YouTube & Arizona State University Team Up to Offer Online Courses for Real College Credits

A recent Pew Research Cen­ter sur­vey found that near­ly one in five Amer­i­can teenagers is on Youtube “almost con­stant­ly.” Ten years ago, the fig­ure sure­ly would­n’t have been that high, and twen­ty years ago, of course, Youtube did­n’t exist at all. But today, no enter­prise direct­ed at teenagers can afford to ignore it: that goes for pop music and fash­ion, of course, but also for edu­ca­tion. Most kids just start­ing col­lege are on Youtube, but so are those about to start col­lege, those tak­ing time off from col­lege, and those unsure of whether they’re will­ing or able to go to col­lege at all. Hence Col­lege Foun­da­tion, a new exten­sion of Youtube chan­nel Study Hall, the prod­uct of a part­ner­ship between Ari­zona State Uni­ver­si­ty, YouTube and Crash Course.

Crash Course has long pro­duced video series that, both enter­tain­ing­ly and at length, cov­er sub­jects taught in school from his­to­ry to lit­er­a­ture to phi­los­o­phy and beyond. The Col­lege Foun­da­tion’s pro­gram will make it pos­si­ble not just to learn on Study Hall, but to earn real col­lege cred­its as well.

“Stu­dents who are inter­est­ed in for­mal course­work beyond watch­ing the videos may pay a $25 fee to enroll in an ASU online course that includes inter­act­ing with oth­er stu­dents and instruc­tors,” writes Inside High­er Edu­ca­tion’s Susan D’Agosti­no. Upon com­ple­tion of the course, “the stu­dent can decide whether they would like to pay $400 to record the grade and receive ASU cred­it.”

Enroll­ment is now open for the first four Col­lege Foun­da­tions cours­es, Eng­lish Com­po­si­tion, Col­lege Math, U.S. His­to­ry and Human Com­mu­ni­ca­tion, all of which begin on March 7th. (Those who sign up before that start date will receive a $50 dis­count.) “Once you’re in a course, you can con­tact a suc­cess coach via email to get help with assign­ments,” writes TechCrunch’s Aisha Malik. “You can com­plete your course­work when it’s con­ve­nient for you, but you will have week­ly due dates for most of the cours­es. If you want to access addi­tion­al sup­port, some instruc­tors hold option­al office hours.” This sort of learn­ing expe­ri­ence could become a bridge to Youtube life and col­lege life — the lat­ter being the sub­ject addressed, with char­ac­ter­is­tic Youtube direct­ness, in the exist­ing Study Hall course “How to Col­lege.”

Relat­ed con­tent:

1,700 Free Online Cours­es from Top Uni­ver­si­ties

A Crash Course in World His­to­ry

Crash Course Phi­los­o­phy: Hank Green’s Fast-Paced Intro­duc­tion to Phi­los­o­phy Gets Under­way on YouTube

Crash Course on Lit­er­a­ture: Watch John Green’s Fun Intro­duc­tions to Gats­by, Catch­er in the Rye & Oth­er Clas­sics

A Crash Course on Psy­chol­o­gy: A 30-Part Video Series from Hank Green

Crash Course Big His­to­ry: John Green Teach­es Life, the Uni­verse & Every­thing

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Joni Mitchell’s Catalog of Albums Now on YouTube: Stream Them Online

2022 — anoth­er dif­fi­cult year for so many — has drawn to a close.

While not a rem­e­dy for all the hard­ships and pri­va­tions we’ve been privy to, Joni Mitchell’s music remains good med­i­cine. Lis­ten­ing to her always makes us feel more con­nect­ed, reflec­tive and calm for at least an hour or two.

Lucky us. The beloved singer-song­writer has giv­en us a New Year’s gift — all her albums post­ed to her offi­cial Youtube chan­nel.

What a love­ly way to ush­er the old year off­stage, and qui­et­ly wel­come the new.

We all have our alle­giances, though many who iden­ti­fy as fans may dis­cov­er they’ve missed a cou­ple releas­es along the way.

She has, to date, released 19 stu­dio albums, 5 live albums, and an EP, as well as inspir­ing 2 trib­ute albums. A recent remark on Elton John’s Rock­et Hour left us hope­ful that more may be in the off­ing.

Sir Elton is but one of many well known musi­cians who are unabashed Mitchell fans. Artists as diverse as Har­ry Styles, k.d. lang, and Her­bie Han­cock have writ­ten songs in response to their favorite Joni cuts.

And the inter­net teems with cov­ers from both heavy hit­ters and unknowns. (See them orga­nized by song title on Mitchel­l’s web­site, where “Both Sides Now” remains the champ with a whop­ping 1576 ren­di­tions.)

Her fourth album, 1971’s Blue, seems to gar­ner the most fer­vent praise…

Tay­lor Swift: She wrote it about her deep­est pains and most haunt­ing demons. Songs like ‘Riv­er,’ which is just about her regrets and doubts of her­self – I think this album is my favorite because it explores some­body’s soul so deeply.”

James Tay­lor:  I said it prob­a­bly too many times that Joni is like, you tap the tree, and you know, it’s like maple syrup. This stuff, this nec­tar comes out of the most unusu­al places.

Jew­el: On Blue, you hear every­thing she expe­ri­enced, the highs and the lows. It’s such a lone­ly album — not in the “I don’t have any friends” sense but in the sense that you’re a lit­tle bit removed, and always watch­ing. It takes a lot of courage to be that hon­est, espe­cial­ly as a woman. 

Prince on The Hiss­ing of Sum­mer Lawns:

It was the last album I loved all the way through.

Boy George on Court and Spark:

I’ve bought this for many peo­ple because it is prob­a­bly her most acces­si­ble [album]. I love unusu­al voic­es and I’ve sat and cried to so many of her songs. My favorite is Car On A Hill because I’ve done what it’s about: wait­ed for the boyfriend to turn up as the cars go by.

Björk on 1977’s dou­ble album, Don Juan’s Reck­less Daugh­ter and Heji­ra:

I think it was that acci­den­tal thing in Ice­land, where the wrong albums arrive to shore, because I was obsessed with Don Juan’s Reck­less Daugh­ter and Heji­ra as a teenag­er. I hear much more of her in those albums. She almost made her own type of music style with those, it’s more a wom­an’s world.”

Sis­ters Danielle and Este Haim on 1974’s live album Miles of Aisles:

There’s a lit­tle bit of every­thing. Songs from all her albums up until then, and she’s play­ing them with the L.A. Express, which was this amaz­ing jazz band… a reimag­in­ing of a lot of her ear­ly work through this jazz lens.

Enjoy a love­ly wan­der through Joni Mitchell’s oeu­vre here. When you click on this page, scroll down to the “Albums & Sin­gles” sec­tion, and then move (from left to right) through the entire discog­ra­phy.

Relat­ed Con­tent 

Joni Mitchell Tells Elton John the Sto­ries Behind Her Icon­ic Songs: “Both Sides Now,” “Carey” & More

Watch the Full Set of Joni Mitchell’s Amaz­ing Come­back Per­for­mance at the New­port Folk Fes­ti­val

Songs by Joni Mitchell Re-Imag­ined as Pulp Fic­tion Book Cov­ers & Vin­tage Movie Posters

Hear Demos & Out­takes of Joni Mitchell’s Blue on the 50th Anniver­sary of the Clas­sic Album

How Joni Mitchell Learned to Play Gui­tar Again After a 2015 Brain Aneurysm–and Made It Back to the New­port Folk Fes­ti­val

How Joni Mitchell Wrote “Wood­stock,” the Song that Defined the Leg­endary Music Fes­ti­val, Even Though She Wasn’t There (1969)

- Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and author, most recent­ly, of Cre­ative, Not Famous: The Small Pota­to Man­i­festo.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

The Famous Downfall Scene Explained: What Really Happened in Hitler’s Bunker at the End?

Before his role as Hitler in the 2004 Ger­man film Down­fall turned Swiss actor Bruno Ganz into a viral inter­net star, he was best known for play­ing an angel who com­forts the dying in Wim Wen­ders’ 1987 Wings of Desire. “Peo­ple real­ly seemed to think of me as a guardian angel,” he told The Irish Times in 2005. “Peo­ple would bring their chil­dren before me for a bless­ing or some­thing.” Sev­en­teen years lat­er, the self-described intro­vert trans­formed his gen­tle, com­fort­ing face into the Nazi screen mon­ster: “Noth­ing pre­pared me for what must be the most con­vinc­ing screen Hitler yet,” wrote The Guardian’s Rob Mack­ie. “An old, bent, sick dic­ta­tor with the shak­ing hands of some­one with Parkinson’s, alter­nat­ing between rage and despair in his last days in the bunker.”

This por­tray­al has nev­er been sur­passed, and per­haps it nev­er will be. How many fic­tion­al­ized film treat­ments of these events do we need? Espe­cial­ly since this one lives for­ev­er in meme form: Ganz end­less­ly spit­ting and ges­tic­u­lat­ing, while cap­tions sub­ti­tle him rant­i­ng about “his piz­za arriv­ing late” – Gael Fash­ing­baeur Coop­er writes at cnet – or “the Red Wed­ding scene on Game of Thrones, or find­ing out he was­n’t accept­ed into Har­ry Pot­ter’s Hog­warts.” As Vir­ginia Hef­fer­nan wrote at The New York Times in 2008 – maybe the height of the meme’s viral­i­ty – “It seems that late-life Hitler can be made to speak for almost any­one in the midst of a cri­sis…. Some­thing in the spec­ta­cle of an auto­crat falling to pieces evi­dent­ly has wide­spread appeal.”

Giv­en the wide­spread pref­er­ence for memes over facts, the ubiq­ui­ty of the Down­fall clip as viral spec­ta­cle, and the renewed rel­e­vance of mur­der­ous autoc­ra­cy in the West, we might find our­selves won­der­ing about the his­tor­i­cal accu­ra­cy of Down­fall’s por­tray­al. Did the dic­ta­tor real­ly lose it in the end? And why do we find this idea so sat­is­fy­ing? To begin to answer the first ques­tion, we might turn to the video above, “That Down­fall Scene Explained,” from the mak­ers of The Great War, billed as the “biggest ever crowd­fund­ed his­to­ry doc­u­men­tary.” Despite tak­ing as their sub­ject the First World War, the film­mak­ers also cov­er some of the events of WWII for fans.

First, we must remem­ber that Down­fall is an “artis­tic inter­pre­ta­tion.” It con­dens­es weeks into days, days into hours, and takes oth­er such dra­mat­ic lib­er­ties with accounts gath­ered from eye­wit­ness­es. So, “what is Hitler freak­ing out about” in the famous scene?, the sub­ti­tle asks. It is April 1945. The Red Army is 40 kilo­me­ters from Nazi head­quar­ters in Berlin. The dictator’s Chief of the Army Gen­er­al Staff Hans Krebs explains the sit­u­a­tion. Hitler remains in con­trol, draw­ing pos­si­ble lines of attack on the map, believ­ing that SS com­man­der Felix Steiner’s Panz­er divi­sions will repel the Sovi­ets.

Lit­tle does he know that Steiner’s divi­sions exist only on paper. In real­i­ty, the SS leader has refused to take to the field, con­vinced the bat­tle can­not be won. Anoth­er Gen­er­al, Alfred Jodel, steps in and deliv­ers the news. Hitler then clears the room of all but Jodl, Krebs, and two oth­er high-rank­ing gen­er­als. Joseph Goebbels and Mar­tin Bor­mann stay behind as well. Then (as played by Ganz, that is) Hitler has that famous screen melt­down. The out­burst “shows just how he had cen­tral­ized the chain of com­mand,” and how it failed him.

This may have been so. Down­fall presents us with a con­vinc­ing, if high­ly con­densed, por­trait of the major per­son­al­i­ties involved. But “the scene that spawned a thou­sand YouTube par­o­dies,” writes Alex Ross at The New York­er, “is based, in part, on prob­lem­at­ic sources.” One of these, the so-called Hitler Book, was com­piled from “tes­ti­mo­ny of two Hitler adju­tants, Otto Gün­sche and Heinz Linge, who had been cap­tured by the Red Army and inter­ro­gat­ed at length…. The most curi­ous thing about The Hitler Book is that it was intend­ed for a sin­gle read­er: Joseph Stal­in.” The Sovi­et dic­ta­tor want­ed, and got, “a lav­ish­ly detailed chron­i­cle of Hitler’s psy­cho­log­i­cal implo­sion.” Oth­er sources “con­vey a more com­plex pic­ture.”

Accord­ing to oth­er accounts, Hitler was “gen­er­al­ly com­posed” when learn­ing about the Red Army attack on Berlin, even as he decid­ed to give up and die in the bunker. Accord­ing to Nazi stenog­ra­ph­er, Ger­hard Her­rge­sell, it was the gen­er­als who “vio­lent­ly opposed” sur­ren­der and spoke harsh­ly to Hitler to per­suade him to defend the city – a speech that had some effect dur­ing an April 22nd meet­ing. It did not, of course, pre­vent Hitler and his new bride Eva Braun’s even­tu­al April 30 sui­cide. For Ross, how­ev­er, this more com­plex his­tor­i­cal pic­ture shows “how cults of per­son­al­i­ty feed as much upon the aspi­ra­tions of their mem­bers as upon the ambi­tions of their lead­ers.” The mem­bers of Hitler’s inner cir­cle were as com­mit­ted to the ide­ol­o­gy as the leader him­self.

There is more to the film’s title in Ger­man, Unter­gang, than its trans­la­tion sug­gests, Ross writes: “It car­ries con­no­ta­tions of decline, dis­so­lu­tion, or destruc­tion.” When we fix the end of Nazism to the sui­ci­dal death of one delu­sion­al, drug-addled mad­man, we lose sight of this wider mean­ing. In the viral spread of the Hitler meme, we see a kind of com­i­cal­ly banal tri­umph. It is “the out­come,” Hef­fer­nan argues, that “Hitler, the his­tor­i­cal fig­ure sought….” A sit­u­a­tion in which he becomes “not the author of the Holo­caust” but “the brute voice of the every­man uncon­scious,” a pro­lif­er­at­ing griev­ance machine. From anoth­er per­spec­tive, imag­in­ing Hitler’s end may offer “com­fort­ing moral clo­sure to a sto­ry of lim­it­less hor­ror,” writes Ross. But it has helped feed the myth that it could only hap­pen there and then: “Now Ger­man his­to­ri­ans are end­ing their books on Nazism with thin­ly veiled ref­er­ences to an Amer­i­can Unter­gang.”

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

How Did Hitler Rise to Pow­er? : New TED-ED Ani­ma­tion Pro­vides a Case Study in How Fas­cists Get Demo­c­ra­t­i­cal­ly Elect­ed

Carl Jung Psy­cho­an­a­lyzes Hitler: “He’s the Uncon­scious of 78 Mil­lion Ger­mans.” “With­out the Ger­man Peo­ple He’d Be Noth­ing” (1938)

Hitler Was ‘Blitzed’ On Cocaine & Opi­ates Dur­ing World War II: Hear a Wide-Rang­ing Inter­view with Best-Sell­ing Author Nor­man Ohler

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

Watch Sassy Justice, the New Deepfake Satire Show Created by the Makers of South Park

If any cul­tur­al, polit­i­cal, or tech­no­log­i­cal phe­nom­e­non of the past cou­ple of decades has­n’t been lam­pooned by South Park, it prob­a­bly did­n’t hap­pen. But the 21st cen­tu­ry has brought forth so much non­sense that even Trey Park­er and Matt Stone, cre­ators of that at once crude and mul­ti­di­men­sion­al­ly satir­i­cal car­toon show, have had to expand into fea­ture films and even onto Broad­way to ridicule it all. The lat­est project takes the hum­bler but unde­ni­ably more rel­e­vant form of a Youtube series, and one mod­eled on the form of ultra-local tele­vi­sion news. Sassy Jus­tice comes host­ed by anchor Fred Sassy, a flam­boy­ant “con­sumer advo­cate” for the peo­ple of Cheyenne, Wyoming — and one pos­sessed, come to think of it, of an odd­ly famil­iar face.

Fred Sassy is based on Sassy Trump, a cre­ation of voice actor Peter Ser­afi­now­icz. Despite his for­mi­da­ble skills as an impres­sion­ist, the trou­ble Ser­afi­now­icz had nail­ing the sound and man­ner of the cur­rent U.S. Pres­i­dent gave him the idea of dub­bing over real footage of the man with delib­er­ate­ly invent­ed char­ac­ter voic­es. This led to an inter­est in deep­fakes, videos cre­at­ed using dig­i­tal like­ness­es of real peo­ple with­out their actu­al par­tic­i­pa­tion.

The increas­ing­ly con­vinc­ing look of these pro­duc­tions once had a lot of peo­ple spooked, as you’ll recall if you can cast your mind back to 2019. Deep­fakes thus made per­fect sub­ject mat­ter for a Park­er-Stone project, but not long after they began col­lab­o­rat­ing with Ser­afi­now­icz on a deep­fake-sat­u­rat­ed Fred Sassy movie, the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic put an end to pro­duc­tion. From the ash­es of that project ris­es Sassy Jus­tice, which pre­miered last month.

This first episode (with a clip playlist here) also pro­vides a glimpse of the sure­ly enor­mous all-deep­fake cast to come. Uncan­ny ver­sions of Al Gore, Mark Zucker­berg (now a dial­y­sis-cen­ter mag­nate), and Julie Andrews (as com­put­er tech­ni­cian “Lou Xiang,” a ref­er­ence that if you get, you get) all make appear­ances, as do those of White House reg­u­lars Jared Kush­n­er, Ivan­ka Trump, and even Don­ald Trump, on whose voice Ser­afi­now­icz seems to have made progress. But “it’s impos­si­ble for a human to accu­rate­ly mim­ic some­one else’s voice to 100 per­cent,” as Sassy is assured by a Zoom inter­vie­wee, the oft-imi­tat­ed actor Michael Caine — or is it? Less able than ever to tell real from the fake, let alone the deep­fake, “we’re all going to have to trust our gut, that inner voice,” as Sassy advis­es in the episode’s final seg­ment. “It’s all we have now.” But then, all effec­tive satire is a lit­tle fright­en­ing.

via MIT Tech­nol­o­gy Review

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Zen Wis­dom of Alan Watts Ani­mat­ed by the Cre­ators of South Park, Trey Park­er and Matt Stone

Amer­i­can His­to­ry: An Off-Kil­ter 1992 Stu­dent Film from South Park Cre­ator Trey Park­er

Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence Brings to Life Fig­ures from 7 Famous Paint­ings: The Mona Lisa, Birth of Venus & More

Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence Cre­ates Real­is­tic Pho­tos of Peo­ple, None of Whom Actu­al­ly Exist

Long Before Pho­to­shop, the Sovi­ets Mas­tered the Art of Eras­ing Peo­ple from Pho­tographs — and His­to­ry Too

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall, on Face­book, or on Insta­gram.

Watch a Mesmerizing Stream of Unwatched YouTube Videos: Astronaut.io Lets You Discover the Hidden Dimensions of the World’s Largest Video Platform

When times are hard, it often helps to zoom out for a moment—in search of a wider per­spec­tive, his­tor­i­cal con­text, the for­est full of trees…

Astronaut.io, an algo­rith­mic YouTube-based project by Andrew Wong and James Thomp­son, offers a big pic­ture that’s as restora­tive as it is odd:

Today, you are an Astro­naut. You are float­ing in inner space 100 miles above the sur­face of Earth. You peer through your win­dow and this is what you see.

If the stars look very dif­fer­ent today, it’s because they’re human, though not the kind who are prone to attract­ing the paparazzi. Rather, Astro­naut is pop­u­lat­ed by ordi­nary cit­i­zens, with occa­sion­al appear­ances by pets, wildlife, video game char­ac­ters, and hous­es, both inte­ri­or and exte­ri­or.

Launch Astro­naut, and you will be bear­ing pas­sive wit­ness to a parade of unevent­ful, unti­tled home video excerpts.

The expe­ri­ence is the oppo­site of earth­shak­ing.

And that is by design.

As Wong told Wired’s Liz Stin­son:

There’s this metaphor of being on a train …you see things out the win­dow and think, ‘Oh what is that?’ but it’s too late, it’s already gone by. Not let­ting some­one go too deep is pret­ty impor­tant.

After some tri­al and error on Twit­ter, where video con­tent rarely favors the rest­ful, Wong and Thomp­son real­ized that the sort of mate­r­i­al they sought resided on YouTube. Per­haps it’s been reflex­ive­ly dumped by users with no par­tic­u­lar pas­sion for what they’ve record­ed. Or the account is a new one, its own­er just begin­ning to fig­ure out how to post con­tent.

The videos on any giv­en Astro­naut jour­ney earn their place by virtue of gener­ic, cam­era-assigned file names (IMG 0034, MOV 0005, DSC 0165…), zero views, and an upload with­in the last week.

The over­all effect is one of mes­mer­iz­ing, unre­mark­able life going on whether it’s observed or not.

Chil­dren per­form in their liv­ing room

A woman assem­bles a bride’s bou­quet

A kit­ten bats a toy

A pre-fab home is moved into place

The vision is heart­warm­ing­ly glob­al.

Astro­naut is anti-star, but there are some fre­quent sight­ings, owing to the num­ber of name­less incon­se­quen­tial videos any one user uploads.

This week a Viet­namese fash­ion­ista, a karaoke space in Argenti­na, and a box­ing ring in Mon­tre­al make mul­ti­ple appear­ances, as do some very tired look­ing teach­ers.

The effect is most sooth­ing when you allow it to wash over you unim­ped­ed, but there is a red but­ton below the frame, if you feel com­pelled to linger with­in a cer­tain scene.

(You can also click on what­ev­er pass­es for the video’s title in the upper left cor­ner to open it on YouTube, from whence you might be able to suss out a bit more infor­ma­tion.)

A very young Super Mario fan has appar­ent­ly col­o­nized a parent’s account for his nar­rat­ed gam­ing videos.

Halfway around the world, a for­mal­ly dressed man sits behind a desk pri­or to his first-ever upload.

Some gift­ed dancers fail to rotate pri­or to upload­ing.

A recent­ly acquired night vision wildlife cam has already cap­tured a num­ber of coy­otes.

And every­one who comes through the door of a Chi­nese house­hold adores the hap­py baby with­in.

It’s unclear if the algo­rithm will alight on any cell phone footage doc­u­ment­ing the shock­ing scenes at recent protests sparked by the death of George Floyd. Per­haps not, giv­en the urgency to share such videos, titling them to clue view­ers in to the what, who, where, when, and why.

For now Astro­naut appears to be the same floaty trip Jake Swearin­gen described in a 2017 arti­cle for New York Mag­a­zine:

The inter­net is a place that often rewards the shock­ing, the sad, the rage-induc­ing — or the naked­ly ambi­tious and atten­tion-seek­ing. A morn­ing of watch­ing Astronaut.io is an anti­dote to all that.

Begin your explo­rations with Astro­naut here.

h/t to read­er Tom Hedrick

Relat­ed Con­tent:

A Playlist of Songs to Get You Through Hard Times: Stream 20 Tracks from the Alan Lomax Col­lec­tion

Sooth­ing, Uplift­ing Resources for Par­ents & Care­givers Stressed by the COVID-19 Cri­sis

An Art Gallery for Ger­bils: Two Quar­an­tined Lon­don­ers Cre­ate a Mini Muse­um Com­plete with Ger­bil-Themed Art

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Every day since March 15, she has uploaded a set of 10 micrhvi­sions of social­ly dis­tanced New York City. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

365 Free Movies Streaming on YouTube

The wail resounds in every cor­ner of the house, you can­not stop it—the books have all been read, the new releas­es streamed, every video game played to the end mul­ti­ple times. I’m bored… You gave up quar­an­tine home­school weeks ago. Just who did you think you were? Here’s an idea, par­ent at your wit’s end: sit the kids in front of Lone Wolf McQuade or Over the Top.

Tell them how every­thing used to look like that when you were young. No sec­ond or third screen to turn to when you lost inter­est. You’d catch a free movie on a Sun­day afternoon—streaming in real time, as it were—on one of four or five chan­nels. No pause, rewind, or save for lat­er. (Play it up—maybe you didn’t live this, they don’t know that.)

Oh, and there were com­mer­cials every ten min­utes or so—lots and lots and lots of ads. This is a les­son in media history—you’re an edu­ca­tor! They’ll read­i­ly admit how much bet­ter they have it as they watch Chuck Nor­ris and Stal­lone rack up the kills on YouTube, free to stream (and pause, rewind, and save for lat­er), with many few­er ad inter­rup­tions than in your day, and with 363 oth­er films to watch and more to come.

But say you find this con­tent objec­tion­able, or… well, bad. You could cer­tain­ly do much worse, believe me, as you’ll see in a cur­so­ry look at the many fea­ture enter­tain­ments avail­able to stream free with ads on YouTube. But, in all seri­ous­ness, you care about your children’s edu­ca­tion, and with some care­ful dig­ging, you’ll find quite a lot to give them a real cul­tur­al les­son, and to enlight­en the grown-ups, too.

Learn, for exam­ple, about the Wreck­ing Crew, in a doc­u­men­tary of the same name, the famous cohort of stu­dio musi­cians who played on hun­dreds of the best pop, rock, soul, etc. records in the 60s. As the Funk Broth­ers were to Motown, Book­er T. & the MGs to Stax, so were the Wreck­ing Crew to the West Coast Sound (and the sound of Elvis, The Beach Boys, Frank Sina­tra, Nat King Cole, the Mamas and the Papas, Son­ny & Cher, Simon & Gar­funkel, and so on).

And as the Wreck­ing Crew were to the West Coast so was Mus­cle Shoals to the deep South. The tiny Alaba­ma town and its FAME Stu­dios fea­tured some of the great­est R&B, soul, and coun­try rhythm play­ers in the world, major con­trib­u­tors to records by Dylan, the Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Aretha Franklin, Wil­son Pick­ett, and so many more. There’s a film about them too. (We can’t embed the full movies here, but you’ll find them in the links below.)

There are many oth­er qual­i­ty edu­ca­tion­al enter­tain­ments about pop music his­to­ry, like the Dave Grohl-direct­ed Sound City. You’ll also find doc­u­men­taries like Super Size Me, Cap­i­tal­ism: A Love Sto­ry, and Freako­nom­ics. (An eco­nom­ics course!) Many oth­er plat­forms have intro­duced free stream­ing movies with ads. In YouTube’s case, as AdAge notes, the move to stream­ing free films comes as a way to recoup adver­tis­ers who increas­ing­ly found their ads run­ning “inside offen­sive videos, some with ter­ror­ist pro­pa­gan­da and hate speech.”

The com­pa­ny is clean­ing up its image, and in the process becom­ing some­thing like the TV chan­nels of old, only with all the dig­i­tal ease that makes stream­ing so con­ve­nient. “They are now a TV net­work,” says an exec­u­tive for one video ad tech­nol­o­gy plat­form, mov­ing away from low-qual­i­ty, user-gen­er­at­ed con­tent and toward high dol­lar series and the gold­mine of old movies. Adver­tis­ing is every­thing, so, there’s anoth­er les­son for you—even in the new media busi­ness, his­to­ry repeats.

See a list of rec­om­mend­ed films avail­able to stream free on YouTube, with ads, below. Enter the gen­er­al col­lec­tion here. And feel free to explore our col­lec­tion, 4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More.

Super Size Me

The Wreck­ing Crew

Cap­i­tal­ism: A Love Sto­ry

Fred­die Mer­cury: The King of Queen

Mus­cle Shoals

Freako­nom­ics

Bob Mar­ley: The Roots of Man

Sound City

All Things Must Pass (Doc­u­men­tary on Tow­er Records)

The Bird Cage

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch 99 Movies Free Online Cour­tesy of YouTube & MGM: Rocky, The Ter­mi­na­tor, Four Wed­dings and a Funer­al & More

60 Free Film Noir Movies 

Down­load 6600 Free Films from The Prelinger Archives and Use Them How­ev­er You Like

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

Free M.I.T. Course Teaches You How to Become Bill Nye & Make Great Science Videos for YouTube

If I had my way, more aca­d­e­mics would care about teach­ing beyond the walls of the acad­e­my. They’d teach to a broad­er pub­lic and con­sid­er ways to make their mate­r­i­al more engag­ing, if not inspir­ing, to new audi­ences. You can find exam­ples out there of teach­ers who are doing it right. The heirs of Carl Sagan–Bri­an Greene, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Bill Nye–know how to light a spark and make their mate­r­i­al come alive on TV and YouTube. How they do this is not exact­ly a mys­tery, not after M.I.T. post­ed online a course called “Becom­ing the Next Bill Nye: Writ­ing and Host­ing the Edu­ca­tion­al Show.

Taught at M.I.T. over a month-long peri­od, Becom­ing the Next Bill Nye was designed to teach stu­dents video pro­duc­tion tech­niques that would help them “to engag­ing­ly con­vey [their] pas­sions for sci­ence, tech­nol­o­gy, engi­neer­ing, and/or math.” By the end of the course, they’d know how to script and host a 5‑minute YouTube show.

You can now find the syl­labus and all mate­ri­als for that course online at MIT’s Open­Course­Ware site. This includes all video lec­tures and class assign­ments. Or, if you pre­fer, you can get the video lec­tures straight from this YouTube playlist.

Becom­ing the Next Bill Nye will be added to our meta col­lec­tion, 1,700 Free Online Cours­es from Top Uni­ver­si­ties.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Carl Sagan Presents Six Lec­tures on Earth, Mars & Our Solar Sys­tem … For Kids (1977)

Watch the High­ly-Antic­i­pat­ed Evolution/Creationism Debate: Bill Nye the Sci­ence Guy v. Cre­ation­ist Ken Ham

Neil deGrasse Tyson Lists 8 (Free) Books Every Intel­li­gent Per­son Should Read

Discover The Backwards Brain Bicycle: What Riding a Bike Says About the Neuroplasticity of the Brain

Like most of us, engi­neer Des­tin San­dlin, cre­ator of the edu­ca­tion­al sci­ence web­site Smarter Every Day, learned how to ride a bike as a child. Archival footage from 1987 shows a con­fi­dent, mul­let-haired San­dlin pilot­ing a two-wheel­er like a boss.

Flash for­ward to the present day, when a welder friend threw a major wrench in Sandlin’s cycling game by tweak­ing a bike’s handlebar/front wheel cor­re­spon­dence. Turn the han­dle­bars of the “back­wards bike” to the left, and the wheel goes to the right. Steer right, and the front wheel points left.

San­dlin thought he’d con­quer this beast in a mat­ter of min­utes, but in truth it took him eight months of dai­ly prac­tice to con­quer his brain’s cog­ni­tive bias as to the expect­ed oper­a­tion. This led him to the con­clu­sion that knowl­edge is not the same thing as under­stand­ing.

He knew how to ride a nor­mal bike, but had no real grasp of the com­plex algo­rithm that kept him upright, a simul­ta­ne­ous bal­let of bal­ance, down­ward force, gyro­scop­ic pro­ces­sion, and nav­i­ga­tion.

As he assures fans of his Youtube chan­nel, it’s not a case of the stereo­typ­i­cal unco­or­di­nat­ed sci­ence geek—not only can he jug­gle, when he took the back­wards bike on tour, a glob­al ros­ter of audi­ence vol­un­teers’ brains gave them the exact same trou­ble his had.

Inter­est­ing­ly, his 6‑year-old son, who’d been rid­ing a bike for half his young life, got the hang of the back­wards bike in just two weeks. Children’s brain’s pos­sess much more neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty than those of adults, whose senior­i­ty means habits and bias­es are that much more ingrained.

It couldn’t have hurt that San­dlin bribed the kid with a trip to Aus­tralia to meet an astro­naut.

Did the ardu­ous­ness of mas­ter­ing the back­wards bike ruin San­dlin for nor­mal­ly con­fig­ured bicy­cles? Watch the video above all the way to the end for an incred­i­ble spon­ta­neous moment of mind over mat­ter.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Physics of the Bike

The Mys­te­ri­ous Physics Behind How Bikes Ride by Them­selves

Sci­ence Behind the Bike: Four Videos from the Open Uni­ver­si­ty on the Eve of the Tour de France

The Neu­ro­science of Drum­ming: Researchers Dis­cov­er the Secrets of Drum­ming & The Human Brain

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.