Search Results for "marketing"

Learn to Become a Digital Marketing Analyst with Unilever’s New Certificate Program

Unilever, the con­sumer goods com­pa­ny head­quar­tered in Lon­don, owns over 400 brands. Dove, Lip­ton, Ben & Jer­ry’s, Hell­man­n’s and Knorr–you know and use many of Unilever’s prod­ucts. The same goes for many peo­ple liv­ing across the globe. An esti­mat­ed 3.4 bil­lion peo­ple use Unilever prod­ucts every day. How has Unilever estab­lished such vast reach? Through mar­ket­ing. Like oth­er con­sumer prod­ucts com­pa­nies, Unilever depends on mar­ket­ing to build brand aware­ness for each prod­uct and to dif­fer­en­ti­ate them from com­peti­tors. Mar­ket­ing is part of the lifeblood of the orga­ni­za­tion, and dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing par­tic­u­lar­ly allows the com­pa­ny to thrive here in the 21st cen­tu­ry.

Hap­pi­ly, for any aspir­ing mar­keters out there, Unilever has just launched a new Dig­i­tal Mar­ket­ing Ana­lyst cer­tifi­cate pro­gram. Offered on the Cours­era plat­form, the pro­gram con­sists of four cours­es (each tak­ing an esti­mat­ed 20 hours to com­plete) that focus on help­ing stu­dents build job-ready skills in dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing ana­lyt­ics. The cours­es include:

  • Cus­tomer Under­stand­ing and Dig­i­tal Mar­ket­ing Chan­nels
  • Mea­sure­ment and Analy­sis
  • Cam­paign Per­for­mance Report­ing, Visu­al­iza­tion, & Improve­ment
  • Advanced Tools for Dig­i­tal Mar­ket­ing Ana­lyt­ics

As stu­dents move through the pro­gram, they will “learn in-demand skills like data analy­sis, cus­tomer seg­men­ta­tion, and SEO opti­miza­tion.” They will also start “col­lect­ing and inter­pret­ing data to eval­u­ate the per­for­mance of dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing efforts, improve strate­gies, and con­tribute to achiev­ing mar­ket­ing goals and objec­tives.”

Stu­dents can audit each course for free, or sign up to earn a share­able cer­tifi­cate. Stu­dents who select the lat­ter option will be charged $49 per month. So, if you spend 10 hours per week, you can com­plete the 80-hour cer­tifi­cate pro­gram in two months, and pay about $100 in total.

Sign up for the Dig­i­tal Mar­ket­ing Ana­lyst cer­tifi­cate pro­gram here.

Note: Open Cul­ture has a part­ner­ship with Cours­era. If read­ers enroll in cer­tain Cours­era cours­es and pro­grams, it helps sup­port Open Cul­ture.

Relat­ed Con­tent 

Gen­er­a­tive AI for Every­one: A Free Course from AI Pio­neer Andrew Ng

Google Unveils a Dig­i­tal Mar­ket­ing & E‑Commerce Cer­tifi­cate: 7 Cours­es Will Help Pre­pare Stu­dents for an Entry-Lev­el Job in 6 Months

Google & Cours­era Cre­ate a Career Cer­tifi­cate That Pre­pares Stu­dents for Cyber­se­cu­ri­ty Jobs in 6 Months


The Origin Story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: How a 1939 Marketing Gimmick Launched a Beloved Christmas Character

It’s time to for­get near­ly every­thing you know about Rudolph the Red-Nosed Rein­deer…at least as estab­lished by the 1964 Rankin/Bass stop motion ani­mat­ed tele­vi­sion spe­cial.

You can hang onto the source of Rudolph’s shame and even­tu­al tri­umph — the glow­ing red nose that got him bounced from his play­mates’ rein­deer games before sav­ing Christ­mas.

Lose all those oth­er now-icon­ic ele­ments —  the Island of Mis­fit Toys, long-lashed love inter­est Clarice, the Abom­inable Snow Mon­ster of the North, Yukon Cor­nelius, Sam the Snow­man, and Her­mey the aspi­rant den­tist elf.

As orig­i­nal­ly con­ceived, Rudolph (run­ner up names: Rol­lo, Rod­ney, Roland, Rod­er­ick and Regi­nald) wasn’t even a res­i­dent of the North Pole.

He lived with a bunch of oth­er rein­deer in an unre­mark­able house some­where along San­ta’s deliv­ery route.

San­ta treat­ed Rudolph’s house­hold as if it were a human address, com­ing down the chim­ney with presents while the occu­pants were asleep in their beds.

To get to Rudolph’s ori­gin sto­ry we must trav­el back in time to Jan­u­ary 1939, when a Mont­gomery Ward depart­ment head was already look­ing for a nation­wide hol­i­day pro­mo­tion to draw cus­tomers to its stores dur­ing the Decem­ber hol­i­days.

He set­tled on a book to be pro­duced in house and giv­en away free of charge to any child accom­pa­ny­ing their par­ent to the store.

Copy­writer Robert L. May was charged with com­ing up with a hol­i­day nar­ra­tive star­ring an ani­mal sim­i­lar to Fer­di­nand the Bull.

After giv­ing the mat­ter some thought, May tapped Den­ver Gillen, a pal in Mont­gomery Ward’s art depart­ment, to draw his under­dog hero, an appeal­ing-look­ing young deer with a red nose big enough to guide a sleigh through thick fog.

(That schnozz is not with­out con­tro­ver­sy. Pri­or to Caitlin Flana­gan’s 2020 essay in the Atlantic chaf­ing at the tele­vi­sion spe­cial’s explic­it­ly cru­el depic­tions of oth­er­ing the odd­ball, Mont­gomery Ward fret­ted that cus­tomers would inter­pret a red nose as drunk­en­ness. In May’s telling, San­ta is so uncom­fort­able bring­ing up the true nature of the deer’s abnor­mal­i­ty, he pre­tends that Rudolph’s “won­der­ful fore­head” is the nec­es­sary head­lamp for his sleigh…)

On the strength of Gillen’s sketch­es, May was giv­en the go-ahead to write the text.

His rhyming cou­plets weren’t exact­ly the stuff of great children’s lit­er­a­ture. A sam­pling:

Twas the day before Christ­mas, and all through the hills, 

The rein­deer were play­ing, enjoy­ing the spills.

Of skat­ing and coast­ing, and climb­ing the wil­lows,

And hop­scotch and leapfrog, pro­tect­ed by pil­lows.


And San­ta was right (as he usu­al­ly is)
The fog was as thick as a soda’s white fizz


The room he came down in was black­er than ink

He went for a chair and then found it a sink!

No mat­ter.

May’s employ­er wasn’t much con­cerned with the art­ful­ness of the tale. It was far more inter­est­ed in its poten­tial as a mar­ket­ing tool.

“We believe that an exclu­sive sto­ry like this aggres­sive­ly adver­tised in our news­pa­per ads and circulars…can bring every store an incal­cu­la­ble amount of pub­lic­i­ty, and, far more impor­tant, a tremen­dous amount of Christ­mas traf­fic,” read the announce­ment that the Retail Sales Depart­ment sent to all Mont­gomery Ward retail store man­agers on Sep­tem­ber 1, 1939.

Over 800 stores opt­ed in, order­ing 2,365,016 copies at 1½¢ per unit.

Pro­mo­tion­al posters tout­ed the 32-page free­bie as “the rol­lickingest, rip-roaringest, riot-pro­vokingest,  Christ­mas give-away your town has ever seen!”

The adver­tis­ing man­ag­er of Iowa’s Clin­ton Her­ald for­mal­ly apol­o­gized for the paper’s fail­ure to cov­er the Rudolph phe­nom­e­non  — its local Mont­gomery Ward branch had opt­ed out of the pro­mo­tion and there was a sense that any sto­ry it ran might indeed cre­ate a riot on the sales floor.

His let­ter is just but one piece of Rudolph-relat­ed ephemera pre­served in a 54-page scrap­book that is now part of the Robert Lewis May Col­lec­tion at Dart­mouth, May’s alma mater.

Anoth­er page boasts a let­ter from a boy named Robert Rosen­baum, who wrote to thank Mont­gomery Ward for his copy:

I enjoyed the book very much. My sis­ter could not read it so I read it to her. The man that wrote it done bet­ter than I could in all my born days, and that’s nine years.

The mag­ic ingre­di­ent that trans­formed a mar­ket­ing scheme into an ever­green if not uni­ver­sal­ly beloved Christ­mas tra­di­tion is a song …with an unex­pect­ed side order of cor­po­rate gen­eros­i­ty.

May’s wife died of can­cer when he was work­ing on Rudolph, leav­ing him a sin­gle par­ent with a pile of med­ical bills. After Mont­gomery Ward repeat­ed the Rudolph pro­mo­tion in 1946, dis­trib­ut­ing an addi­tion­al 3,600,000 copies, its Board of Direc­tors vot­ed to ease his bur­den by grant­i­ng him the copy­right to his cre­ation.

Once he held the reins to the “most famous rein­deer of all”, May enlist­ed his song­writer broth­er-in-law, John­ny Marks, to adapt Rudolph’s sto­ry.

The sim­ple lyrics, made famous by singing cow­boy Gene Autry’s 1949 hit record­ing, pro­vid­ed May with a rev­enue stream and Rankin/Bass with a skele­tal out­line for its 1964 stop-ani­ma­tion spe­cial.

Screen­writer Romeo Muller, the dri­ving force behind the Island of Mis­fit Toys, Sam the Snow­man, Clarice, et al revealed that he would have based his tele­play on May’s orig­i­nal book, had he been able to find a copy.

Read a close-to-final draft of Robert L. May’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Rein­deer, illus­trat­ed by Den­ver Gillen here.

Fuse 8 n’ Kate · Episode 209 — Rudolph the Red-Nosed Rein­deer

Bonus con­tent: Max Fleischer’s ani­mat­ed Rudolph The Red-Nosed Rein­deer from 1948, which pre­serves some of May’s orig­i­nal text.

Relat­ed Con­tent

Hear Neil Gaiman Read A Christ­mas Car­ol Just Like Charles Dick­ens Read It

Hear the Christ­mas Car­ols Made by Alan Turing’s Com­put­er: Cut­ting-Edge Ver­sions of “Jin­gle Bells” and “Good King Wences­las” (1951)

Hear Paul McCartney’s Exper­i­men­tal Christ­mas Mix­tape: A Rare & For­got­ten Record­ing from 1965

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



Google Unveils a Digital Marketing & E‑Commerce Certificate: 7 Courses Will Help Prepare Students for an Entry-Level Job in 6 Months

Dur­ing the pan­dem­ic, Google launched a series of Career Cer­tifi­cates that will “pre­pare learn­ers for an entry-lev­el role in under six months.” Their first cer­tifi­cates focused on Project Man­age­ment, Data Ana­lyt­ics, User Expe­ri­ence (UX) Design, IT Sup­port and IT Automa­tion. Now comes their latest–a cer­tifi­cate ded­i­cat­ed to Dig­i­tal Mar­ket­ing & E‑commerce.

Offered on the Cours­era plat­form, the Dig­i­tal Mar­ket­ing & E‑commerce Pro­fes­sion­al Cer­tifi­cate con­sists of sev­en cours­es, all col­lec­tive­ly designed to help stu­dents “devel­op dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing and e‑commerce strate­gies; attract and engage cus­tomers through dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing chan­nels like search and email; mea­sure mar­ket­ing ana­lyt­ics and share insights; build e‑commerce stores, ana­lyze e‑commerce per­for­mance, and build cus­tomer loy­al­ty.” The cours­es include:

In total, this pro­gram “includes over 190 hours of instruc­tion and prac­tice-based assess­ments, which sim­u­late real-world dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing and e‑commerce sce­nar­ios that are crit­i­cal for suc­cess in the work­place.” Along the way, stu­dents will learn how to use tools and plat­forms like Can­va, Con­stant Con­tact, Google Ads, Google Ana­lyt­ics, Hoot­suite, Hub­Spot, Mailchimp, Shopi­fy, and Twit­ter. You can start a 7‑day free tri­al and explore the cours­es. If you con­tin­ue beyond that, Google/Coursera will charge $39 USD per month. That trans­lates to about $235 after 6 months.

If you don’t want to pay, you can audit each course for free, with­out ulti­mate­ly receiv­ing the cer­tifi­cate.

Explore the Dig­i­tal Mar­ket­ing & E‑commerce Pro­fes­sion­al Cer­tifi­cate.

Note: Open Cul­ture has a part­ner­ship with Cours­era. If read­ers enroll in cer­tain Cours­era cours­es and pro­grams, it helps sup­port Open Cul­ture.

Relat­ed Con­tent 

Google & Cours­era Launch Career Cer­tifi­cates That Pre­pare Stu­dents for Jobs in 6 Months: Data Ana­lyt­ics, Project Man­age­ment and UX Design

Become a Project Man­ag­er With­out a Col­lege Degree with Google’s Project Man­age­ment Cer­tifi­cate

Google Data Ana­lyt­ics Cer­tifi­cate: 8 Cours­es Will Help Pre­pare Stu­dents for an Entry-Lev­el Job in 6 Months


When Movies Came on Vinyl: The Early-80s Engineering Marvel and Marketing Disaster That Was RCA’s SelectaVision

Any­one over 30 remem­bers a time when it was impos­si­ble to imag­ine home video with­out phys­i­cal media. But any­one over 50 remem­bers a time when it was dif­fi­cult to choose which kind of media to bet on. Just as the “com­put­er zoo” of the ear­ly 1980s forced home-com­put­ing enthu­si­asts to choose between Apple, IBM, Com­modore, Texas Instru­ments, and a host of oth­er brands, each with its own tech­no­log­i­cal spec­i­fi­ca­tions, the mar­ket for home-video hard­ware pre­sent­ed sev­er­al dif­fer­ent alter­na­tives. You’ve heard of Sony’s Beta­max, for exam­ple, which has been a punch­line ever since it lost out to JVC’s VHS. But that was just the realm of video tape; have you ever watched a movie on a vinyl record?

Four decades ago, it was dif­fi­cult for most con­sumers to imag­ine home video at all. “Get records that let you have John Tra­vol­ta danc­ing on your floor, Gene Hack­man dri­ving though your liv­ing room, the God­fa­ther stay­ing at your house,” booms the nar­ra­tor of the tele­vi­sion com­mer­cial above.

How, you ask? By pur­chas­ing a Selec­taVi­sion play­er and com­pat­i­ble video discs, which allow you to “see the enter­tain­ment you real­ly want, when you want, unin­ter­rupt­ed.” In our age of stream­ing-on-demand this sounds like a laugh­ably pedes­tri­an claim, but at the time it rep­re­sent­ed the cul­mi­na­tion of sev­en­teen years and $600 mil­lion of inten­sive research and devel­op­ment at the Radio Com­pa­ny of Amer­i­ca, bet­ter known as RCA.

Radio, and even more so its suc­ces­sor tele­vi­sion, made RCA an enor­mous (and enor­mous­ly prof­itable) con­glom­er­ate in the first half of the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry. By the 1960s, it com­mand­ed the resources to work seri­ous­ly on such projects as a vinyl record that could con­tain not just music, but full motion pic­tures in col­or and stereo. This turned out to be even hard­er than it sound­ed: after numer­ous delays, RCA could only bring Selec­taVi­sion to mar­ket in the spring of 1981, four years after the inter­nal tar­get. By that time, after the com­pa­ny had been com­mis­sion­ing con­tent for the bet­ter part of a decade (D. A. Pen­nebak­er shot David Bowie’s final Zig­gy Star­dust con­cert in 1973 on com­mis­sion from RCA, who’d intend­ed to make a Selec­taVi­sion disc out of it), the for­mat faced com­pe­ti­tion from not just VHS and Beta­max but the cut­ting-edge LaserDisc as well.

Nev­er­the­less, the Selec­taVi­sion’s ultra-dense­ly encod­ed vinyl video discs — offi­cial­ly known as capac­i­tance elec­tron­ic discs, or CEDs — were, in their way, mar­vels of engi­neer­ing. You can take a deep dive into exact­ly what makes the sys­tem so impres­sive, which involves not just a break­down of its com­po­nents but a com­plete retelling of the his­to­ry of RCA, though the five-part Tech­nol­o­gy Con­nec­tions minis­eries at the top of the post. True com­pletists can also watch RCA’s video tour of its Selec­taVi­sion pro­duc­tion facil­i­ties, as well as its live deal­er-intro­duc­tion broad­cast host­ed by Tom Brokaw and fea­tur­ing a Broad­way-style musi­cal num­ber. Selec­taVi­sion was also rolled out in the Unit­ed King­dom in 1983, thus qual­i­fy­ing for a hands-on exam­i­na­tion by British retro-tech Youtu­ber Tech­moan.

Selec­taVi­sion last­ed just three years. Its fail­ure was per­haps overde­ter­mined, and not just by the bad tim­ing result­ing from its trou­bled devel­op­ment. In the ear­ly 1980s, the idea of buy­ing pre-record­ed video media lacked the imme­di­ate appeal of “time-shift­ing” tele­vi­sion, which had become pos­si­ble only with video tape. Nor did RCA, whose mar­ket­ing cen­tered on the pos­si­bil­i­ty of build­ing a per­ma­nent home-video library in the man­ner of one’s music library, fore­see the pos­si­bil­i­ty of rental. And though CEDs were ulti­mate­ly made func­tion­al, they remained cum­ber­some, able to hold just one hour of video per side and noto­ri­ous­ly sub­ject to jit­ters even on the first play. Yet as RCA’s ad cam­paigns empha­sized, there real­ly was a “mag­ic” in being able to watch the movies you want­ed at home, when­ev­er you want­ed to. In that sense, at least, we now live in a mag­i­cal world indeed.

Relat­ed con­tent:

The Sto­ry of the Mini­Disc, Sony’s 1990s Audio For­mat That’s Gone But Not For­got­ten

A Cel­e­bra­tion of Retro Media: Vinyl, Cas­settes, VHS, and Polaroid Too

The Beau­ty of Degrad­ed Art: Why We Like Scratchy Vinyl, Grainy Film, Wob­bly VHS & Oth­er Ana­log-Media Imper­fec­tion

The Muse­um of Fail­ure: A New Swedish Muse­um Show­cas­es Harley-David­son Per­fume, Col­gate Beef Lasagne, Google Glass & Oth­er Failed Prod­ucts

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.


Take 193 Free Tech and Business Courses Online at Udacity: Product Design, Programming, A.I., Marketing & More

Each of us now com­mands more tech­no­log­i­cal pow­er than did any human being alive in pre­vi­ous eras. Or rather, we poten­tial­ly com­mand it: what we can do with the tech­nol­o­gy at our fin­ger­tips — and how much mon­ey we can make with it — depends on how well we under­stand it. Luck­i­ly, the devel­op­ment of learn­ing meth­ods has more or less kept pace with the devel­op­ment of every­thing else we now do with com­put­ers. Take the online-edu­ca­tion plat­form Udac­i­ty, which offers “nan­ode­gree” pro­grams in areas like pro­gram­ming, data sci­ence, and cyber­se­cu­ri­ty. While the nan­ode­grees them­selves come with fees, Udac­i­ty does­n’t charge for the con­stituent cours­es: in oth­er words, you can earn what you need to know for free.

Above you’ll find the intro­duc­tion to Udac­i­ty’s Prod­uct Design course by Google (also cre­ator of the Cours­era pro­fes­sion­al-cer­tifi­cate pro­grams pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured here on Open Cul­ture). “Designed to help you mate­ri­al­ize your game-chang­ing idea and trans­form it into a prod­uct that you can build a busi­ness around,” the course “blends the­o­ry and prac­tice to teach you prod­uct val­i­da­tion, UI/UX prac­tices, Google’s Design Sprint and the process for set­ting and track­ing action­able met­rics.”

This is a high­ly prac­ti­cal learn­ing expe­ri­ence at the inter­sec­tion of tech­nol­o­gy and busi­ness, as are many oth­er of Udac­i­ty’s 193 free cours­es, like App Mar­ket­ingApp Mon­e­ti­za­tion, How to Build a Start­up, and Get Your Start­up Start­ed.

If you have no par­tic­u­lar inter­est in found­ing and run­ning the next Google, Udac­i­ty also hosts plen­ty of cours­es that focus entire­ly on the work­ings of dif­fer­ent branch­es of tech­nol­o­gy, from pro­gram­ming and arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence to 2D game devel­op­ment and 3D graph­ics. (In addi­tion to the broad intro­duc­tions, there are also rel­a­tive­ly advanced cours­es of a much more spe­cif­ic focus: Devel­op­ing Android Apps with Kotlin, say, or Deploy­ing a Hadoop Clus­ter.) And if you’d sim­ply like to get your foot in the door with a job in tech, con­sid­er such offer­ings as Refresh Your Résumé, Strength­en Your LinkedIn Net­work & Brand, and a vari­ety of inter­view-prepa­ra­tion cours­es for jobs in data sci­encemachine learn­ing, prod­uct man­age­ment, vir­tu­al-real­i­ty devel­op­ment, and oth­er sub­fields. And how­ev­er cut­ting-edge their work, who could­n’t anoth­er spin through good old Intro to Psy­chol­o­gy?

Find a list of 193 Free Udac­i­ty cours­es here. For the next week Nan­ode­grees are 75% off (use code JULY75). Find more free cours­es in our list, 1,700 Free Online Cours­es from Top Uni­ver­si­ties.

Note: Open Cul­ture has a part­ner­ship with Udac­i­ty. If read­ers enroll in cer­tain Udac­i­ty cours­es and pro­grams that charge a fee, it helps sup­port Open Cul­ture.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

200 Online Cer­tifi­cate & Micro­cre­den­tial Pro­grams from Lead­ing Uni­ver­si­ties & Com­pa­nies

Google’s UX Design Pro­fes­sion­al Cer­tifi­cate: 7 Cours­es Will Help Pre­pare Stu­dents for an Entry-Lev­el Job in 6 Months

Learn How to Code for Free: A DIY Guide for Learn­ing HTML, Python, Javascript & More

1,700 Free Online Cours­es from Top Uni­ver­si­ties

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.


An Introduction to Consumer Neuroscience & Neuromarketing: A Free Online Course from the University of Copenhagen

Thomas Zoë­ga Ram­søy, a neu­ropsy­chol­o­gist at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Copen­hagen, presents An Intro­duc­tion to Con­sumer Neu­ro­science & Neu­ro­mar­ket­ing, a course that explores the fol­low­ing set of ques­tions:

How do we make deci­sions as con­sumers? What do we pay atten­tion to, and how do our ini­tial respons­es pre­dict our final choic­es? To what extent are these process­es uncon­scious and can­not be reflect­ed in overt reports? This course will pro­vide you with an intro­duc­tion to some of the most basic meth­ods in the emerg­ing fields of con­sumer neu­ro­science and neu­ro­mar­ket­ing. You will learn about the meth­ods employed and what they mean. You will learn about the basic brain mech­a­nisms in con­sumer choice, and how to stay updat­ed on these top­ics. The course will give an overview of the cur­rent and future uses of neu­ro­science in busi­ness.

You can take Intro­duc­tion to Con­sumer Neu­ro­science & Neu­ro­mar­ket­ing for free by select­ing the audit option upon enrolling. If you want to take the course for a cer­tifi­cate, you will need to pay a fee.

Intro­duc­tion to Con­sumer Neu­ro­science & Neu­ro­mar­ket­ing will be added to our list of Free Busi­ness Cours­es, a sub­set of our col­lec­tion: 1,700 Free Online Cours­es from Top Uni­ver­si­ties.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

For a com­plete list of online cours­es, please vis­it our com­plete col­lec­tion, 1,700 Free Online Cours­es from Top Uni­ver­si­ties.

For a list of online cer­tifi­cate pro­grams, vis­it 200 Online Cer­tifi­cate & Micro­cre­den­tial Pro­grams from Lead­ing Uni­ver­si­ties & Com­pa­nies, which fea­tures pro­grams from our part­ners Cours­era, Udac­i­ty, Future­Learn and edX.

And if you’re inter­est­ed in Online Mini-Mas­ters and Mas­ter’s Degrees pro­grams from uni­ver­si­ties, see our col­lec­tion: Online Degrees & Mini Degrees: Explore Mas­ters, Mini Mas­ters, Bach­e­lors & Mini Bach­e­lors from Top Uni­ver­si­ties.


How Las Vegas’ Sphere Actually Works: A Looks Inside the New $2.3 Billion Arena

If the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca is the Roman empire of our time, sure­ly it must have an equiv­a­lent of the Colos­se­um. A year ago, you could’ve heard a wide vari­ety of spec­u­la­tions as to what struc­ture that could pos­si­bly be. Today, many of us would sim­ply respond with “the Sphere,” espe­cial­ly if we hap­pen to be think-piece writ­ers. Since it opened last Sep­tem­ber, Sphere — to use its prop­er, arti­cle-free brand name — has inspired more than a few reflec­tions on what it says about the inter­sec­tion of tech­nol­o­gy and cul­ture here in the twen­ty-first cen­tu­ry, not to men­tion the con­sid­er­able ambi­tion and expense of its design and con­struc­tion.

A $2.3 bil­lion dome whose inte­ri­or and exte­ri­or are both enor­mous screens — vis­i­ble, one often hears, even from out­er space — Sphere would hard­ly make sense any­where in Amer­i­ca but Las Vegas, where it makes a good deal of sense indeed. Its loca­tion has also made pos­si­ble such irre­sistible head­lines as “Sphere and Loathing in Las Vegas,” below which the Atlantic’s Char­lie Warzel gets into the details of this “archi­tec­tur­al embod­i­ment of ridicu­lous­ness,” includ­ing its sur­pris­ing ori­gin: “Accord­ing to James Dolan, the enter­tain­ment mogul who financed the Sphere, the inspi­ra­tion for the build­ing came from ‘The Veldt,’ a 1950 short sto­ry by Ray Brad­bury” involv­ing a fam­i­ly house with giant screens for walls that can ren­der what­ev­er the chil­dren imag­ine.

Nat­u­ral­ly, the kids get hooked, and when Mom and Dad try to inter­vene, the screens send forth a pack of lions to eat them. “Though the Sphere’s mar­ket­ing pitch doesn’t explic­it­ly men­tion being mauled by big dig­i­tal cats,” Warzel writes, “I got the notion that at least part of the allure of com­ing to the Sphere is a desire to be over­whelmed.” How, exact­ly, the venue mar­shals its advanced tech­nol­o­gy to do that over­whelm­ing is explained in the MegaBuilds video at the top of the post. With its form not quite like any event space built in human his­to­ry, it neces­si­tat­ed the inven­tion of every­thing from a cus­tom cam­era sys­tem to audio-per­me­able screen sur­faces, none of which came cheap.

Hence the cost of see­ing a show at Sphere, whether it be the Dar­ren Aronof­sky’s “docu-film” Post­card from Earth, U2’s Achtung Baby-based res­i­den­cy ear­li­er this year, or the now-show­ing Dead & Com­pa­ny, which revives not just the Grate­ful Dead in their var­i­ous incar­na­tions over the decades, but also the sto­ried venues in which they played. Its view­ers could hard­ly fail to be aston­ished by the sheer spec­ta­cle, even if they know noth­ing of the Dead­’s col­or­ful his­to­ry. All of them will no doubt be moved to con­sid­er his­to­ry itself: that of human­i­ty, tech­nol­o­gy, and civ­i­liza­tion, all of which has led up to this rare thing Warzel calls “a brand-new, non-phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal sen­so­ry expe­ri­ence.” Say what you will about the over­stim­u­la­tion and excess rep­re­sent­ed by Sphere; if you can blow a Dead­head­’s mind, you’re def­i­nite­ly on to some­thing.

Relat­ed con­tent:

The Absurd Logis­tics of Con­cert Tours: The Behind-the-Scenes Prepa­ra­tion You Don’t Get to See

U2’s Bono & the Edge Give Sur­prise Con­cert in Kyiv Metro/Bomb Shel­ter: “Stand by Me,” “Angel of Harlem,” and “With or With­out You”

A Vir­tu­al Tour of Japan’s Inflat­able Con­cert Hall

Stream a Mas­sive Archive of Grate­ful Dead Con­certs from 1965–1995

Read Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, as It Was Orig­i­nal­ly Pub­lished in Rolling Stone (1971)

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


Wes Anderson Directs & Stars in an Ad Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Montblanc’s Signature Pen

One hard­ly has to be an expert on the films of Wes Ander­son to imag­ine that the man writes with a foun­tain pen. Maybe back in the ear­ly nine­teen-nineties, when he was shoot­ing the black-and-white short that would become Bot­tle Rock­et on the streets of Austin, he had to set­tle for ordi­nary ball­points. But now that he’s long since claimed his place in the top ranks of major Amer­i­can auteurs, he can indulge his taste for painstak­ing crafts­man­ship and recent-past anti­quar­i­an­ism both onscreen and off. For a brand like Mont­blanc, this sure­ly made him the ide­al choice to direct a com­mer­cial cel­e­brat­ing the hun­dredth anniver­sary of their flag­ship writ­ing tool, the Meis­ter­stück.

Shot at Stu­dio Babels­berg in Ger­many, where Ander­son is at work on his next fea­ture The Phoeni­cian Scheme, the result­ing short “fea­tures Ander­son him­self, sport­ing a wispy wal­rus mus­tache, as well as fre­quent col­lab­o­ra­tors Jason Schwartz­man and Rupert Friend, all pos­ing as a group of moun­tain-climbers with a par­tic­u­lar affec­tion for the free­dom and inspi­ra­tion offered by Montblanc’s prod­ucts,” writes Indiewire’s Har­ri­son Rich­lin.

With­in its first minute, “the ad takes us from the cold, snowy caps of Mont Blanc to a cozy chalet Ander­son announces as The Mont Blanc Obser­va­to­ry and Writer’s Room.” Vogue Busi­ness’ Christi­na Bink­ley reports that this indoor-to-out­door tran­si­tion alone required 50 takes, which was only one of the sur­pris­es in store for Mont­blanc’s mar­ket­ing offi­cer.

Ander­son also turned up with an unex­pect­ed pro­pos­al of his own. “The film­mak­er pre­sent­ed a pro­to­type pen of his own design that he asked the Ger­man com­pa­ny to man­u­fac­ture,” Bink­ley writes. “He’d even named it: the Schreiber­ling, which means ‘the scrib­bler’ in Ger­man. That had not been part of the pitch.” Per­haps con­vinced by the built pro­to­type assem­bled by Ander­son­’s set-design team, Mont­blanc “agreed to pro­duce 1,969 copies of this small, green foun­tain pen to com­mem­o­rate Ander­son­’s birth year, 1969.” At 55 years of age, Ander­son may no longer be the preter­nat­u­ral­ly con­fi­dent young film­mak­er we remem­ber from the days of Rush­more or The Roy­al Tenen­baums, but since then, he’s only grown more adept at get­ting exact­ly what he wants from a com­pa­ny, whether it be a movie stu­dio or a Euro­pean lux­u­ry-goods man­u­fac­tur­er.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Wes Anderson’s Shorts Films & Com­mer­cials: A Playlist of 8 Short Ander­son­ian Works

Mont­blanc Unveils a New Line of Miles Davis Pens … and (Kind of) Blue Ink

Why Do Wes Ander­son Movies Look Like That?

Neil Gaiman Talks Dream­i­ly About Foun­tain Pens, Note­books & His Writ­ing Process in His Long Inter­view with Tim Fer­riss

Has Wes Ander­son Sold Out? Can He Sell Out? Crit­ics Take Up the Debate

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.


Read the Uncompromising Letter That Steve Albini (RIP) Wrote to Nirvana Before Producing In Utero (1993)

Today, Steve Albi­ni, the musi­cian and pro­duc­er of impor­tant albums by Nir­vana, PJ Har­vey, the Pix­ies and many oth­ers, passed away in Chica­go, at the all-too-ear­ly age of 61. In trib­ute, we’re bring­ing you this clas­sic 2013 post from our archive. 

Jour­ney­man record pro­duc­er Steve Albi­ni (he prefers to be called a “record­ing engi­neer”) is per­haps the cranki­est man in rock. This is not an effect of age. He’s always been that way, since the emer­gence of his scary, no-frills post-punk band Big Black and lat­er projects Rape­man and Shel­lac. In his cur­rent role as elder states­man of indie rock and more, Chicago’s Albi­ni has devel­oped a rep­u­ta­tion as kind of a hardass. He’s also a con­sum­mate pro­fes­sion­al who musi­cians want to know and work with. From the sound of the Pix­ies’ Surfer Rosa to Joan­na Newsom’s Ys, Albi­ni has had a hand in some of the defin­ing albums of the last thir­ty plus years, and there is good rea­son for that: noth­ing sounds like an Albi­ni record. His method is all his own, and his results—minimalist, dynam­ic, and raw—are impos­si­ble to argue with.

So when Nir­vana embarked on record­ing their final, painful (in hind­sight) album In Utero, they asked Albi­ni to steer them away from the more major-label sound of the break­out Nev­er­mind, pro­duced by Butch Vig. True to form, the typ­i­cal­ly ver­bose Albi­ni sent a four-page typed let­ter in response. The let­ter (first page above—see the rest here) is a tes­ta­ment to per­haps the most thought­ful pro­duc­er since Quin­cy Jones and lays out Albini’s phi­los­o­phy in very fine detail. Two sam­ple para­graphs serve as a the­sis:

I’m only inter­est­ed in work­ing on records that legit­i­mate­ly reflect the band’s own per­cep­tion of their music and exis­tence. If you will com­mit your­selves to that as a tenet of the record­ing method­ol­o­gy, then I will bust my ass for you. I’ll work cir­cles around you. I’ll rap your head with a ratch­et…

I have worked on hun­dreds of records (some great, some good, some hor­ri­ble, a lot in the court­yard), and I have seen a direct cor­re­la­tion between the qual­i­ty of the end result and the mood of the band through­out the process. If the record takes a long time, and every­one gets bummed and scru­ti­nizes every step, then the record­ings bear lit­tle resem­blance to the live band, and the end result is sel­dom flat­ter­ing. Mak­ing punk records is def­i­nite­ly a case where more “work” does not imply a bet­ter end result. Clear­ly you have learned this your­selves and appre­ci­ate the log­ic.

Albi­ni decries any inter­fer­ence from the “front office bul­let­heads,” or record com­pa­ny execs (his feuds with such peo­ple are leg­endary), and makes it quite clear that he’s there to serve the inter­ests of the band and their sound, not the prod­uct of a mar­ket­ing cam­paign. While Albi­ni has issued many a surly man­i­festo over the years, this state­ment of his craft is maybe the most com­pre­hen­sive. He is dri­ven by what he calls a “kin­ship” with the bands he works with. And his pas­sion­ate com­mit­ment to musi­cians and to qual­i­ty sound makes him one of the most artis­ti­cal­ly vir­tu­ous peo­ple work­ing in pop­u­lar music today. For more on In Utero, read Dave Grohl’s Rolling Stone inter­view here. Below, see Dave Grohl, Krist Novosel­ic and Steve Albi­ni dis­cuss the now-famous let­ter to Nir­vana.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Music Pro­duc­er Steve Albi­ni, Direc­tor God­frey Reg­gio & Actor Fred Armisen Explain Why Cre­at­ing Is Cru­cial to Human Exis­tence

An Awkward/NSFW Inter­view with Nir­vana Pro­duc­er Steve Albi­ni (Plus B‑52 Front­man Fred Schnei­der)

Vis­it “Mar­i­o­batal­ivoice,” the Cook­ing Blog by Steve Albi­ni, Musi­cian & Record Pro­duc­er

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


Learn How to Create Your Own Custom AI Assistants Using OpenAI GPTs: A Free Course from Vanderbilt University

Last fall, Ope­nAI start­ed let­ting users cre­ate cus­tom ver­sions of ChatGPT–ones that would let peo­ple cre­ate AI assis­tants to com­plete tasks in their per­son­al or pro­fes­sion­al lives. In the months that fol­lowed, some users cre­at­ed AI apps that could gen­er­ate recipes and meals. Oth­ers devel­oped GPTs to cre­ate logos for their busi­ness­es. You get the pic­ture.

If you’re inter­est­ed in devel­op­ing your own AI assis­tant, Van­der­bilt com­put­er sci­ence pro­fes­sor Jules White has released a free online course called “Ope­nAI GPTs: Cre­at­ing Your Own Cus­tom AI Assis­tants.” On aver­age, the course should take sev­en hours to com­plete.

Here’s how he frames the course:

This cut­ting-edge course will guide you through the excit­ing jour­ney of cre­at­ing and deploy­ing cus­tom GPTs that cater to diverse indus­tries and appli­ca­tions. Imag­ine hav­ing a vir­tu­al assis­tant that can tack­le com­plex legal doc­u­ment analy­sis, stream­line sup­ply chain logis­tics, or even assist in sci­en­tif­ic research and hypoth­e­sis gen­er­a­tion. The pos­si­bil­i­ties are end­less! Through­out the course, you’ll delve into the intri­ca­cies of build­ing GPTs that can use your doc­u­ments to answer ques­tions, pat­terns to cre­ate amaz­ing human and AI inter­ac­tion, and meth­ods for cus­tomiz­ing the tone of your GPTs. You’ll learn how to design and imple­ment rig­or­ous test­ing sce­nar­ios to ensure your AI assis­tan­t’s accu­ra­cy, reli­a­bil­i­ty, and human-like com­mu­ni­ca­tion abil­i­ties. Pre­pare to be amazed as you explore real-world exam­ples and case stud­ies, such as:

1. GPT for Per­son­al­ized Learn­ing and Edu­ca­tion: Craft a vir­tu­al tutor that adapts its teach­ing approach based on each stu­den­t’s learn­ing style, pro­vid­ing per­son­al­ized les­son plans, inter­ac­tive exer­cis­es, and real-time feed­back, trans­form­ing the edu­ca­tion­al land­scape.

2. Culi­nary GPT: Your Per­son­al Recipe Vault and Meal Plan­ning Mae­stro. Step into a world where your culi­nary cre­ations come to life with the help of an AI assis­tant that knows your recipes like the back of its hand. The Culi­nary GPT is a cus­tom-built lan­guage mod­el designed to rev­o­lu­tion­ize your kitchen expe­ri­ence, serv­ing as a per­son­al recipe vault and meal plan­ning and shop­ping mae­stro.

3. GPT for Trav­el and Busi­ness Expense Man­age­ment: A GPT that can assist with all aspects of trav­el plan­ning and busi­ness expense man­age­ment. It could help users book flights, hotels, and trans­porta­tion while adher­ing to com­pa­ny poli­cies and bud­gets. Addi­tion­al­ly, it could stream­line expense report­ing and reim­burse­ment process­es, ensur­ing com­pli­ance and accu­ra­cy.

4. GPT for Mar­ket­ing and Adver­tis­ing Cam­paign Man­age­ment: Lever­age the pow­er of cus­tom GPTs to ana­lyze con­sumer data, mar­ket trends, and cam­paign per­for­mance, gen­er­at­ing tar­get­ed mar­ket­ing strate­gies, per­son­al­ized mes­sag­ing, and opti­miz­ing ad place­ment for max­i­mum engage­ment and return on invest­ment.

You can sign up for the course at no cost here. Or, alter­na­tive­ly, you can elect to pay $49 and receive a cer­tifi­cate at the end.

As a side note, Jules White (the pro­fes­sor) also designed anoth­er course pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured here on OC. It focus­es on prompt engi­neer­ing for ChatPG­PT.

Relat­ed Con­tent

A New Course Teach­es You How to Tap the Pow­ers of Chat­G­PT and Put It to Work for You

Google & Cours­era Launch New Career Cer­tifi­cates That Pre­pare Stu­dents for Jobs in 2–6 Months: Busi­ness Intel­li­gence & Advanced Data Ana­lyt­ics

Com­put­er Sci­en­tist Andrew Ng Presents a New Series of Machine Learn­ing Courses–an Updat­ed Ver­sion of the Pop­u­lar Course Tak­en by 5 Mil­lion Stu­dents



Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.