Tweets of the Week – February 20

A quick wrap up of the cultural items we tweeted and re-tweeted this week via our Twitter stream. You can start following us here: @openculture

Google Lit Trips

For three years, English teacher Jerome Burg has been using Google Earth to teach literature. Each “Lit Trip” involves mapping the movements of characters over a plot’s timeline and providing excerpts, pictures, and links at each location. I found a lit trip for one of my favorite novels, Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, which involves a lot of movement across the old West. McCarthy himself is said to have spent years tracing these paths and studying locations in preparation for writing the novel. You’ll find a complete list of lit trips here, including such classics as MacbethPortrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and The Odyssey. It’s difficult to get a sense of the fantastic effect of visually unpacking a plot without downloading a lit trip and trying it within Google Earth (download here). But here’s a video of a lit trip for Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey. It will give you a quick taste of the lit trip experience:

Finally, you can find a two-part video introduction to Lit Trips by Kate Reavey, a professor at Peninsula College, here and here.

Wes Alwan lives in Boston, Massachusetts, where he works as a writer and researcher and attends the Institute for the Study of Psychoanalysis and Culture. He also participates in The Partially Examined Life, a podcast consisting of informal discussions about philosophical texts by three philosophy graduate school dropouts.

The Stanford Mini Med School: Visit the Web Site

Back in January, we gave you a heads up about a new course available online: The Stanford Mini Med School. Now it’s time for a quick update: the Stanford School of Medicine has launched a handsome web site that conveniently centralizes the video lectures in one place. 10 lectures (from the Fall term) now appear. Eventually, another 20 lectures will get posted. You can start watching here.

For more courses, visit this big list of Free Online Courses from top universities.

Bill Gates on Energy: Innovating to Zero!

The major TED conference wrapped up late last week. And now the videos start to roll out. Above Bill Gates (to quote TED) “unveils his vision for the world’s energy future, describing the need for miracles to avoid planetary catastrophe and explaining why he’s backing a dramatically different type of nuclear reactor. The necessary goal? Zero carbon emissions globally by 2050.”

Werner Herzog Reads Curious George

Ok, it’s not really Werner Herzog. Just a little playful satire. A guess at how the German director might reinterpret/read the children’s classic Curious George. This version is dark and existential.

via Abe Books

The Science/Liberty Nexus

You can’t get good democracy without science, and you can’t get good science without democracy. That’s why great political and scientific revolutions have historically gone hand-in-hand. It’s an intriguing argument that Timothy Ferris (UC Berkeley) makes in his new book, The Science of Liberty, and debates in an interview with Michael Krasny, aired last week on KQED in San Francisco. You can stream the interview below, or access it via mp3 or iTunes.

Deep Thinking on the Web

This morning, a New York Times editorial is helping get the word out. Deep thinking is alive and well on the web:

There is a lot of talk about how the Internet is driving culture ever lower, but it also makes a wealth of serious thinking available. From the comfort of home, one can download free audio books by authors like Jane Austen and Joseph Conrad and free podcasts of university lectures ( has an assortment of both).

The rest of the piece rightly focuses on a BBC podcast called In Our Time (iTunesFeed – Web Site). It’s listed in our Ideas & Culture Podcast Collection, along with many other thoughtful programs that make meaningful subjects relevant to a broader, global audience. (For something similar in video, see our collections of Intelligent Video Sites and Smart YouTube Channels.)

Yes, intelligent media doesn’t dominate the web. But, it’s flourishing in the niches and crevices, and we want to bring it to the surface. Perhaps you’ll want to join us? If you’re interested in contributing to Open Culture, we’re always looking for your suggestions. I have put together a page that outlines our editorial approach. Take a look, and if you find great pieces of intelligent media while surfing the web, please send them our way. We thank you in advance.

Carl Sandburg on “What’s My Line?”

What’s My Line? aired on CBS from 1950 to 1967, making it the longest-running game show in American television history. During its eighteen seasons, the show featured hundreds of celebrities, including some of America’s leading cultural figures. The clip above dusts off the 1960 appearance made by Carl Sandburg, the poet, writer, and three time winner of the Pulitzer Prize. And now for a video that’s not all fun and games: a virtual movie of Sandburg reading his antiwar poem Grass. (You can also get more free audio recordings of Sandburg’s poetry over at the Internet Archive.)

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