5 Tons of Flax

What the deuce!

James Burke’s "Connections" and "The Day the Universe Changed" on YouTube

Posted by Jon on 14 June, 2007

It’s not really possible to select a single thinker or work that has had more influence than any other on how you see the world, but if it were, I’d select James Burke’s “Connections” series from the mid-70s. My dad brought them home on VHS when I was a little kid, copies from his school’s library, and over the years I practically wore the tapes out watching them. I rediscovered them while early in grad school, as well as another Burke series “The Day the Universe Changed”. For people who study history, technology and society, the discussion may seem “surface”, but Burke is a journalist first and wraps insights gained by academics and great thinkers together with entertaining delivery and an incredible personal ethos and humor. If you want to understand where the world is going, understand where we’ve come from. To get a start that doesn’t lock you into the myopia of overspecialization and raises serious social questions, start with James Burke’s series. Particularly look at the predictions he makes (filmed 30 years ago) and compare them to the world today – the man is incredibly insightful.

Also, for anyone who shares my more recently developed interest/fear/nausea/angst about things like peak oil, overspecialization, etc., you should particularly watch the first episode of Connections.

Why this post right now? Someone has posted Connections, The Day the Universe Changed, and Connections 2 (a follow up series that is not as ambitious in scope or in insight, but interesting additional material) on YouTube. They’re split into 10 minute segments, but you can have an entire episodes segments run in sequence. Watch it as soon as you can (who knows if the copyright owners may decide to be assholes about it)


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