Vonnegut’s Story Graphs

I love the way Kurt Vonnegut explained stories through graphs, described here by Derek Sivers.



Back in 1994, I saw Vonnegut do a version of this exercise in person, on a blackboard at Duke. In the lecture I saw, Vonnegut explained that Hamlet was the epitome of real drama, since unlike Cinderella, the story graph is pretty much a straight line. Essentially, Hamlet never learns whether anything that happens is good or bad and nothing is resolved, just like in life. Here’s the published version of the lecture, from A Man Without a Country (scroll down to the *):



Incidentally, Vonnegut made the best exit of any public speaker I’ve ever seen. At the end of his speech, he begrudgingly offered to take questions from the audience, as requested by the Duke speaker organizers. He answered a few fairly lame ones, including a teacher asking what one book should he get his students to read, assuming they would only read one (Vonnegut: “I suppose Genesis is a good place to start.”) Finally, he muttered, “I don’t think much of your questions. Goodnight,” and strolled off stage.

[via @gregg]

Free Ivy League Education, Delivery Included

Why shell out $34,000 a year when you can load up on Harvard learnin’ for free? So far, the new site Academic Earth has videos of thousands of lectures, including entire courses, from Berkeley, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Stanford, and Yale. Meanwhile, YouTube has debuted their own college lecture channel, YouTube EDU.

Some, like this physics course with audience participation, are a lot livelier than others:



For the full college experience, be sure to skip a video occasionally and watch some of these.

[via Lifehacker]