The Gates of Hell

Let me bring this to your attention. Erwan Bomstein-Erb, the founder and director of Canal Educatif in Paris, has released a documentary (in English) about  The Gates of Hell, a monumental project that Auguste Rodin worked on, not necessarily consistently, for 37 years. On its own, this video is worth your time. But you should also know that this is one of ten films about major artworks that Bomstein-Erb plans to produce in HD.  Canal Educatif is all about using the internet to provide global access to “cultural capital.” A goal that we can wholeheartedly support. This kind of philanthropic venture is hard to fund, especially during these difficult times. So Bomstein-Erb is looking for sponsors and partners to support his mission. If you would like to get in touch, you can drop him a line through Canal Educatif’s web site. Lastly, you should check out the Canal Educatif channel on YouTube. Good luck Erwan. 

Mike Wallace Interviews Ayn Rand (1959)

I’m no fan of Ayn Rand, but I found this footage intriguing. Back before 60 Minutes, Mike Wallace had his own TV interview show, The Mike Wallace Interview, which aired from 1957 to 1960. And what you get is Mike Wallace asking probing questions to celebrities of the day (and peddling cigarettes). An archive of the television series is hosted by The University of Texas, and features talks with Frank Lloyd Wright, Eleanor Roosevelt, Salvador Dali and many others. In the meantime, I leave you with Ayn Rand. You can get Part 2 here and Part 3 here.

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Rewind the Videotape: Mike Wallace Interviews 1950s Celebrities

A Closer Look at YouTube EDU

On Thursday, we announced the launch of YouTube EDU. Now, as promised, it’s time to give you some more details about the new university video hub.

I had a chance to chat with Obadiah Greenberg, a key Googler behind the launch. And he gave me some insight into the genesis of the project. As you can imagine, YouTube EDU wasn’t built overnight. It took about a year to move from concept to launch. The work was driven along by a team of five, and they did it using Google’s famous 20% time policy. That is, they each committed essentially one day per week to bringing this project to fruition.

What you’re seeing now is essentially version 1.0. Obadiah expects YouTube EDU to evolve over time, especially as his team gathers data and feedback that will inform future iterations. But, make no mistake, this initial product has accomplished quite a bit. It centralizes the video collections from over 100 universities/colleges. This amounts to over 20,000 individual videos and 200 complete courses. It also makes these collections much easier for new users to discover and sift through. Back in early 2007, before YouTube really started working with universities, I kvetched in a public radio interview that GooTube could do more to organize the world of intellectual video, and now I certainly have a lot less to complain about (although I do still see some important tweaks that could be made here and there).

The universities participating in YouTube EDU have also had an upbeat response. Both Scott Stocker (Director of Web Communications at Stanford) and Genevieve Haines (Director of Integrated Communications at UCLA) welcomed the idea that many new visitors will encounter their video collections. As Genevieve put it, it’s never a bad thing when the world’s top video sharing site makes a big commitment to university content. This move opens up many long range possibilities for educators and students, she says. But, over the short term, it guarantees that schools will learn more about how the wider public engages with their videos. By looking at traffic patterns and user comments left on YouTube, the university teams will find out whether there’s a real market for serious lectures and courses, or whether users prefer lighter fare, or some combination of the two. With this knowledge in hand, media strategies will be revised.

For Ben Hubbard, who manages the webcasting initiative at UC Berkeley, YouTube EDU offers another perk. He told me: “There are a lot of universities and other centers for learning engaged with their local communities on YouTube, but it hasn’t always been very easy to find them. YouTube EDU makes it much easier for us to locate our peer institutions, connect around common interests, and perhaps even engage with one another in a more meaningful and productive way to create (or make more rich) a community of best practices.”

But perhaps the biggest plus is reserved for you and me.  The Google team anticipates that the visibility of this project will open the floodgates, bringing many more universities to YouTube EDU in the coming months. This means that many more free lectures and courses will be coming online. A big plus for any reader of this blog. We’ll monitor all of this, and keep you posted as things move along …

New Mega Author Web Site Now Online

Noted by the LA Times:

Without permission or advance notice, FiledByAuthor has cataloged the information of about 1.8 million authors into individual pages. There are biographies, photos, links to purchase books from online retailers and links to share the author’s FiledBy page through a dizzying list of social networking sites. And everyone is there, from the novice self-published author to Stephenie Meyer.

The not so favorable LA Times piece continues here. Get the FiledByAuthor web site here.

Download New Bob Dylan (Free for the Next 24 Hours)

A heads up from Stephen:

Free mp3 of Behind Here Lies Nothin’ from Dylan’s new album available at until 5.00 a.m. tomorrow (Time zone?) Very good it sounds too. Shades of Ry Cooder. Wishful thinking maybe…

Thanks SG

John Hope Franklin on Obama

John Hope Franklin, a prolific historian who shaped our understanding of the African-American experience and influenced the Civil Rights movement, died last week at 94. He was the grandson of a slave, and knew the Jim Crow South firsthand. Above, we see him talking just last summer about the nomination of Barack Obama, and whether he ever thought he’d live to see this day.


Art Inspired Poetry

An FYI for art and poetry lovers: “Each month, TATE ETC. publishes new poetry by leading poets such as John Burnside, Moniza Alvi, Adam Thorpe, Alice Oswald and David Harsent who respond to works from the Tate Collection. (Subscribe to the Poem of the Month RSS feed.) This March Roger McGough presents his poem, Cadeau, based on Man Ray’s work of the same name.” Find the art and poem here.

Prague’s Franz Kafka International Named World’s Most Alienating Airport

A funny little piece from The Onion. Thanks to JB for sending this along. Keep sending us good items @openculture on Twitter, or via email at

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