York offices and taped an interview for At Google Talks. Colbert fans will want to check out the unedited version recently posted by Google. As a guest, Colbert is funnier than Jon Stewart and we get an honest look at the bright guy behind the buffoon. The uncut interview has its highlights, including the point when Colbert’s reaction to Eric Schmidt’s suggestion that The Colbert Report launch its own YouTube show. His answers to questions from the audience are engaging, funny and revealing. It’s wonderful to hear the personal story about the moment he realized he wanted to make people laugh.

Colbert was also conducting business. The interview was part of his book tour to promote America Again: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t. Below, you can see Colbert give his comedic pitch for the book. And, if you want to download a free audio copy, you can always do so by starting a Free 30-Day Trial with We have details here.

Kate Rix writes about digital media and education. Read more of her work at and at 

The Intelligent Channel Launches (with Colum McCann Interview)

In a new effort to establish another home for intelligent conversation on the web, the Intelligent Channel went live on YouTube this week. Launched as part of YouTube’s new original channels initiative, the Intelligent Channel presents luminaries from the educational, arts, and cultural worlds in intense conversations.

The channel will kick off with three strands of original video programming produced by the channel’s parent company Intelligent Television in New York:

On “The Paul Holdengräber Show,” the renowned founder, director, and host of “Live from the New York Public Library” interviews award-winning writers and artists about their work and other passions. Holdengräber’s first guest - the show premieres today - is Colum McCann, author of the National Book Award-winning novel Let the Great World Spin. (You can watch the conversation above.) Holdengräber’s next guest is Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the bestselling Eat, Pray, Love.

In “Richard Belzer’s Conversation,” the star of “Law & Order SVU” and “Homicide” interviews actors, comedians, directors, musicians, and writers. Belzer’s opening guest is comedian Gilbert Gottfried, who discusses the implications of comedy after September 11th and in the face of tragedy more generally. His next guests will include Dick Cavett and Emmy-award winning writer-producer Tom Fontana.

In “Enlightenment Minutes,” the famous and the even more famous speak to the audience about their moments of enlightenment, personal transcendence, and growth.

The Intelligent Channel also features the new “Ed Archive” -- video, film, and oral histories from universities, museums, libraries, and archives that have yet to hit the web.  “Enlightenment Minutes” and the “Ed Archive” will premiere in February 2012.

The Learning Channel has disappeared, the Discovery Channel gives us less to discover than it did, and the History Channel has hardly any history any more!  The Intelligent Channel’s guests come on because they love enlightenment.

The Intelligent Channel - here’s to the conversation!

Peter B. Kaufman is founder of the Intelligent Channel and Intelligent Television ( in New York.

Google Presents YouTube for Schools, Makes Video World Safe for Teachers

On YouTube, the path to education is as narrow and as difficult to walk as a razor's edge. Left to their own devices, kids have a tendency to veer away from the math tutorials and head straight for the water-skiing squirrels. What's an educator to do?

Google believes it has the answer with "YouTube for Schools," a new service that gives teachers and administrators the ability to filter out everything but their own selections from YouTube EDU, a curated collection of educational videos from sources ranging from Sesame Street to Harvard.

"We've been hearing from teachers that they want to use the vast array of educational videos on YouTube in their classroom, but are concerned that students will be distracted by the latest music video or a video of a cute cat, or a video that might not be appropriate for students," writes YouTube Product Manager Brian Truong. "While schools that completely restrict access to YouTube may solve this distraction concern, they also limit access to hundreds of thousands of educational videos on YouTube that can help bring photosynthesis to life, or show what life was like in ancient Greece."

To help teachers find the best material with ease, YouTube has organized the educational videos by subject and grade level, with more than 300 playlists to choose from at To learn more, or to sign up, go to

Also don't miss our own curated list of Intelligent YouTube Channels, which highlights the best video collections on the Google-owned service.

The Mechanical Monsters: Seminal Superman Animated Film from 1941

In 1941, director Dave Fleischer and Paramount Pictures animators Steve Muffati and George Germanetti produced Superman: The Mechanical Monsters -- a big-budget animated adaptation of the popular Superman comics of that period, in which a mad scientist unleashes robots to rob banks and loot museums, and Superman, naturally, saves the day. It was one of seventeen films that raised the bar for theatrical shorts and are even considered by some to have given rise to the entire Anime genre.

More than a mere treat of vintage animation, the film captures the era's characteristic ambivalence in reconciling the need for progress with the fear of technology in a culture on the brink of incredible technological innovation. It was the dawn of the techno-paranoia that persisted through the 1970s, famously captured in the TV series Future Shock narrated by Orson Welles, and even through today. Take for example books like Nicholas Carr's The Shallows and Sherry Turkle's Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other.

Superman: The Mechanical Monsters is available for download on The Internet Archive, and Toonami Digital Arsenal has the complete series of all seventeen films. Find more vintage animation in Open Culture's collection of Free Movies Online.

Maria Popova is the founder and editor in chief of Brain Pickings, a curated inventory of cross-disciplinary interestingness. She writes for Wired UK, The Atlantic and DesignObserver, and spends a great deal of time on Twitter.

YouTube & Creative Commons Partnership Will Open Creative Floodgates

Starting at 9 pm PDT tonight, YouTube will make 10,000 Creative Commons videos available to anyone using YouTube's video editor. Initially the Creative Commons library will be loaded with videos from C-SPAN,, Voice of America, and Al Jazeera, and you can bet that more content providers will be added down the line.

This partnership will let video/filmmakers unleash their creativity and produce some extraordinary video remixes – à la Donald Discovers Glenn Beck – without running the risk of legal complications. And because the Creative Commons library will be stocked only with videos released under a less restrictive CC-BY license, the resulting remixes can have commercial ambitions. A boon for some.

Finally, we shouldn't miss another important component of this partnership: Moving forward, any videomaker can release their own creative work under a CC license on YouTube. Fast forward 6 t0 18 months, and the Creative Commons library will be vast,  and the remix opportunities, endless. A good day for open culture.

via YouTube's blog and GigaOm

OK Go & Kutiman: Live from the Guggenheim

On Thursday night, the Guggenheim Museum and YouTube unveiled the winners of a highly publicized video contest, YouTube Play: A Biennial of Creative Video. The contest originally generated 23,000 submissions from 91 countries, and, from there, Guggenheim curators culled a shortlist of 125 videos. Then the big moment: 20 winners were selected during an awards ceremony held last night at the museum.

The ceremony itself featured performances by artists who have made YouTube integral to their art – above we have Kutiman, the Israeli artist known for his mother of all funk remix, giving the audience something rather different: a live mashup of Brahms' "Hungarian Dance," accompanied by the Noname ensemble from the Julliard School and YouTube Symphony Orcherstra players. And to wrap things up OK Go, the unofficial kings of YouTube, performed 'White Knuckles' and 'This too Shall Pass.' Keep a close eye on the YouTube channel dedicated to the Biennial of Creative Video. The winning videos will almost certainly be coming online soon.

The Best of YouTube (According to Open Culture)

Maybe you have noticed. (Or maybe you haven't.) Almost every YouTube video featured on Open Culture can be accessed through our YouTube Channel. You'll find about 225 videos overall, and they run the gamut. Intelligent lectures, artistic videos, comic bits, scientific explorations, historical footage – they're all here. And, if you subscribe to our YouTube channel, you'll get notified when we add new videos down the road. Now, let me give you fifteen of my personal favorites, and if you have your own YouTube faves, please send them our way. We'd love to share the great ones with our readers.

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