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Archive for the ‘Parallel Projects’ Category

I have recently found a new way to use YouTube to support people with disabilities–for people who are deaf and read sign (ASL, British, etc). How do you communicate music without sound? Pairing dance and rhythmic signing with the already very expressive sign-language these three creative signers bring songs to sign language in an authentic and fascinating way. Enjoy!

Below may be my favorite signed music video.

Notice: the signer is an *amazing* dancer and also is not wearing a shirt for parts of this. Also, the song itself is about a man who is a womanizer, so the content is adultish. You can find a fascinating discussion of this performer on what it takes to “translate” a song into sign (and dance!).

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I believe Project Gutenberg is one of the foundation-stones of culture on the internet. By culture I mean the writings which are referred to again and again to writers of our time. Foundational works. Project Gutenberg is a decentralized group of over 25,000 works in the public domain provided to the reading public in the most universal form possible–free text.

Project Gutenberg was my source for quotations from books in the public domain for every report I wrote in high school. I never read from there for pleasure, since free-text, while universal, is not attractive.

The founding principals of Project Gutenberg guide my work on p4. Universal access, decentralization, and transparency. I hope to make p4 a video Project Gutenberg–with a much smaller collection for now!

Project Gutenberg is a great resource, check it out sometime!

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I want p4’s YouTube Channel to become a one-stop shop for literature on YouTube. Knowing I cannot record all of the books in the world, I am linking, through my favorites list, a catalog of poetry and prose read out loud on YouTube. Some cover the same material as p4 but take a different approach, some take the same approach to different material.

For example, I have just found LibriVox. Here is their mission:

[A] LibriVox volunteer record chapters of books in the public domain and publish the audio files on the Internet. Our goal is to record all the books in the public domain.

Good goal. Next semester I will look into cross-posting some of poems recorded for p4 on LibriVox if the readers are up for it.

[UPDATE: I have found out that the Posner Center’s collection was the source for LibriVox’s recording of Blackwell’s legal dictionary. Go figure.]

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Yet another netizen who wants more Sonnets on YouTube. The Sonnet Project is a work in progress by joesonnets to memorize and perform all 154 of Shakespeare’s Sonnets. He’s be at it for a year and a bit now and is up to Sonnet 8. Some very interesting performances.

Here is his rendition of Sonnet 8:

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This sonnet hangs at the bottom of the Wean Hall staircase. For a little background, Wean Hall is where most computer sciences classes are being taught until the Gates Center is completed. The Gates Center is being funded by Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft. When considering how to apply to be the Posner Intern I had to consider who might be interested in watching sonnets on YouTube. This brings up  the larger issue, of who might be interested in sonnets?

Well, this poem, posted for at least two semesters, reassured me that there are some people who still find this form meaningful and even useful for a political protest. Just a teaser, the first line reads:

“My office lights are nothing like the sun”

Check out this post for the original Sonnet 130.

Sonnet at the bottom of the staircase in Wean Hall

Sonnet at the bottom of the staircase in Wean Hall

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I came across this realization while prepping for the Mark Twain readings for this project and doing reading for my American Political Humor class. Lyceums were venues for the popular lecture circuit during Mark Twain’s time (though the word is much older than that). Without TV or radio, lyceums were the locations of popular entertainment. You might go to see a musical performance, or hear someone read a short story, or hear a lecture on a political topic. All of the links in the sentence above go to YouTube recordings of a similar nature.

There are hundreds of such recordings, but I chose those specific videos because they demonstrate one of the greatest differences between YouTube and the lyceum culture. The videos I have selected were all viral megahits–memes which jumped through workplaces, around schools, across continents. Paul Potts singing “Nessun Dorma” on a Britain’s got Talent, an older man reading “The Cremation of Sam McGee”, and Barak Obama’s wildly popular video, “Yes We Can”, all demonstrated the power of YouTube to spread content.

Enjoy!

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I recently discovered a project similar to p4 in both its founding intent and in its modus operandi. New York’s Shakespeare in the Park has been presenting Shakespeare and other great playwrites in Central Park for free for over 50 years. Like SITP, p4 commits to presenting a series of great works for the largest audience possible. P4 presents Shakespeare and Mark Twain for free through its podcasts and vidcasts, its YouTube videos and its blog posts because it was founded to provide access to these great works for kids in school regardless (particularly those with learning disabilities which make reading a chore such as Dyslexia, ADD, ADHD, Aspergers) and people who just don’t have time to pull out a great book or poem just for the joy of it.

I visited an exhibit at the National Gallery in Washington DC of treasures from Afghanistan this weekend. There were room after room of global treasures which have survived 30 years of savage wars. Like those treasures, Shakespeare and Mark Twain’s works have survived for centuries–survived censorship, expurgation, and the most insidious of threats, suspicions that they are no longer relevant to our wired world. But, like the motto National Museum of Afghanistan, Kabul, I believe that “A nation stays alive when its culture stays alive.” Not its cultural history–I am not presenting these works as background material for modern works. I am presenting these works here, in this format, in this year, because they can and do have relevance to our lives, our loves and our futures.

This I believe.

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