TED2010, Haiti and the Winter Games – Weekend Reading for February 12th

This week began with a big sports event – the Super Bowl, of course – and ends with the start of another: The Winter Games, held not far from us in Vancouver and the neighboring resort of Whistler. It will be fun to see some familiar places and faces on TV.

We can’t guarantee the weather, but we’re doing what we can to make sure that people can follow the games, regardless of their location.

If you aren’t planning to follow the Games, or can multi-task, here are some other things from this week that you might find interesting:

Pivot brings information to life. At this week’s TED2010 conference, Microsoft technical fellow and Live Labs director Gary Flake gave a presentation on Pivot, which promises to give us a new way to understand and use the vast amounts of information we’re confronted with each day. Pivot can be used to better understand relationships between all sort of data sets, from friends on Facebook to test results from different schools. Gary explains it best himself, in this video.

Bing Maps add a new dimension. Also at TED2010, we talked about big improvements coming to Bing Maps. Blaise Aguera y Arcas, our Bing Maps architect, showed attendees features that build on Microsoft’s Photosynth technology and even photos from Flickr to create incredibly in-depth views of specific locations. Here’s a video of the new Bing experience that really shows have far mapping technology has come in recent years. 

Helping in Haiti. The full dimensions of the tragedy unfolding in the wake of Haiti’s Jan. 12 earthquake continues to sadden us. But we’re also gratified by the response of Microsoft employees. To date, our people have donated money (matched by the company) amongst other things. Some have taken even more direct action, such as Microsoft employee James Cooper, who has helped fly much-needed supplies into remote parts of Haiti. 

The power of technology. As Haiti slowly recovers, it’s possible to hope that new forms of information technology and communications may play a role in building a more prosperous country. Akhtar Badshah, our senior director for Global Community Affairs, blogged on Microsoft On The Issues about the potential for information technology to transform lives around the world.

Innovation in schools. We’re committed to help students worldwide have access to the best possible education. The BBC’s Digital Planet talked about one of our educational efforts, at the New Line Academy in Britain. 

Criticial thinking and Bing:  And finally here’s a piece in the Huffington Post by Betsy Aoki, a member of the Bing team.  In thought provoking piece, Betsy explores the importance of critical thinking, healthy skepticism, and mental engagement when reviewing search results and other information found online.  This is a concept Betsy describes as “Internet Literacy”.  And Betsy talks about the debate the Bing team are trying to foster on this important topic.  As Betsy concludes, “Bing, and decide. Don’t let anybody on the Internet decide for you”.

Have a good weekend.

Posted by Dominic Carr
Director, Microsoft News Center.