We humans

Things we should and shouldn’t do (one of them definitely nowhere near food)

May 6, 2014 /

Let’s not do any of these things
“Here are nine ways we could really screw things up.” MIT’s Andrew McAfee gets right to the heart of the matter with this pithy post on how we might be able to thrive in the new machine age, but only if we’re thoughtful and smart about not mucking it all up. Particularly noteworthy, #3: “Skimp on basic research.” Sad as it might be for some to hear it, genuine breakthrough innovation does not spring perfectly formed from the loins of millennials. We’re all building on the discoveries and dead ends of others, and failing to invest in tedious, unflashy but superimportant hard work is simply a shortcut to ignominious defeat in the long run.

But let’s do something about this
As, I’m sure, have you, I’ve read an alarming number of stories of women being harassed or persecuted via online message boards for daring to speak out on topics about which they should know nothing (presumably because they’re too busy ironing or giving birth to learn stuff). Now, Comic Book Resources has taken a radical but necessary step: killing off its community forums “after users made rape threats against a female contributor.” In their place, a moderated discussion area that will show “zero tolerance for intimidation or abuse.” I know from work here at TED that figuring out how to manage comments and community is a far-from finished conversation, but while it seems pretty tragic that an online platform should have to go to these lengths to prevent hatespeak, I can’t help but agree with the piece’s author: “Seeing misogynists ostracized from geek communities instead of women is a refreshing change.”

Let’s not read this when food’s around
One of my favorite talks at this year’s TED was Rob Knight’s explanation of the murky world of microbes. We haven’t posted the talk yet, though you can read a good write-up here. One of the better known applications of microbes: faecal microbiota transplants, which have proven to be such a radically impressive treatment of bowel disease. (Knight told of patients suffering from C.diff who were cured in a day via this treatment.) This piece from Mosaic gets right down to business, illuminating six ways that doctors actually transplant poo. Totally fascinating, while I’m also reminded of Rose George’s reminder that matters of the bowel are perfectly natural and we should try not be grossed out or 12 years old about such things.