New Magazine & Video Archives Coming Online

Lots of new archives have been coming online lately. So, why not give them a quick mention.

CSPAN: This week, the American cable network finally completed the digitization of its vast video archive. What does that mean for you? It means you can access online every C-SPAN program aired since 1987. 160,000 hours of video in total, covering 23 years of American political history. The Times has more on this story.

Popular Science: Thanks to Google, you can now freely access a 137-year archive  of Popular Science. As PopSci, founded in 1872, writes, “Each issue appears just as it did at its original time of publication, complete with period advertisements. It’s an amazing resource that beautifully encapsulates our ongoing fascination with the future, and science and technology’s incredible potential to improve our lives.” If you spend some time with Brain Picking’s recent post, you’ll see why the PopSci archive holds so much interest. As a side note, you can also find a vast archive of Popular Mechanics via Google Books. Just click here and, as Wired put it, “let the nerdgasmic loss of productivity commence.”

Spin Magazine: Google Books has also added to its virtual magazine shelf every issue of Spin, the music magazine Bob Guccione Jr. founded in 1985. As BoingBoing mentions today, it’s interesting to see “how awfully dated the design of the magazine is.”

Salman Rushdie: Now this isn’t a publicly available archive, but it’s worth knowing about. Archivists at Emory have been working with the digital assets of Salman Rushdie and developing a new field — “digital archaeology” — that will help scholars preserve and methodically study the digital remains (text documents, emails, browser logs and files) of writers and artists. You can watch Rushdie talk about the project, its challenges and benefits. (There’s another clip of him speaking here.) Then you have the archivists themselves talking about how they’re preserving Rushdie’s literary remains, down to the yellow sticky notes he attached to his computer. (Note: The Times has a piece on this project this week.)

The End of Attribution?

A couple of days ago, we featured a video posted on Penguin’s YouTube Channel that used a smart video technique to restore faith in the future of book publishing. A couple of our readers were quick to point out that the video’s creative element was highly similar to an award-winning video called “Lost Generation”. (See above.) And yet there was no attribution. A problem? Particularly for an entity in the intellectual property/copyright business?

UPDATE: Tonight, another reader tells us that “Lost Generation” has its own origins in a 2006 advertisement for Argentinian presidential candidate Ricardo Lopez Murphy called “The Truth.” Does this make this style of video a meme of sorts? A style that’s so out there that attribution is not worth a bother? Perhaps I’m holding Penguin’s feet too close to the fire on this one. Perhaps (as, Maria, a blogger colleague mentions via email) this highlights a bigger problem. Too much derivation. Not enough original thinking all around.

The Uniqueness of Humans

Robert Sapolsky  — one of the world’s leading neurobiologists, a MacArthur Fellow, Stanford professor, and author of Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers — breaks down an intriguing question. Precisely in what ways are we (humans) different from other animals inhabiting our world? The differences are fewer than we think. But there are some, and they’ll make you sometimes uncomfortable, sometimes a little more confident in humanity, and sometimes motivated to change the world, even in these cynical times. The inspiration happens during the last minute. So stay with this engaging talk until the very last.

via TED’s Best of the Web

The End of Publishing. Or Is It?

Smart and hopeful. But you need to stick with it for a couple of minutes. A job well done…

Einstein in 60 Seconds (or 40 Hours)

BigThink asked Dr. Michio Kaku to sum up Einstein’s legacy in a nutshell. Above, you get his attempt in a quick minute. Obviously, this is just beginning to scratch the surface, and knowing you, you want to go deeper. So here you go: Leonard Susskind, a world famous physicist, offered a series of six courses for Stanford Continuing Studies, which traced the arc of modern physics. It goes from Newton to Black Holes. Naturally a tour of modern physics wouldn’t be complete without spending a good amount of time on Einstein, and that’s what Susskind does. One course (runs about 20 hours) is dedicated to Special Relativity (iTunes – YouTube) and the other focuses exclusively on Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity (iTunes – YouTube). This series of courses (all permanently found in the Physics section of our Free Online Course collection) has been enjoyed by viewers across the world, and we (at Stanford) have recently shipped CDs of the course to remote places with minimal bandwidth, including Nepal and Afghanistan. For more on how to learn physics online (for free, of course), see our post: Modern Physics: A Complete Introduction.

Tony Judt, Leading Public Intellectual, Confronts ALS

During the past decade, Tony Judt emerged as one of America’s leading public intellectuals. He’s combative, often controversial (especially when talking about Israel), and sometimes disliked. But he’s taken seriously. And many have had nothing but sheer praise for his master work, Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945. The NYU historian had built up a career that many envied. But then things started going wrong … physically, not intellectually. In 2008, Judt was diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. And he made his diagnosis widely known earlier this year, when he published an essay, “Night,” in The New York Review of Books. The article is short, but it brings you right inside his daily experience. He writes:

During the day I can at least request a scratch, an adjustment, a drink, or simply a gratuitous re-placement of my limbs—since enforced stillness for hours on end is not only physically uncomfortable but psychologically close to intolerable. It is not as though you lose the desire to stretch, to bend, to stand or lie or run or even exercise. But when the urge comes over you there is nothing—nothing—that you can do except seek some tiny substitute or else find a way to suppress the thought and the accompanying muscle memory.

But then comes the night. … If I allow a stray limb to be mis-placed, or fail to insist on having my midriff carefully aligned with legs and head, I shall suffer the agonies of the damned later in the night. I am then covered, my hands placed outside the blanket to afford me the illusion of mobility but wrapped nonetheless since—like the rest of me—they now suffer from a permanent sensation of cold. I am offered a final scratch on any of a dozen itchy spots from hairline to toe; the Bi-Pap breathing device in my nose is adjusted to a necessarily uncomfortable level of tightness to ensure that it does not slip in the night; my glasses are removed…and there I lie: trussed, myopic, and motionless like a modern-day mummy, alone in my corporeal prison, accompanied for the rest of the night only by my thoughts.

This experience hasn’t slowed down Judt a bit. In fact, quite the opposite, Judt has been ramping up his publications, proving even more prolific than before. (His latest book, Ill Fares the Land, will be published this week.) Judt’s battle with ALS and his sense of intellectual urgency get discussed in the latest edition of New York Magazine. It’s a piece well worth reading. So also is the large profile that ran in The Chronicle of Higher Education in January. Above we feature an interview with Judt posted by The Guardian.

Julius Caesar Gets Clipped 2054 Years Ago Today

March 15th. It translates to the Ides of March on the Roman Calendar. And it’s the date when Julius Caesar was famously assassinated in 44 B.C. To mark the occasion (today is the Ides of March), we bring you a dramatic, six-minute clip of the assassination scene from the film version of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, directed by Joseph Mankiewicz in 1953. The scene features Louis Calhern as Caesar, John Gielgud as Cassius and James Mason as Brutus.  The film also stars Marlon Brando as Mark Antony, but we only get a fleeting glimpse of him in this scene as the plotters contrive to separate him from Caesar.

Note: You can download a free audio version of Shakespeare’s play thanks to Librivox, or get a free etext here. And if you have an iPhone, feel free to download a free app that includes all of Shakespeare plays.

Mike, one of our faithful readers, gets all of the cred for this one! Many thanks.

The Greatest Film Scenes Ever Shot

This weekend, The Guardian film critic and select filmmakers listed their favorite movie scenes of all time. It starts with the iconic shower scene from Hitchcock’s Psycho (above). No surprise there. And then what? The very long car chase from The French Connection, Robet DeNiro’s talking to the mirror scene in Taxi Driver, the memorable last minutes of 2001: A Space Odyssey, the fighting skeletons in Jason and the Argonauts, Brian DePalma’s “blood at the prom” scene in Carrie, and some other memorable ones.

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