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

intelligentlife3.jpgIt’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. (By the way, I first post­ed this right between Christ­mas and New Years, when every­one was tuned out. So it seemed worth post­ing again.)

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 Nobelprize.org, 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.) FORA.tv: In case you don’t know about it, FORA.tv 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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  • omar says:

    Dis­ap­point­ing, you skipped Al Jazeera Eng­lish! youtube.com/aljazeeraenglish — glob­al pol­i­tics, in-depth doc­u­men­taries, break­ing news.

    I won’t say its bet­ter and more through than the BBC and Pulitzer Cen­tre, I’m just going to sug­gest it

  • omar says:

    amend­ing that, thor­ough*

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