Thomas Friedman (While Not Dodging Eco-Pies) Argues “Green is the New Red, White & Blue”

Speaking at Brown University earlier this week, Thomas Friedman had to deal with some unfortunate extra-curricular activities. As he took the stage, two students calling themselves the “Greenwash Guerillas” launched pies (video here) at Friedman and largely missed. But they did leave behind some pamphlets spelling out their motives. According to The Brown Daily Herald, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for The New York Times deserved this disruption because of “his sickeningly cheery applaud for free market capitalism’s conquest of the planet” and “for helping turn environmentalism into a fake plastic consumer product for the privileged.” Somewhere the giants of revolutionary rhetoric are grimacing and wondering what happened to their once well practiced art.

Now that I’ve got your attention, I want to point you to a talk that Friedman gave last year at Stanford — Green is the New Red, White and Blue (iTunes). The talk takes you into the heart of Friedman’s complex thinking about the environment (and all that the Green Guerillas oddly take issue with). And it’s presented with the same intelligence that you’ll find on display in the second most downloaded podcast on iTunes U: The World is Flat. (This second talk was presented at MIT, and it’s only exceeded in popularity by Randy Pausch’s soulful lecture, “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” which we featured on Monday.) Friedman’s thinking in the Stanford podcast (give it a listen, you’ll be better for it) lays the foundation for his new book due out in August — Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution–and How It Can Renew America.

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Lifehack for Learning Foreign Languages


Here is a quick “lifehack” for you. You can now learn foreign languages and stay current on politics all at once. How so? By taking advantage of a smart podcast concept being used by French and German broadcasters. Radio France Internationale (RFI) issues a daily program called Le Journal en français facile (iTunesfeedweb site), which delivers the nightly international news in slow and easy-to-understand French. Along the same lines, the German media company Deutsche Welle (which puts out many great language and music programs) also has its own nightly news program Langsam gesprochene Nachrichten (iTunesfeedweb site). It’s essentially the same concept: informative news presented in very simple German, and, in this case, it’s spoken very slowly.

Now, what’s very nice about these programs is that they also provide a written transcript of the spoken word. So you can read along as you listen and make sure that you’re really comprehending. (See transcripts in French and German). Even cooler, with the German version, if you have a video iPod, you can read the transcript on your little portable screen. (See directions).

Finally, check out this offbeat suggestion sent our way by a reader: Nuntii Latini (mp3web site) is “a weekly review of world news in Classical Latin, the only international broadcast of its kind in the world, produced by YLE, the Finnish Broadcasting Company.”

To learn more languages, please visit our complete collection Learn Languages for Free: Spanish, English, Chinese & Beyond.

Related Resource: See our article called “Coffee Break Spanish & The Threat to Traditional Media

Teaching on YouTube

Today, we have a guest feature by Alexandra Juhasz, Professor of Media Studies at Pitzer College, in Claremont, CA. This piece consolidates lengthier blog entries about a course she ran on YouTube, called “Learning from YouTube,” in Fall 2007. The whole goal was to better understand this new media/cultural phenomenon, and how it can be used in the classroom. How did she set up this class? And what did she learn? Find out below. Take it away Alexandra (and feel free to check out our YouTube playlist as well as our piece, 60 Smart Video Collections on YouTube) ….

I decided to teach a course about YouTube to better understand this recent and massive media/cultural phenomenon, given that I had been studiously ignoring it (even as I recognized its significance) because every time I went there, I was seriously underwhelmed by what I saw: interchangeable, bite-sized, formulaic videos referring either to popular culture or personal pain/pleasure. I called them video slogans: pithy, precise, rousing calls to action or consumption, or action as consumption. I was certain, however, that there must be video, in this vast sea, that would satisfy even my lofty standards, and figured my students (given their greater facility with a life-on-line) probably knew better than I how to navigate the site.

Learning From YouTube was my first truly “student led” course: we would determine the important themes and relevant methods together. I had decided that I wanted the course to primarily consider how web 2.0 (in this case, specifically YouTube) is radically altering the conditions of learning (what, where, when, how we have access to information). Given that college students are rarely asked to consider the meta-questions of how they learn, on top of what they are learning, I thought it would be pedagogically useful for the form of the course to mirror YouTube’s structures for learning, like its amateur-led pedagogy. Yes, on YouTube there is a great deal of user control, but this is within a limited and also highly limiting set of tools. So, I did set forth the rule that all the learning for the course had to be on and about YouTube. While this constraint was clearly artificial, and perhaps misleading about how YouTube is used in connection with a host of other media platforms which complement its functionality, it did allow us to become critically aware of the constraints of its architecture for our atypical goals of higher education. Thus, all assignments had to be produced as YouTube comments or videos, all research had to be conducted within its pages, and all classes were taped and put on to YouTube. This gimmick, plus a press release, made the course sexy enough to catch the eye of the media, mainstream and otherwise, allowing for an exhausting, but self-reflexive lesson in the role and value of media attention within social networking. Beyond this, students quickly realized how well trained they actually are to do academic work with the word—their expertise—and how poor is their media-production literacy (there were no media production skills required for the course as there are not on YouTube). (more…)

41 Hours in an Elevator

It’s perhaps a stretch to call this a piece of “open culture,” except that the footage, using time-lapsed video to show a man stuck in an elevator for 41 hours, accompanies a piece printed in the latest edition of The New Yorker — Up and Then Down: The Lives of Elevators.

Then, there’s this noteworthy fact: the video (see below) is hosted on The New Yorker’s new YouTube site, which we have added to our collection “60 Smart Video Collections on YouTube.”

Related Content:

Encyclopedia Britannica Now Free For Web Publishers

Thanks to a new program called Britannica Webshare, web publishers — be they bloggers, webmasters, or writers who post frequently on the web — can now get free online access to Britannica and its 65,000 articles. Normally, this service runs $70 per year. For more info, read TechCrunch’s scoop on the new initiative. To sign up, click here.

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The Lecture That Captured the Public Imagination: From YouTube Sensation to #1 Best-Selling Book

By now, many of you have probably seen (or at least heard about) the last lecture by Randy Pausch, a computer science professor from Carnegie Mellon University, who is dying from pancreatic cancer. Entitled “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” the lecture (see video below) is upbeat and uplifting without being the slightest bit morose. And it sets an example for how we can think about living and dying. The lecture has been watched by millions on YouTube, and it serves as the basis for a new book called The Last Lecture, which is now the number one bestseller on Amazon. We’ve added the video to our YouTube playlist. If you haven’t seen it yet, give it your time. It will teach you something more valuable than anything else we serve up here. Also, you can download it on iTunes.

Water Balloon Exploding at 2,000 Frames per Second

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Global Geopolitics: A New Stanford Course on iTunes

Today we’re highlighting for you a new course posted on Stanford University’s iTunes site. Originally presented by Stanford Continuing Studies (where I happily spend my days), Global Geopolitics is taught by geography expert Martin Lewis, and “examines the global political situation from a geographical perspective. Topics include: how the countries of the world were formed and came to occupy their present territorial configurations; border conflicts and other spatially based international issues; struggles for secession from established states and movements for territorially based autonomy; and the development and enlargement of supranational organizations such as the European Union (EU) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). While the course is globally comprehensive, special attention will be given to current sites of geo-political tension. Maps will be used extensively for both descriptive and analytical purposes.”

[NOTE: This is an enchanced podcast that allows you to see images and maps referenced in the lectures. To view them, click on View, then Show Artwork, in iTunes. This will let you see them on your computer.]

You can now download the first lecture. Additional lectures will be released in weekly installments. The course is also listed in our collection of Free Online Courses from top universities.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.