“Twinkling colored lights are nice and so are plastic Santas and reindeers and nativity scenes, but let me tell you something. There’s nothing like the sight of a beautiful, black-as-pitch raven to get you in the Christmas spirit.”
(Chris in the Morning, Northern Exposure TV series)
Here is a list of possible open access Christmas gifts this year, as an alternative to “plastic Santas and reindeers,” or as their non-commercial complement. If you are into Christmas spirit but annoyed with the idea of the money spent at shopping sprees, you may still play a good spirit then, and bring open access goodies to your loved ones. To suggest but a few, and ask nothing in return:
1. A movie, that is, one out of 250 free movies online, where you can choose from great classics, indies, film noir and more. Buena Vista Social Club is a good choice, a wonderful making of Ry Cooder with brilliant Cuban musicians making their life perfect with nothing else at their disposal but – music.
2. A documentary on copyright, mash-ups and creativity with Lawrence Lessig appearing as himself and giving lectures on free culture. An enjoyable, amusing and relaxing movie, especially enticing for young people involved in media business. RIP: A Remix Manifesto is available online to watch and remix for free.
3. A cartoon, Sita Sings the Blues, carefully described by Nataly Anderson in the previous post on our blog: “The film represents diverse interpretations of the Ramayana as recounted by collaborators from many regions of India. Visually, it draws on traditional shadow-puppet plays, Rajput painting, Bollywood-esque interludes, scenes from the animator’s own life, hallucinatory excursions into Beatles-like territory and more. Colourful it is, boring it ain’t.”
4. A book, Free Culture, by Lawrence Lessig , for those who haven’t yet realized that to have all rights reserved and leave nothing to the public domain is not in a good Christmas spirit. In the book, it is explained how big media uses technology and the law to lock down culture and control creativity. For anyone in favor of conspiracy theory in the publishing business, this will be a light content for a Christmas afternoon.
6. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce is a nice present for a fellow book worm (given that he hasn’t already read it). It requires a more mature mind and a focus on the stream of consciousness, but this is highly rewarded with liberating thoughts on art, religion and philosophy. The book is available online on Gutenberg.
7. A free online course on Japanese Popular Culture available at MIT. As described on the website: “This course examines Japanese popular culture as a way of understanding the changing character of media, capitalism, fan communities and culture. Topics include manga (comic books), hip-hop and other popular music in Japan, anime (Japanese animated films) and feature films, sports (sumo, soccer, baseball), and online communication. Emphasis will be on contemporary popular culture and theories of gender, sexuality, race, and the workings of power in global culture industries.”
8. Know someone who wants to learn Chinese? Chinese I, the first semester of two that form an introduction to modern standard Chinese, commonly called Mandarin, is also available at the MIT open course website. Basic conversational abilities and basic reading and writing skills are covered in the course.
9. Aesop’s Fables, Volume One, an audio book available online, suitable for both young folk and the old. It is time to meet your kid with the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing.
10. For comic fans, the Digital Comic Museum offers free public domain Golden Age Comics. Noodnik seems to have all those Christmasy colors on the cover and the huge polar bear that you just need to hug.
11. Last but not the least, for your fellow scientists, you can choose from any of our freely available books waiting for you to read them on our reading platform InTechOpen. Again, to suggest but a few (out of more than 270):
Robot Manipulators, New Achievements for anyone interested in how to manipulate a robot instead of being manipulated by them.
Environmental Management for anyone scared by the rapid urbanization and population growth.
Have yourself a merry OA Christmas!