John McWhorter: Txtng is killing language. JK!!!
Does texting mean the death of good writing skills? John McWhorter posits that there’s much more to texting — linguistically, culturally — than it seems, and it’s all good news.
Linguist John McWhorter thinks about language in relation to race, politics and our shared cultural history.
WHY YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO HIM?
John McWhorter studies how language has evolved — and will evolve — with social, historical and technological developments, in addition to studying and writing about race in America.
In recent work, he’s been urging grammarians to think of email and text messages not as the scourge of the English language but as “fingered speech,” a new form between writing and talking. These digital missives, despite their “shaggy construction,” represent an exciting new form of communication in which “lol” and “hey” are particles, he suggests, and written thoughts can be shared at the speed of talking. Should we worry that knowing how to parse “haha kk” means we’ll lose the ability to read Proust? No, he told the TED Blog: “Generally there’s always been casual speech and formal speech, and people can keep the two in their heads.”
McWhorter teaches at Columbia, where his students, including Yin Yin Lu, Sarah Tully, and Laura Milmed, teach him all about the world of texting. He’s also a contributing editor at The New Republic and TheRoot.com. Among his books on language and on race, a selected list:What Language Is (And What It Isn’t and What It Could Be); Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English; and Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America.
“The man changed my mind about texting. I love to gripe about it, but John McWhorter made me rethink how I felt.” Ginette Evans on TED.com
Juan Enriquez: Your online life, permanent as a tattoo
What if Andy Warhol had it wrong, and instead of being famous for 15 minutes, we’re only anonymous for that long? In this short talk, Juan Enriquez looks at the surprisingly permanent effects of digital sharing on our personal privacy. He shares insight from the ancient Greeks to help us deal with our new “digital tattoos.”
Juan Enriquez thinks and writes about profound changes that genomics will bring in business, technology, and society.
WHY YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO HIM?
A broad thinker who studies the intersection of science, business and society, Juan Enriquez has a talent for bridging disciplines to build a coherent look ahead. Enriquez was the founding director of the Harvard Business School Life Sciences Project, and has published widely on topics from the technical (global nucleotide data flow) to the sociological (gene research and national competitiveness), and was a member of Celera Genomics founder Craig Venter‘s marine-based team to collect genetic data from the world’s oceans.
Formerly CEO of Mexico City’s Urban Development Corporation and chief of staff for Mexico’s secretary of state, Enriquez played a role in reforming Mexico’s domestic policy and helped negotiate a cease-fire with Zapatista rebels. He is a Managing Director at Excel Medical Ventures, a life sciences venture capital firm, and the chair and CEO of Biotechonomy, a research and investment firm helping to fund new genomics firms. The Untied States of Americalooks at the forces threatening America’s future as a unified country.
In his TED Book Homo Evolutis (written with Steve Gullens), Enriquez explores the far reaches of human change, and asks: Are we done evolving?
“Juan Enriquez will change your view of change itself.” Nicholas Negroponte
You Are What You Tweet: Ricky Van Veen
Danny Hillis: The Internet could crash. We need a Plan B
In the 1970s and 1980s, a generous spirit suffused the Internet, whose users were few and far between. But today, the net is ubiquitous, connecting billions of people, machines and essential pieces of infrastructure — leaving us vulnerable to cyber-attack or meltdown. Internet pioneer Danny Hillis argues that the Internet wasn’t designed for this kind of scale, and sounds a clarion call for us to develop a Plan B: a parallel system to fall back on if — or when — the Internet crashes.
Inventor, scientist, author, engineer — over his broad career, Danny Hillis has turned his ever-searching brain on an array of subjects, with surprising results.
WHY YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO HIM?
Danny Hillis is an inventor, scientist, author and engineer. While completing his doctorate at MIT, he pioneered the concept of parallel computers that is now the basis for most supercomputers, as well as the RAID array. He holds over 100 US patents, covering parallel computers, disk arrays, forgery prevention methods, and various electronic and mechanical devices, and has recently been working on problems in medicine as well. He is also the designer of a 10,000-year mechanical clock, and he gave a TED Talk in 1994 that is practically prophetic. Throughout his career, Hillis has worked at places like Disney and now Applied Minds, always looking for the next fascinating problem.
Susan Crawford: The Future of Information
Susan Crawford teaches Internet law and communications law and is one of the world’s leading thinkers on the intersection of technology and democracy. In 2009, she served as Special Assistant to the President for Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy and co-led the FCC transition team between the Bush and Obama administrations. She is the author of the upcoming book Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age. Professor at Cardozo Law School in New York City, columnist for Bloomberg View and Wired, and visiting professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School and Law School, Crawford will discuss the hot topics in technology policy—monopoly power over access networks and innovation, competition, and transparency in government—as well as the fascinating connections and overlap among them.
Susan Crawford is a professor at Cardozo Law School in New York City and a columnist for Bloomberg View. In 2012, she is a visiting professor at Harvard Law School and the Kennedy School of Government. She served as Special Assistant to the President for Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy (2009) and co-led the FCC transition team between the Bush and Obama administrations.
BRAIN POWER: From Neurons to Networks is a 10-minute film and accompanying TED Book (ted.com/tedbooks) from award-winning Director Tiffany Shlain and her team at The Moxie Institute. Based on new research on how to best nurture children’s brains from Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child and University of Washington‘s I-LABS, the film explores the parallels between a child’s brain development and the development of the global brain of Internet, offering insights into the best ways to shape both. Made through a new crowd-sourcing creativity process the Moxie team calls “Cloud Filmmaking,” Brain Power was created by putting into action the very ideas that the film is exploring: the connections between neurons, networks, and people around the world.