Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Why Study the Greeks : A Video

My latest Internet find is Academic Earth; an aggregation of video courses and lectures from various top universities and scholars.

Let's look at this lecture for example...

Donald Kagan, Introduction to Ancient Greek History (Yale University: Open Yale Courses), (Accessed April 2, 2009). License: Open Yale Courses Terms of Use

Professor Donald Kagan explains why people should study the ancient Greeks. He argues that the Greeks are worthy of our study not only because of their vast achievements and contributions to Western civilization (such as in the fields of science, law, and politics) but also because they offer a unique perspective on humanity. To the Greeks, man was both simultaneously capable of the greatest achievements and the worst crimes; he was both great and important, but also mortal and fallible. He was a tragic figure, powerful but limited. Therefore, by studying the Greeks, one gains insight into a tension that has gripped and shaped the West and the rest of the world through its influence. In short, to study the Greeks is to study the nature of human experience.

But not only does this site have the video - let's face it, anyone can just video a lecture and pop it onto the net these days - it also has some very nice options, which tell me that some thought was put into this:

  1. You can watch the streaming video OR download the full movie.
  2. You can download just the audio - so you can listen while you jog, ride or drive.
  3. You also get whatever handouts were available for the lecture.
  4. You can get (this is what impressed me most) the transcript of the lecture.
  5. There are links to networks (facebook,, etc)
  6. For the academics among us - there's even an official way to cite the lecture!

I read much faster than I can listen or watch and I'd love to have transcripts of much of what I watch.

The various lectures are on a wide variety of topics, covering what any thinking person could want and more is being added all the time, of course.

In short, this site is very well done and a lot of thought has been put into how people can extract information from it. This is what the "Internet" is all about - easy access to high quality information.


-- Robert

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