iTunes U Introduces Free eBooks: Download Shakespeare’s Complete Works

Per­haps you’re accus­tomed to down­load­ing free lec­tures and cours­es on iTunes U. Now, you have a new option. Last week, Apple began intro­duc­ing free eBooks to its media col­lec­tion. And, to kick things off, they’re giv­ing users access to 18 free text­books spon­sored by Con­nex­ions (a Rice Uni­ver­si­ty project); a series of 100 ebooks pro­duced by the Open Uni­ver­si­ty, and then, cour­tesy of Oxford Uni­ver­si­ty, the com­plete col­lec­tion of Shake­speare’s plays from the First Folio of 1623.  You can down­load all of these texts in the open ePub for­mat. And if you have an iPad (or an iPhone with a copy of iBooks), they eas­i­ly sync to the device, and make for a great read­ing expe­ri­ence. But you’re not nec­es­sar­i­ly lim­it­ed to using the iPad. I was able to read the texts in ebook read­ers cre­at­ed by Stan­za and Barnes & Noble (the mak­er of the new col­or Nook). And, using this free online ser­vice and then fol­low­ing these gen­er­al direc­tions, I eas­i­ly con­vert­ed the ePub files to Ama­zon’s .mobi for­mat and uploaded them to my Kin­dle. The bot­tom line? You can expect iTunes U to become a handy resource for free ebooks as the ser­vice matures – one best suit­ed to the iPad, but cer­tain­ly not lim­it­ed to it. And, speak­ing of the iPad, you should give this sto­ry a read. “IPad Opens World to a Dis­abled Boy.” It’s a great way to start the week…

Note: If you want a sim­ple html ver­sion of Shake­speare’s col­lect­ed works, don’t miss MIT’s invalu­able web site.

FYI. You can find more free eBooks in our ever-grow­ing col­lec­tion, 600 Free eBooks for iPad, Kin­dle & Oth­er Devices.

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“A Haunted House” by Virginia Woolf

Pub­lished first in 1921, then again in 1944, Vir­ginia Woolf’s short sto­ry, “A Haunt­ed House,” runs a mere 692 words – which makes it a Hal­loween treat that is short and sweet. We give you an appro­pri­ate­ly somber read­ing of Woolf’s sto­ry above, with the accom­pa­ny­ing text here. Or you can find an mp3 ver­sion in our col­lec­tion of Free Audio Books. H/T to Mike, and enjoy the day.

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The Milky Way over Texas

This 45 sec­ond time­lapse video of the “Galac­tic Cen­ter of the Milky Way” ris­ing over Texas Star Par­ty (2009) just gets more spec­tac­u­lar as it rolls along. William Castle­man cre­at­ed this sequence using a Canon EOS-5D, with expo­sures at 20 and 40 sec­ond inter­vals. This com­ple­ments nice­ly Stéphane Guis­ard’s panoram­ic view of the Milky Way tak­en from the Ata­ca­ma desert in Chile. See the The Milky Way in 360 Degrees here.

Find us on Face­book and Twit­ter!

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Introduction to Computer Science & Programming: Free Courses

Nowa­days, any well-round­ed stu­dent must learn to mas­ter read­ing, writ­ing and math. And then add some­thing new to the mix: learn­ing to code. If you did­n’t learn to pro­gram soft­ware in school, not to wor­ry. Free mate­ri­als abound on the web, and we have made them easy to find. Above, you can start watch­ing the first lec­ture of an MIT course (Intro­duc­tion to Com­put­er Sci­ence and Pro­gram­ming) that assumes no spe­cial knowl­edge of pro­gram­ming, and it sets out to teach you to think like a com­put­er sci­en­tist. (Find the full set of lec­tures on YouTube, iTunes and MIT’s web­site.) Or alter­na­tive­ly, you can spend time with anoth­er course – Inten­sive Intro­duc­tion to Com­put­er Sci­ence Using C, PHP, and JavaScript – taught by David Malan at Har­vard Exten­sion. (Get it in mul­ti­ple for­mats here.) And then don’t for­get that Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty offers sev­er­al intro­duc­to­ry cours­es, all found under the Stan­ford Engi­neer­ing Every­where umbrel­la.

Once you have a good foun­da­tion in place, you can move in a vari­ety of direc­tions. With­in our col­lec­tion of Free Online Cours­es, we have list­ed 27 com­put­er sci­ence cours­es where you can learn all about oper­at­ing sys­tems, com­put­er graph­ics, arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence, build­ing web sites, design­ing iPhone apps and beyond. The cours­es are all free. They’re avail­able 24/7 on the web. You can get going any time…

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Take Stan­ford Com­put­er Sci­ence Cours­es This Fall: Free World­wide

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So You Want to Get a PhD in the Humanities?

So if you want the full case against get­ting a PhD in the human­i­ties, here you go. Every argu­ment the dis­il­lu­sioned aca­d­e­m­ic can pos­si­bly make now packed into one semi-com­ic video. If you’re in the human­i­ties, the litany of com­plaints, whether fair or not, will hard­ly be unfa­mil­iar to you.

Now on a more seri­ous note … Towards the end, the video ref­er­ences SUNY Albany’s recent deci­sion to shut­ter its French, Ital­ian, clas­sics, Russ­ian and the­ater pro­grams. That event that trig­gered a much-dis­cussed series of arti­cles by Stan­ley Fish in The New York Times. If you’re look­ing for some­thing that oper­ates on a slight­ly high­er intel­lec­tu­al plane, you might want to spend some time with “The Cri­sis of the Human­i­ties Offi­cial­ly Arrives: Part 1 and Part 2.” Also don’t miss some of the read­er com­ments. They bring a lot to the dis­cus­sion. Thanks Jason for send­ing our way…

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Illus­trat­ed Guide to the PhD

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Open Culture Goes Mobile: Your Feedback Requested

A quick note for our read­ers: This week, we soft launched a new mobile web site for Open Cul­ture – one designed to give our read­ers the abil­i­ty to access Open Cul­ture con­tent with far greater ease on their smart­phones. If you have an iPhone, iPod Touch, Android phone (or any phone with an advanced web brows­er), you should be able to read our posts, watch videos, and lis­ten to audio much more clean­ly, no mat­ter where you are. Sim­ply pick up your phone, vis­it any page on, and you will see what I mean.

This mobile site is still in “beta.” So if you expe­ri­ence any prob­lems, or have any feed­back, please send it our way. We want your input. And, if you don’t pre­fer the mobile site, you can always turn it off. Just scroll to the bot­tom of the mobile page and click “Switch to Stan­dard View.”

Final­ly, as you can imag­ine, this project required some time and expense. If you can com­fort­ably afford it, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion via Pay­Pal to sup­port this ini­tia­tive and oth­ers like it. And if you can’t swing it, that’s a‑okay. Maybe just tell a friend about the site (or about our Free iPhone app) and oth­er­wise enjoy the ride.

Thanks for any feed­back you might have, and hope you enjoy the mobile ver­sion of Open Cul­ture.

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Stephen Fry Gets Animated about Language

For a brief time in 2008, Stephen Fry, the pop­u­lar British author, writer and come­di­an, pro­duced a series of pod­casts – called “Pod­grams” – that drew on his writ­ings, speech­es and col­lec­tive thoughts. (Find them on RSS and iTunes here). Dur­ing one par­tic­u­lar episode, Fry med­i­tat­ed on lan­guage (the Eng­lish lan­guage & his own lan­guage) and a lit­tle on Barthes, Chom­sky, Pinker and even Eddie Izzard. Then Matthew Rogers took that med­i­ta­tion and ran with it, pro­duc­ing a “kinet­ic typog­ra­phy ani­ma­tion” that art­ful­ly illus­trates a six minute seg­ment of the longer talk. Watch it above, and if you’re cap­ti­vat­ed by what Fry has to say, don’t miss his pop­u­lar video, What I Wish I Had Known When I Was 18.

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The Best American Science Writing 2010: Free Essays

Jerome Groop­man, the New York­er staff writer and Har­vard med school prof, has edit­ed The Best Amer­i­can Sci­ence Writ­ing 2010 - a new col­lec­tion that brings togeth­er “the most cru­cial, thought-pro­vok­ing, and engag­ing sci­ence writ­ing” dur­ing the past 12 months. The 368 page book runs $10.19 online. But before you run out and buy it, let me say this: you can read many of the col­lect­ed essays online for free. The Truth About Grit by Jon­ah Lehrer; My Genome, My Self by Steven Pinker; Are We Still Evolv­ing? by Kath­leen McAu­li­ffe – they’re among 16 essays avail­able online, and they’re all includ­ed in a handy list pulled togeth­er by Metafil­ter. Mean­while, if you want to read these essays lat­er on (when you have some time to delve into longer arti­cles) give Instapa­per a try. As I’ve men­tioned before, it’s a great way to read texts in a clean for­mat on the iPad, iPhone, and Kin­dle.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.