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ted talksIf you’re reading this article it means you’re probably a regular internet user, you’re probably at least a little bit geeky and you’re looking to find the best ways to make use of stuff on the internet. Normally, you’re looking for tool x to solve problem y, but sometimes you want to think bigger. How can we make use of the Internet itself and our online communities? If I’ve picked you right, here’s some brain fodder you’re going to love.

TED has been regaling us for years now with inspirational speeches about just about every important topic there is to talk about. And throughout that time, more than a few TED speakers have chosen to talk about the internet, social media and how this will shape our future.

So, here we are, everyday citizens of the world with an itch to do something amazing with the internet we’ve created. Let’s see what TED can inspire us to do to with it.

This list of TED speeches features quite a few of the leading thinkers in social media, some of whom have also written free ebooks on social networking 7 Great Completely Free eBooks on Social Media You Have to Read 7 Great Completely Free eBooks on Social Media You Have to Read Read More .

Lalitesh Katragadda: Making Maps To Fight Disaster, Build Economies

Before looking to the future, lets look at a success of the past. Lalitesh Katragadda spoke to TED about how Google Maps and crowdsourcing have quite suddenly changed the way humanitarian aid can efficiently get to the needy.


Ethan Zuckerman: Listening To Global Voices

Ethan Zuckerman describes how, despite social media opening up information channels worldwide, humans tend to flock with people who are similar to themselves. He urges us to think globally and listen to voices from far off places.

James Surowiecki: When Social Media Became News

The turning point for social media, the 2005 tsunami, is discussed by James Surowiecki in detail. He notes that the disorganised blogging and video updates that emerged from the tsunami actually built a better picture of the news behind the tsunami than traditional news media ever could. Essentially, there is some intelligence in the wisdom of crowds. He also warns against getting stuck in the pattern of following your own small network.

Matt Ridley: When Ideas Have Sex

In a nutshell, people have ideas: good ones, great ones and average ideas. The magic really starts when those ideas begin to mingle and gain momentum. So get out there and share your ideas!

Clay Shirky: How Social Media Can Make History

A great speech from Clay Shirky, focusing on how social media is changing the way we live fundamentally, by allowing people to (at least temporarily) bypass censors and share information.

Seth Godin : On The Tribes We Lead

Seth Godin focuses on his concept of tribes as a means for communication and collaboration in the modern age. He theorises that most of us are trying to make a change in this world, to fix something that needs fixing. In previous years, advertising and institutions would mobilise people towards change. These days, we can make these changes simply by leading a group of people willing to help make the change.

Howard Rheingold On Collaboration

Howard Rheingold believes we naturally gravitate towards participation and collaborative efforts. After taking us on a quick history of communication methods and how they have co-evolved with community management, he notes that many communities and companies on the internet these days thrive because it is possible for us to co-operate with people we don’t know.

We have the ability to share our wealth and knowledge with strangers, knowing that in the long run it will generate more for everyone. He wants us to explore different ways of co-operating in order to develop new solutions, wealth and well-being for all.

Hector Ruiz On Connecting The World

Hector Ruiz explains his strategy to connect 50% of the world to the internet by 2015. Not only will this have a great impact on the people who will suddenly gain access to the internet, but it will diversify the global online conversation.

Hector is also a living example of someone who has passionately acted upon solving a problem. He has taken a lofty idea for the good of the world, built a tribe of people willing to help and is now able to put the idea into action.

Yochai Benkler On The New Open-Source Economics

Yochai Benkler and Howard Rheingold are on exactly the same page with regards to communities and online collaboration. He reminds us of some of the most ambitious crowdsourcing ideas to date and makes us wonder what else we could achieve by crowdsourcing and decentralising collaborations if we tried.

Gordon Brown: Wiring A Web For Global Good

Gordon Brown suggests we use our connectedness to share ideals regarding global issues such as poverty, the global economy and climate change. He reminds us that we instinctively sympathise with sufferers of poverty and war, however distant. Most of us do have a global ethic and we now have the communication facilities and collaboration tools at hand to mobilise people in to action to solve world problems.

He suggests we create global institutions to reflect our ideas of fairness and responsibility, to look after the environment, to build relationships between rich and poor countries and enable the poor to support themselves.

What’s your favourite video about making use of social media?

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