Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘remix’

26 MAY, 2011

Michael Meets Mozart: Piano, Cello and Mashup Magic

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What’s wrong with copyright law, or how neurological supremacy channels 100 cello revelations.

This week, a new study suggests musicians’ brains may be more developed than other people’s. And while I’m all for a healthy dose of skepticism in reacting to research headlines, terrific performances like this Michael Meets Mozart gem by pianist Jon Schmidt and cellist Steven Sharp Nelson make it difficult to believe that just any old brain is capable of such creative enormity. Jon and Steve blending the piano with over 100 cello textures never thought possible and creating extraordinary sound effects with just the instruments featured in the video: piano, cello, mouth percussion and kick drum.

After the enthusiastic reception of their Taylor Swift / Coldplay mashup, Schmidt and Nelson set out to do a hip-hop/classical remix. But when they couldn’t get permission to use the two tracks they had in mind — this right here, by the way, is a powerful and tragic testament to the brokenness of today’s copyright law and the need to find new ways to foster remix culture — they decided to create an original tune instead, weaving together inspirations from a handful of known influences, including Michael Jackson, Mozart and U2. The result is nothing short of magic.

If this has you hungry for more virtuoso mesmerism, you won’t be disappointed by Herbie Hancock and Lang Lang’s duet at the Royal Albert Hall in London or this fantastic take on Beethoven reimagined as jazz.

via Wimp

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04 MAY, 2011

6 Popular Business Books Adapted as Comics

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What 6th-century Chinese military strategy has to do with the art of closing a deal.

Comic books resonate so deeply with us because they speak to our brains’ fundamental visual bias, known as the pictorial superiority effect. A new series of books by SmarterComics is harnessing this human predilection and doing for nonfiction what The RSA has done for lectures, adapting popular business and strategy books by iconic thought-leaders into visually-driven narratives. Here are the first six of the series.

THE LONG TAIL

Based on the 2006 bestseller of the same name by Wired editor Chris Anderson, The Long Tail explores a counterintuitive side of business profits as Anderson declares the death of “common culture” and makes a case for the multiplicity of small niches, as opposed to the high-volume peaks of the mainstream, as the sweet spot of market opportunity.

THINK AND GROW RICH

In 1937, Napoleon Hill wrote what’s commonly considered the greatest wealth-building guide of all time. SmarterComics breathes playful new life into the now-iconic Think and Grow Rich, a blueprint for improving your life through the practical power of positive thinking, a cognitive toolkit to which many of modern history’s most famous millionaires and billionaires point as the secret to their success. A self-help book for the hard analytical types, Hill’s classic is considered a landmark publication in success philosophy and has shaped generations of subsequent business books.

MI BARRIO

Entrepreneur Robert Renteria grew up as an infant sleeping in a dresser drawer, then got drawn into drugs and gang violence as a teenager. But rather than letting his circumstances dictate and define him, he let them become a part of him as he grew from a childhood of poverty and abuse into a successful businessman and civic leader. In Mi Barrio (My Neighborhood), Renteria turns his story into a modern-day, real-life fable of persistence and hard work, extending an invitation to all of us to transcend the limitations of our circumstances and the burdens of our past.

HOW TO MASTER THE ART OF SELLING

Since its original publication decades ago, Tom Hopkins’ straight-shootingly titled How to Master the Art of Selling has remained true to — and widely acclaimed for — its title’s promise. Among the many sales scrips and tactics on everything from building trust to closing elusive deals are also a number of anecdotes, which seem to lend themselves particularly well to the storytelling format of a comic book.

OVERACHIEVEMENT

Originally written by performance coach and psychologist John Eliot in 2004, Overachievement offers an ambitious look at what it takes to be exceptional. Eliot explores a number of cognitive performance enhancers used by Olympic athletes, business moguls, surgeons, salesmen, financial experts, and rock stars, pointing to the importance of intuition and what he calls “the trusting mind” — the same idea, no doubt, that inspired Nike’s iconic “Just do it” slogan — as the fundamental make-or-break point of success.

THE ART OF WAR

Chinese military treatise The Art of War (not to be confused with Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art), attributed to philosopher and military general Sun Tzu, is one of the world’s oldest and most successful books on military strategy, dating back to late 6th century BC. The wisdom from this 2,500-year-old text remain required reading for today’s MBA classrooms, offering history-tested insight on how to prevail in any conflict, be it in on the battlefield or in the boardroom.

Besides the traditional printed editions, the books are also available in a variety of eletornic formats on the SmarterComics site.

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03 MAY, 2011

Lawrence Lessig on the Free Access Movement

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Open access to knowledge, a business model for science, and the value of “uncool” innovation.

Harvard’s Lawrence Lessig is easily the most important voice in intellectual property today, whose work — including founding Creative Commons — has done for remix culture what Al Gore’s did for climate change. In this animated excerpt from a lecture he gave in Geneva last week, Lessig introduces the Science Commons project and makes a compelling case for universal access to knowledge through new information architecture that supports its recombination and reconfiguration, advocating for what he calls “the free access movement.”

Ultimately, he argues — and we wholeheartedly agree — that encouraging exclusivity of access is inconsistent with the ethics of our world, the sort of paradigm that lets knowledge wither in the hands of the privileged.

We need to recognize in the academy, I think, an ethical obligation […] An ethical obligation which is at the core of our mission. Our mission is universal access to knowledge—not American university access to knowledge, but universal access to knowledge in every part of the globe.

We don’t need, for our work, exclusivity; and we shouldn’t practice, with our work, exclusivity. And we should name those who do, wrong. Those who do are inconsistent with the ethic of our work.” ~ Lawrence Lessig

See the full 50-minute talk below:

Archiving is not enough. Because what it does is leave these right out there, and by leaving these rights out there, it encourages this architecture of closed access. It encourages models of access that block access to the non-elite around the world. And it discourages unplanned, unanticipated and ‘uncool’ innovation — the sort of thing publishers would’ve said of Google Books.” ~ Lawrence Lessig

More than six years later, Lessig’s Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity remains an absolute must-read. Unlike most books, whose cultural relevance tends to wane with time, this is a cultural essential that’s only increasingly relevant as we grapple with new facets of what constitutes creative labor.

[UPDATE: Per appropriate albeit abrasive reader comment below, a reminder that Free Culture is also available as a free downloadable PDF if you can stomach the reading experience that entails.]

HT @matthiasrascher

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25 MARCH, 2011

An Ode to the Brain: TED + Carl Sagan, Autotuned

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Between our deep love for TED, our fascination with music and the brain, and our soft spot for remix culture, it’s hard not to fall for An Ode to the Brain by John Boswell of Symphony of Science fame — an ingenious autotune remix of footage from various TED talks, Discovery Channel programming, Carl Sagan documentaries and other fine purveyors of neuroscience insight.

For our very own remix tribute to TED, do revisit our TEDify side project.

Thanks, Chris

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