The Internet is a marvelous resource. You can learn about almost anything. Today I am going to focus two interesting resources that are available for free, and gives you the opportunity to broaden your horizons.
Today, you can listen to talks by some of the brightest minds, some of the greatest achievers of our time talking about some of the most interesting subjects. You can also listen to any of a myriad of pod-casts or live chat shows that are available on the Internet to learn about a subject, or just hear someone more knowledgeable than you talk about something they know about.
Way Back When…
…your Granpaw used to walk to school barefoot in the snow and liked it he was at the mercy of his teacher to learn. If he was fortunate enough to go to a University he would be sitting at the feet of the greatest minds of his city and be educated on a wide variety of subjects. If he were really privileged and he was attending one of the better universities he would be treated to visiting professors coming to let him drink from the deep well of knowledge on their field of expertise.
Then Radio and TV came along
Suddenly the world shrank. Your daddy, having been born about twenty odd years after your Granpaw, now could listen to newscasts from all over the world.
He had no control over what was broadcast though, and very little of the content was educational. Even today, with television channels dedicating portions of their time to education you have very little educational programming available.
Enter the Internet
With the dawn, and continuing growth, of the Internet, you young whippersnappers have an opportunity that no previous generation had. There are whole curricula available online today. MIT have some courses available to download, for instance. With the advent of ubiquous broadband, video has also become very popular as an on-line medium.
I am not going to go for hard-core teaching aids here though, but I am going to tell you about two services that are freely available today. The one allows you to listen to talks given by some of the greatest minds today, and the other lets you choose your subject matter to suit your personal preferences, and listen to some very knowledgeable people talk on a myriad of subjects.
TED started out in 1984 as a conference bringing together people in the fields of Technology, Engineering and Design. Today the video resources are available on-line for you to watch. And Download. For Free. I spent some time this weekend looking at some of the most inspiring talks on very interesting subjects. TED is no longer limited to the three fields used to compile it’s name. You can, for example listen to Rodney Brooks talk about how robots will invade our lives. Heck, you can even embed it in your blog if you want. (Rodney Brooks’ talk is embedded below, for instance.)
TED and the videos they make available has opened up a world of talks by gifted people to everyone on the Internet. Go there and spend some time. You will come away enlightened and educated.
Click on their logo above to visit the TED site.
There are tons of podcasts online today. Some people have even gone so far as to make little talk shows where they discuss subjects close to their hearts, or that they are knowledgeable on. If you follow Ubuntu on Facebook you will be treated to regular podcasts. Sifting the signal from the noise can be daunting though.
One I can recommend if you are into general geek stuff is Let’s Talk Geek.net. I listened in on their show tonite and it was really enjoyable. They generally cover a wide range of subject matter, and sometimes have a guest speaker. Tonight was no different, and they covered a wide range of subjects, from the flipped memory bit on Voyager 2 on to trying out the YouTube html5 beta (www.youtube.com/html5) and SciFi robots. Their guest tonight was Corrie Strydom, who also told me about them. Thanks for the tip Corrie! You can follow @corrie206 on twitter here.
You can watch Let’s Talk Geek live, and the show times and old shows are available on their homepage here.
Yes I am being naughty right now. This is not a review, but I need to quantify the value of these specific tools that I have covered in this entry.
TED gets top honors. 5/5 for content. There is some very inspiring and enlightening material available there. Being able to watch guys demo a mosquito zapping laser on stage is mind blowing. Their site is top notch, and the ability to download talks and watch them later is awesome. Allowing users to share the content under the Creative Commons license is the best part. Polish and Quality of Presentation both scores a 5/5 as well, which means TED comes away with a perfect 5!
Q Rating 5/5
Let’s Talk Geek
Let’s Talk Geek is a great podcast. They are still young, but the content is top notch. If you want to hear about a wide range of subjects this is a great place to kick back and listen to some empassioned and often funny chats. They do not delve too deep into their subject matter, which might be a minus for some, but I don’t think their focus is in depth teaching. I give them a 3/5 for content and 4/5 each for Polish and Quality of Presentation. If they continue with their podcast they will be one of the better shows around. They’re local too, which I really like. You can catch Let’s Talk geek by clicking this link.
Rounding up because I give them the home team advantage (hey, this isn’t a democracy…) gets them a Q rating of 4/5
The Internet is an awesome place. Spammers and porn vendors make it a bit of a minefield to negotiate sometimes, but if you know where to look you can discover real gems. TED is awesome, it is one of the best places to spend some time on the web. Podcasts are cool too, but because they are often privately produced by amateurs their quality can vary, and they might disappear altogether.
I could not end this entry without an SaGeek recommendation. TED gets the nod today. The official tagline is “Ideas Worth Spreading” and there are real awesome talks out there. One that I really enjoyed this weekend was by Robert Full, about the relationship of collaboration between different fields of study, especially how his studying of how Geckos cling to surfaces helped some other scientists build better climbing robots. The ability to download and save a talk for later watching, in High Definition even, makes this one of the gems of the internet, and a real world treasure.
SaGeek says “Watch and learn”
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