Follow Open Culture on Twitter!

This is just a quick note to let you know that you can now follow Open Culture on Twitter. If you subscribe, you’ll know whenever we post something new on the site. To get going, create a Twitter account (if you don’t already have one), access our Twitter page here, and then click the word “Follow” beneath our logo, and you’ll be all set. If you’re wondering what Twitter is all about, you can watch this handy video.

Beethoven Symphony No. 5, Arturo Toscanini, 1952

Here’s a nice vintage clip that comes out of a YouTube Channel called The Great Performers, which we’ve added to our page: Best YouTube Collections. The video features Arturo Toscanini conducting Beethoven’s 5th at Carnegie Hall in 1952. You can find the second movement here.

For more classical music see:

Free Beethoven and Mozart Recordings via Podcast

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 – Karajan or Muppet Style

The Ten Best Classical Music Recordings of 2008

The Lincoln Revival

lincolnAbraham Lincoln has never exactly gone out of fashion. More books have been written about him than any other American president. But even so, he has recently dominated our thoughts, our public discourse, in a way that we haven’t seen in some time. And that’s because he started something in American history that ended with the inauguration of Barack Obama last week.

To mark the occasion, I wanted to highlight an excellent series of podcasts that focuses on Lincoln and the Civil War. Created by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, this series features talks by some of America’s leading scholars of the Civil War period, and at least two Pulitzer Prize winners. Among the lectures, you’ll find the following:

  • Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln (iTunesU) – Doris Kearns Goodwin
  • Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam (iTunesU) – James McPherson
  • No Party Now: Politics in The Civil War North (iTunesU) – Adam I.P. Smith
  • Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation (iTunesU) – Allen Guelzo
  • Abraham Lincoln: A Biographer’s Notes (iTunesU) – Richard Carwardine
  • Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (iTunesU) – David Blight

For those of you who don’t want to work with iTunes, you can access these presentations and more at the Gilder Lehrman website here. You can also find here a page entirely dedicated Abraham Lincoln and related content.

P.S. Yet more proof that Lincoln is now everywhere. New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik has just released a new book, Angels and Ages, which examines the unique stamp that Darwin and Lincoln placed on our modern times. (Both men, by the way, were born on the same day 200 years ago next month.) You can listen here to an interview with Gopnik that was recorded yesterday.

Talking with Steven Soderbergh

Here’s a piece from one of my colleagues, Scott Hutchins. Take it away Scott…

Steven Soderbergh was in San Francisco as part of the roll out for his four-and-a-half-hour, two-part epic Che, about the Argentinian doctor turned revolutionary Che Guevara.  Guevara is no stranger to American screens, especially after the popular film, The Motorcycle Diaries. So we wondered why Soderbergh wanted to make another movie about him.  Soderbergh is widely considered one of the most talented directors at work in Hollywood today, but even some of his fans are scratching their heads over this most recent film.  In the New Yorker, film reviewer Anthony Lane says, ‘I still have no idea what truly quickens his heart.’  In this interview, we certainly discovered what gets his blood pumping.  Soderbergh (who also directed Traffic, Erin Brokovich, and Sex, Lies and Videotape) discusses his shaken faith in the power of film, what he has in common with Fidel Castro, and how nothing will ever be solved in the Middle East as long as monotheists are involved. You can read the full interview at

Bob Dylan Goes a Little Commercial

Stephen in the UK highlighted a piece in Guardian that will interest Bob Dylan fans. It begins:

Bob Dylan has given rare permission for his music to be used in a TV commercial.

Protest song Blowin’ in the Wind will be used to reinforce a message of change in a TV campaign for ethical banking and retail firm the Co-operative Group.

The song, a 1960s anthem for those disaffected with the establishment, is thought to be the first track Dylan has allowed to appear in a UK TV ad.

Blowin’ in the Wind is being used to underpin a multimillion-pound relaunch of the Co-operative Group’s image.

The TV campaign, which breaks next month, aims to showcase the company’s diverse interests from food, funerals and travel to pharmacies and financial services.

In response to all of this, Stephen adds: “The Co-op is ethical; The Co-op supports FairTrade; The Co-op is still a co-operative; They sure ain’t Victoria’s Secret.” Thanks Stephen.

Related Bob Dylan Content:

When Bob Dylan Went Electric: Newport, 1965

Bob Dylan & Johnny Cash Together in 1969: Free MP3s

Bob Dylan – Like A Rolling Stone 1966


The New Design and Your Feedback

open_culture_beigeAs you probably know, Open Culture launched a new look last week, and it seemed worth devoting a few words to it. With the new design, I was hoping to give the site a more inviting look and streamline the overall navigation. I was also hoping to make it clear that user contributions are always welcome. If you have tips on good media, send them our way. And if you ever want to write a guest blog post, please feel free to let me know what you have in mind. The more individual readers contribute, the more our community of readers benefits.

I definitely want to send a word of thanks to the folks at Rolling Orange, who handled all of the design and implementation. An excellent group to work with. Also, I want to thank Eric Oberle who has been very generous with his tech support since the beginning.

Lastly, this is a great time to ask you what you would like to see from Open Culture in the future. What should the site do more of? What should it do less of? What good things haven’t we thought about? Your input would be really appreciated. Feel free to send thoughts from the contact page, or add any thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks in advance to all…

Amazon Serves Up Free Music

An excellent find by Kottke: “Amazon has hundreds of free mp3s available for download, including tracks by Brian Eno & David Byrne, Ani Difranco, and Reverend Horton Heat.”

Update: A reader informs us that this is US only. My apologies to any readers outside the US.

Inaugural Poet Talks with Stephen Colbert

Elizabeth Alexander recited one of her own poems at Obama’s inauguration last week and now talks poetry (both highbrow and lowbrow) with Stephen Colbert. All in all, she does a pretty good job of hanging in there.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.