In previous blog posts I mentioned the rise of video surfing and the development of the Internet from a text based medium to one based on remixed mediality, increasingly dominated by an image based culture. This YouTubification of the Internet is seen by some people as a bad development which can be detrimental to our culture. Next to that, as also mentioned before, this development can mean an inevitable loss to the mental and social capabilities of the human species as a whole and could ruin its further cognitive development.
Luckily, there is also good news! Using Andrew Keens figure of speech, the experts are fighting back! The last years have seen an up rise of high quality video content on the web. For today I would like to focus on one specific sub category: video lectures. Probably the most well-known video lecture site on the web is TED. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design and goes by the motto ‘ideas worth spreading’. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds. Since then its scope has become ever broader. TED has a very nice visual based interface and the site can be searched by theme, by speaker, by most watched etc. From the website:
“The annual conference now brings together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes). This site makes the best talks and performances from TED available to the public, for free. More than 200 talks from our archive are now available, with more added each week. These videos are released under a Creative Commons license, so they can be freely shared and reposted. Today, TED is therefore best thought of as a global community. It’s a community welcoming people from every discipline and culture who have just two things in common: they seek a deeper understanding of the world, and they hope to turn that understanding into a better future for us all.
FORA.tv has a broader scope and is in this way more eclectic, and although it lacks the nice interface it does also harvest some very interesting lectures and other kinds of video content. It includes a very nice section on music, which not only covers lectures on different kinds of music but also lectures about the music business and lectures from some renowned musicians and performers. From the website:
“FORA.tv is the leading interactive viewing experience of the smartest, most entertaining video content in the world. —The world of ideas and knowledge—all drawn from the live-event speeches, discussions, interviews and debates going on everywhere all the time at the world’s leading conferences, ideas festivals, think tanks and other major centers of thought and discourse.”
Where the above mentioned sites mostly aggregate content from – let’s just call it more – ‘popular science’ and lectures given at specific conferences, there is also a movement towards high quality scientific video content on the web. Videolectures.net was discussed in a previous post and states that it uses a peer review process as a filter mechanism for quality content. The team from videolectures.net is flying all over the world to tape top conferences in order to serve the scientific community. From the Website:
“The main purpose of the project Videolectures.Net is to provide free and open access of a high quality video lectures presented by distinguished scholars and scientists at the most important and prominent events like conferences, summer schools, workshops and science promotional events from many fields of Science. The portal is aimed at promoting science, exchanging ideas and fostering knowledge sharing by providing high quality didactic contents not only to a scientific community but also to a general public. All lectures, accompanying documents, information and links are systematically selected and classified through the editorial process taking into account also users’ comments.”
YouTube is also pitching in however! In cooperation with some of the most renowned institutions for higher education in the world, you can find recordings of all different kinds of lectures on the institutions own YouTube channels. My new favorite channel is the one from the European Graduate School (http://nl.youtube.com/user/egsvideo). Since I have a philosophy background and an immense fondness for everything that has anything remotely to do with culture and society, the European Graduate School is a perfect resource. Here you can find lectures from some of the greatest thinkers like Jean Baudrillard, Judith Butler, Jacques Derrida, Slavoj Zizek, Alain Badiou and many others.
Next to the EGS, many other top institutions have their own YouTube channel, for instance Berkeley and MIT. Just think about all the opportunities this offers you to broaden your world and expand your mind, all from the convenience of your own lazy chair! Just skip your favorite Soap Opera for once and watch and listen to one or more of these genius minds! As a final statement, here is one from Slavoj Zizek, promoting the EGS: