Have you all heard about PBS Idea Channel? If you love anything to do with geekery or nerdism (actual words? discuss), you MUST check it out. My introduction to this YouTube-specific channel was a video asking, “Are you a hipster?” Then I was lured—lured, I tells ye!—into watching “Is Miku Hatsune a more authentic pop star than Lana Del Rey?” and before I knew it I’d basically spent my entire afternoon gorging myself on all the PBS Idea Channel videos like a sugar addict presented with a plate full of cupcakes.
What I love about PBS Idea Channel is that they draw crazy connections between what seems to be the most random crap imaginable, until you watch the video and you’re like, “That totally makes sense!” and feel like your brain has just supernova’d. Like this:
In less than ten minutes.
Most of the PBS Idea Channel videos address geek- or internet-culture (which is awesome), but there are five that deal specifically with books, and which I recommend to all bibliophiles. Just don’t do it while you’re in bed with Marge (or, you know, whomever).
Is Twitter the Newest Form of Literature?
Grasp your pearls and swoon, ladies, because I think Mr. Idea Channel (Mike Rugnetta) has a point. Say it with me: “Death of literature! The sky is falling!” Actually, I think Twitter has been a vehicle for some creative literature already. Rugnetta doesn’t mention this, but remember the @MayorEmanuel Twitter account, where Rahm Emanuel (not the real one, obviously) goes on a quest through Chicago with his best friends, David Axelrod, Carl the Intern, a puppy and duck? That was hilarious AND fucking poetry. Definitely literature material.
How did Sherlock Holmes pave the way for 50 Shades of Grey?
Ah, the dreaded 50 Shades. If Sherlock paved the way for 50 Shades, does that mean Twilight is the 21st century’s Sherlock Holmes? Is Stephenie Meyer our modern-day Arthur Conan Doyle?
You see what I mean? This show gets your brain working. Not necessarily working to a purpose, but working.
Is William Gibson a modern-day oracle?
William Gibson, for those who are not familiar, is the science-fiction author of Neuromancer, where he invented the term cyberpunk, as well as The Sprawl Trilogy (inspiration for Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs, in case you care), and The Bridge Trilogy, among other works. I haven’t read anything by William Gibson, so I don’t have much to say in response to this video other than: yes, probably. And, Miku Hatsune is everywhere!
Is Homestuck the Ulysses of the Internet?
Nowww we’re getting into some deep thought. Homestuck, for those who don’t know (I didn’t until I watched this video) is a huge, gigantic, insanely complex webcomic that makes up its own rules as it goes along and includes text, pictures, video games—anything really. Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? Awesome and intimidating, just like Ulysses. And just like Ulysses, a part of me really wants to read it so I can judge its supposed greatness for myself, but another part of me is like, “Mmmm, probably not worth it.”
Incidentally, I find the statement that Ulysses is “more talked about than read” interesting. It does seem like the literary canon favors books that generate discussion and tease our brains rather than engage our emotions (escapism, anyone?), and I’m not sure a book that makes people want to talk about it is necessarily “good.”
PS, be sure to watch the Q&A section of this video, where Rugnetta addresses comments from the William Gibson webisode.
Is the universe a computer?
This one is for all you The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fans (I know you’re out there). As you might know, or not, in The Hitchhiker’s Guide, Earth is a computer created to come up with a question, the answer to which is 42. If we only knew the question we’d know everything there is to know about the universe!!! Rugnetta takes the premise of The Hitchhiker’s Guide a bit further and asks, what if Douglas Adams is right and the universe really IS a computer? WHAT IF.
So. Do you feel like you have about 1000x more geek street cred now than you did an hour ago? You’re welcome. And the geekery doesn’t stop there—there are also episodes about Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, Community, and a ton of other things you know you want to watch. I really, really hope they do a webisode about Neil Gaiman some day. And possibly Scott Pilgrim.
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