Web watch: Cultural think pad

Web watch: Cultural think pad

Are you finding it difficult to ferret out high-quality, cultural and educational material from the Internet? Fret no more. Open Culture, founded in 2006, centralises this form of content, curates it and provides access to such content on a single platform. Free audio books, online courses, movies, language lessons, e-books and other enriching content — all available at www.openculture.com. It has six main sections:

*Audiobooks
*Online courses
*Movies
*Language lessons
*e-books
*Textbooks

The elaborate categorisation of content makes it easy to zero-in on the content of your choice. The categories include:

Amazon Kindle, Apple, Art, Audio Books, Books, Business, Comedy, Current Affairs, e-books, Economics, Education, English Language, Film, Google, Harvard, History, iPad, iPhone, Language Lessons, Law, Life, Literature, Math, Media, MIT, Most Popular, Music, Online Courses, Philosophy, Physics, Podcast Articles & Resources, Poetry, Politics, Psychology, Radio, Random, Religion, Sci-fi, Science, Stanford, Technology, TED Talks, Television, Theatre, Twitter, UC Berkeley, Uncategorized, Video – Arts & Culture, Video – Politics/Society, Video – Science, Web/Tech, Wikipedia, Yale, YouTube.

The latest high-quality cultural and educational media material available at Open Culture include:

*WikiRebels, a new documentary which provides the WikiLeaks story under the Current Affairs category.

*Faux Werner Herzog reads a dark and satirical version of  ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas’, presented under the category Film (comedy).

*Google Visualises Words & Culture, under the category Google, is about how, since 2004, Google has digitised more than 15 million books. The category also has a spin-off product called the Ngram Viewer, which provides a window into how we have historically used words. Ngram Viewer lets the user map out the usage of a given word or series of words, over a 200-year period (1800 – 2008). 

*The Most Amazing Science Images Of 2010, presented by PopSci, features 72 photos in total, including the images of an E. Coli sculpture that figures into artist Luke Jerram’s “Glass Microbiology” series of portraits.

*Under Philosophy, a couple of philosophical ideas have been added to the Free Philosophy Courses (300 of them) offered by Notre Dame, America’s elite Catholic University. These include Ancient and Medieval Philosophy, Ancient Wisdom and Modern Love, Environmental Philosophy, Medical Ethics, and Morality and Modernity.

*In Random Science, MIT students and faculty provide a detailed picture of what a drop of water looks like (filmed in 10,000 frames per second). Under Science, viewers may also visit the ‘The Best of NASA Space Shuttle’ videos (1981-2010).

*The Life category includes articles on ‘Visionaries Imagine 2001 in 1931, a period of economic malaise’.

*Under the Audio Books and Literature section, The Guardian presents a new ‘Short Stories’ podcast in which 12 well-known authors read stories by other famous writers. Currently hosted podcasts include Philip Pullman reading Chekhov, Anne Enright presenting Raymond Carver’s story “Fat,” and William Boyd reading J G Ballard’s “My Dream of Flying to Wake Island.”

*Google, a technology category, presents ‘TeachParentsTech.org’, a spin-off website featuring 50 ‘how-to’ videos designed to answer basic tech questions.

*The Film category carries details about Netflix’s streaming of great movies. Instead of receiving DVDs by mail, customers can now opt for a $7.99 plan that lets them watch an unlimited number of movies online, iPad, or smartphone. Netflix now streams many landmark films which include classic films by Fellini, Kurosawa, Truffaut, and Bergman, and more contemporary films by Steven Soderbergh, Brian De Palma, and Wim Wenders. If you do not wish to have a Netflix subscription, you can watch 250+ quality films under its Free Movies Online service.

Dan Colman, the lead editor at OpenCulture.com, is the director and associate dean of Stanford’s Continuing Studies programme. Please note that this site is not formally associated with Stanford.

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