A Web Site That Lets You Find Your Home Address on Pangea

A cool tool. Soft­ware engi­neer Ian Web­ster has cre­at­ed a web­site that lets you see how the land mass­es on plan­et Earth have changed over the course of 750 mil­lion years. And it has the added bonus of let­ting you plot mod­ern address­es on these ancient land for­ma­tions. Ergo, you can see where your home was locat­ed on the Big Blue Mar­ble some 20, 100, 500, or 750 mil­lion years ago. Web­ster’s project (access it here) is open source. Have fun.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Map Show­ing Where Today’s Coun­tries Would Be Locat­ed on Pangea

A Bil­lion Years of Tec­ton­ic-Plate Move­ment in 40 Sec­onds: A Quick Glimpse of How Our World Took Shape

The Plate Tec­ton­ic Evo­lu­tion of the Earth Over 500 Mil­lion Years: Ani­mat­ed Video Takes You from Pangea, to 250 Mil­lion Years in the Future

The Red Hot Chili Peppers “Californication” Played on the Gayageum, a Korean Instrument That Emerged 1,400 Years Ago

We just had the chance to see the Red Hot Chili Pep­pers kick off a new tour, and so had to bring you this–Luna Lee per­form­ing RHCP’s “Cal­i­for­ni­ca­tion” on the Gayageum, a tra­di­tion­al Kore­an stringed instru­ment dat­ing back to the 6th cen­tu­ry. Over the years, we’ve shown you her adap­ta­tions of Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Voodoo Chile;’ David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold The World;” Leonard Cohen’s “Hal­lelu­jah; and Pink Floy­d’s “Com­fort­ably Numb,” “Anoth­er Brick in the Wall” & “Great Gig in the Sky.” Today, we’re keep­ing the tra­di­tion going. You can fol­low along with the orig­i­nal record­ing down below. Enjoy!

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent 

Talk­ing Heads’ “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)” Per­formed on Tra­di­tion­al Chi­nese Instru­ments

Pak­istani Musi­cians Play a Won­der­ful Ver­sion of Dave Brubeck’s Jazz Clas­sic, “Take Five”

A‑ha’s “Take On Me” Per­formed by North Kore­an Kids with Accor­dions

A Mid­dle-East­ern Ver­sion of Radiohead’s 1997 Hit “Kar­ma Police”

The Red Hot Chili Pep­pers’ Flea Presents a Bass Les­son, and Essen­tial Advice That Every Bass Play­er Should Know

AC/DC’s “Back in Black” Played on the Gayageum, a Kore­an Instru­ment Dat­ing Back to the 6th Cen­tu­ry

Architect Breaks Down the Design Of Four Iconic New York City Museums: the Met, MoMA, Guggenheim & Frick

Con­text may not count for every­thing in art. But as under­scored by every­one from Mar­cel Duchamp (or Elsa von Frey­tag-Lor­ing­hoven) to the jour­nal­ists who occa­sion­al­ly con­vince vir­tu­oso musi­cians to busk in dingy pub­lic spaces, it cer­tain­ly counts for some­thing. Whether or not you believe that works of art retain the same essen­tial val­ue no mat­ter where they’re beheld, some envi­ron­ments are sure­ly more con­ducive to appre­ci­a­tion than oth­ers. The ques­tion of just which design ele­ments make the dif­fer­ence has occu­pied muse­um archi­tects for cen­turies, and in New York City alone, you can direct­ly expe­ri­ence more than 200 years of bold exer­cis­es and exper­i­ments in the form.

In the Archi­tec­tur­al Digest video above, archi­tect Michael Wyet­zn­er (pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured here on Open Cul­ture for his exege­ses of New York’s apart­ments, bridges, and sub­way sta­tions, as well as Cen­tral Park and the Chrysler Build­ing) uses his expert knowl­edge to reveal the design choic­es that have gone into the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um of Art, the Muse­um of Mod­ern Art, the Solomon R. Guggen­heim Muse­um, and the Frick Col­lec­tion. No two of these famous art insti­tu­tions were con­ceived in quite the same peri­od, none look or feel quite the same as the oth­ers, and we can be rea­son­ably sure that no sin­gle piece of art would look quite the same if it were moved between any of them.

Occu­py­ing five blocks of Cen­tral Park, MoMA is less a build­ing than a col­lec­tion of build­ings — each added at a dif­fer­ent time, in a style of that time — and indeed, less a col­lec­tion of build­ings than “a city unto itself,” as Wyet­zn­er puts it.  (No won­der Clau­dia and Jamie Kin­caid could run away from home and go unno­ticed liv­ing in it.) The com­par­a­tive­ly mod­est MoMA has also grown addi­tion-by-addi­tion, begin­ning with a “stripped-down form of mod­ernism” that stood well out on the West 53rd street of the late thir­ties. It opened as the first of the many “clean white box­es” that would appear across the coun­try — and lat­er the world — to show the art of the twen­ti­eth and twen­ty-first cen­turies.

The orig­i­nal MoMA build­ing remains strik­ing today, but it’s now flanked by expan­sions from the hands of Philip John­son, Cesar Pel­li, Yoshio Taniguchi, and Jean Nou­v­el. Much less like­ly to have any­thing attached to it is the Guggen­heim, with its instant­ly rec­og­niz­able spi­ral design by Frank Lloyd Wright. Based on an idea by Le Cor­busier, its nar­row atri­um-wrap­ping gal­leries do present cer­tain dif­fi­cul­ties for the prop­er dis­play of large-scale art­works. Wyet­zn­er also men­tions the oft-heard crit­i­cism of Wright’s hav­ing “cre­at­ed a mon­u­ment to him­self — but it’s one hell of a mon­u­ment.”

Last comes “the orig­i­nal build­ing for the Whit­ney Muse­um of Amer­i­can Art, which lat­er became the Met Breuer, which now has become the Frick. Who knows what it’ll become next.” The sec­ond of its names refers to its archi­tect, the Bauhaus-trained Mar­cel Breuer (he of the Wass­i­ly chair), whose mus­cu­lar design “slices off” the muse­um from the brown­stone neigh­bor­hood that sur­rounds it. With its “open, loft-like spaces,” it pro­vides a con­text meant for the art of its time, much as the Met, MoMA, and the Guggen­heim do for the art of theirs. But all these insti­tu­tions have suc­ceed­ed just as much by carv­ing out con­texts of their own in the open-air muse­um of archi­tec­ture and urban­ism that is New York City.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Archi­tect Breaks Down Five of the Most Icon­ic New York City Apart­ments

The 5 Inno­v­a­tive Bridges That Make New York City, New York City

How Cen­tral Park Was Cre­at­ed Entire­ly By Design & Not By Nature: An Archi­tect Breaks Down America’s Great­est Urban Park

An Archi­tect Breaks Down the Design of New York City Sub­way Sta­tions, from the Old­est to Newest

A Whirl­wind Archi­tec­tur­al Tour of the New York Pub­lic Library — “Hid­den Details” and All

A 3D Ani­ma­tion Shows the Evo­lu­tion of New York City (1524 — 2023)

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.

Brian Eno’s Beautiful New Turntable Glows & Constantly Changes Colors as It Plays

When we think of Bri­an Eno’s work, we first think of his records. These include not just his own clas­sics of “ambi­ent music” — a term he pop­u­lar­ized — like Dis­creet Music and Music for Air­ports, but also the albums he’s pro­duced: Devo’s Q. Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!, Talk­ing Heads’ Remain in Light, U2’s The Joshua Tree, David Bowie’s Out­side. Yet even before he got into music, Eno was paint­ing, and in some sense, he’s nev­er stopped. He was describ­ing his work with sound as the cre­ation of “imag­i­nary land­scapes” even in the nine­teen-eight­ies; in this cen­tu­ry, he’s con­tin­ued to put out records while cre­at­ing ever-more-high-pro­file works of a more visu­al nature, from instal­la­tions to apps.

A few years ago, Eno even got into the busi­ness of func­tion­al sculp­ture, design­ing a turntable that emanates LED light of var­i­ous, grad­u­al­ly shift­ing col­ors while it plays records. “The light from it was tan­gi­ble as if caught in a cloud of vapor,” said Eno about his ear­ly expe­ri­ence with the fin­ished prod­uct, quot­ed at design­boom upon the announce­ment of its lim­it­ed pro­duc­tion run in 2021.

“We sat watch­ing for ages, trans­fixed by this total­ly new expe­ri­ence of light as a phys­i­cal pres­ence.” Now comes the sequel, Eno’s Turntable II, which will be pro­duced in equal­ly restrict­ed num­bers.  “Those who can afford one of the 150 lim­it­ed units also receive the musician’s sig­na­ture and edi­tion num­ber engraved on the side of the neon turntable’s base,” says design­boom.

Eno’s turntable design recent­ly drew atten­tion as the inspi­ra­tion for U2’s stage set dur­ing their res­i­den­cy at Las Vegas’ brazen new venue The Sphere. In the home, it serves mul­ti­ple func­tions: “When it doesn’t have to do any­thing in par­tic­u­lar, like play a record, it is a sculp­ture,” Eno says, “and when it’s in action, it’s a gen­er­a­tive art­work. Sev­er­al over­lap­ping light cycles will keep pro­duc­ing dif­fer­ent col­or bal­ances and blends — and dif­fer­ent shad­ow for­ma­tions that slow­ly evolve and nev­er exact­ly repeat.” Die-hard fans who know how long Eno has been fol­low­ing this artis­tic and intel­lec­tu­al thread may con­sid­er Turntable II’s £20,000 (or more than $25,000 USD) price tag almost rea­son­able. And next to the $60,000 Linn Son­dek LP12 Jony Ive redesigned last year, it’s prac­ti­cal­ly a bar­gain.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Bri­an Eno Explains the Ori­gins of Ambi­ent Music

Watch Bri­an Eno’s “Video Paint­ings,” Where 1980s TV Tech­nol­o­gy Meets Visu­al Art

Bri­an Eno on Cre­at­ing Music and Art As Imag­i­nary Land­scapes (1989)

Bri­an Eno Shares His Crit­i­cal Take on Art & NFTs: “I Main­ly See Hus­tlers Look­ing for Suck­ers”

World Records: New Pho­to Exhib­it Pays Trib­ute to the Era of Vinyl Records & Turnta­bles

Piz­za Box Becomes a Playable DJ Turntable Through the Mag­ic of Con­duc­tive Ink

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.

Punk Dulcimer: Hear The Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Sedated” Played on the Dulcimer

Sam Edel­ston can rock the duclimer. On his YouTube chan­nel, he writes: “Dul­cimers are nat­ur­al rock instru­ments. In fact, I even say that dul­cimers are among the world’s coolest musi­cal instru­ments, and they deserve to be known by the gen­er­al pub­lic — the way that every­body knows gui­tars and ukule­les. Though usu­al­ly asso­ci­at­ed with old folk songs and tunes, dul­cimers are great for a shock­ing vari­ety of mod­ern music, too. I do these videos to inspire more peo­ple to play and lis­ten to dul­cimer music, in diverse, non-tra­di­tion­al styles.” Above, watch him cov­er the Ramones’ 1978 clas­sic “I Wan­na Be Sedat­ed.” Find more cov­ers of  Zep­pelin, the Stones & Bea­t­les here. And yet more covers–including Bowie’s “Space Odd­i­ty” and Sab­bath’s “War Pigs”–on the Con­tem­po­rary Dul­cimer YouTube Chan­nel. Enjoy.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Finnish Musi­cians Play Blue­grass Ver­sions of AC/DC, Iron Maid­en & Ron­nie James Dio

Tears for Fears Sings “Every­body Wants to Rule the World” with Musi­cian Who Cre­at­ed Divine Dul­cimer Ver­sion of Their Song

A Blue­grass Ver­sion of Metallica’s Heavy Met­al Hit, “Enter Sand­man”

Pak­istani Musi­cians Play Amaz­ing Ver­sion of Dave Brubeck’s Jazz Clas­sic, “Take Five”

Watch Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Voodoo Chile’ Per­formed on a Gayageum, a Tra­di­tion­al Kore­an Instru­ment

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A 3D Animation Shows the Evolution of New York City (1524 — 2023)

Near­ly two and a half cen­turies after its found­ing, the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca is still both cel­e­brat­ed and derid­ed as a young coun­try. Exam­ined on the whole, the US may or may not seem less mature than oth­er lands in any obvi­ous way, but the dif­fer­ence man­i­fests much more clear­ly on the lev­el of cities. For even among those found­ed before the inde­pen­dence of the coun­try itself, no Amer­i­can city has yet attained 500 offi­cial years of age. But in the case of New York City, we can trace its for­ma­tion through half a mil­len­ni­um of his­to­ry, as ren­dered in the 3D ani­mat­ed video from Info­Geek above.

The long ver­sion of New York’s sto­ry begins in 1524, the year Gio­van­ni da Ver­raz­zano com­mand­ed the French ship La Dauphine into what we now know as New York Har­bor. While he and his crew did not, of course, get the dra­mat­ic for­est-of-sky­scrap­ers view for which that approach would lat­er be cel­e­brat­ed, they would, per­haps, have seen an actu­al for­est, as well as oth­er ele­ments of a nat­ur­al land­scape that would have appeared sub­lime­ly untouched. A cen­tu­ry lat­er, the Dutch there found­ed the trad­ing out­post of New Ams­ter­dam, which com­menced the writ­ten his­to­ry of New York — as well as the aggres­sive devel­op­ment that would even­tu­al­ly come to char­ac­ter­ize the city and its cul­ture.

New Ams­ter­dam became New York in 1664, one of the many his­tor­i­cal events that scroll past in the win­dow at the video’s low­er-left cor­ner. At that point in time, the pop­u­la­tion had grown to about 3,600, a fig­ure count­ed at the bot­tom of the frame. Yet even as we see streets roll out, build­ings rise, and trees sprout rapid­ly around us over the next 150 or so years of our stroll, and even after New York becomes Amer­i­ca’s largest city in 1790, we must bear in mind that its cen­tu­ry has­n’t even begun. It’s some­thing of an irony that the huge­ly destruc­tive Great Fire of 1835 pre­cedes a devel­op­men­tal push that makes the city, even to our twen­ty-first-cen­tu­ry eyes, look almost mod­ern.

Lat­er in the nine­teenth cen­tu­ry, we wit­ness the appear­ance of Cen­tral Park and the intro­duc­tion of motor­cars; by the turn of the twen­ti­eth, New York’s pop­u­la­tion approach­es three and a half mil­lion. Walk­ing down Wall Street (and into the Great Depres­sion), we pass just-mate­ri­al­iz­ing land­marks that remain icon­ic today, like the Chrysler Build­ing, the Empire State Build­ing and — after a some­what dra­mat­ic fast-for­ward in time — Frank Lloyd Wright’s Solomon R. Guggen­heim Muse­um and Minoru Yamasak­i’s ill-fat­ed World Trade Cen­ter. We’re now well into the New York of liv­ing mem­o­ry, and even when the ani­ma­tion has passed the cre­ative decrepi­tude of the sev­en­ties and eight­ies and arrives at the city as it was last year (pop­u­la­tion: 7,888,120), we sense that its evo­lu­tion has only just begun.

Relat­ed con­tent:

New York City: A Social His­to­ry (A Free Online Course from N.Y.U.)

Immac­u­late­ly Restored Film Lets You Revis­it Life in New York City in 1911

Scenes of New York City in 1945 Col­orized & Revived with Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence

The Lost Neigh­bor­hood Buried Under New York City’s Cen­tral Park

How Cen­tral Park Was Cre­at­ed Entire­ly By Design & Not By Nature: An Archi­tect Breaks Down America’s Great­est Urban Park

An Archi­tect Demys­ti­fies the Art Deco Design of the Icon­ic Chrysler Build­ing (1930)

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.

The Cover of George Orwell’s 1984 Becomes Less Censored with Wear & Tear

1984 before

In 2013, Pen­guin released in the UK a series of new cov­ers for five works by George Orwell, includ­ing a par­tic­u­lar­ly bold cov­er design for Orwell’s best-known work, 1984. Accord­ing to Cre­ative Review, the design­er, David Pear­son, made it so that the book’s title and Orwell’s name were debossed, then almost com­plete­ly obscured by black foil­ing, leav­ing just “enough of a dent for the title to be deter­mined.” No doubt, the design plays on the whole idea of cen­sor­ship, “ref­er­enc­ing the rewrit­ing of his­to­ry car­ried out by the novel’s Min­istry of Truth.”

Years lat­er, you’ll have dif­fi­cul­ty buy­ing new copies of Pear­son­’s design. They’re in pret­ty short sup­ply. But any­one with a well-worn copy of the book might dis­cov­er what one Red­di­tor has also observed–that the cov­er design “becomes less cen­sored with wear.” Com­pare the “before” image above to the “after” image down below. Was this all part of Pear­son­’s long-range mas­ter plan? Or some­thing of a design flaw? We’ll prob­a­bly nev­er know. But if you’re look­ing for a book that gets bet­ter with age, then this is one to add to your list.

1984 after

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Hear the Very First Adap­ta­tion of George Orwell’s 1984 in a Radio Play Star­ring David Niv­en (1949)

Free Down­load: A Knit­ting Pat­tern for a Sweater Depict­ing an Icon­ic Cov­er of George Orwell’s 1984

George Orwell’s Har­row­ing Race to Fin­ish 1984 Before His Death

Aldous Hux­ley to George Orwell: My Hell­ish Vision of the Future is Bet­ter Than Yours (1949)

10 Biggest Threats to the World in 2024, Ranked by Ian Bremmer

At the start of each year, Ian Brem­mer, a polit­i­cal sci­en­tist and pres­i­dent of Eura­sia Group, cre­ates a list that ranks the great­est threats to our world. In 2024, Brem­mer puts his fin­ger on Ungoverned AI, a Par­ti­tioned Ukraine, a volatile Mid­dle East, and a sput­ter­ing Chi­nese econ­o­my. But the biggest threat? A divid­ed Unit­ed States where the right and left con­sid­er each oth­er an exis­ten­tial threat, where polit­i­cal can­di­dates threat­en their rivals, where pow­er does­n’t get tran­si­tioned peace­ful­ly, and where for­eign nations look to fur­ther sow the seeds of inter­nal divi­sion. You can read Brem­mer’s full report here.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

 

 

Black History in Two Minutes: Watch 93 Videos Written & Narrated by Henry Louis Gates Jr.

We’re near­ly halfway through Feb­ru­ary, which the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca also knows as Black His­to­ry Month. Per­haps there are rel­e­vant sub­jects on which you’ve been mean­ing to catch up, but you haven’t quite got around to it yet. If so, nev­er fear: in the next cou­ple of weeks, you’ll have plen­ty of time to binge-watch the Youtube series Black His­to­ry in Two Min­utes. Writ­ten and nar­rat­ed by his­to­ri­an Hen­ry Louis Gates Jr., it has so far cov­ered every­thing from Har­ri­et Tub­man and Sojourn­er Truth to the Civ­il War and eman­ci­pa­tion to the civ­il rights move­ment and school inte­gra­tion.

Those of us who went to school in the US — and espe­cial­ly those of us who did so after the insti­tu­tion of Black His­to­ry Month, in 1970 — will remem­ber those sub­jects hav­ing been dis­cussed in the class­room. But even with­in the brief con­fines of two min­utes (some­times sprawl­ing out to three min­utes and change), Gates intro­duces facts most of us will nev­er have heard.

For instance, the very first under­ground rail­road in the eigh­teenth cen­tu­ry ran not from the south of the coun­try to the north, but the oth­er way around, Span­ish Flori­da hav­ing then been “a sanc­tu­ary for slaves who fled south from Eng­lish rule” — though the free­dom it offered did require con­ver­sion to Catholi­cism.

Also among the near­ly 100 videos Black His­to­ry in Two Min­utes has so far pro­duced are a wealth of bite-sized treat­ments of move­ments and fig­ures impor­tant to not just black cul­ture but the whole of Amer­i­can cul­ture. These include Bil­lie Hol­i­day and Maya Angelou, the 1893 World’s Fair, the births of jazz and hip hop, and Negro league base­ball. The show also encom­pass­es episodes of his­to­ry well with­in liv­ing mem­o­ry, such as the Los Ange­les riots and the elec­tion of Barack Oba­ma — as well as the ear­li­er, pio­neer­ing pres­i­den­tial run of Jesse Jack­son. And in light of Jack­son’s cam­paign T‑shirts’ hav­ing made a fash­ion come­back in Korea, where I live, it now seems to say that the cul­ture that has arisen out of black his­to­ry isn’t just vital to the cul­ture of Amer­i­ca, but of the world.

You can watch the com­plete playlist of videos at the top, or vis­it the Black His­to­ry in Two Min­utes web­site here.

via Kot­tke

Relat­ed con­tent:

Take Free Online Cours­es on African-Amer­i­can His­to­ry from Yale and Stan­ford: From Eman­ci­pa­tion, to the Civ­il Rights Move­ment, and Beyond

30,000 Pho­tographs of Black His­to­ry & Cul­ture Are Avail­able Online in a New Get­ty Images Archive

How African-Amer­i­can Explor­er Matthew Hen­son Became the First Per­son to Reach the North Pole, Then Was For­got­ten for Almost 30 Years

Take The Near Impos­si­ble Lit­er­a­cy Test Louisiana Used to Sup­press the Black Vote (1964)

W.E.B. Du Bois Cre­ates Rev­o­lu­tion­ary, Artis­tic Data Visu­al­iza­tions Show­ing the Eco­nom­ic Plight of African-Amer­i­cans (1900)

Watch the Pio­neer­ing Films of Oscar Micheaux, America’s First Great African-Amer­i­can Film­mak­er

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.

Why Incompetent People Think They’re Competent: The Dunning-Kruger Effect, Explained

When sur­veyed, eighty to nine­ty per­cent of Amer­i­cans con­sid­er them­selves pos­sessed of above-aver­age dri­ving skills. Most of them are, of course, wrong by sta­tis­ti­cal def­i­n­i­tion, but the result itself reveals some­thing impor­tant about human nature. So does anoth­er, less­er-known study that had two groups, one com­posed of pro­fes­sion­al come­di­ans and the oth­er com­posed of aver­age Cor­nell under­grad­u­ates, rank the fun­ni­ness of a set of jokes. It also asked those stu­dents to rank their own abil­i­ty to iden­ti­fy fun­ny jokes. Nat­u­ral­ly, the major­i­ty of them cred­it­ed them­selves with an above-aver­age sense of humor.

Not only that, explains the host of the After Skool video above, “those who did the worst placed them­selves in the 58th per­centile on aver­age. They believed that they were bet­ter than 57 oth­er peo­ple out of 100. Their real score? Twelfth per­centile.” Here we have an exam­ple of the cog­ni­tive bias where­by “peo­ple with a lit­tle bit of knowl­edge or skill in an area believe that they are bet­ter than they are,” now com­mon­ly known as the Dun­ning-Kruger effect. It’s named for social psy­chol­o­gists David Dun­ning and Justin Kruger, who con­duct­ed the afore­men­tioned joke-rank­ing study as well as oth­ers in var­i­ous domains that all sup­port the same basic find­ing: the incom­pe­tent don’t know how incom­pe­tent they are.

“When you’re incom­pe­tent, the skills you need to pro­duce a right answer are exact­ly the skills you need to rec­og­nize what a right answer is,” Dun­ning told Errol Mor­ris in a 2010 inter­view (the first of a five-part series on anosog­nosia, or the inabil­i­ty to rec­og­nize one’s own lack of abil­i­ty). “In log­i­cal rea­son­ing, in par­ent­ing, in man­age­ment, prob­lem solv­ing, the skills you use to pro­duce the right answer are exact­ly the same skills you use to eval­u­ate the answer.” What’s more, “even if you are just the most hon­est, impar­tial per­son that you could be, you would still have a prob­lem — name­ly, when your knowl­edge or exper­tise is imper­fect, you real­ly don’t know it. Left to your own devices, you just don’t know it. We’re not very good at know­ing what we don’t know.”

This brings to mind Don­ald Rums­feld’s much-mocked remark about “unknown unknowns,” which Dun­ning actu­al­ly con­sid­ered “the smartest and most mod­est thing I’ve heard in a year.” (Mor­ris, for his part, would go on to make a doc­u­men­tary about Rums­feld titled The Unknown Known.) But whether you’re the Sec­re­tary of Defense, a cel­e­brat­ed film­mak­er, a Youtu­ber, an essay­ist, or any­thing else, you’ve almost cer­tain­ly been afflict­ed with the Dun­ning-Kruger effect. But if we can make a habit of sub­ject­ing our­selves to brac­ing objec­tive assess­ment, we can — at least, at cer­tain times and cer­tain domains — break free of what T. S. Eliot called the end­less strug­gle to think well of our­selves.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Why Incom­pe­tent Peo­ple Think They’re Amaz­ing: An Ani­mat­ed Les­son from David Dun­ning (of the Famous “Dun­ning-Kruger Effect”)

Bertrand Rus­sell: The Every­day Ben­e­fit of Phi­los­o­phy Is That It Helps You Live with Uncer­tain­ty

John Cleese on How “Stu­pid Peo­ple Have No Idea How Stu­pid They Are” (Oth­er­wise Known as the Dun­ning-Kruger Effect)

24 Com­mon Cog­ni­tive Bias­es: A Visu­al List of the Psy­cho­log­i­cal Sys­tems Errors That Keep Us From Think­ing Ratio­nal­ly

Errol Mor­ris Makes His Ground­break­ing Series First Per­son Free to Watch Online: Binge Watch His Inter­views with Genius­es, Eccentrics, Obses­sives & Oth­er Unusu­al Types

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.

Ten of the Most Expensive Arts & Art Supplies in the Worlds: Japanese Bonsai Scissors & Calligraphy Brushes, Tunisian Dye Made from Snails and More

A few years ago, we fea­tured a $32,000 pair of bon­sai scis­sors here on Open Cul­ture. More recent­ly, their mak­er Yasuhi­ro Hira­ka appeared in the Busi­ness Insid­er video above, a detailed 80-minute intro­duc­tion to ten of the most expen­sive arts and art sup­plies around the world. It will come as no sur­prise that things Japan­ese fig­ure in it promi­nent­ly and more than once. In fact, the video begins in Nara Pre­fec­ture, “where for over 450 years, the com­pa­ny Kobaien, has been mak­ing some of the world’s most sought-after cal­lig­ra­phy ink” — the sumi you may know from the clas­si­cal Japan­ese art form sumi‑e.

But even the most painstak­ing­ly pro­duced and expen­sive­ly acquired ink in the world is no use with­out  brush­es. In search of the finest exam­ples of those, the video’s next seg­ment takes us to anoth­er part of Japan, Hiroshi­ma Pre­fec­ture, where an arti­san named Yoshiyu­ki Hata runs a work­shop ded­i­cat­ed to the “no-com­pro­mise crafts­man­ship” of cal­lig­ra­phy brush­es. One of his top-of-the-line mod­els, made with rig­or­ous­ly hand-select­ed goat hair, could cost the equiv­a­lent of $27,000 — but for an equal­ly uncom­pro­mis­ing mas­ter cal­lig­ra­ph­er, mon­ey seems to be no object.

How­ev­er ded­i­cat­ed its crafts­men and prac­ti­tion­ers, by no means does the Land of the Ris­ing Sun have a monop­oly on expen­sive art sup­plies. This video also includes Tyr­i­an pur­ple dye made in Tunisia the old-fash­ioned way — indeed, the ancient way — by extract­ing the glands of murex snails; the sơn mài lac­quer paint­ing unique to Viet­nam that requires tox­ic tree resin; long-last­ing ultra-high-qual­i­ty oil paints rich with rare pig­ments like cobalt blue; and Kolin­sky’s Series 7 sable water­col­or brush, which is made from hairs from the tails of Siber­ian weasels, and whose process of pro­duc­tion has remained the same since it was first cre­at­ed for Queen Vic­to­ria in 1866.

This world tour also comes around to non-tra­di­tion­al art forms and tools. One oper­a­tion in Ohio turns the muck of indus­tri­al pol­lu­tion — “acid mine drainage,” to get tech­ni­cal — into pig­ments that can make vivid paints. The stratos­pher­ic prices com­mand­ed by cer­tain works of “mod­ern art,” broad­ly con­sid­ered, have long inspired satire, but here we get a clos­er exam­i­na­tion of the con­nec­tion between the nature of the work and the cost of pur­chas­ing it. “What looks sim­ple can be the cul­mi­na­tion of a life­time’s work,” one exam­ple of which is Kazmir Male­vich’s Black Square, “the result of twen­ty years of sim­pli­fi­ca­tion and devel­op­ment.” If you don’t know any­thing about that paint­ing, it will seem to have no val­ue; by the same token, if you don’t know any­thing about those $32,000 bon­sai scis­sors, you’ll prob­a­bly use them to open Ama­zon box­es.

Relat­ed con­tent:

What Makes the Art of Bon­sai So Expen­sive?: $1 Mil­lion for a Bon­sai Tree, and $32,000 for Bon­sai Scis­sors

How Ink is Made: The Process Revealed in a Mouth-Water­ing Video

Behold a Book of Col­or Shades Depict­ed with Feath­ers (Cir­ca 1915)

Why Renais­sance Mas­ters Added Egg Yolk to Their Paints: A New Study Sheds Light

Dis­cov­er Harvard’s Col­lec­tion of 2,500 Pig­ments: Pre­serv­ing the World’s Rare, Won­der­ful Col­ors

Watch Artist Shep­ard Fairey Pre­tend to Work in an Art Sup­ply Store

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.


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