Shakespeare’s Satirical Sonnet 130, As Read By Stephen Fry

“My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun,” begins Sonnet 130 by William Shakespeare. But why read the rest when you can see and hear it, in the video above, from Stephen Fry? No matter how often I’ve wished the voice inside my head could sound like his, I just can’t master intracranially replicating his distinctive combination of accent and manner. This deficiency bothers me especially when reading works as worthy as Shakespeare’s sonnets. Sonnet 130 in particular, a satire of the increasingly and obviously hyperbolic odes to female beauty popular in Shakespeare’s day, practically demands a persona as dryly knowing as Fry’s. But neither Fry in any of his work nor the Shakespeare of Sonnet 130 seem content to simply pop balloons of grotesquely overinflated sentiment. They know that, in refusing to trot out grandly tired comparisons of lips to coral and cheeks to roses, they pay their subjects a more lasting, genuine tribute in the end.

Fry’s reading comes from a new iPad app, Shakespeare’s Sonnets. In an apparent realization of all those literary “multimedia experiences” we dreamed of but could never quite achieve in the mid-nineties, it presents the 154 sonnets as they looked in their 1609 quarto edition with scholarly notes, commentary, and interviews with experts. Other performers enlisted to read them include Patrick Stewart (presumably another sine qua non for such a project), David Tennant, and — because hey, why not — Kim Cattrall. A fine idea, but new-media visionaries should take note that I and many others are even now waiting for apps dedicated to nothing more than Stephen Fry reading things. Someone’s got to capitalize on this demand.

Related content:

Shakespeare in the Original Voice

Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar Read in Celebrity Voices

Acclaimed BBC Production of Hamlet, Starring David Tennant (Doctor Who) and Patrick Stewart (Star Trek)

City Poems: A New Literary iPhone App

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

Stanford Launches iPhone/iPad App Course on iTunesU (with New Peer-to-Peer Learning Features)

Just about everybody these days is developing an app, right? A few lucky coders might see their work up in lights if they act fast.

Apps designed by the first 1,000 developers to register for Stanford’s new online course on iTunesU will be considered for showcasing on the university’s iTunes site.

The course, Coding Together, is based on the popular classroom version taught by Paul Hegarty at Stanford. It covers iOS 5 and focuses on apps for the iPhone and iPad platform. Sign-up ends on July 6 and the course runs until August 27. Lectures from earlier versions of the iTunesU course were incredibly popular. Some were downloaded more than 10 million times. But the new iTunesU course offers some new social networking and learning tools.

Stanford has teamed up with the social learning platform Piazza to enable students to pose questions to course instructors, other students and app developers around the world 24 hours a day. It’s a feature that on-campus Stanford students already have access to, but it’s a first for iTunesU. And it adds a whole new degree of interactivity to the iTunesU course experience.

As of Thursday afternoon, 11,065 students enrolled in the course, with signups continuing in the hundreds per day. And, collaborative study groups have spontaneously popped up all around the world — from Silicon Valley, to Brazil and Germany, to India, China and Bangladesh.

Again, you can find the Coding Together lectures on iTunesU here, and sign up for Piazza’s peer-to-peer learning groups here. We also have 50 more Free Computer Science courses in our collection of 500 Free Courses Online.

Kate Rix is an Oakland-based freelance writer. Check out her work at .

Microsoft Rolls Out Its New Tablet in Fine Apple Style

This week, Microsoft rolled out its new tablet, simply called Surface, which gives you another way to enjoy our courses, moviesebooks, audio books and the rest. In many ways, Surface resembles the iPad in its look and feel. And when it came to unveiling the tablet, Microsoft’s execs couldn’t think outside the box created by Steve Jobs. A video made by ReadWriteWeb makes that rather painfully yet amusingly clear….

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Download David Hockney’s Playful Drawings for the iPhone and iPad

Last year, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto staged an exhibit of David Hockney’s playful drawings produced with/for the iPhone and iPad. Hockney became an early adopter of Apple’s popular devices and started creating finger-drawn images (using the Brushes app) in 2008. Initially, the English painter only shared his digital drawings with a small circle of friends. Then he decided to make them available to the larger world, presenting them first in Paris in 2010, and then later in Toronto. Here, Hockney explains the basic thinking behind his Fresh Flowers exhibitions.

Throughout the Canadian exhibition, the ROM invited the public to download a series of free images by Hockney. They’re all still online, and we’ve gathered them below. What will you do with them? Put them on your iPhone or iPad, of course. (Find instructions here and here.) Or whatever other device you please.



Celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge with a Free iPad App

When it opened to vehicle traffic in May, 1937 the Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world. Since then eight bridges have surpassed it in length, but the iconic international orange span is still the most photographed bridge in the world. This month marks the Golden Gate’s 75th anniversary and the California Historical Society’s exhibit, A Wild Flight of the Imagination, celebrates the event with a look at the bridge’s construction. The exhibit has also been made available as a free eBook for the iPad, which includes historic photographs by Ansel Adams and Dorothea Lange as well as a short film of bridge designer Joseph Strauss speaking to a reporter during the bridge’s construction. At the time, experts said that the Golden Gate strait’s ferocious winds and strong, swirling currents would make construction impossible. But the design introduced deflection theory, which utilizes a thin, flexible roadway and long cables that reduce structural stress.

The interactive app is accompanied by a musical score—the opening selection from composer Rob Kapilow’s Chrysopylae, Greek for “Golden Gate.” Early users of the eBook reported glitches with the app’s audio. The culprit may have been the side mute switch, which must be flipped off for the audio to work. Also, make sure your iPad’s volume is up. Like the exhibit in the society’s San Francisco museum, the app includes access to images of some 350 objects and ephemera related to the span’s construction. Almost as nice as a walk across the bridge’s 1.7 miles, and not nearly as windy.

Kate Rix writes about k-12 instruction and higher ed. 

Van Gogh to Rothko in 30 Seconds

What if you took great works of art, stacked them side by side, and had them tell a story? You’d have a decidedly artful video … and a great teaser for the new artCircles iPad app that brings you collections of images curated by well-known figures including Yves Behar (named one of the “World’s 7 Most Important People in Design”) and John Maeda (president of Rhode Island School of Design). The app is free on iTunes, and if you pick up the new iPad with retina display, you can see where the device really excels. Or at least that was my experience when I gave it a spin.

And while we’re on the topic, here’s another free app worth checking out: “The Life of Art.” Produced by the Getty Museum in LA, the “Life of Art” gives users a chance to understand how objects end up in a museum in the first place. Photography, animations, video, and 360 degree rotations narrate the artistic lives of these objects. Find the app here. H/T Kottke

Related Content:

Free: The Guggenheim Puts 65 Modern Art Books Online

Google App Enhances Museum Visits; Launched at the Getty

MoMA Puts Pollock, Rothko & de Kooning on Your iPad

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Dhani Harrison Presents The George Harrison Guitar App for the iPad

About a month back, we featured George Harrison’s long lost guitar solo on “Here Comes the Sun,” and you went gaga for it. Little did we know that George Harrison’s son, Dhani, was just about ready to unveil a new iPad app called The Guitar Collection: George Harrison. It runs $9.99, and it’s only available on the iPad, which hardly makes it an instance of Open Culture. But we love The Beatles around here, and the app does something fairly special. It gives you a high-tech introduction to seven George Harrison guitars, using 360° images, sound files, videos, and lots of text and factoids. The video above offers a quick tour of the app. In the video below, Dhani Harrison explains how the the app came together on the Conan O’Brien Show. Thanks for the heads up Liz.

Create iPhone/iPad Apps in iOS 5 with Free Stanford Course

Back in 2009, Stanford University started recording lectures given in its iPhone Application Development course and then placing them on iTunes, making them free for anyone to view. The course hit a million downloads in a matter of weeks, and now, two years later, here’s where we stand. The course remains the most popular item on Stanford’s iTunesU site, having clocked in 10 million downloads. And the school has released a new version of the course that focuses on iOS 5, the latest version of the iPhone/iPad operating system. You can download the course on iTunes (in HD video or standard-definition video) and start creating apps on your own.

The iPhone Application Development course is now listed in the Computer Science section of our big collection of Free Online Courses. There you will find 40+ free courses that will teach you to code….

via Stanford News

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.