Watching a Generation of Lifetimes: The ‘Up’ Series

If you pay attention to human development, psychology, or how people’s attitudes progress over a lifetime, I urge you to check out Up –– a longitudinal documentary series from Britain, available on Netflix.

The Up-Series by director Michael Apted

Director Michael Apted interviews a group of Britons every 7 years for their entire lives.

The series follows 14 children from “startling different backgrounds” from across England. It chronicles their lives for 42 years in seven-year intervals.

This longitudinal view begins in 1963 when the children are 7 years old and follows them, in the most recent installment, to age 49. You see little children playing on the playground and then witness them enduring all life’s trials through becoming grandparents. The film makers follow the group where their lives take them including Bulgaria, Australia, Spain, and Wisconsin.

Hopes, dreams, education, marriage, children, opportunities, careers, political views, religious beliefs, social values, marital stress, illness, loss (even interviewer and producer / director Michael Apted’s bias) – all show up. First in grainy black and white, then in living color, and finally, wide-screen high def.

You can stream all episodes on any Netflix-connected device:

  • 7 Up
  • 7 Plus Seven
  • 21 Up and its successors of 7-year check-ins right thru
  • 49 Up

I strongly suggest you start from the beginning with 7 Up. It really frames the project, provides the context, and sets the foundation for the rest of the wonder that unfolds.

Warning: Once you start watching, you’re going to be hooked. Set aside a weekend for the most unusual, engrossing glimpse at the lives of an entire age cohort cutting across several classes of a society.

These extraordinary documentaries capture contentment, despair, surprise, regrets, changes of heart – all the drama of full lifetimes from childhood through middle-age. (Plus providing a window unto the institutionalized stratification of British society.)

One hopes that the series continues as it would be fascinating to see how these life patterns change or don’t as this diverse cohort moves into old age…

Free College Education for iTunes Users, iPhone and iPad Owners

Itunesu icon If you own an iOS 5 device or have access to a computer with iTunes on it, you now have a portal to more than a half-million lectures, videos, books, and other resources from the world’s leading universities and cultural institutions, for free.

You can get smarter on thousands of subjects, from Algebra to Zoology. And you can do it on the go if you have an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. A free iTunes U app gives you these educational materials no matter where you are. Listen to an anthropology lecture from Oxford University during your lunch hour, or watch a lecture about autism from Yale while waiting in line at the bank.

The iTunes U app gathers material from university and cultural institutions in 26 countries including Stanford, Yale, MIT, Oxford, UC Berkeley, MoMA, the New York Public Library, and the Library of Congress. iTunes helps you navigate the many streams of content by searching; you can sort by topic or institution or grade level.

If you own multiple iOS devices, say, an iPhone and an iPad, the iTunes U content will synchronize between them.

Early reviews are quite favorable, running about 10 to 1 positive to negative. Some users report that the applications on the handheld iOS devices crash. I’ve had downloads stall. Expect Apple to work out such bugs. Apple is encouraging more institutions to develop and offer more courses through iTunes U. So the number of available lectures and courses likely will grow.

iTunes U promises to be an amazing, mind-expanding development for learners. Discover and download some new knowledge to your desktop or laptop using iTunes, or your iPhone or iPad.