Download a Free Copy of Cory Doctorow’s Bestseller, Little Brother

Here’s a good item that came out of yes­ter­day’s book give­away — Ben­jamin L called our atten­tion to the fact that you can down­load a free copy of Lit­tle Broth­er, the new nov­el by Cory Doc­torow, who writes for the pop­u­lar Boing­Bo­ing blog and has con­sis­tent­ly backed the whole idea of “open cul­ture.” Released in late April, the nov­el spent six weeks on the NY Times best­seller list, and, as Ben­jamin notes, the main themes of tech­nol­o­gy and free­dom are very rel­e­vant to the read­ers of our own blog. As you will see, the offi­cial down­loads come in sev­er­al for­mats: Plain text, HTML, and PDF. But, you can also snag copies in oth­er ver­sions that fans have put togeth­er. Take for exam­ple a ver­sion that you can read on an iPhone, or one that you can access via a Sony e‑Reader. You can find all for­mats here, or buy the book in print (which I did) here.

As a last note, I want to thank every­one who par­tic­i­pat­ed in the book give­away. I was real­ly pleased with your con­tri­bu­tions (you have good taste) and wish that I had more books to give away. In the next day, I will con­tact those first ten con­trib­u­tors, and next week I will post all of your pieces of open cul­ture. Many thanks to all. And, any time that you want to rec­om­mend a good piece of media for the ben­e­fit of your fel­low read­ers, don’t hes­i­tate to do so.

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The World Without Us: Get A Free Copy of the NY Times Bestseller

worldwithout2.jpgWhat if we dis­ap­peared from the face of the earth tomor­row? All of us, just like that? What would hap­pen? How would the remain­ing world sur­vive or thrive with­out us? That’s the sce­nario that gets exam­ined by sci­ence writer Alan Weis­man (who we inter­viewed last year) in his non-fic­tion eco-thriller, The World With­out Us.

Now out in paper­back, the book, which spent 26 weeks on The New York Times best­seller list, sees things play­ing out like this:

With no one left to run the pumps, New York’s sub­way tun­nels would fill with water in two days. With­in 20 years, Lex­ing­ton Avenue would be a riv­er. Fire- and wind-rav­aged sky­scrap­ers would even­tu­al­ly fall like giant trees. With­in weeks of our dis­ap­pear­ance, the world’s 441 nuclear plants would melt down into radioac­tive blobs, while our petro­chem­i­cal plants, ‘tick­ing time bombs’ even on a nor­mal day, would become flam­ing gey­sers spew­ing tox­ins for decades to come… After about 100,000 years, car­bon diox­ide would return to pre­hu­man lev­els. Domes­ti­cat­ed species from cat­tle to car­rots would revert back to their wild ances­tors. And on every dehabi­tat­ed con­ti­nent, forests and grass­lands would reclaim our farms and park­ing lots as ani­mals began a slow parade back to Eden.

The World With­out Us is a great read. And now some of our read­ers can get their hands on a free copy. We have 10 copies to give away, and here’s how we pro­pose doing it. We’ll give a copy to the first 10 read­ers (liv­ing in North Amer­i­ca) who add a qual­i­ty piece of “open cul­ture” in the com­ments sec­tion of this post. That is, you will need to post a link to an enrich­ing video, pod­cast or mp3 that fel­low read­ers will enjoy, and tell us a lit­tle about why. When we get ten qual­i­ty clips, we will then pack­age them in a post and share them with the larg­er com­mu­ni­ty. In short, think of it as you get as you give. How nice. Very Kum­baya. (Watch Joan Baez sing it). Now let’s see what you’ve got.

NOTE: We can only ship to read­ers in North Amer­i­ca. And, yes, that includes Cana­da this time, and Mex­i­co too. To our many inter­na­tion­al read­ers, I apol­o­gize for the geo­graph­i­cal lim­i­ta­tion. And we’ll try to make things up to you down the line. We do appre­ci­ate you.

Also please note that if you’re select­ed, I will also even­tu­al­ly need your name and mail­ing address.

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Watch Quality Films on Hulu for Free

Fimocu­lous has nice­ly high­light­ed a series of good films that Hulu has made freely avail­able. The one obvi­ous down­side is that, unless some­thing has changed at Hulu, the flicks will only be avail­able to view­ers in the US. (Hulu needs to do bet­ter than this!) Nonethe­less, here they are, and thanks to for help­ing flag these. (Update: For many excel­lent films, please see our col­lec­tion of Free Movies Online.)

Lost in Trans­la­tion

Eter­nal Sun­shine of the Spot­less Mind

Requiem for a Dream


The Fifth Ele­ment

28 Days Lat­er


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Stephen Hawking Asks Big Questions About The Universe

Speak­ing at the 2008 TED con­fer­ence, physi­cist Stephen Hawk­ing asks some Big Ques­tions about our uni­verse: How did the uni­verse begin? How did life begin? Are we alone? And, dur­ing his ten minute talk, he offers some thoughts on how we might go about answer­ing these big enchi­la­da ques­tions. (We’ve added the clip to our YouTube playlist.)

How to Pronounce Beijing Once and For All

Is it Bay-jing? Or Bay-zhing, as some Amer­i­can broad­cast­ers are inclined to say it? Below, you’ll find the answer accord­ing to Two Chi­nese Char­ac­ters, a video team com­posed of Carsey Yee from Chi­na, and John B. Wein­stein who teach­es Chi­nese at an Amer­i­can uni­ver­si­ty. Give a watch. It’s inten­tion­al­ly campy and amus­ing. And for more from Yee and Wein­stein, check out their piece on the oth­er Chi­nese cities help­ing host the 2008 games.

PS: If you’re look­ing to learn Chi­nese for free, check out our many Man­darin and Can­tonese lessons in our For­eign Lan­guage Les­son Pod­cast Col­lec­tion.

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Jean-Luc Godard Meets Woody Allen

Filmed in 1986, Meetin’ WA is a short (26 minute) film that not many have seen. What you get is Godard, one of the dri­ving forces behind La Nou­velle Vague, in con­ver­sa­tion with Woody Allen. The trade­mark Godard approach to film, the expect­ed dose of Woody Allen neu­roses — they’re all there. Hat tip to Metafil­ter for bring­ing this one to light.

Replaceable You (and Other Free Stem Cells Courses)

Here’s anoth­er free, down­load­able course com­ing out Stan­ford, which will tell you how regen­er­a­tive med­i­cine can keep your body parts almost new. You can access it here on iTune­sU, and below we have post­ed the course descrip­tion. If stem cells hap­pen to pique your inter­est, then you may want to explore these two oth­er relat­ed Stan­ford cours­es: Straight Talk about Stem Cells and Stem Cells: Pol­i­cy and Ethics. Also remem­ber that you can down­load at least 200 free uni­ver­si­ty cours­es here.

Replace­able You: Stem Cells and Tis­sue Engi­neer­ing in this Age of Enlight­en­ment

“The good part about get­ting old­er is that we gain some wis­dom and patience. The bad part is that our bod­ies (knees, hips, organs, and more) start to wear out. But what if our bod­ies could be “repro­grammed” to grow new parts? The new field of regen­er­a­tive med­i­cine is try­ing to do just that, and it takes advan­tage of the process of regen­er­a­tion, which is nature’s solu­tion for repair­ing dam­aged tis­sues.

Although humans can­not re-grow their limbs like sala­man­ders and newts can, the capac­i­ty to regen­er­ate injured or dis­eased tis­sues exists in humans and oth­er ani­mals, and the mol­e­c­u­lar machin­ery for regen­er­a­tion seems to be an ele­men­tal part of our genet­ic make­up. The pre­vail­ing opin­ion is that the genes respon­si­ble for regen­er­a­tion have for some rea­son fall­en into dis­use, and they may be “jump start­ed” by the selec­tive acti­va­tion of key mol­e­cules. Using this knowl­edge, sci­en­tists are devel­op­ing new strate­gies to repair and, in some cas­es, regen­er­ate dam­aged or dis­eased tis­sues in both young and old patients. In this course, we will explore the excit­ing field of regen­er­a­tive med­i­cine and learn a lit­tle about what makes stem cells so spe­cial. We will also dis­cuss some of the recent dis­cov­er­ies that can poten­tial­ly allow us to be fit and healthy well into old age. Here, you will learn what is mere­ly sci­ence fic­tion and what, remark­ably, has become sci­ence fact in our new med­ical age.”

Jill Helms
Asso­ciate Pro­fes­sor, Depart­ment of Plas­tic and Recon­struc­tive Surgery
Jill Helms joined the Stan­ford fac­ul­ty after eight years at UC San Fran­cis­co, where she was the Direc­tor of the Mol­e­c­u­lar and Cel­lu­lar Biol­o­gy Lab­o­ra­to­ry in the Depart­ment of Ortho­pe­dic Surgery. Her research focus­es on the par­al­lels between fetal tis­sue devel­op­ment and adult tis­sue regen­er­a­tion. She received a PhD in devel­op­men­tal neu­ro­bi­ol­o­gy and a clin­i­cal degree and spends the major­i­ty of her time in clin­i­cal­ly relat­ed research.

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Leni Riefenstahl’s Olympia: Diving at the ’36 Games

Pro­duced at the request of the Inter­na­tion­al Olympics Com­mit­tee (and not at the behest of the Nazi pro­pa­gan­da machine), Leni Riefen­stahl’s 1938 doc­u­men­tary, Olympia, is con­sid­ered one of the more impor­tant sports doc­u­men­taries of the 20th cen­tu­ry. Below, we have post­ed a well known sequence that recalls the div­ing com­pe­ti­tion at the ’36 Berlin Games.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.