3 TEDx talks you need to watch if you use the Internet

The Internet. We all use it. You could be using it right now. Those who follow Silicon Valley’s aristocracy have seen it glorified as the real land of the free — the setting of a self-regulating, radically open, data-dense, utopian wonderland built on the tenants of hacker culture. But is it really that great? Maybe. But it’s also riddled with problems.

Below: The struggle to own the Internet’s future… The fight against trolls… What crowdsourcing isn’t good for…

The battle for power on the Internet: Bruce Schneier at TEDxCambridge

A civil war wages for the Internet. As large institutions, like governments and corporations, try to restrict online behavior, tech-adept Internet cowboys fight for a sovereign world wide web. But if you’re not in either group, and you’re not a world-class coder, you may currently stand in the crossfire. Security expert Bruce Schneier examines your fate and offers three suggestions that could get you out of this unharmed.

The problem with “Don’t Feed the Trolls”: Steph Guthrie at TEDxToronto
As anyone who’s ever been on YouTube knows, Internet trolls are prolific. Racism and sexism are their bread and butter, and their indiscriminate vitriol has led to the blanket mantra, “Don’t feed the trolls!” Steph Guthrie calls that attitude into question. Arguing that the Internet should never be a safe place for prejudice, she urges us to reject the honorific of “troll” and treat vulgar commenters as bona fide bigots.

Can we really trust the crowd? Jens Krause at TEDxGhent

Crowdsourcing, crowdfunding, blah, blah, blah. A lot of Internet elite like to espouse the “wisdom of the crowd,” quite a few TED and TEDx speakers included. But Jens Krause has made a life of studying how crowds, or swarms, make decisions. It turns out that crowds can make terrible decisions sometimes, depending on the type of problems they’re facing. Whether you’re about to launch a big crowd-sourced project at work or simply trying to find the best place to eat tonight, his results are worth knowing.

From Debbie Sterling’s TEDxPSU talk, "Inspiring the next generation of female engineers." Sterling is the creator of GoldieBlox, a set of toys featuring Goldie, a female engineer who guides girls to develop problem-solving skills and build projects, introducing girls to the world of engineering through a tech-savvy female role model.

Watch Sterling’s entire talk below, and learn more about GoldieBlox at its website: