Now making its way around the internets, a little semi-vintage clip of Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric, then hosts of The Today Show, trying to sort out the new, new thing called “The Internet.” This bit was recorded on January 24, 1994, just months before Justin Bieber came into the world and Kurt Cobain exited stage left…
Kevin Kelly, the co-founder of Wired magazine and former editor/publisher of the Whole Earth Catalog (now free online), published a new book this past October: What Technology Wants. Reviewing his own book on BoingBoing, Kelly summarizes a few key points. “Technology is the most powerful force on the planet.” In fact, humanity is a tool itself, and, like all living things, technology evolves, demonstrating certain unconscious “urges” and “wants” in the process. Technology cannot be held back. But we can try to optimize its benefits for human culture, even while potentially trying to limit the amount of technology in our own lives. It’s a heady book, and, perhaps fittingly, Kevin Kelly pulled through Google in November and distilled his new theory of technology in a 40 minute talk. Watch it above…
François Truffaut once called Werner Herzog the single most important director on the planet, and TIME magazine (with Rogert Ebert writing the related article) ranked Herzog as one of the 100 most influential people alive today. Last April, Herzog, a “romantic visionary” of the New German Cinema movement, visited the UC Santa Barbara campus where he spent roughly two hours in conversation with the author and essayist, Pico Iyer. The video above skips over two introductions, including one by Iyer himself. So if you’re looking for more context, you can always rewind to the very beginning… H/T to @eacion and via Film Studies for Free.
A WEEK AGO, we launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $10,000 to help us create 100 more videos for Smarthistory.org, the Webby-award winning art history open educational resource (OER). It was a great week thanks to our amazing community of supporters, and although we’ve raised nearly 50% of our goal, we need to keep this momentum going and would be extremely grateful for your support. These additional videos will make Smarthistory a truly viable, free alternative to the traditional and very expensive art history textbook. If you haven’t watched the video, or looked at our page on Kickstarter, take a moment to do that—it explains everything.
The OER community has has turned its focus to the question of sustainability, how often costly projects, can be sustained for the long term. Smarthistory.org was designed to be sustainable and to have minimal ongoing costs from the outset; our back-end uses MODx, an open-source content management system, and all of our content comes from voluntarily contributions. Last week, Philipp Schmidt, of Peer to Peer University, wrote a blog post about the possibilities of using Kickstarter to help support the OER and OCW (open courseware) communities. It will be interesting to see if Kickstarter is a viable means of support for open education initiatives like Smarthistory.
From inception, we have sought to be a synthetic resource that pushes beyond institutional boundaries—in terms of the collections we draw from, our academic contributors, and the students we serve. It’s worth noting that, in addition to being a means to raise funds, Kickstarter is also a measure of our project’s value for others. For us there is an important paradox, however, since the bulk of the people we serve—college students—are perhaps the least likely to support us with donations, and are less likely to have the financial means to do so. So far, the bulk of our donations have come from faculty, informal users, the OER and education/technology community, and our supporters.
In 2010, Smarthistory.org was visited more than half a million times by visitors from more than 150 countries. Nearly one hundred universities, libraries and museums now recommend Smarthistory and instructors are increasingly adopting it in place of the expensive textbook. The question is, can we transform this user base into a donor base. Please help us turn this goal into a reality (contribute here) and spread the word about Kickstarter. Maybe crowdsourced funding can offer a real alternative for open initiatives.
Just a quick note: Earlier this week, we posted a list of 25 Free John Wayne Westerns. Now comes a list of Free Alfred Hitchcock films. We have 15 Hitchcock films in total, most shot during the early stages of his career – that is, during the 1920s and 30s. And, on the list, you will find several well known classics, including The Lodger, one of Hitchcock’s great silent films; Blackmail, Hitchcock’s first “talking” or sound film; The 39 Steps, a thriller that became an early commercial and critical hit; and The Man Who Knew Too Much, a film that Hitchcock later remade for an American audience with Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day. These classics and eleven other films appear in the Free Hitchcock collection. Enjoy …
Some congratulations are in order for a team of students from The University of New South Wales. Earlier this month, they set a world record for the fastest solar-powered car. Their car, traveling 88km/h (or 54 miles per hour), broke the previous record of 79 km/h. We’re not talking about NASCAR speeds, to be sure. But the research that went into making the UNSW car could mean big things for future generations of green-powered cars. Wired has more on the story, plus some photos…
Note: If you’re looking for some resources that explain what’s happening in Egypt, you might want to visit these resources here and here. Both come at the recommendation of Jad Abumrad, the host of Radio Lab.
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