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Mises.org on iTunes U

Tags Media and CultureAustrian Economics Overview

01/12/2010B.K. Marcus
The Mises Institute is pleased to announce that the multimedia content on Mises.org — many thousands of hours of audio and video — is now available through iTunes U, a dedicated area within the iTunes Store (www.itunes.com).

iTunes U carries lectures from top academic minds on every topic, freely available, elegantly organized, and beautifully presented. Users enjoy easy access to material ranging from ancient-language studies to particle physics.

All the rich-media content of Mises.org is now on iTunes U, alongside content from universities like MIT, Duke, Stanford, Cambridge, Princeton, and many museums and other major cultural institutions. We are seeing the future of education: straight from great minds to individual users around the world.

With iTunes U, the entire body of scholarship accumulated in the minicivilization of Mises.org can enjoy the widest possible distribution. We are on the cutting edge of user-friendly educational technology.

As more and more colleges experience digital media, many prestigious institutions have come to realize that universal distribution of their content is not a threat to their mission; it is the very fulfillment of the educational ideal. This is certainly the case with the Mises Institute, which is why the site has been made completely open source and completely free.

For me personally, the ever-growing audio archive was the gateway into the vast wealth of Mises.org. I discovered the Austrian School almost a decade ago through Jeff Riggenbach's reading of Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt. When I finished that audiobook, I wanted more. I found what I was looking for at Mises Media and filled my iPod and my driving time with economics and history. Over the years, hundreds of appreciative emails and blog comments from fellow Mises.org listeners have let me know that I am among a vast multitude of Austrolibertarian audiophiles.

In the late Middle Ages, when the discipline of economics was just being formed within the monasteries, it could only be taught to a small elite, protected from the world by hallowed and forbidding walls. This scarcity was never so much a policy as a limitation imposed by the state of technology. The teachers themselves could not even dream of making the whole world their classroom.

Economists like Carl Menger, F.A. Hayek, and Ludwig von Mises were devoted to getting their ideas out. They accepted as many travel invitations as possible in the hope of reaching new audiences. Mises himself was particularly aware of the need to teach outside the academy. Rothbard's own desire to reach the multitudes — by writing for every possible venue — left us with an immense literary legacy.

Mises.org has taken the output of these great scholars and translated it into digital media. Their seminars and speeches over the decades occurred in classrooms and lecture halls, but with digital media they now make the globe their lecture hall — and anyone can be their student.

Our tradition also includes powerful teachers like Robert LeFevre, who lectured tirelessly through the 1960s. His lectures were preserved on tape and they have been hosted on Mises.org for several years. Now these same lectures are made available on iTunes U next to those of Ivy League professors (many of whom teach the opposite point of view).

When LeFevre established his Freedom School in Colorado, he could only teach those who made their way to the mountain resort he founded. To quote Wikipedia,

these commentaries have made their mark in the history of libertarian ideas for their clarity, eloquence, and pedagogical value. Drawing on great thought from all ages, and specifically influenced by Rothbardian political economy, Robert LeFevre asks and answers fundamental questions about the relationship between man, property, society, and the state.

LeFevre died in 1986 without any knowledge that his lectures would someday become part of the global commons. But today, thanks to the Mises Institute's work with iTunes, a quick search brings up 50 full lectures that can be downloaded to an iPod for listening anywhere, anytime.

Murray Rothbard died in 1995, just as web browsers were hitting the mainstream. He might not have imagined this possibility of global, instant distribution. But anyone who has listened to the hundreds of hours of audio on Mises.org can know for sure that Rothbard would be shouting for joy.

A quarter of a century earlier, he had taught economics in a dingy classroom at New York Polytechnic, with perhaps 20 people present — many of whom were not even taking the class for credit — but one of them had a tape recorder. Despite the absence of a prestigious venue and promising students, Rothbard lectured with passion and rigor. Today anyone in the world can take that entire course, taught by Rothbard himself. This is not something he would have expected, but you can tell in his voice and manner that he knew these ideas could and would take flight in some way in the future.

This only scratches the surface of the thousands of hours that are available. You can listen to the recently recorded Human Action or dozens of other audiobooks, as well as to lectures and presentations from nearly a decade of Mises University, the Austrian Scholars Conference, annual Supporters Summits, and Mises Circle events around the country. And Mises Institute staff and volunteers are adding to the archive every day: the current record for daily uploads is 70 lectures in eight hours.

Achieving these results was a long and labor-intensive process — even leaving aside the centuries of intellectual work during which the ideas germinated. Chad Parish, our director of media, and our webmaster, David Veksler, have been going nonstop since last October to prepare this debut. But it has been a labor of love for all of us, including Doug French, president of the Mises Institute, who has encouraged and supported this venture, considering it essential to the future of liberty; under his leadership, we have joined the highest ideals with the most advanced technology.

In every institution's history, there are certain events that it can point to and call its landmarks. This is one of them. From the whole of the Mises staff to all our members and donors — thank you for supporting this project.

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