Month: April 2014

How to keep 240 million Twitter users safe: Del Harvey at TED2014

TED Blog

Del Harvey. Photo: James Duncan Davidson Del Harvey. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

Del Harvey is watching what you’re doing on Twitter. Head of the Trust and Safety Team at the social network, she develops ways to keep Twitter’s 240 million-plus users safe. With that many people — sending 500 million tweets every day — dangerous things are bound to happen, she says at TED2014.

For Harvey, the day-to-day is hardly boring. “My job is to ensure user trust, protect users’ rights, and keep users safe — both from each other and, at times, from themselves,” she says. “The vast majority of activity on Twitter puts no one in harm’s way; my job is to root out activity that might. [At Twitter], a one-in-a-million chance happens 500 times a day.”

A tweet with exactly the same wording can be, in one situation, a threatening insult towards a stranger, and in another, just a friendly greeting between friends…

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What’s making athletes faster, better, stronger: David Epstein at TED2014

One interesting point Epstein brought up was “the brain acts as a limiter,” and I have never looked at the brain that way. He says, “Human beings are pushing themselves to take on greater physical feats than ever before, which requires a mental push too. “The brain acts as a limiter, preventing us from accessing all our resources to prevent us from hurting ourselves,” says Epstein. “The more we learn how that limiter functions, the more we can learn how to push it back.”

This reminded me of Michael Jordan’s quote, “Limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.” If we can recognize the things that we feel are limiting us, we can attack those limits and push ourselves even harder…past the points of our limitations. Limits are our own constructions, and today we are seeing people understand that we can live with fewer or no limitations at all.

 

TED Blog

David Epstein. Photo: James Duncan Davidson David Epstein. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

The Olympic motto is “Citius, Altius, Fortius,” or, in English, “Faster, higher, stronger.” And as sports science reporter David Epstein points out from the TED2014 stage, “Athletes have fulfilled that motto — and they’ve done so rapidly.”

Epstein investigates why it is that, year upon year, runners, swimmers, gymnasts, basketball players and so many others are able to push their sports to new levels. Epstein says that it comes down to three factors: changing technology, changing genes and changing mindsets.

Epstein, the author of the book The Sports Gene, starts by taking a look at runners. The winner of the 2012 Olympic marathon would have beat the winner of the marathon of the 1904 Olympic marathon by more than 1 hour and 20 minutes. Similarly, at last year’s World Championships, 100-meter-dasher Usain Bolt beat the world record set by Jesse Owens in 1936…

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The hardest 105 days of my life: Ben Saunders at TED2014

TED Blog

Ben Saunders. Photo: James Duncan Davidson Ben Saunders. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

On October 25, 2013, adventurer Ben Saunders and his teammate Tarka L’Herpiniere set out to complete Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s failed 1912 polar expedition — a four-month, 1,800-mile journey from the edge of Antarctica to the South Pole and back.

At the start of the expedition, L’Herpiniere and Saunders each dragged 200 kilograms by sledge, heavier loads than each of Scott’s weakest ponies, and about 100 kilograms more than Scott and his men. Over these four months, the pair faced blizzards, temperatures far below zero and vast whiteouts that forced them to move forward blind.

At TED2014, five weeks after the end of this adventure, Saunders addresses the audience with a dry wit and aplomb that betrays a man who just walked 1,800 miles across Antarctica in 105 days. “I stand here before you,” he says, “as an expert in dragging heavy stuff around…

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Unnumbered sparks fly through the sky, created by cellphone signals

TED Blog

Outside the Vancouver Convention Centre, people gather to interact with Skies Painted with Unnumbered Sparks. Photo: Ema Peter Outside the Vancouver Convention Centre, people gather to interact with Skies Painted with Unnumbered Sparks. Photo: Ema Peter

“It looks like it’s holding up the clouds.” “It’s like a sky jellyfish.” “I love how the light moves across it along with the sound.”

[ted_talkteaser id=1164]These were some of the comments heard at TED2014 about Skies Painted with Unnumbered Sparks, a collaboration between sculptor Janet Echelman and data artist Aaron Koblin. This monumental sculpture stretched 745 feet, from the Vancouver Convention Centre where TED was held, over an open-air plaza on the edge of Vancouver Harbor and up to the top of the Fairmont Waterfront hotel. Every night while the temporary sculpture was installed, from March 15-22, 2014, dozens of people could be seen across the street setting up cameras and tripods to capture the glowing spectacle. Meanwhile, underneath the sculpture, even greater numbers of people gathered, most…

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What Niche Bloggers Can Do to Attract Traffic

This piece was particularly interesting because as a marketing intern for a niche market, there are really vital pointers in here. I spend a lot of time tagging posts in order to drive up traffic and it actually proves successful, because the higher you show up on a Google search, the more likely people are going to find your site. The last point the author mentions is to ensure that your content can be read all over, and this is important in today’s world because people have access to content on their phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, etc. If they can’t read your content on-the-go, it’s going to be tough to get your blog/company off the ground.

The WordPress.com Blog

As bloggers, we write about our passions and obsessions. Interested in Autism? Drawing? Cooking? Sobriety and recovery? Humor? No matter which subject you choose to write about, there’s a community of people on WordPress.com who share your interests. In today’s post, we’ll look at three ways niche bloggers can find their tribe, grow their communities, and attract traffic to their sites.

Tagging FTW

Tagging your posts is critical to finding your community. When you tag a post, you’re grouping it among posts on that same topic. When a user searches that tag in the WordPress.com Reader, your post will appear in the list of posts returned. Tagging puts you in front of new readers, expanding your reach to those who are interested in the same subjects.

As you tag, be sure to consider related topics. For example, if you blog about cooking exploits and…

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Longreads Joins the Automattic Family

The WordPress.com Blog

Today we’re excited to announce that we are acquiring Longreads, the pioneering service that helps readers find and share the best longform storytelling around the world, for reading on mobile devices.

Over the last five years, Longreads and its community have created a new ecosystem for readers to find great in-depth stories, and for writers and publishers to distribute their best work over 1,500 words. Longreads will continue to do what it does best — recommending stories from across the Internet — and we are excited to have them join the WordPress.com team and continue in their commitment to serving readers.

Mobile reading and the appetite for longform content

As consumption has moved to mobile devices, there has been a growing hunger for longform content: phones and tablets are perfect for enjoying in-depth articles, and there are more moments than ever for readers to dig into a story —…

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Heartbleed Security Update

The WordPress.com Blog

Last week, a very serious bug in OpenSSL was disclosed.  OpenSSL, a set of open source tools to handle secure communication, is used by most Internet websites.  This bug, nicknamed Heartbleed, allowed an attacker to read sensitive information from vulnerable servers and possibly steal things like passwords, cookies, and encryption keys.

Was WordPress.com vulnerable to Heartbleed?

Yes. WordPress.com servers were running the latest version of OpenSSL, which was vulnerable. We generally run the latest version of OpenSSL to enable performance enhancements, such as SPDY, for our users. The non-vulnerable versions of OpenSSL were over two years old.

Has WordPress.com fixed the issue?

Yes. We patched all of our servers within a few hours of the public disclosure.

Has WordPress.com replaced all SSL certificates and private keys?

Yes. Out of an abundance of caution, we have replaced all of our SSL certificates, along with regenerating all of the associated…

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