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Learning By Streaming

I love learning. (Or I wouldn’t have this job.)

I love watching really good documentaries, about almost anything. Retro tech and tech history in particular, but really, almost anything.

The COVID lockdown has been great for Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO, and so on, but here are some places you might not be aware of where you can stream great documentaries (and other movies too) for free. There may be limits on how many views per months and on how long you have to view a movie once you have “borrowed” it. Most of these catalogs also include commercial/mainstream movies, but I’m much less interested in that.

I have accounts on all of these and usually watch them either via the corresponding Roku app or using a Chromecast.
  • If you have borrower privileges at the UC Berkeley Libraries, they have licensed a huge catalog of streaming, and media librarian Gisèle Tanasse is simply awesome if you’re having trouble finding what you want. (If using an off-campus network, you will likely have to VPN in for this to work.)
  • If you have a City of Berkeley Public Library card, the Kanopy and Hoopla streaming services have great catalogs for you to borrow.
  • The San Francisco Public Library card has many educational/documentary/cultural videos available through multiple channels
  • PBS makes at least some of their catalog available for free streaming; more is available if you are a PBS donor or paying member.
  • JustWatch is a pretty good resource for determining which films are available through which streaming services (paid or free), but be aware that coverage on Kanopy and Hoopla will depend on which institutional affiliate you browse.
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