TED Blog

planes_trains_automobilesTED playlists are collections of talks around a topic, built for you in a thoughtful sequence to illuminate ideas in context. This weekend, three new playlists are available: “Ancient clues,” “Planes, trains and automobiles” and “Are we alone in the universe?”

Ancient clues
Five fascinating talks by archaeologists and evolutionary biologists about humanity’s beginnings and journey.

Planes, trains and automobiles
Drive a plane? Race a car with your eyes closed? Fly? 11 innovators in transportation show that getting from point A to point B doesn’t have to be boring.

Are we alone in the universe?
Can it really be possible that Earth is only life-sustaining planet in existence? These 5 speakers think there might just be something or someone else out there, and urge us not to stop the search.

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I find statistics absolutely delicious. Pew research released fresh stats on what slice of Americans are addicted to all of the various social networks as of December 2012. There are a few big business and cultural implications.

Pinterest has practically caught up with Twitter, with 15 percent and 16 percent of adult U.S. Internet users on each network, respectively. Pinterest, which launched in 2009, has experienced explosive growth, especially with a white, female and affluent user base. Women are five times more likely to use Pinterest (5 percent vs. 25 percent) and almost twice as likely to be white and college-educated. It’s become a magnet for hip urbanites searching for the hottest wedding gowns and apartment decor. Twitter, however, gets a lot more attention, since neither presidential campaigns nor Middle Eastern activists are leveraging style catalogs to rearrange their countries’ political leadership.

There is no longer a minority gap in social media use.

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Editor’s note: Hunter Walk was most recently Director of Product Management at YouTube. Follow him on Twitter @hunterwalk.

Search engines have long memories. I think about this whenever I read new coverage of some immoral,  misanthropic or illegal act. The kids who tweeted racist statements about Obama on Election Day, the college student whose secret videotaping of his gay roommate helped lead to the young man’s suicide, the catfishing of Manti T’eo. Years from now it’s possible, even likely, that when the perpetrators’ names are Googled, these histories will be what surfaces first for them. An employer, a girlfriend or boyfriend, or a neighbor will find out about what they once did years ago. Whatever the context, their past will be very hard to escape.

“Good,” you might say. And I largely agree, although Google’s recall impacts folks who weren’t criminal or stupid in their activities, maybe…

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The news that Opera is shutting down the development of its own browser rendering engine and moving to the open source WebKit engine caused quite a stir earlier this week. With WebKit powering the built-in browsers of Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS, it’s already the de-facto standard engine for mobile and it has the potential to do the same on the desktop. Worldwide, Chrome now holds a considerable lead over Microsoft’s Trident-powered Internet Explorer and Mozilla’s Gecko for Firefox already. The question is: are we better off because we have competing engines trying to outdo each other, or would we be better off if all the browser vendors just standardized on WebKit?

As an open source project, WebKit allows all the vendors to contribute and the combined efforts of Google, Apple, Mozilla, Microsoft, Opera and everybody else in the browser ecosystem who may want to contribute could quickly push the…

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