Sep 6, 2008

Putting myself back in class, as it were

I find myself hungry for knowledge, but unsure about what to read to get said knowledge. I surf blogs looking for someone who "speaks" to me, without much success. Now I'm surfing the podcasts at iTunes and am trying out iTunes U.

I love listening to good speakers, people who present coherent thoughts in complete sentences with multi-syllabic words, and who are able to present their case and address any rebuttals without getting personal, off-topic or shallow. It is a nice change of pace from the talking heads on TV, and far more educational.

It's funny what I find interesting: "Saturday Morning Physics" strikes me the way I've heard shoe stores strike more typical women. I look at the list of topics, like "String Theory: What is It Good for" and "The Music of Quantum Physics" and get all goose-bumpy about it.

There is something about listening to a voice (or watching someone speak), about hearing something explained with the intention of the listener learning something from it. It reminds me of the more exhilarating aspects of school - those moments when you actually learned something, when a connection was made, the lightbulb came on and something made sense. Often, that lightbulb came with a feeling, a shiver of joy from learning.

One reason for my desire to learn more is that there are things happening in the world that I would like to understand better. The quantum physics stuff is really a hobby thing, but the interest exists in part because of stuff like the movie "What the Bleep Do We Know?". Other topics I find I want to understand better include economics and the history of the Middle East (oil, actually). I want to know what the background is for current conflicts, or at least know more that the evening news or the local newspaper with a photo taking up 3/4 of the page will tell me.

Sometimes I think I live in the best of times. No, I always think that, actually. Imagine, with a computer and an iPod, I can have access to information for free right in my own home, hear great talks, learn new things - and even get the dishes done! A whole library at my fingertips and the freedom to choose. I'm getting goosebumps again.

8 comments:

Sparkling Red said...

Itunes U? Oh my gosh, don't tell me about that! I have so many more books on my shelf already than I have time to read, and now I'm going to get seduced by a million delicious podcasts... halp! ;-)

Keera Ann Fox said...

*eyeing my own pile of unreads*
But, but, but… they aren't about what I want to know!
(Excuses, excuses…)

Tim said...

Podcasts are a wonderful little passtime that I try to not let get away from the important part of my life, but I don't always succeed. Pooks' sometimes finds them boring, but now and again I'll find one that peaks her interest, and I'll plug my mp3 player into the stereo after the kiddo goes to bed. Who says all couples watch tv during bedtime? ;)

Keera Ann Fox said...

Why even have a TV in the bedroom? ;-) (I don't.)

Geir said...

One of the more inspiring places to be on that world wide web, is ted.com, where you find talsk about almost anything you like. What they have in common, is that none of them are mediocre.

Keera Ann Fox said...

Geir, thanks for reminding me about the wonderful ted.com. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like the TED audio podcasts are addressing what I'm currently interested in learning more about.

If any of my readers have direct links to TED talks/podcasts on the history of the Middle East and/or oil and/or Islam, I'd love to hear from you.

max said...

Other topics I find I want to understand better include economics and the history of the Middle East (oil, actually).

Well, for history of the Middle East, two books: A History of the Arab Peoples by Albert Hourani. (That's an Amazon link; they have an audio book version and/or a download audio version.) Meanwhile there's also A History of Islamic Societies. I'd just snag a used paperback of that one.

Meanwhile, Brad DeLong did an Intermediate Macro course with lots of lecturing; I saved all the web pages to disk along with the audio - I can send you a zip of the web pages and the links point right at the audio if you want. The web pages mainly cover background materials for the audio - the audio is the thing to listen to.

Mail me or whatever.

max
['Sorry for space cadet-y delay in answering!']

Keera Ann Fox said...

Thanks for the book tips! I will mail you or whatever. :-)