Open Culture

954 Added | 11,617 Followers | @OpenCulture | Guide to FREE cultural and educational media.

The World’s Oldest Multicolor Book, a 1633 Chinese Calligraphy & Painting Manual, Now Digitized and Put Online

We think of Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press (circa 1440) to have begun the era of the printed book, since his invention allowed for mass …

Cool Stuff

Google’s DeepMind AI Teaches Itself to Walk, and the Results Are Kooky, No Wait, Chilling

In 2014, Google acquired DeepMind, a company which soon made news when its artificial intelligence software defeated the world's best player of the …

Artificial Intelligence

Director Michel Gondry Makes a Charming Film on His iPhone, Proving That We Could Be Making Movies, Not Taking Selfies

What's director Michel Gondry up to these days? Apparently, trying to show that you can do smart things--like make serious movies--with that …

Cool Stuff

How Aristotle Invented Computer Science

In popular conceptions, we take the computer to be the natural outcome of empirical science, an inheritance of the Enlightenment and subsequent …

Computer Science

Archaeologists Discover the World’s First “Art Studio” Created in an Ethiopian Cave 43,000 Years Ago

If you want to see where art began, go to a cave. Not just any cave, but not just one cave either. You'll find the best-known cave paintings at …

Anthropology

Infinite Escher: A High-Tech Tribute to M.C. Escher, Featuring Sean Lennon, Nam June Paik & Ryuichi Sakamoto (1990)

When television appeared in Japan in the 1950s, most people in that still-poor country could only satisfy their curiosity about it by watching the …

Cool Stuff

A Huge Archive of Amazing Stories, the World’s Oldest & Longest-Running Science Fiction Magazine (Since 1926)

If you haven’t heard of Hugo Gernsback, you’ve surely heard of the Hugo Award. Next to the Nebula, it’s the most prestigious of science fiction …

Science Fiction

How Insomnia Shaped Franz Kafka’s Creative Process and the Writing of The Metamorphosis: A New Study Published in The Lancet

Whatever else we take from it, Franz Kafka’s nightmarish fable <i>The M</i><i>etamorphosis</i> offers readers an especially anguished allegory on troubled sleep. …

Literature

Interactive Periodic Table of Elements Shows How the Elements Actually Get Used in Making Everyday Things

Keith Enevoldsen, a software engineer at Boeing, has created an Interactive Periodic Table of Elements. As you might expect, the table shows the …

Cool Stuff

Historical Plaque Memorializes the Time Jack Kerouac & William S. Burroughs Came to Blows Over the Oxford Comma (Or Not)

Maybe it doesn’t take much to get a grammar nerd in a state of agitation, or even, perhaps, violent rage. While I generally avoid the term “grammar …

Grammar

Hunter Thompson Predicts the Future, Telling Studs Terkel About the Coming Revenge of the Economically & Technologically “Obsolete” (1967)

Half a century ago, Hunter S. Thompson got his big journalistic break with a book called <i>Hell's Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw</i> …

Hunter S. Thompson

An Archive of Iconic Photos from the Golden Age of Jazz: William Gottlieb’s Portraits of Dizzy, Thelonious, Billie, Satchmo & More

If you’ve seen the most famous photographs of Billie Holiday, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Frank Sinatra, Django Reinhardt, or nearly any other …

Jazz

Stream a 24 Hour Playlist of Charles Dickens Stories, Featuring Classic Recordings by Laurence Olivier, Orson Welles & More

Children, cast off your fingerless mitts and gather round the mercifully cold hearth for some old timey, seasonally inappropriate listening.<p>Spotify …

Literature

George Eliot’s Middlemarch Gets Reborn as a 21st Century Web Series: Watch It Online

In 1856, novelist George Eliot—real name Mary Anne Evans—issued a vicious critique of other women English writers in language we would expect from …

Literature

Watch Randy Newman’s Tour of Los Angeles’ Sunset Boulevard, and You’ll Love L.A. Too

"The longer I live here," a Los Angeles-based friend recently said, "the more 'I Love L.A.' sounds like an unironic tribute to this city." That hit …

Los Angeles

Mark Knopfler Gives a Short Masterclass on His Favorite Guitars & Guitar Sounds

American guitar came of age in the fifties, with the blues, folk, country, and jazz playing of Mississippi John Hurt, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Merle …

Guitar

Watch the World’s Oldest Violin in Action: Marco Rizzi Performs Schumann’s Sonata No. 2 on a 1566 Amati Violin

Most of us are acquainted with the sorrowful sound of the world’s smallest violin, but what of the world’s oldest?<p>The instrument in the video above …

Cool Stuff

Free: 355 Issues of Galaxy, the Groundbreaking 1950s Science Fiction Magazine

Along with <i>Astounding Science Fiction</i> and <i>The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction</i>, <i>Galaxy Magazine</i> was one of the most important science fiction …

Science Fiction

Renaissance Knives Had Music Engraved on the Blades; Now Hear the Songs Performed by Modern Singers

<i>Image courtesy of The Victorian and Albert Museum</i><p>On any given weekend, in any part of the state where I live, you can find yourself standing in a …

Art

Take an Online Course on Design & Architecture with Frank Gehry, and Get Prepared by Watching a Documentary on His Creative Process

"Most of our cities are built with just faceless glass, only for economies and not for humanities." We've all heard many variations on that complaint …

Frank Gehry

100 Years of Cinema: New Documentary Series Explores the History of Cinema by Analyzing One Film Per Year, Starting in 1915

Film has played an integral part in almost all of our cultural lives for decades and decades, but when did we invent it? "We have evidence of man …

Cool Stuff

John Steinbeck Has a Crisis in Confidence While Writing The Grapes of Wrath: “I am Not a Writer. I’ve Been Fooling Myself and Other People”

In a 1904 letter, Franz Kafka famously wrote, “a book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us,” a line immortalized in pop culture by David …

Literature

Send a Text Message to SFMOMA, and They’ll Send Works of Art to Your Mobile Phone

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art--otherwise simply known as SFMOMA--has 34,678 artworks in its collections, only 5% of which it can put on …

Apps

Discover Dr. Seuss’s Audacious Advertisements from the 1930s & 40s: All on Display in a Digital Archive

I well remember learning that Dr. Seuss’s real name was Theodor Geisel, mostly because I found Theodor Geisel was just as much fun to say as “Dr. …

Cool Stuff

How Richard Linklater (Slacker, Dazed and Confused, Boyhood) Tells Stories with Time: Six Video Essays

The ever more critically acclaimed, ever more resolutely Austin-based auteur Richard Linklater grounds each of his movies in a particular place, but …

Cool Stuff

Watch the Making of a Hand-Crafted Violin, from Start to Finish, in a Beautifully-Shot Documentary

The history of the violin can be traced back to 1530, when a violin-like instrument first appeared in Gaudenzio Ferrari's painting, "Madonna of the …

Start to Finish

How Did the Romans Make Concrete That Lasts Longer Than Modern Concrete? The Mystery Finally Solved

An explosion in recent years of so-called “ruin porn” photography has sparked an inevitable backlash for its supposed fetishization of urban decay …

Roman Empire

Hand-Colored Photographs from 19th Century Japan: 110 Images Capture the Waning Days of Traditional Japanese Society

What we euphemistically refer to as the “Opening of Japan” catalyzed a period of seismic upheaval for the proud formerly closed country. Between the …

Japan

Stephen Fry Identifies the Cognitive Biases That Make Trump Tick

Months after the election, much of the electorate is still trying to figure out what makes Trump/Trumpism tick. Everyone has a theory--frankly too …

Behavior

Are Stanley Kubrick Films Like Immersive Video Games? The Case of Eyes Wide Shut

Video games have long attempted, to an ever more impressive degree of realism, to conjure up their own virtual realities. But then, so have …

Stanley Kubrick