Open Culture’s YouTube Playlist

This seemed like a log­i­cal fol­low up to our recent post “10 Signs of Intel­li­gent Life at YouTube,” which high­light­ed some of the enrich­ing video col­lec­tions on YouTube.

Here’s a playlist that cen­tral­izes the YouTube videos that we’ve recent­ly high­light­ed on our site. Think of it as the Open Cul­ture YouTube Col­lec­tion, or anoth­er way of orga­niz­ing cul­tur­al­ly redeemable videos on YouTube.

You can access the video col­lec­tion here (feel free to sub­scribe to the col­lec­tion), or by play­ing around with the video play­er added right below. A per­ma­nent link to the col­lec­tion will reside in the sec­tion called “Essen­tials” on our web­site. We’ll add to it on an ongo­ing basis.

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10 Signs of Intelligent Life at YouTube (Smart Video Collections)

(UPDATED: See 70 Signs of Intel­li­gent Life at YouTube)

It’s been a con­stant lament that YouTube offers its users scant lit­tle intel­lec­tu­al con­tent. And that con­tent is itself hard to find. Just vis­it YouTube’s so-called Edu­ca­tion Sec­tion, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find any­thing actu­al­ly edu­ca­tion­al. But the good news is that we’re see­ing some recent signs of intel­li­gent life at YouTube. The video ser­vice hosts an increas­ing num­ber of intel­lec­tu­al­ly redeemable video col­lec­tions. And so we fig­ured why not do some heavy lift­ing and bring a few your way. If YouTube won’t make them easy to find, then we will. (Also see 10 Ways to Make Your iPod a Bet­ter Learn­ing Gad­get.)

1.) UC Berke­ley: We have men­tioned this col­lec­tion before, but we might as well men­tion it again. UC Berke­ley launched in Octo­ber a YouTube chan­nel that con­tains over 300 hours of aca­d­e­m­ic pro­gram­ming. And, most notably, you’ll find here a series of uni­ver­si­ty cours­es that can be watched in their entire­ty (for free). It’s a deep col­lec­tion worth start­ing with.

2.) @GoogleTalks: Many big names end up speak­ing at Google. That includes polit­i­cal fig­ures and cul­tur­al fig­ures such as Paul Krug­man, Steven Pinker, Joseph Stieglitz, Jonathan Lethem and more. Since Google owns YouTube, it’s good to see that they’re mak­ing an effort to record these talks and raise the intel­lec­tu­al bar on GooTube just a bit. Have a look.

3.) The Nobel Prize: TheNo­bel­Prize chan­nel presents cur­rent and past Nobel Lau­re­ates — cour­tesy of, the offi­cial web site of the Nobel Foun­da­tion. The col­lec­tion fea­tures offi­cial Nobel Prize Lec­tures and also more casu­al pre­sen­ta­tions. It looks like talks by the 2007 win­ners are being added slow­ly.

4.) TED Talks: Every year, a thou­sand “thought-lead­ers, movers and shak­ers” get togeth­er at a four-day con­fer­ence called TED (which is short for Tech­nol­o­gy, Enter­tain­ment and Design). In recent years, the list of speak­ers has ranged from Sergey Brin and Lar­ry Page to Bill Gates, to Her­bie Han­cock and Peter Gabriel, to Frank Gehry, to Al Gore and Bill Clin­ton. In this col­lec­tion, you’ll find var­i­ous talks pre­sent­ed at the con­fer­ence. They usu­al­ly run about 20 min­utes.

5.) In case you don’t know about it, is a web ser­vice that hosts videos fea­tur­ing impor­tant thinkers grap­pling with con­tem­po­rary cul­tur­al, social and polit­i­cal ques­tions. It’s like YouTube, but always intel­li­gent. You can find extend­ed videos on FORA’s site, and a decent sam­pling of their con­tent on YouTube.

6.) Philoso­phers and The­o­rists: The Euro­pean Grad­u­ate School (or EGS) hosts a video col­lec­tion on YouTube that includes talks by some very impor­tant theorists/philosophers of the past gen­er­a­tion — for exam­ple, Jacques Der­ri­da and Jean Bau­drillard. There are also some film­mak­ers mixed in — take for exam­ple, Peter Green­away and John Waters.

7.) Pulitzer Cen­ter on Cri­sis Report­ing: This chan­nel pro­motes cov­er­age of inter­na­tion­al affairs, “focus­ing on top­ics that have been under-report­ed, mis-report­ed — or not report­ed at all.” Most of these videos were fea­tured on the pub­lic tele­vi­sion pro­gram “For­eign Exchange with Fareed Zakaria.”

8.) BBC World­wide: The lead­ing British broad­cast­er is now live on YouTube, and there’s some good con­tent in the mix, although it won’t leap off of the home­page. The trick is to look at their playlist where you will find more edu­ca­tion­al pieces of video: doc­u­men­taries, sci­ence, dra­ma, trav­el, and more. The notable down­side is that the videos typ­i­cal­ly fall with­in YouTube’s cus­tom­ary 10 minute video lim­it. (Many oth­ers cit­ed here run longer.) Too bad more could­n’t have been done with this oppor­tu­ni­ty.

Oth­er smart media prop­er­ties that have opt­ed for the sound­bite strat­e­gy here include Nation­al Geo­graph­ic and PBS.

9.) UChan­nel: For­mer­ly called the Uni­ver­si­ty Chan­nel, this video ser­vice presents talks on international/political affairs from aca­d­e­m­ic insti­tu­tions all over the world. It’s spear­head­ed by Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty, and you can find an even more exten­sive video col­lec­tion on their web site.

10.) Oth­er Uni­ver­si­ty Chan­nels on YouTube: UC Berke­ley launched the biggest chan­nel on YouTube, but there are some oth­ers out there. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, find­ing them is some­thing of a crap­shoot. We’ve man­aged, how­ev­er, to pull togeth­er a good list of ten. See 10 Uni­ver­si­ty Col­lec­tions on YouTube

Bonus: We cob­bled togeth­er our own playlist of smart YouTube videos that will grow over time. Have a look.

In putting togeth­er this list, one thing became clear: YouTube has enough qual­i­ty con­tent to keep you busy, and there’s clear­ly more that I don’t know about (again, because they don’t make it easy to find). If you want to add oth­er good YouTube col­lec­tions to our list, please list them in the com­ments and I can add them selec­tive­ly to the list.

Want more smart media? Check out our big list of free uni­ver­si­ty cours­es avail­able via pod­cast.

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10 Ways to Make Your iPod a Better Learning Gadget

The iPod can super­charge your learn­ing. But it’s often a mat­ter of find­ing the right soft­ware and con­tent. Below, we’ve list­ed sev­er­al new pieces of soft­ware that will let you suck more edu­ca­tion­al media (DVDs, web videos, audio files, etc.) into your iPod. And we’ve also list­ed some impor­tant pieces of con­tent that will make your iPod a bet­ter learn­ing gad­get. So here it goes (and be sure to see our relat­ed piece 10 Signs of Intel­li­gent Life at YouTube):

1) Put Wikipedia on Your Ipod:
Ency­clopo­dia is a free piece of soft­ware that brings Wikipedia to the iPod. Ency­clopo­dia can be installed on iPod gen­er­a­tions 1 through 4, as well as iPod Min­is. Def­i­nite­ly worth a try.

2) Watch DVDs on Your iPod: This free, open source soft­ware works on MacOS X, Lin­ux and Win­dows, and makes it sim­ple to load and watch DVDs on your video iPod. Here are some help­ful instruc­tions to get you start­ed.

3) Load YouTube Videos to Your iPod: Con­vert­Tube allows you to take any YouTube video and con­vert it to a for­mat that works on your iPod. It’s as sim­ple as enter­ing a url and click­ing “con­vert and down­load.” If you want to give the soft­ware a test run, try con­vert­ing these UC Berke­ley cours­es that were recent­ly launched on YouTube. Or these Nobel Prize speech­es.

4) Make Oth­er Video For­mats iPod-Ready: Life­hack­er recent­ly men­tioned three oth­er pieces of soft­ware that will make a vari­ety of oth­er video for­mats iPod-ready. For Win­dows, see Vide­o­ra; for Mac, see iSquint. Or more gen­er­al­ly see Zamzar. In a nut­shell, these items will turn a wide range of video for­mats into the one video for­mat (MPEG‑4) that your iPod likes.

5) Con­vert MP3 files into One Big iPod Audio­book File: Down­load­ing free audio­books can often require you to work with a series of sep­a­rate mp3 files, which can make things rather cum­ber­some. This soft­ware does you a favor and mash­es the files into one man­age­able file. And it has a fea­ture that will let your Ipod remem­ber where you stopped if you decide to take a break. (If this one appeals to you, be sure to see item # 10.)

6) Cre­ate eBooks for the iPod: This bit of soft­ware turns text files into ebooks that you can read on your iPod. After you load a text file, it will make the text read­able through iPod Notes (which you can find under “Extra Sett­tings”). Then, voila, a portable text. Thanks to for point­ing this one out.

7) Record Web Audio and Move it To Your iPod: Designed for Macs, iRecord­Mu­sic enables you to eas­i­ly record audio from web pages and Inter­net radio streams. So if you’re surf­ing the web and find a good piece of streamed audio, it lets you record it and then trans­fer the media to your iPod. The only down­side is that the soft­ware isn’t free. It will run you $24.95, but it may well be worth it. You can down­load a tri­al ver­sion here.

8) Get a Civic Edu­ca­tion on Your Ipod: This site allows you to down­load to your iPod ten impor­tant doc­u­ments that any edu­cat­ed Amer­i­can should be famil­iar with. The texts include: The Dec­la­ra­tion of Inde­pen­dence, Con­sti­tu­tion of the Unit­ed States, Bill of Rights, Louisiana Pur­chase Treaty, Eman­ci­pa­tion Procla­ma­tion, Get­tys­burg Address, Civ­il Rights Act, and sev­er­al oth­ers. (Note: You can also down­load here an iPod ver­sion of Mer­ri­am-Web­ster’s Pock­et Dic­tio­nary for $9.95.)

9) Load Maps onto Your iPod: If you trav­el to New York City, Paris, Berlin or Moscow, how will you find your way to the muse­ums? iSub­wayMaps is the answer. It lets you down­load sub­way maps from 24 major cities across the globe. You’ll only need an iPod with pho­to capa­bil­i­ty and you’ll be good to go. (By the way, if you want to load Google Maps to your iPod, here is a tuto­r­i­al that will explain how.)

10) Study For­eign Lan­guages, Take Uni­ver­si­ty Cours­es, and Lis­ten to Audio­Books on Your iPod — All for Free: Ok, so this is a cheap but worth­while plug for some of our rich­est pod­cast col­lec­tions. Our For­eign Lan­guage Pod­cast Col­lec­tion lets your learn over 25 dif­fer­ent for­eign lan­guages. Our Audio­Book pod­cast col­lec­tion will give you portable access to 100+ clas­sic works of lit­er­a­ture and non­fic­tion. And this uni­ver­si­ty pod­cast col­lec­tion pro­vides access to over 85 cours­es record­ed at lead­ing Amer­i­can uni­ver­si­ties. Not bad, if I say so myself. For our com­plete pod­cast library, click here.

Know of more soft­ware or con­tent that will super­charge your iPod? Feel free to list them in our com­ments. And if they’re good, we’ll hap­pi­ly add them to the list.

For more great iPod util­i­ties, see the recent fea­tures by Life­hack­er and

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A Conversation with Benazir Bhutto

Again, no com­men­tary need­ed. Infor­ma­tive in many ways, Bhut­to’s talk was taped at the Coun­cil on For­eign Rela­tions in August. More info here.

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Favorite Books of 2007

Quick fyi: The book crit­ics of The New York Times have select­ed their favorite books of 2007. These are the books that they men­tion to friends, or rec­om­mend that you take on vaca­tion. You’ll find here 30 good reads in all.

Now how about your favorite book of ’07? Share them with oth­er Open Cul­ture read­ers and list them in the com­ments below. (If we get enough of them, we’ll list them in a spe­cial blog post.)

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Landing on the Moon: July 20, 1969

Great his­tor­i­cal footage. No com­men­tary real­ly need­ed. (If you want to see the liftoff, look here.)

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Christmas Audio Tales: Orson Welles’ Christmas Carol (and More)

Let me serve up a quick few bits of audio for the hol­i­day.

Let’s start with a free pod­cast of Charles Dick­ens’ A Christ­mas Car­ol. Writ­ten in 1843, Dicken’s tale remains one of the most pop­u­lar Christ­mas sto­ries of all time. It gave us the indeli­ble char­ac­ters of Ebenez­er Scrooge, Tiny Tim, and the Ghosts of Christ­mas Past, Present, and Future. And it invent­ed the notion of “christ­mas spir­it.”

You can lis­ten to a fair­ly straight­for­ward read­ing of the text on iTunes. But you may want to spend your time with this 1939 radio pre­sen­ta­tion staged by Orson Welles, which notably fea­tures Lionel Bar­ry­more. (Or you can lis­ten to Welles’ 1938 ver­sion here.)

Also, over at Boing­Bo­ing today, Cory Doc­torow has post­ed a record­ing he made of Lewis Car­rol­l’s Alice in Won­der­land (etext here). You can down­load it in mp3 or oth­er for­mats. I’ve also added Doc­torow’s read­ing to our Audio­Book Pod­cast Col­lec­tion, where you can find an alter­na­tive read­ing of Car­rol­l’s work, plus 100 oth­er clas­sic works on free audio. (For our com­plete col­lec­tion of enrich­ing pod­casts, see our Pod­cast Library.)

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How Did Hannibal Cross the Alps?: The #2 Podcast on iTunesU

hannibal.jpgDur­ing a week when uni­ver­si­ty pod­casts received wide­spread atten­tion (thanks to a very pop­u­lar arti­cle in the NY Times), we’ve kept a close eye on the high-rank­ing pod­casts on iTune­sU. Quite con­sis­tent­ly, one pod­cast — How Did Han­ni­bal Cross the Alps? — has ranked at the top. It cur­rent­ly sits in the #2 posi­tion, right behind What is Exis­ten­tial­ism?.

The Han­ni­bal lec­ture was pre­sent­ed at Stan­ford by Patrick Hunt, an archae­ol­o­gist who recent­ly wrote Ten Dis­cov­er­ies That Rewrote His­to­ry (see relat­ed post) and whose long term project is to fig­ure out how the great mil­i­tary leader crossed the Alps in 218 BCE with his large army, which includ­ed dozens of war ele­phants. I had a chance to catch up with Patrick and ask him why, over 2,000 years lat­er, the adven­tures of Han­ni­bal still man­age to cap­ture our imag­i­na­tion. Here is what he had to say:

“Here are some rea­sons I think the Han­ni­bal top­ic is mes­mer­iz­ing. First, the logis­tics of mov­ing a large army — at least 25,000 sur­viv­ing sol­diers — over some­times ter­ri­fy­ing moun­tain bar­ri­ers is very daunt­ing and immense­ly chal­leng­ing. Sec­ond, this is expo­nen­tial­ly com­pound­ed by the fact that even with able scouts the increas­ing­ly steep ter­rain and bad weath­er en route to the sum­mit were threat­en­ing­ly unfa­mil­iar to the vast major­i­ty of Han­ni­bal’s army in this ear­ly win­ter of 218 BCE. Even in sum­mer, the weath­er can be harsh and wild­ly unpre­dictable. In win­ter, it can be that much worse. Third, there were Celtic tribes to con­tend with, who would roll boul­ders down on troops and ambush them from (more…)

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.