Megan Smith named Chief Technology Officer of the US, the politics of Hello Kitty and book selections for dark times

Megan Smith, now Chief Technology Officer of the United States, talks about the women of early tech. Photo: Marla Aufmuth

Megan Smith, now Chief Technology Officer of the United States, talks about the female pioneers of early technology. Photo: Marla Aufmuth

Members of the TED community have lots of news to share this week. Some highlights:

Megan Smith, a longtime TEDster who boldly stepped onto the TEDWomen 2013 stage to fill in when a speaker lost her voice, has been named the Chief Technology Officer of the United States. “Megan has spent her career leading talented teams and taking cutting-edge technology and innovation initiatives from concept to design to deployment,” said Obama of the Google[x] vice president. (Read about Megan’s TEDWomen talk on the female pioneers of early tech.)

TED Fellow Manu Prakash shares images of Foldscope, his super low-cost microscope, with “The game-changing paper microscope is more than meets the eye,” the site reads. (Watch Manu’s talk, “A 50-cent microscope that folds like origami.”)

Why do we care whether Hello Kitty is a cat? Cartoonist Scott McCloud talks to Think Progress about why this issue is so sticky. (Watch Scott’s TED Talk, “The visual magic of comics.”)

Colin Stokes also weighs in on Hello Kitty—plus Winnie the Pooh and Mickey Mouse—in The New Yorker. (Watch Colin’s talk, “How movies teach manhood.”)

Shaka Senghor shares the eight books that turned his life around while in prison. (Watch Shaka’s TED Talk, “Why your worst deeds don’t define you.”)

TED Fellow Cyrus Kabiru and his awesome glasses appear about 30 seconds into this Guinness commercial. The company also made a short doc on the visual artist. (Read about Cyrus’ work in the article “No art,no life.”)

Christian Rudder has released his new book, Dataclysm, all about the unpredictable things we can learn about ourselves from data. (Watch Christian’s TED-Ed lesson, “Inside OKCupid: The math of online dating.”)

Randall Munroe’s What If? is also out now. He thoroughly charmed on The Colbert Report last week, answering questions like, “Is this the best you can draw?” (Watch Randall’s talk, “Comics that ask ‘what if?’”)

And three TED Fellows have been highlighted by FastCo recently: read about Illac Diaz’s solar lights in plastic bottles, Joe Landolina’s gel to stop bleeding in seconds, and Bradley Cantrell’s synthetic landscapes.

Thomas P. Campbell has good news for visitors of The Metropolitan Museum of Art: the museum has launched a new app for visitors. (Watch Thomas’ TED Talk, “Weaving narratives in museum galleries.”)

And speaking of art, Liu Bolin’s latest exhibit is now open at the Eli Sun Gallery in New York City. Called “A Colorful World?,” it contains photographs, lightboxes and sculptures that further play with the ideas of disappearance in consumerism. (Watch Liu’s talk, “The invisible man.”)