Can we really trust the crowd? Jens Krause at TEDxGhent

Crowd-sourcing, crowd-funding, is all really that great? Well, Jens Krause has made a life of studying how crowds, or swarms, make decisions, and it turns out that crowds make terrible ones sometimes, depending on the type of problems they’re facing.

Whether you’re about to launch a big crowd-sourced project at work or are simply trying to find the best place to eat tonight, Jens’s results are worth knowing. Check it out above.

How the NSA betrayed the world’s trust — and why it’s time to act. Today’s TED Talk by Mikko Hypponen at TEDxBrussels

Ever since the NSA leak last May, the world has been locked in a raging ethical argument that cants heavily toward the opinion: ‘not even remotely okay.’ Recent events have highlighted, underlined, and bolded the fact that the United States is performing blanket surveillance on any foreigner whose data passes through an American entity — whether they are suspected of wrongdoing or not.

That means that, essentially, every international user of the Internet is being watched, says Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at F-Secure Corporation in Finland. His important rant is wrapped up with a plea: to find alternative solutions to using American companies for world’s information needs. 

Above, watch Mikko Hypponen’s bold take on the recent NSA controversy in what is today’s featured talk at TED.com.

7 fantastic musical talks to celebrate TEDxPenn

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Andrew Bird takes over the TED stage


From the TEDitorial team’s fabulous Liz Jacobs:

I’m super excited about tomorrow’s TEDxPenn event in Philadelphia. Maybe I’m a bit biased because I just graduated from Penn and now work at TED, but this weekend’s conference is shaping up to be a great one.
    
Inspired by the University’s year-long exploration of sound, this year’s TEDxPenn theme is “Creating the Sound." Penn is at the forefront of cutting-edge research in fields as diverse as bioengineering, cinema studies, entrepreneurship, and ethnomusicology, and TEDxPenn is poised to help the University’s brightest minds share their ideas beyond the ivory tower.
    
In the spirit of this weekend’s event, I gathered together seven of my favorite talks that showcase the off-beat and mind-blowing sounds that have been shared on the TED and TEDx stages. These talks illustrate the incredible ways we communicate ideas through sound. Enjoy!

**Andrew Bird’s one-man orchestra
An awe-inspiring meditation on music and how we make it. Andrew Bird’s genius electric loops of violins, xylophones and his own whistling create a euphony at TED2010 that’s both mesmerizing and inspiring.

**Sound health: Julian Treasure at TEDxYouth@Manchester
We need to take control of our soundscapes to create a more beautiful sound world, says Julian Treasure, speaking on the stage at TEDxYouth@Manchester. Treasure has devoted his life to studying the sound in the world around us, and in this talk, he offers tips on how to keep your ears healthy and your outlook positive.

**Pamelia Kurstin plays the theremin
Without laying a finger on her instrument, Pamelia Kurstin electrifies TED2002 with the theremin. This unusual electronic instrument operates on sound waves, which create a harrowingly beautiful sound as Kurstin seemingly creates sound out of thin air. (Bonus: check out another theremin performance by Lydia Kavina at TEDxGhent!)

**The world’s ugliest music: Scott Rickard at TEDxMIA
The world’s first pattern-free piano sonata.
What makes music beautiful? Mathematician Scott Rickard deconstructs the patterns and rhythm that make music to our ears, and shares a piece of music so ugly, that only a mathematician could write it.

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The travel playlist: Around the world in 5 TEDx Talks

image A gorgeous landscape in Afghanistan, documented by TEDx speaker James Willcox

As school starts, the weather turns cold, and long walks become harder to handle, pangs of wanderlust are sure to set in again. So to celebrate World Tourism Day, we thought we’d bring the great wide world to you. Here, we’ve hand picked five talks that take you all over the world — from Palestine to Poland — so you can travel vicariously through TEDx.

The road less traveled: Tony Wheeler at TEDxQueenstown
In the travel talk to end all travel talks, Tony Wheeler, founder of Lonely Planet, waxes poetic about the adventure of travel — in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Albania, Libya, Myanmar, the Congo, Palestine, Zimbabwe and beyond — with gorgeous photos to boot.

A new look at an old country: Mark Power at TEDxKrakow
Sent to Poland to photograph the country in 2004, just before it joined the European Union, Mark Power found himself coming back again and again. This photographic tour de force at TEDxKrakow will show you the true complexity of this fascinating country. Warning: NSFW, some graphic images.

More than a thousand words — the power of images: Antonio Bolfo at TEDxEast
NYPD police officer and photographer Antonio Bolfo has seen a lot in his career. In this dynamic talk at TEDxEast, he shows how a well-crafted photo can tell a rich, inspiring story — with examples from the 2010 Haiti earthquake and the daily work of NYPD officers.

Off-road tours in Afghanistan: James Willcox at TEDxBathUniversity
James Wilcox operates a very untraditional tour company in Afghanistan and Somalia, giving tourists a chance to see the real places behind the headlines. In this talk at TEDxBathUniversity, he describes how he was inspired to start this off-road initiative after a chance meeting with a UN translator named Abdul.

Scenes from a Romanian village: Katy Fox at TEDxLuxembourgCity
Social anthropologist Katy Fox spent several months as a researcher in rural Romania. At TEDxLuxembourgCity, she shows what she learned — weaving stories of the people she met in the villages with stunning photos of village life.

(Photo from James Willcox’s talk at TEDxBathUniversity)