50 Arts & Culture Programs to Add to Your Podcast Collection

FeedimageOur directory of arts & culture podcasts is now 50 programs strong. Here you’ll find smart cultural programs
from NPR, The New York Times, MoMA, Salon, Slate and the BBC. And you’ll find programming originating from the US, the UK, Canada and Australia and even France.

The podcasts are all high-quality, allowing you to spend your time expanding your intellectual horizons. While this directory includes links to podcasts on iTunes, it also includes direct links to RSS feeds so that you can use the podcatcher of your choice. Plus, we have added links to the web sites of the individual podcast creators.

Finally, the Foreign Language Lesson Podcast directory was also updated this week to include links to iTunes, RSS feeds, and the web sites of the podcast creators. We’ll soon be similarly updating the News and University podcast pages as well. Have a good weekend.

Two Views of the Iraqi Refugee Crisis (on Podcast)

As a follow-up to the Iraqi Experience in Digital, we simply wanted to put alongside one another two excellent podcasts that speak directly to the mounting Iraqi refugee crisis. Taken together they give you an excellent view of this problem.

First, a recent podcast from Open Source, which features interivews with Iraqis who have had to make the journey out of Iraq and in to Syria and Jordan. (So far, 7% of the Iraqi population has fled to these two countries.) Second, an interview with George Packer, who writes for The New Yorker (you can find many of his articles here) and who summarizes extremely well the issues at hand, and particularly raises the question whether the US has a moral obligation to take some of these refugees in.

Online Foreign Language Exchange

Because our foreign language lesson podcasts have generated a lot of interest this week, we wanted to mention another intriguing foreign language resource: The Mixxer.

An excellent way to learn a language is to participate in a language exchange. Years ago, when I set out to learn French, I went to Paris and found someone (a French person) who wanted to learn English, and we met twice a week and spent one hour speaking in English, the other hour in French. And, without fail, my command of French dramatically improved.

Now you don’t need to travel very far to get involved in your own language exchange. The Mixxer has developed a site where you can find eager language partners, download Skype (the software that lets you talk over the internet for free), and then start your bilingual exchange.

With this and our collection of Free Language Lessons, the internet will rapidly get you up the language learning curve.

MIT Brings Science & Technology Courses to Your Home

Five years ago, MIT launched an ambitious initiative with its OpenCourseWare project. The concept was fairly simple. It involved putting online the materials from MIT courses — the syllabi, reading lists, course notes, assignments, etc. — and making them available online to the world at large. Benefiting from this initiative were students and faculty across the globe, all looking to find guidance on how to teach themselves, or their students, the latest in their particular academic field. By early this year, MIT had online materials for 1,285 courses and was receiving 36,000 daily visits to the OpenCourseWare site. A success by all counts.

If there was a downside to the MIT initiative, it was that the OpenCourseWare materials lacked media elements that really let teachers and students see how a course was taught. It’s one thing to get the course materials, but quite another to see the materials in action. These days, MIT has filled that gap by adding audio and video components to a number of courses. (You can review the full list here.) With this addition, you can now see a variety of MIT courses in action, ranging from biology to physics to genomic medicine to animal behavior. They’re worth a look.

For more online materials from top-notch universities, see our full list. University Online Courses & Online Media.

Google’s Shakespeare

Google has always shied away from the content creation business. While Yahoo spent precious resources developing expensive content, the Google folks contented themselves with developing technology that organized the rest of the world’s information. And it paid off well. Given this approach, it was somewhat strange to stumble upon an editorialized part of their web site that invites users to “Explore Shakespeare with Google.” But we’re glad we did.

Google’s Shakespeare product is part of the company’s larger Book Search initiative, which, to boil it down, involves scanning millions of books, putting them on Google’s servers, and allowing users to search the print universe like they do the world of web content. Although some aspects of the project have proven to be highly controversial (namely, the decision to scan millions of copyrighted texts), other aspects have been easily welcomed by the publishing community. This includes the decision to scan and archive a panoply of old, public domain texts.

This is where we get to Google’s Shakespeare. What you’ll find here is a collection of all of the Bard’s plays in full text. The histories, tragedies, comedies, romances – they are all here. The folks at Googleplex give you the ability to access each play in its entirety and peruse it online. Or, alternatively,  you can download each play as a PDF file, which gives you the ability to print the text and work through it in new ways. This kind of editorial collection is hard to argue with. In fact, we’d like to see more collections like it. But something tells us that this isn’t likely — that the Bard (oh, and China) is just about the only thing for which Google will make an exception.

Open Culture Podcast Library

Arts & CultureAudio BooksForeign Language LessonsNews &
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See Daily Features Below

The Iraqi Experience in Digital

IraqimageThe vast majority of Americans have only a remote sense of what Iraqis
are experiencing these days. We hear about people dying daily — 10 in a market here, 30 in a mosque attack there — but it comes across as statistics, as numbers divorced from a reality that we can empathize with. In past wars, you could blame this failure to understand the war in concrete, human terms on government censorship and timid reporting. But, with this war, the public doesn’t have that excuse. This is the first major American war fought in the age of the internet, and, as a result, a fuller picture of the war has always been just  a Google search away. With that thought in mind, I have pulled together some digital resources that paint a fuller picture of what the US invasion has given everyday Iraqis. In clear terms, you can see what life really looks like in this newfound democracy.

Podcast: For starters, I would highly recommend this recent podcast from Open Source, a PRI production. It includes Iraqis and experts talking about the dislocation of many Iraqi citizens, and the growing refugee crisis in Syria and Jordan. (Note: this podcast requires iTunes, which you can download for free here.)

Blogs: This collection of blogs written mostly by Iraqis in English will give you a real-time look at life in Iraq.

Pictures: This photo diary by CBS News offers an extended archive of photos capturing the daily experience in Iraq.

Catch The Nobel Prize Awards Ceremony Live

NobelimageToday (Sunday, December 10), the Nobel Prizes will be awarded in Stockholm, Sweden. The Peace Prize
gets awarded
early in the day (1:50 pm Central European Time), and then, several hours later, come the rest (starting at 4:30 CET). By clicking on these links, you can watch the ceremonies live over the Net. Stockholm is 6 hours ahead of the US east coast, and 9 hours ahead of the west coast.

Finally, you can also watch here the individual speeches given by this year’s Nobel Prize winners. Most were presented this past Friday in Stockholm.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.