Arthur C. Clarke Predicts the Internet & PC in 1974

In 1974, the futurist/science fic­tion writer Arthur C. Clarke described for Jonathan, a lit­tle boy about five years old, what his life will look like in 2001. And boy did he get it right. Of course, these thoughts weren’t par­tic­u­lar­ly new for Clarke. A decade ear­li­er, in 1964, he pre­dict­ed pret­ty much the same thing.

The video above comes cour­tesy of the Aus­tralian Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion (ABC). H/T @CreativeCommons

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Futur­ist Arthur C. Clarke on Mandelbrot’s Frac­tals

30 Renowned Writ­ers Speak­ing About God & Rea­son

Free Sci­ence Fic­tion Clas­sics on the Web: Hux­ley, Orwell, Asi­mov, Gaiman & Beyond


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Making Paper in L.A., Pianos in Paris: Old Craftsmen Hanging on in a Changing World

In a world of accel­er­at­ing obso­les­cence, of plas­tic prod­ucts and dig­i­tal infor­ma­tion, a few old-school crafts­man are still hang­ing on. But they’re get­ting hard­er and hard­er to find. In this pair of short films we meet a few crafts­men on both sides of the Atlantic who are stub­born­ly per­sist­ing while the world changes around them. Above is Ink & Paper by Ben Proud­foot, a stu­dent at the Uni­ver­si­ty of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia School of Cin­e­mat­ic Arts. It tells the sto­ry of the men who run the last sur­viv­ing let­ter­press print­ing com­pa­ny in down­town Los Ange­les, and the old­est paper com­pa­ny. Below is Le Mer de Pianos (The Sea of Pianos) by Tom Wrig­glesworth and Math­ieu Cuve­li­er, about the man who has spent 28 years (the last 15 as own­er) run­ning the old­est piano repair shop in Paris.

Hunter S. Thompson and Franz Kafka Inspire Animation for a Bookstore Benefiting Oxfam

The online book­seller Good Books donates 100 per­cent of its retail prof­it to Oxfam’s char­i­ty projects, which tells you the sense of moral “good” their name means to evoke. But what about the oth­er sense, the sense of “good” you’d use when telling a friend about a thrilling lit­er­ary expe­ri­ence? Good Books clear­ly have their own ideas about that as well, and if you’d call Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Meta­mor­pho­sis “good books,” you’re of the same mind they are. Hav­ing com­mis­sioned a series of pro­mo­tion­al videos on the theme of Great Writ­ers, Good Books show us the kind of read­ers they are by begin­ning it with an intri­cate­ly ani­mat­ed mash-up of the spir­its of Franz Kaf­ka and Hunter S. Thomp­son. Under a buck­et hat, behind avi­a­tor sun­glass­es, and deep into an altered men­tal state, our nar­ra­tor feels the sud­den, urgent need for a copy of Kafka’s Meta­mor­pho­sis. Unwill­ing to make the pur­chase in “the great riv­er of medi­oc­rity,” he instead makes the buy from “a bunch of rose-tint­ed, will­ful­ly delu­sion­al Pollyan­nas giv­ing away all the mon­ey they make — every guilt-rid­den cent.”

The ani­ma­tion, cre­at­ed by a stu­dio called Buck, should eas­i­ly meet the aes­thet­ic demands of any view­er in their own altered state or look­ing to get into one. Its ever-shift­ing shapes both chase and antic­i­pate the words of the nar­ra­tor’s loop­ing, stag­ger­ing mono­logue, com­ple­ment­ing the eeri­ly Thomp­son­ian voice with wave after wave of trou­bling­ly Kafkan imagery (at least, when­ev­er it set­tles into rec­og­niz­able fig­ures). Ani­ma­tion enthu­si­asts can learn more about the painstak­ing work that went into all of this in Motiono­g­ra­pher’s inter­view with Buck­’s cre­ative direc­tors. What, you won­der, was the hard­est shot to ani­mate? Prob­a­bly the one “with the teth­ered goat and hun­dreds of bee­tles,” they reply. Some fret about the increas­ing inter­min­gling between com­mer­cials and the stranger, more raw, less sal­able arts, but if this at all rep­re­sents the future of adver­tise­ments, for char­i­ty stores or oth­er­wise, I say bring on the goats and bee­tles alike. via The Atlantic

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

Orson Welles’ Last Interview and Final Moments Captured on Film

The clip brings you back to the final inter­view and moments of the great film­mak­er Orson Welles. On Octo­ber 10, 1985, Welles appeared on The Merv Grif­fin Show. He had just turned 70 and, rather omi­nous­ly, the con­ver­sa­tion brought Welles to take stock of his life. Again and again, the con­ver­sa­tion returned to aging and the decline of his lovers and friends. Just two hours lat­er, Welles would die of a heart attack at his home in Los Ange­les. And gone was the tal­ent who gave us Cit­i­zen Kane, The Stranger (watch in full), and The Tri­al (dit­to), not to men­tion the famous War of the Worlds radio broad­cast and great nar­ra­tions of works by Pla­to, Kaf­ka and Melville

The films list­ed above, and many oth­er clas­sics, appear in our col­lec­tion, 4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

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Steve Martin on the Legendary Bluegrass Musician Earl Scruggs

The great blue­grass ban­jo play­er Earl Scrug­gs died Wednes­day at the age of 88. Short­ly after­ward, Steve Mar­tin sent out a tweet call­ing Scrug­gs the most impor­tant ban­jo play­er who ever lived. “Few play­ers have changed the way we hear an instru­ment the way Earl has,” wrote Mar­tin ear­li­er this year in The New York­er, “putting him in a cat­e­go­ry with Miles Davis, Louis Arm­strong, Chet Atkins, and Jimi Hen­drix.”

Mar­tin writes of Scrug­gs:

Some nights he had the stars of North Car­oli­na shoot­ing from his fin­ger­tips. Before him, no one had ever played the ban­jo like he did. After him, every­one played the ban­jo like he did, or at least tried. In 1945, when he first stood on the stage at the Ryman Audi­to­ri­um in Nashville and played ban­jo the way no one had heard before, the audi­ence respond­ed with shouts, whoops, and ova­tions. He per­formed tunes he wrote as well as songs they knew, with clar­i­ty and speed like no one could imag­ine, except him. When the singer came to the end of a phrase, he filled the the­atre with sparkling runs of notes that became a sig­na­ture for all blue­grass music since. He wore a suit and a Stet­son hat, and when he played he smiled at the audi­ence like what he was doing was effort­less. There aren’t many earth­quakes in Ten­nessee, but that night there was.

You can con­tin­ue read­ing the essay at The New York­er Web­site.

In Novem­ber of 2001 Mar­tin had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to play the ban­jo along­side his hero on the David Let­ter­man show. (See above.) They played Scrug­gs’s clas­sic, “Fog­gy Moun­tain Break­down,” with Scrug­gs’s sons Randy on acoustic gui­tar and Gary on Har­mon­i­ca, and a stel­lar group that includ­ed Vince Gill and Albert lee on elec­tric gui­tar, Mar­ty Stew­art on man­dolin, Glen Dun­can on fid­dle, Jer­ry Dou­glas on Dobro, Glenn Wolf on bass, Har­ry Stin­son on drums, Leon Rus­sell on organ and Paul Shaf­fer on piano.

The Alan Lomax Sound Archive Now Online: Features 17,000 Blues & Folk Recordings

A huge trea­sure trove of songs and inter­views record­ed by the leg­endary folk­lorist Alan Lomax from the 1940s into the 1990s have been dig­i­tized and made avail­able online for free lis­ten­ing. The Asso­ci­a­tion for Cul­tur­al Equi­ty, a non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tion found­ed by Lomax in the 1980s, has post­ed some 17,000 record­ings.

“For the first time,” Cul­tur­al Equi­ty Exec­u­tive Direc­tor Don Flem­ing told NPR’s Joel Rose, “every­thing that we’ve dig­i­tized of Alan’s field record­ing trips are online, on our Web site. It’s every take, all the way through. False takes, inter­views, music.”

It’s an amaz­ing resource. For a quick taste, here are a few exam­ples from one of the best-known areas of Lomax’s research, his record­ings of tra­di­tion­al African Amer­i­can cul­ture:

But that’s just scratch­ing the sur­face of what’s inside the enor­mous archive. Lomax’s work extend­ed far beyond the Deep South, into oth­er areas and cul­tures of Amer­i­ca, the Caribbean, Europe and Asia. “He believed that all cul­tures should be looked at on an even play­ing field,” his daugh­ter Anna Lomax Wood told NPR. “Not that they’re all alike. But they should be giv­en the same dig­ni­ty, or they had the same dig­ni­ty and worth as any oth­er.”

You can lis­ten to Rose’s piece about the archive on the NPR web­site, as well as a 1990 inter­view with Lomax by Ter­ry Gross of Fresh Air, which includes sam­ple record­ings from Woody Guthrie, Jel­ly Roll Mor­ton, Lead Bel­ly and Mis­sis­sip­pi Fred McDow­ell. To dive into the Lomax audio archive, you can search the vast col­lec­tion by artist, date, genre, coun­try and oth­er cat­e­gories.

h/t Judy Bro­phy and Matthew Barnes

Relat­ed con­tent:

Leg­endary Folk­lorist Alan Lomax: ‘The Land Where the Blues Began’

Pete Seeger: ‘To Hear Your Ban­jo Play’

The Wondrous Night When Glen Hansard Met Van Morrison

Depend­ing on which cir­cles you run in, you might have first spot­ted singer-song­writer-actor Glen Hansard as the leader of the rock band The Frames, as an actor in Alan Park­er’s film The Com­mit­ments, or, more recent­ly, as one half of the folk-rock duo The Swell Sea­son. But if the suc­cess of John Car­ney’s movie Once is any­thing to go by, you may well have become aware of Glen Hansard while watch­ing it. Car­ney, The Frames’ for­mer bassist, knew that Hansard had accu­mu­lat­ed just the kind sto­ries in his youth spent busk­ing around Dublin to shape his film’s down-and-out musi­cian pro­tag­o­nist. By shoot­ing time, Hansard had tak­en on the role him­self, ensur­ing that a whole new, large audi­ence would soon learn of a sec­ond inim­itable Irish voice to put on their playlists.

The first, of course, would have to be Van Mor­ri­son, whose artis­tic cap­ti­va­tion of gen­er­a­tions of lis­ten­ers extends to Hansard him­self. Invit­ed to Mor­rison’s birth­day par­ty by a Guin­ness heiress whom he befriend­ed while busk­ing, Hansard seized the chance to get near his favorite singer. Like some brave fans, he found a way to approach the reput­ed­ly brusque and tem­pera­men­tal Mor­ri­son. Unlike most of those fans, Hansard’s expe­ri­ence turned into a unique­ly close and per­son­al one. Watch the clip from Kevin Pol­lak’s Chat Show below and hear him tell the sto­ry of how he inad­ver­tent­ly par­layed a brushed-off song request (“You don’t know me!” was Mor­rison’s dev­as­tat­ing dis­missal) into an entire night spent exchang­ing songs alone with his musi­cal idol.

Hansard likens this mem­o­ry to one of “jam­ming with a Bea­t­le,” before cor­rect­ing him­self: “No, bet­ter than a Bea­t­le — it’s Van Mor­ri­son!” Though Hansard hails from Dublin and Mor­ri­son from Belfast — the root of such innate dif­fer­ence, Hansard explains, that he can’t even imi­tate Mor­rison’s accent — it seems only to make good sense that the two artists could engage in such a brief yet intense con­nec­tion. Despite com­ing from sep­a­rate gen­er­a­tions and sub­cul­tures, these two imme­di­ate­ly rec­og­niz­able Irish musi­cians sound pos­sessed of, or pos­sessed by, some­thing unusu­al. In both cas­es, their pecu­liar­ly expres­sive vocal and rhyth­mic ener­gies defy easy descrip­tion. In his book When That Rough God Goes Rid­ing: Lis­ten­ing to Van Mor­ri­son, crit­ic Greil Mar­cus describes this qual­i­ty in Mor­ri­son as “the yarragh.” Lis­ten to the cov­er of Mor­rison’s “Astral Weeks” above and won­der: what to call it in Hansard? H/T Metafil­ter

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

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Nelson Mandela Archive Goes Online (With Help From Google)

Last week, the Albert Ein­stein Archive went online, bring­ing thou­sands of the physi­cist’s papers and let­ters to the web. This week, we get the launch of the Nel­son Man­dela Dig­i­tal Archive, which makes avail­able thou­sands of papers belong­ing to the man who gal­va­nized the anti-apartheid move­ment in South Africa, before even­tu­al­ly becom­ing the leader of the nation. (Don’t miss his first record­ed TV inter­view from 1961 here.)

Made pos­si­ble by a $1.25 mil­lion grant from Google, the archive orga­nizes Man­de­la’s papers chrono­log­i­cal­ly and the­mat­i­cal­ly. You can jump into sec­tions cov­er­ing his Ear­ly Life, Prison Years, and Pres­i­den­tial Years, or explore his exten­sive book col­lec­tions and work with young­sters. And, much like Ein­stein, you’ll get to know a dif­fer­ent side of Man­dela, the pri­vate side that was often hid­den from pub­lic view.

Note: We recent­ly men­tioned that Google Street View will let you take a vir­tu­al tour of the Ama­zon basin. Now, it turns out, you can also use the soft­ware to take a train ride through the Swiss Alps. Start your jour­ney here.

Image from Nel­son Man­de­la’s prison jour­nals.

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