John Hodgman@Google

He appears in the well-known Mac v. PC commercials, on The Daily Show and occasionally on This American Life. John Hodgman is kind of everywhere these days, and now, promoting his new book, More Information Than You Require, he hits the stage at Google and gives the crowd an offbeat hour talk.

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The British Slant on the Mac v Pc Ads

Where Do You Go for Intelligent Video?

Folks, it’s time for a new group project. Last year, I asked you to tell us about your Life-Changing Books, and we pulled together an excellent list that many readers have enjoyed. Now we want to know: where do you go for intelligent video? If you list the sites that you like best — TED, Fora.TV, YouTube EDU, SnagFilms, Academic Earth, etc. — we’ll pull together a big list and present it next week. My hope is that the list will include some well-known names and some less well-known names. If there’s a site where you find intelligent video, we want want to know about, and your fellow readers will thank you for it. Feel free to email me your picks at, or write them in the comments below. Thanks all!

Christopher Hitchens Gets Waterboarded

If you’re wondering what the much-discussed waterboarding experience is all about, you can watch it in real time. Above, the public intellectual, Christopher Hitchens, goes through the real deal. Although often known for taking left-wing positions, Hitchens supported aggressive action in the Middle East and particularly the war in Iraq. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a rounded response, you can also watch a conservative radio show host endure the “enhanced interrogation technique” as well.

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The Infinite Jest Summer Challenge

When I develop the curriculum for Stanford’s Continuing Studies program, I often like to create courses around big, hard books that students have long intended to read, but have never quite pulled off: James Joyce’s Ulysess, Plato’s Republic, Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, you get the picture. For many students, it takes a course, or something equivalent, to provide the structure and encouragement to get through a truly major work.  A more modern example is Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace’s 1100 page sprawling novel, which TIME Magazine included on its list of all-time 100 novels. To help you work through the novel, a web site called Infinite Summer has invited readers to tackle the novel with other readers starting on June 21. Here’s the basic invitation:

You’ve been meaning to do it for over a decade. Now join endurance bibliophiles from around the web as we tackle and comment upon David Foster Wallace’s masterwork, June 21st to September 22nd. A thousand pages1 ÷ 93 days = 75 pages a week. No sweat. 

Return to this site on June 1st for full details. In the meanwhile, buy or borrow a copy of the novel, follow us on Twitter (#infsum), join the Facebook group, and clear your literary schedule for the foreseeable future.

If I can wrap up Brothers Karamazov (my current read) by then, I’ll give it a go. In the meantime, you should definitely give this some thought. Also, as a quick aside, you may know that David Foster Wallace tragically committed suicide last year. To learn more about DFW, his writing career, and spiral into depression, give this piece in The New Yorker a read.

The Art of Trashing the Classics

From the Freakonomics blog:

We’ve written before about the occasional hyper-critical comments on certain blogs, but such comments are like valentines compared to what some customers heap upon The Rolling Stones, The GodfatherThe Diary of Anne Frank, and other standards. The Cynical-C blog lists the most caustic of these every day.

Listen to 1800 Free Audio Books on Your iPhone

The iPhone just got a bit smarter. Thanks to this new, free app, you can listen to 1800 free audio books on your Apple device. The app lets you listen to public domain audio books from the great Librivox (whose works, read by volunteers, also appear in our Free Audio Books collection). The ad-supported software is straightforward and easy to use. The only real downside is that you’ll need access to Wi-Fi to download the books. (I couldn’t get things to work on Edge). But that’s not a huge imposition. You can download an entire book in no time, and then simply take it to go. Check it out. Get some Dickens, Twain or Tolstoy. And let us know your thoughts. 

P.S. If  you start a 14 day free trial with Audible, you can download two free audio books. This will give you access to many current bestsellers (Malcolm Gladwell, David Sedaris, Barack Obama, etc.). Whether you stick with the membership (as I did), or cancel, you can keep the free books. Get more details here.

Stanford and iTunes Offer 30 Free Songs

From Stanford’s Facebook Page:

Thanks so much for becoming a Fan of Stanford University on Facebook! As a small token of our appreciation, we’ve teamed up with the iTunes team to bring you a special summer mix with 30 free songs. Download at (US residents only).

While we’re talking Facebook, you can become an Open Culture Fan on FB here and also find us on Twitter (@openculture)

Technology Is Amazing, Nobody Is Happy…

A good clip that comes from Alec Couros’s 80+ Videos for Tech & Media Literacy. It features comedian Louis C.K. offering his funny thoughts on how our generation handles new technology. We’ve added it to our YouTube Favorites.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.