Weekly Wrap Up — March 30

Here’s a quick recap of this week’s pieces:

Access our Pod­cast Library here. Email a friend about Open
Cul­ture.


Atheists for Jesus, or Really a Debate Over Whether Religion and Science Can Get Along

Over the past two days, NPR’s Fresh Air has devot­ed two pro­grams to inter­ro­gat­ing whether reli­gion and sci­ence can co-exist. On Wednes­day, air time was first giv­en to Richard Dawkins, the famed Oxford Uni­ver­si­ty schol­ar of evo­lu­tion who, with his recent pub­li­ca­tion of The God Delu­sion, has launched a vig­or­ous defense of athe­ism. As you could well imag­ine, Dawkins (iTunesfeedstream) is hard­ly will­ing to make accom­mo­da­tions for reli­gion, and he’s com­fort­able liv­ing in a world where Dar­win­ist thought solves prob­lems that reli­gion itself usu­al­ly tries to sort out — that is, the basic hows and whys of exis­tence. It has been said that Dawkins comes off as being as zeal­ous in his athe­ism as his reli­gious coun­ter­parts are in their faith. But no mat­ter how you look at him, you have to admire his abil­i­ty to make an art­ful argu­ment .… and also his sense of humor. Yes, he claims half in jest to wear an “Athe­ists for Jesus” t‑shirt. (See a pho­to here.)

Next, on Thurs­day, Ter­ry Gross invit­ed Fran­cis Collins (iTunesfeedstream) onto the show. Collins is a geneti­cist, and not just any one. He is cur­rent­ly the direc­tor of the Nation­al Human Genome Research Project, and he most notably led a team that cracked the human genome back in 2000. He is also an evan­gel­i­cal Chris­t­ian, and, again, not just your aver­age one in that he accepts the valid­i­ty of evo­lu­tion. Hav­ing recent­ly pub­lished a new work, The Lan­guage of God: A Sci­en­tist Presents Evi­dence for Belief, Collins is sub­tly look­ing to steer a mid­dle course, to find ways to let reli­gion and sci­ence co-exist and not let the one under­mine the integri­ty of the oth­er. How well the argu­ments hang togeth­er is an open ques­tion. But it’s nonethe­less gen­uine­ly inter­est­ing to hear how he’s think­ing things through. And cer­tain­ly it’s worth lis­ten­ing to Dawkins and Collins’ inter­views side by side. This is NPR at its best, and, yes, I’d gen­tly chal­lenge one of our read­ers to find any­thing on Fox News that’s on an equal­ly intel­li­gent plane. (See the user com­ments at the bot­tom of this page.)

See our com­plete lists of Arts & Cul­ture Pod­casts, or our larg­er Pod­cast LibraryEmail a friend and let them know about Open Cul­ture.

25 Smart Video Podcasts That You Can Watch on Apple TV

Apple_tv_4_3Ear­li­er this week, we dis­cussed the recent release of Apple TV, the new gad­get that lets you wire­less­ly down­load videos from iTunes to your cushy widescreen TV. For many con­sumers, the log­i­cal ques­tion to ask is whether there’s much to watch if they plunk down the $299 for the hard­ware. (Check it out in our Ama­zon store.) And our read­ers might par­tic­u­lar­ly won­der whether there’s much in the way of cul­tur­al video. With these ques­tions in mind, we’ve put togeth­er a sam­pling of worth­while video pod­casts (oth­er­wise called “vod­casts”) that you can imme­di­ate­ly start con­sum­ing with Apple TV. These videos can also be found in our pod­cast library.

  • Arts & Cul­ture Vod­casts
    • New York­er Car­toons iTunes Feed
      • Catch ani­mat­ed ver­sions of The New York­er’s famous car­toons.
    • Son­ny Rollins Pod­cast iTunes Feed Web Site
      • A 12-part video pod­cast series (to be released in month­ly install­ments) that intro­duces Son­ny Rollins, one of our jazz greats.
    • Sun­dance Film Fes­ti­val iTunes Web Site
      • Get behind the scenes cov­er­age at the lat­est stag­ing of the influ­en­tial Sun­dance Film Fes­ti­val.
  • For­eign Lan­guage Lessons
    • MyGermanClass.com Ler­nen Wir Deutsch! iTunes Feed Web Site
      • A series of edu­ca­tion­al and enter­tain­ing video pod­casts that will teach you Ger­man.
    • Japan­ese Class iTunes Web Site
      • These video­casts from the Kyoto Japan­ese Lan­guage School use video to demon­strate how to writein Japan­ese.
  • News & Infor­ma­tion
  • Sci­ence
    • Dis­cov­ery Chan­nel Video Pod­casts iTunes Feed Web Site
      • A trove of video pod­casts from Dis­cov­ery. It includes Ever­est — Beyond the Lim­it (iTunes).
    • NASAcast iTunes Feed Web Site
      • A series of the lat­est videos from NASA.
    • Nation­al Geo­graph­ic’s Wild Chron­i­cles iTunes Feed Web Site
      • “See the nat­ur­al world like nev­er before through the eyes of Nation­al Geo­graph­ic adven­tur­ers, sci­en­tists, researchers, and the extra­or­di­nary Crit­ter­cam.”
    • NOVA iTunes Feed Web Site
      • A series of short vod­casts from NOVA.
  • Tech­nol­o­gy
    • Adobe Cre­ative Suite Video Pod­cast iTunes Feed Web Site
      • Ter­ry­White teach­es you how to unlock the pow­er of Cre­ative Suite with visualex­am­ples. Empha­sis gets placed on inDe­sign and Pho­to­shop.
    • InDig­i­tal iTunes Feed Web Site
      • A pop­u­lar video pod­cast focus­ing on the lat­est gad­gets and high-tech prod­ucts.
    • GeekBrief.TV Video Pod­cast iTunes Feed Web Site
      • Fea­tur­ing­Cali Lewis, this “fast, fun and flir­ty” vod­cast explores news­about tech toys and tools. Gen­er­al­ly very well reviewed by users.
    • Dig­gna­tion iTunes Feed Web Site
      • A week­ly web cul­ture pod­cast that focus­es on the tops sto­ries on Digg.com, the pop­u­lar social con­tent web site. Host­ed by Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht.
  • Uni­ver­si­ty
    • INSEAD­’s Lead­er­cast iTunes Web Site
      • A series of video pod­casts that come out of one of Europe’s elite busi­ness pro­grams.
    • Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty
      • Mod­ern The­o­ret­i­cal Physics: Quan­tum Entan­gle­ment iTunes Web Info
        • A cut­ting edge physics video course taught by Leonard Susskind, one of the lead­ing fig­ures in the field.
        • Host­ed by Ted Kop­pel, this pan­el dis­cus­sion focus­es on the glob­al chal­lenges that we’re fac­ing in this cen­tu­ry. Pan­elists include: Supre­me­Court Jus­tice Antho­ny Kennedy, for­mer Sec­re­tary of State GeorgeSchultz, for­mer Sec­re­tary of Defense William Per­ry, Yahoo co-Founder

          Jer­ry Yang, and Stan­ford Pres­i­dent John Hen­nessy, among oth­ers.

    • The Uni­ver­si­ty Chan­nel iTunes Feed Web Site
      • Prince­ton­has assem­bled a col­lec­tion of pub­lic affairs lec­tures, pan­els ande­vents from aca­d­e­m­ic insti­tu­tions all over the world. You can find

        lec­tures here from some of the world’s lead­ing thinkers.

    If we’re miss­ing any­thing great, please drop us a line.

Wikipedia’s (Sometimes Dirty) Little Secret


When you think Wikipedia, you think ency­clo­pe­dia. And when you think
ency­clo­pe­dia, you think edu­ca­tion, self enrich­ment and all kinds of
good stuff.

A trip to Wikipedi­a’s home page ini­tial­ly con­firms those impres­sions. It points you to rather edi­fy­ing con­tent: an intro­duc­tion to the Pash­tun peo­ple, an entry on the Aus­tralian pel­i­can, a look at the Vikings’ his­tor­i­cal exploits, etc. So far, so good. All very com­mend­able.

Now here’s the slight rub. Wikicharts
pur­ports to list the 100 most viewed pages on Wikipedi­a’s Eng­lish
lan­guage site, and very quick­ly the num­bers sug­gest that neti­zens
aren’t always mak­ing schol­ar­ly use of the web’s free ency­clo­pe­dia.
Here’s how some of the num­bers break down: In March 2007, 12 of the
100 most viewed pages on Wikipedia (includ­ing 4 of the top 20) deal with sex, some of
which goes beyond explain­ing the sim­ple birds and bees. (Con­sult the list for more on that.) Mean­while
anoth­er 30+ entries delve into pop cul­ture — South Park, Brit­ney
Spears, Anna Nicole Smith, you get the point.

So, how many touch on more square­ly edu­ca­tion­al top­ics? About 35.
And many of those include straight­for­ward entries on coun­tries (France,
India, Cana­da, etc.), or pieces that elu­ci­date the new block­buster
film, The 300. And while it’s good to see peo­ple using Wikipedia to under­stand the film, we all know that these more obscure his­tor­i­cal entries will fall off the top 100 list as quick­ly as movies come and go. That does­n’t leave too many entries that
are rem­i­nis­cent of an ency­clo­pe­dia. In the top 100, you get a hand­ful of clas­sic top­ics — entries on Ein­stein, Leonar­do da Vin­ci, and Glob­al
Warm­ing — but that is about it.

All of this sug­gests that there’s some­thing of a dis­con­nect between
how we per­ceive Wikipedia (or how Wikipedia por­trays itself) and how it
often gets used. Does this under­mine the val­ue of the more sub­stan­tive
pieces that you can find on the ency­clo­pe­dic site? Cer­tain­ly not.
Wikipedia can be a great resource when it is at its best. But it does
sug­gest that Wikipedi­a’s enrich­ing con­tent is not its most pop­u­lar, and
con­verse­ly that Wikipedi­a’s high­est traf­fic is flow­ing to con­tent that
prob­a­bly won’t be show­ing up on Wikipedi­a’s home­page any time soon.

Starting Startups: A Free Course (and More) for the Entrepreneur

Entre­pre­neur­ship and Busi­ness Plan­ning is a free course avail­able via pod­cast (iTunes  Feed  Mp3) that par­al­lels a class­room course being offered at Carnegie Mel­lon with­in the Mas­ters in Infor­ma­tion Sys­tems Man­age­ment (MISM) pro­gram. Taught by Mark Juliano, an adjunct pro­fes­sor who oth­er­wise works in the pri­vate sec­tor, the course cov­ers the ins-and-outs of start­ing a new ven­ture. Fol­low­ing a very log­i­cal tra­jec­to­ry, it starts with the fun­da­men­tals — devel­op­ing ideas for new com­pa­nies, writ­ing busi­ness plans, and cre­at­ing teams — and then moves through more advanced mate­ri­als that you’d typ­i­cal­ly find cov­ered in b‑school: mar­ket­ing, com­pet­i­tive strat­e­gy, sales, pric­ing, fund­ing and finance. Final­ly, when you dive into the pod­casts, you’ll real­ize that Juliano has clear­ly tak­en pains to present an acces­si­ble course for lis­ten­ers. Along with clear­ly pre­sent­ed lec­tures, you get a host of sup­port­ing online mate­ri­als, plus a course blog. A very nice touch.

Next, the busi­ness-mind­ed folks among us will also want to pore over the stel­lar col­lec­tion of entre­pre­neur­ship edu­ca­tion resources assem­bled by the Stan­ford Tech­nol­o­gy Ven­tures Pro­gram. Their media con­tent trove includes a sol­id col­lec­tion of pod­casts fea­tur­ing talks with busi­ness thought lead­ers (iTunes  Feed  Web Site), not to men­tion a cache of videos high­light­ing pre­sen­ta­tions by the exec­u­tives and VCs who make Sil­i­con Val­ley tick. Just gen­er­al­ly, you’ll want to explore the many oth­er resources in the Edu­ca­tors Cor­ner.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

150 Free Online Busi­ness Cours­es

Apple TV: Turn Your TV into a Smart Box

Appletv3_3When Steve Jobs announced Apple’s new line­up of gad­gets at Mac­world in Jan­u­ary (lis­ten on iTunes or stream it), all eyes were focused on the planned release of the iPhone. Rel­a­tive­ly lost in the com­mo­tion, how­ev­er, was Apple TV, which start­ed ship­ping this week. (Check it out in our Ama­zon store.) Despite the name, Apple TV does­n’t come with a TV. But, for $299, you do get a piece of hard­ware that lets you wire­less­ly sync your iTunes col­lec­tion to your widescreen TV. And, with that, you can watch down­loaded movies, TV shows, and video pod­casts in a much more suit­able and plea­sur­able envi­ron­ment. (Even­tu­al­ly, you’ll be able to watch videos via Apple TV in high def.) If giv­en the choice between watch­ing your video down­loads on a small iPod screen or a cushy plas­ma TV in your liv­ing room, the deci­sion becomes a no-brain­er. The new gad­get instant­ly makes Apple a cred­i­ble play­er in the video dis­tri­b­u­tion mar­ket, and it clear­ly fur­thers along the com­pa­ny’s trans­for­ma­tion into a more diver­si­fied con­sumer-elec­tron­ics and media com­pa­ny.

For Open Cul­ture read­ers, Apple TV has some ben­e­fits on the near hori­zon. Over the past sev­er­al months, we’ve noticed more pod­casts com­ing out in a video fla­vor. (See our pod­cast library.) And that trend should only pick up over time. (Indeed, Robert X. Cring­ley, the astute observ­er of tech trends, fore­sees a video glut this year that could over­whelm the cur­rent capac­i­ty of the Net.) Thanks to Apple TV, you might soon be able to use your tele­vi­sion as much as your iPod to con­sume high qual­i­ty cul­tur­al con­tent. And this may become all the more true if the rumors pan out that Apple and Google have been talk­ing about dis­trib­ut­ing Google Video through iTunes. Just think of the pos­si­bil­i­ties that lie ahead.

For more infor­ma­tion on Apple TV, you can vis­it Apple’s site, check out the cov­er­age on Engad­get and CNET, or watch the Wal­ter Moss­berg video below.

The First Episode of This American Life: A Sneak Peek

     

 


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This is just a quick heads up. You can now watch online the first episode of This Amer­i­can Life. Show­time just start­ed air­ing a tele­vised ver­sion of the long-run­ning and very pop­u­lar radio pro­gram (which is also avail­able as a pod­cast iTunes  Feed  Web Site). If you’re won­der­ing how the show’s dis­tinc­tive feel comes off in video, here’s your chance to take a quick, easy and free look.

See our com­plete lists of Arts & Cul­ture Pod­casts, or our larg­er Pod­cast LibraryEmail a friend and let them know about Open Cul­ture.


The Health Benefits of the iPod

Who knew that the iPod could help save lives? Check out this news sto­ry on Yahoo.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.