Friday, December 26, 2008

Cambridge Alumni Podcast review

The Cambridge Alumni Podcast of the University of Cambridge contains mainly vodcasts, that I must admit, I have not paid any attention to. I am trying to concentrate on the content you can take with you on the run, on the drive and along with menial tasks, or in other words: I concentrate on the audio. The vodcasts may be worthwhile, or are likely to be so and I may write about it in the future, but for now, I will talk about the few audio only in the Cambridge Alumni Podcast feed.

It was, as so often, Dara of DIY Scholar who put me on the track of this podcast. She wrote about the historic yet amusing lecture about Cambridge's codebreakers. MI 5's historian, Professor Christopher Andrew, lectures in a very light mood about Cambridge's contribution to the intelligence efforts in both World Wars and the Cold War. I recommend, just as Dara did, everybody to listen to this lecture. Yet, what I took away from the podcast was a lesson for the blog and for reviewing more than anything else. Since Dara so warmly recommended this specific lecture, apparently, I went in with high expectations and was slightly disappointed, not at the entertainment level, but rather at the historic content. This is hardly fair on Christopher Andrew, I suppose, but must be put down on the immense subjectivity of the listener. Subjective to the extent that the same listener under different circumstances can come to a radically different appreciation. (Should I stop writing in acclaim?)

While we are at the subject of Cambridge, its mathematicians and Intelligence, two more lectures deserve mention. For one: Cambridge Computing, 1937 - 2007: A history of not quite everything. What most fascinated me in this lecture is the development of computing altogether. How different computing was in the pre-PC era, how it developed and how this made for such a different set of users and experiences.

The next is Enigma and the Turing Bombe. Especially if you heard the first podcast, this is one not to miss. After the eccentricity of Alan Turing was mentioned in the previous podcast, this is the podcast to get acquainted with the actual problem he was faced with, when he attempted to crack the German's Enigma code.

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