The Best of Open Culture 2012: Free Music, Film, Books, Life Advice & More

Anoth­er year gone by. Anoth­er 1200+ cul­tur­al blog posts in the books. Which ones did you like best? We let the data decide. Below, you’ll find the 17 that struck a chord with you.
Free Art Books from The Guggen­heim and The Met: Way back in Jan­u­ary, the Guggen­heim made 65 art cat­a­logues avail­able online, all free of charge. The cat­a­logues offer an intel­lec­tu­al and visu­al intro­duc­tion to the work of Calder, Munch, Bacon, and Kandin­sky, among oth­ers. Then, months lat­er, The Met fol­lowed suit and launched Met­Pub­li­ca­tions, a por­tal that now makes avail­able 370 out-of-print art titles, includ­ing works on Ver­meer, da Vin­ci, Degas and more.

The Best Ani­mat­ed Films of All Time, Accord­ing to Ter­ry Gilliam: Ter­ry Gilliam knows some­thing about ani­ma­tion. For years, he pro­duced won­der­ful ani­ma­tions for Mon­ty Python (watch his cutout ani­ma­tion primer here), cre­at­ing the open­ing cred­its and dis­tinc­tive buffers that linked togeth­er the off­beat com­e­dy sketch­es. Giv­en these bona fides, you don’t want to miss Gilliam’s list, The 10 Best Ani­mat­ed Films of All Time.

The Hig­gs Boson, AKA the God Par­ti­cle, Explained with Ani­ma­tion: Hands down, it was the biggest sci­en­tif­ic dis­cov­ery of the year. But what is the Hig­gs Boson exact­ly? Are you still not sure? Phd Comics explains the con­cept with ani­ma­tion.

Here Comes The Sun: The Lost Gui­tar Solo by George Har­ri­son: Here’s anoth­er great dis­cov­ery — the long lost gui­tar solo by George Har­ri­son from my favorite Bea­t­les’ song, “Here Comes the Sun.” In this clip, George Mar­tin (Bea­t­les’ pro­duc­er) and Dhani Har­ri­son (the gui­tarist’s son) bring the for­got­ten solo back to life. When you’re done tak­ing this sen­ti­men­tal jour­ney, also see anoth­er favorite of mine: gui­tarist Randy Bach­man demys­ti­fy­ing the open­ing chord of ‘A Hard Day’s Night’.

18 Ani­ma­tions of Clas­sic Lit­er­ary Works: From Pla­to and Shake­speare, to Kaf­ka, Hem­ing­way and Calvi­no: Over the years we have fea­tured lit­er­ary works that have been won­der­ful­ly re-imag­ined by ani­ma­tors. Rather than leav­ing these won­drous works buried in the archives, we brought them back and put them all on dis­play. And what bet­ter place to start than with a foun­da­tion­al text — Plato’s Repub­lic.

Ray Brad­bury Offers 12 Essen­tial Writ­ing Tips and Explains Why Lit­er­a­ture Saves Civ­i­liza­tion: In June, we lost Ray Brad­bury, who now joins Isaac Asi­mov, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert A. Hein­lein, and Philip K. Dick in the pan­theon of sci­ence fic­tion. In this post, we revis­it two moments when Brad­bury offered his per­son­al thoughts on the art and pur­pose of writ­ing — some­thing he con­tem­plat­ed dur­ing the 74 years that sep­a­rat­ed his first sto­ry from the last.

Free Sci­ence Fic­tion Clas­sics on the Web: Speak­ing of sci­ence fic­tion, we brought you a roundup of some of the great Sci­ence Fic­tion, Fan­ta­sy and Dystopi­an clas­sics avail­able on the web in audio, video and text for­mats. They include Orwell’s 1984, Hux­ley’s Brave New World, Asi­mov’s Foun­da­tion Tril­o­gy, C.S. Lewis’ Chron­i­cles of Nar­nia, many sto­ries by Philip K. Dick and Neil Gaiman, and much more. Find more great works in our col­lec­tions of Free Audio Books and Free eBooks.

This is Your Brain in Love: Scenes from the Stan­ford Love Com­pe­ti­tion: Can one per­son expe­ri­ence love more deeply than anoth­er? That’s what Stan­ford researchers and film­mak­er Brent Hoff set out to under­stand when they host­ed the 1st Annu­al Love Com­pe­ti­tion. Sev­en con­tes­tants, rang­ing from 10 to 75 years of age, took part. And they each spent five min­utes in an fMRI machine. It’s to hard watch this short film and not shed a hap­py tear.

Rare 1959 Audio: Flan­nery O’Connor Reads ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find’: In April of 1959–five years before her death at the age of 39 from lupus–Flannery O’Connor ven­tured away from her seclud­ed fam­i­ly farm in Milledgeville, Geor­gia, to give a read­ing at Van­der­bilt Uni­ver­si­ty. She read one of her most famous and unset­tling sto­ries, “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” The audio is one of two known record­ings of the author read­ing that sto­ry.

33 Free Oscar Win­ning Films Avail­able on the Web: On the eve of the 2012 Acad­e­my Awards, we scout­ed around the web and found 33 Oscar-win­ning (or nom­i­nat­ed) films from pre­vi­ous years. The list includes many short films, but also some long ones, like Sergei Bondarchuk’s epic ver­sion of War & Peace. Sit back, enjoy, and don’t for­get our col­lec­tion of 500 Free Movies Online, where you’ll find many great noir films, west­erns, clas­sics, doc­u­men­taries and more.

The Sto­ry Of Men­stru­a­tion: Walt Disney’s Sex Ed Film from 1946: Stay­ing with movies for a sec­ond, we also showed you a very dif­fer­ent mid-1940s Dis­ney pro­duc­tion – The Sto­ry of Men­stru­a­tion. Made in the 1940s, an esti­mat­ed 105 mil­lion stu­dents watched the film in sex ed class­es across the US.

30 Free Essays & Sto­ries by David Fos­ter Wal­lace on the WebWe spent some time track­ing down 23 free sto­ries and essays pub­lished by David Fos­ter Wal­lace between 1989 and 2011, most­ly in major U.S. pub­li­ca­tions like The New York­erHarper’sThe Atlantic, and The Paris Review. Enjoy, and don’t miss our oth­er col­lec­tions of free writ­ings by Philip K. Dick and Neil Gaiman.

Every­thing I Know: 42 Hours of Buck­min­ster Fuller’s Vision­ary Lec­tures Free Online (1975)In Jan­u­ary 1975, Buck­min­ster Fuller sat down to deliv­er the twelve lec­tures that make up Every­thing I Know, all cap­tured on video and enhanced with the most excit­ing blue­screen tech­nol­o­gy of the day. The lec­ture series is now online and free to enjoy, so please do so.

10 Great Per­for­mances From 10 Leg­endary Jazz Artists: Djan­go, Miles, Monk, Coltrane & More: It’s pret­ty much what the title says. Great per­for­mances by some of our great­est jazz artists. It starts with Bil­lie Hol­i­day singing “Strange Fruit.”

Sig­mund Freud Speaks: The Only Known Record­ing of His Voice, 1938On Decem­ber 7, 1938, a British radio crew vis­it­ed Sig­mund Freud at his newhome at Hamp­stead, North Lon­don. He was 81 years old and suf­fer­ing from incur­able jaw can­cer. Every word was an agony to speak. The record­ing is the only known audio record­ing of Freud, the founder of psy­cho­analy­sis and one of the tow­er­ing intel­lec­tu­al fig­ures of the 20th cen­tu­ry. Also see: Sig­mund Freud’s Home Movies: A Rare Glimpse of His Pri­vate Life.

Ser­i­al Entre­pre­neur Damon Horowitz Says “Quit Your Tech Job and Get a Ph.D. in the Human­i­ties”: Phi­los­o­phy pro­fes­sor and “ser­i­al entre­pre­neur” Damon Horowitz explains why he left a high­ly-paid tech career, in which he sought the keys to arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence, to pur­sue a Ph.D. in Phi­los­o­phy at Stan­ford. Read­ers will also enjoy The Illus­trat­ed Guide to a Ph.D.

Leonard Bernstein’s Mas­ter­ful Lec­tures on Music (11+ Hours of Video Record­ed in 1973)Deliv­ered at Har­vard in ’73, Leonard Bernstein’s lec­ture series, “The Unan­swered Ques­tion,” cov­ered a lot of ter­rain, touch­ing on poet­ry, lin­guis­tics, phi­los­o­phy and physics. But the focus inevitably comes back to music — to how music works, or to the under­ly­ing gram­mar of music. The mas­ter­ful lec­tures run over 11 hours. They’re added to our col­lec­tion of 650 Free Online Cours­es. You can also find Borges’ lec­tures at Har­vard here.

Kurt Vonnegut’s Eight Tips on How to Write a Good Short Sto­ry:  When it came to giv­ing advice to writ­ers, Kurt Von­negut was nev­er dull. He once tried to warn peo­ple away from using semi­colons by char­ac­ter­iz­ing them as “trans­ves­tite her­maph­ro­dites rep­re­sent­ing absolute­ly noth­ing.” In this brief video, Von­negut offers eight tips on how to write a short sto­ry.

Free Online Cer­tifi­cate Cours­es & MOOCs from Great Uni­ver­si­ties: A Com­plete List:  We gath­ered a list of 200 free mas­sive open online cours­es (MOOCs) offered by lead­ing uni­ver­si­ties. Most of these free cours­es offer “cer­tifi­cates” or “state­ments of com­ple­tion.” Many new cours­es start in Jan­u­ary 2013. So be sure to check it out. Also don’t miss our oth­er new resource col­lec­tion: 200 Free Kids Edu­ca­tion­al Resources: Video Lessons, Apps, Books, Web­sites & Beyond.

by | Permalink | Comments (1) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (1)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.