The 15 Most Popular Posts from Open Culture in 2013


In 2013, we pub­lished 1300+ posts on a wide range of cul­tur­al sub­jects. Look­ing back through our logs we were able to iden­ti­fy the 15 posts that res­onat­ed most wide­ly with our read­ers. We hope you enjoy this recap, and share some of the items with friends. And we look for­ward to see­ing you in 2014. Hap­py New Year to you all.

Noam Chom­sky Slams Žižek and Lacan: Emp­ty ‘Pos­tur­ing’: A lit­tle spat broke out between Chom­sky and Žižek this sum­mer. Chom­sky got the debate going after he accused Jacques Lacan of being a “total char­la­tan” and Slavoj Žižek of pos­tur­ing rather than offer­ing real intel­lec­tu­al sub­stance. Žižek replied sharply. Chom­sky rebutted. Žižek coun­tered again. Some scored it a draw.

The 10 Great­est Films of All Time Accord­ing to 846 Film Crit­ics: Through­out the year, our res­i­dent film schol­ar Col­in Mar­shall revis­it­ed the favorite films of some of the great­est film­mak­ers — Stan­ley KubrickMar­tin Scors­eseWoody Allen, and Quentin Taran­ti­no, to name a few. But it also made sense to take a more glob­al view of things, to sur­vey the films loved by 800+ direc­tors and film crit­ics. That’s what you can find here.

Lis­ten to Fred­die Mer­cury and David Bowie on the Iso­lat­ed Vocal Track for the Queen Hit ‘Under Pres­sure,’ 1981: In 2013, we fea­tured a series of iso­lat­ed tracks that offer unique insights into clas­sic songs. You might recall Kurt Cobain’s Vocals From ‘Smells Like Teen Spir­it,’ Eric Clapton’s Iso­lat­ed Gui­tar Track From ‘While My Gui­tar Gen­tly Weeps’, and Mer­ry Clayton’s Haunt­ing Back­ground Vocals on the Rolling Stones’ ‘Gimme Shel­ter’. But your favorite was Fred­die Mer­cury and David Bowie’s unfor­get­table per­for­mance on Queen’s Under Pres­sure. You have good taste. Bowie fans should also check his list of his Top 100 Books.

Read 18 Short Sto­ries From Nobel Prize-Win­ning Writer Alice Munro Free Online: When Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize on the strength of her many short sto­ries, Josh Jones gath­ered for you 18 free short sto­ries writ­ten by the now 82-year-old author. They’re all free to read online. Dur­ing the year, we also put togeth­er col­lec­tions of 10 Free Sto­ries by George Saun­ders10 Free Arti­cles by Hunter S. Thomp­sonFour Sto­ries by Jen­nifer Egan, and 30 Free Essays & Sto­ries by David Fos­ter Wal­lace. Be sure to enjoy them as well.

Free: The Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um of Art and the Guggen­heim Offer 474 Free Art Books Online: Art cat­a­logues from muse­ums can be down­right expen­sive. That’s why we were excit­ed when The Met and the Guggen­heim put an archive of art cat­a­logues online for free. For no cost, you can read high­ly visu­al intro­duc­tions to the work of Alexan­der CalderEdvard MunchFran­cis BaconGus­tav Klimt & Egon Schiele, Wass­i­ly Kandin­sky, Geor­gia O’Ke­effeFrank Lloyd Wright and many oth­er influ­en­tial artists.

The British Library Puts 1,000,000 Images into the Pub­lic Domain, Mak­ing Them Free to Reuse & Remix: Some of the world’s great libraries are also open­ing access to our cul­tur­al her­itage. Take for exam­ple the British Library, which announced this month that it has released over a mil­lion images onto Flickr Com­mons for any­one to use, remix and repur­pose. Culled from the pages of 17th, 18th and 19th cen­tu­ry books, the images include a dizzy­ing array of “maps, geo­log­i­cal dia­grams, beau­ti­ful illus­tra­tions, com­i­cal satire, illu­mi­nat­ed and dec­o­ra­tive let­ters, col­or­ful illus­tra­tions, land­scapes, wall-paint­ings” and more.

John Coltrane’s Hand­writ­ten Out­line for His Mas­ter­piece A Love Supreme: To cel­e­brate Trane’s birth­day, we fea­tured a rare doc­u­ment from the Smithsonian’s Nation­al Muse­um of Amer­i­can His­to­ry: Coltrane’s hand­writ­ten out­line of his ground­break­ing jazz com­po­si­tion A Love Supreme. In terms of pop­u­lar­i­ty, this post was just about tied with anoth­er great (but very dif­fer­ent) jazz doc­u­ment: Thelo­nious Monk’s List of Tips for Play­ing a Gig.

The Genius of J.S. Bach’s “Crab Canon” Visu­al­ized on a Möbius Strip: Bach wrote his “Crab Canon” in such a way that it could be played back­wards as well as for­wards. But pre­pare your­self for the mind-blow­ing coup de grâce when math­e­mat­i­cal image-mak­er Jos Ley lays the piece out on a Möbius strip.

Sev­en Tips From Ernest Hem­ing­way on How to Write Fic­tionHem­ing­way nev­er wrote a trea­tise on the art of writ­ing fic­tion. He did, how­ev­er, leave behind a great many pas­sages in let­ters, arti­cles and books with opin­ions and advice on writ­ing. Some of the best of those were assem­bled in 1984 by Lar­ry W. Phillips into a book, Ernest Hem­ing­way on Writ­ing. We’ve select­ed sev­en of our favorite quo­ta­tions from the book and placed them, along with our own com­men­tary, on this page. Read­ers will also want to peruse these relat­ed posts: 18 (Free) Books Ernest Hem­ing­way Wished He Could Read Again for the First Time and Hem­ing­way Cre­ates a Read­ing List for a Young Writer, 1934, plus F. Scott Fitzger­ald Cre­ates a List of 22 Essen­tial Books, 1936.

Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour Sings Shakespeare’s Son­net 18: In the ear­ly 2000s, Pink Floyd gui­tarist and singer David Gilmour record­ed a musi­cal inter­pre­ta­tion of William Shakespeare’s “Son­net 18″ at his home stu­dio aboard the his­toric, 90-foot house­boat the Asto­ria. This video of Gilmour singing the son­net was released as an extra on the 2002 DVD David Gilmour in Con­cert, and it’s pret­ty sub­lime.

Learn to Code with Harvard’s Intro to Com­put­er Sci­ence Course And Oth­er Free Tech Class­es: These days, it could nev­er hurt to make sure you have some good tech chops. Many of you under­stand that, and that’s why you jumped on Har­vard’s free, intro­duc­to­ry com­put­er sci­ence course. Taught by David Malan, the intro­duc­to­ry course cov­ers “abstrac­tion, algo­rithms, encap­su­la­tion, data struc­tures, data­bas­es, mem­o­ry man­age­ment, secu­ri­ty, soft­ware devel­op­ment, vir­tu­al­iza­tion, and web­sites. Lan­guages include C, PHP, and JavaScript plus SQL, CSS, and HTML.” You can always find the course list­ed in the Com­put­er Sci­ence sec­tion of our col­lec­tion of 800 Free Cours­es Online.

Michelangelo’s Illus­trat­ed 16th-Cen­tu­ry Gro­cery List: Very few of Michelan­gelo’s papers sur­vive today, but we do odd­ly have the gro­cery lists that he had his ser­vant bring to the food mar­ket. “Because the ser­vant he was send­ing to mar­ket was illit­er­ate,” writes the Oregonian‘s Steve Duin, “Michelan­ge­lo illus­trat­ed the shop­ping lists — a her­ring, tortel­li, two fen­nel soups, four anchovies and ‘a small quar­ter of a rough wine’ — with rushed … car­i­ca­tures in pen and ink.” It’s a unique his­tor­i­cal item, cer­tain­ly worth check­ing out.

Prize-Win­ning Ani­ma­tion Lets You Fly Through 17th Cen­tu­ry Lon­don: Six stu­dents from De Mont­fort Uni­ver­si­ty cre­at­ed a stel­lar 3D rep­re­sen­ta­tion of 17th cen­tu­ry Lon­don, as it exist­ed before The Great Fire of 1666. The three-minute video pro­vides a real­is­tic ani­ma­tion of Tudor Lon­don, and par­tic­u­lar­ly a sec­tion called Pud­ding Lane where the fire start­ed. Grab a small hand­ful of pop­corn, and sit back and enjoy.

Her­mann Rorschach’s Orig­i­nal Rorschach Test: What Do You See?: In hon­or of Her­mann Rorschach’s birth­day in Novem­ber, we high­light­ed the orig­i­nal images used in his famous psy­chol­o­gy test back in 1921. And we invit­ed you to say what you saw in these images. The answers were often amus­ing, some­times per­plex­ing.

Simone de Beau­voir Explains “Why I’m a Fem­i­nist” in a Rare TV Inter­view (1975): In a 1975 inter­view, Simone de Beau­voir picked up on ideas she explored in The Sec­ond Sex. This reveal­ing clip can be watched along­side oth­er 2013 posts fea­tur­ing de Beau­voir and her part­ner Jean-Paul Sartre. See Lovers and Philoso­phers — Jean-Paul Sartre & Simone de Beau­voir Togeth­er in 1967 and Philosophy’s Pow­er Cou­ple, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beau­voir, Fea­tured in 1967 TV Inter­view.

BonusFill Your New Kin­dle, iPad, iPhone, eRead­er with Free eBooks, Movies, Audio Books, Online Cours­es & More: Just last week, we told you where to load up your new iPads, Kin­dles, and oth­er devices with free intel­li­gent media. If you missed it the first time around, it’s not too late to cir­cle back.

Don’t miss any­thing from Open Cul­ture in 2014. Sign up for our Dai­ly Email or RSS Feed. And we’ll send cul­tur­al curiosi­ties your way, every day.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.