The Beatles Talk Before the Fall

Flash­back to 1966. The Bea­t­les hold a press con­fer­ence in LA, on the eve of their very last live con­cert. As you’ll see, the ques­tions range from the friv­o­lous (“What do you think of Amer­i­can wom­en’s legs?”) to the more seri­ous (“Do you real­ly think you’re more pop­u­lar than God?” Or, “What would hap­pen if you came to an event with­out an armored truck and with­out police?”). A brief glimpse into a day in the life of a Bea­t­le. Part 1 is above. Part 2 is here. And Part 3, here.

Will Sony Beat Amazon Where It Counts?

sonyreaderIf you haven’t heard the news… Sony is releas­ing a new e‑book read­er, its answer to Ama­zon’s Kin­dle. Retail­ing at $399, the Sony read­er will fea­ture a touch screen (some­thing the Kin­dle does­n’t have) and the abil­i­ty to down­load books wire­less­ly (some­thing the Kin­dle does have). It will also pro­vide access to thou­sands of free (pub­lic domain) books & doc­u­ments pro­vid­ed by Google Book Search. A nice touch.

But I’m won­der­ing whether the Sony read­er will beat the Kin­dle in the one cat­e­go­ry that real­ly counts? Will it have a tru­ly read­able screen? The Sony and Ama­zon screens each use “e‑ink” tech­nol­o­gy, which does­n’t cut the mus­tard. As Nichol­son Bak­er recent­ly wrote in The New York­er, “The prob­lem was not that the screen was in black-and-white; if it had real­ly been black-and-white, that would have been fine. The prob­lem was that the screen was gray. And it wasn’t just gray; it was a green­ish, sick­ly gray. A post­mortem gray. The resiz­able type­face, Mono­type Cae­cil­ia, appeared as a dark­er gray. Dark gray on paler green­ish gray was the palette of the Ama­zon Kin­dle.”

Hope­ful­ly Sony fig­ures this piece out. If not, Apple may. Accord­ing to The Wall Street Jour­nal, Steve Jobs is back at Apple, just months after his liv­er trans­plant, work­ing hard and rais­ing the blood pres­sure of Apple employ­ees, as they pre­pare to roll out a mul­ti­me­dia tablet that’s rumored to include, yes, an e‑book read­er.

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Google Knol Prediction Revisited

Back in Decem­ber 2007, I made a bet against Google Knol, the search giant’s answer to Wikipedia. In a fair­ly involved piece, I list­ed three rea­sons why Knol would­n’t upend Wikipedia. Now fast for­ward 18+ months: Tech Crunch has report­ed that Knol’s traf­fic is trend­ing down. It peaked in Feb­ru­ary at around 320,000 vis­i­tors per month, accord­ing to Quant­cast esti­mates. Now it’s at around 174,000. (See the graph here.) The bot­tom line? You can’t win at every­thing. But for­tu­nate­ly there’s some good new things com­ing out of Google, and we’ll be men­tion­ing them in the com­ing days.

PS In case you did­n’t hear, Wikipedia is start­ing to put edi­to­r­i­al restric­tions on cer­tain entries. The lais­sez-faire days are com­ing to an end.

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We Are as Gods

Between 1968 and 1972, Stew­art Brand pub­lished The Whole Earth Cat­a­log. For Steve Jobs, it was a “Bible” of his gen­er­a­tion, a kind of Google 35 years before Google came along (see the excel­lent com­mence­ment speech where Jobs makes these com­ments.) More recent­ly, Brand found­ed The Long Now Foun­da­tion, which is all about cul­ti­vat­ing “slower/better” think­ing instead of the “faster/cheaper” mind­set that dom­i­nates our day. (You can get The Long Now pod­cast here: iTunesFeed — Web Site.  It’s also in our Ideas & Cul­ture Audio Col­lec­tion.) Brand is good at look­ing thought­ful­ly into the future, and above he takes a long-range view on our glob­al cli­mate prob­lems. The upshot is that “we are as gods” and we had bet­ter get good at it. If you watch, you’ll see what I’m talk­ing about. This video orig­i­nal­ly comes from the EDGE.org.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Whole Earth Cat­a­log Now Online

Bet­ter Think­ing Through Pod­casts

Is OpenCourseWare Hitting the Mainstream?

A quick news break: Time.com has released today a new list, “The 50 Best Web Sites of 2009,” and right along­side some well known brands, you’ll find Aca­d­e­m­ic Earth, a new ven­ture that aggre­gates high qual­i­ty uni­ver­si­ty video. Essen­tial­ly, Aca­d­e­m­ic Earth pulls togeth­er videos from top-notch uni­ver­si­ties and lets users watch them with a very user-friend­ly inter­face. And that’s why we’ve pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured them in our pop­u­lar col­lec­tion: Intel­li­gent Video: The Top Cul­tur­al & Edu­ca­tion­al Video Sites. Is open course­ware final­ly hit­ting the main­stream? It seems so. Con­grats, Richard!

For more uni­ver­si­ty course­ware, check out our large col­lec­tion, Free Lec­tures & Cours­es from Great Uni­ver­si­ties. Or get this uni­ver­si­ty con­tent via our free iPhone app.

David Sedaris Guest DJ’s

These days, David Sedaris is the think­ing per­son­’s favorite fun­ny man. In the past, we have fea­tured his live read­ings of com­ic mate­r­i­al from When You are Engulfed in Flames. (See “Relat­ed Con­tent” below.) Today, we’re high­light­ing some­thing a lit­tle dif­fer­ent. On August 19th, Sedaris appeared as a guest DJ on KCRW, a radio sta­tion in Los Ange­les, and spun his favorite old records. You can lis­ten with the play­er below or here. Mean­while, if you want to hear more of KCR­W’s Guest DJ Project (which has fea­tured David Lynch, Jim­my Wales, and oth­er cul­tur­al icons), you can get the pod­cast here:  iTunesFeedWeb Site.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Sedaris Reads “Solu­tion to Saturday’s Puz­zle”

David Sedaris Reads “Of Mice and Men”

Helen Keller Captured on Video

You’ve all heard about Helen Keller and her teacher Annie Sul­li­van. Now, thanks to this vin­tage footage from the 1930s, you can see Keller in the flesh and dis­cov­er how she learned to talk (then  even­tu­al­ly became an author, lec­tur­er, and cham­pi­on of many pro­gres­sive caus­es). It’s worth watch­ing, par­tic­u­lar­ly through the stir­ring fin­ish. We’ve added this clip to our YouTube Favorites.

via Boing Boing

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Good “Reads” On Audible (with Freebie Possibilities)

paul_austerA quick note: Audi­ble has recent­ly launched a series called the Audi­ble Mod­ern Van­guard (more details here) that brings ground­break­ing works and authors into unabridged audio for the first time. Here, you’ll find works by Paul Auster (one of my faves), Saul Bel­low, John Cheev­er, John Irv­ing, Kurt Von­negut, and William Kennedy.

There are some good “reads” here, and, unless I’m mis­tak­en, there’s a way that you can down­load one for free. I’ve cre­at­ed a page where you can get infor­ma­tion on Audi­ble’s (no strings attached) 14 day tri­al here, which gives you a com­plete­ly free down­load of any audio book you choose.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.