Weekly Links & Thoughts #133

Here is this week’s edition of meshedsociety.com weekly, loaded with thoughtful opinion pieces, interesting analyses and significant yet under-reported information bits from the digital and technology world. Published and annotated every Thursday (CET), just in time so you have something good to read over the weekend.

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  • Diversity Crisis in AI, 2017 edition (fast.ai, 2)
    The overwhelming majority of engineers who work on artificial intelligence (AI) software are white males. Considering the expected impact of AI on the world, and also considering that every single individual (gender, ethnicity, age etc notwithstanding) has biases and blind spots, not having maximum diversity in this field is absolutely undesirable. This is, in my opinion, a major mistake in reasoning by James Damore, the Google engineer who wrote the controversial memo: He assumes that a biological difference in the average distribution of traits between women and men would justify not to give diversity efforts the highest priority possible. But irrespective of the “supply” of engineers and underlying reasons for imbalances, the fact that diversity in software engineering and related professions is more critical than ever doesn’t change. Therefore, in my eyes, if that means a positive discrimination of underrepresented groups in software engineering, that’s actually a necessary price to pay. You need what I call “diversity of biases”, so that they can correct each other. This probably matters less when a company is specialized in developing fart apps. But with AI, the stakes are slightly higher.
  • Visualizing the Diversity of the Tech Industry (visualcapitalist.com, 1)
    Informative overview. A bit surprising that Uber, widely considered the pinnacle of bro culture and Testosterone, actually is ahead of Facebook and Google, both when it comes to the percentage of female employees, and also in regards to ethnical diversity (I’m not implying that bro culture and Testosterone are limited to only white males, of course).
  • Sense Hacking: The Real-Life Cyborgs of the DIY Augmentation Scene (howwegettonext.com, 3)
    Fascinating stuff: About the effort to provide humans with an additional sense to detect electromagnetic waves typically imperceptible to us.
  • See the cool kids lined up outside that new restaurant? This app pays them to stand there (washingtonpost.com, 2)
    Surkus is a new app which allows anyone willing to pay to manufacture a crowd. This might be the end of everything cool and trendy, because if this business model works, no future hipster will know anymore if a queue to a new venue is organic or paid-for (you might need to open the article in an “incognito” window of your browser to circumvent the paywall).
  • Instagram’s Kevin Systrom wants to clean up the &#%$@! Internet (wired.com, 3)
    In comparison to Facebook and Twitter, Instagram has managed to establish itself as somewhat of a “happy place”, comparatively free of the exhausting debates, outrage and hate that flourish on other platforms. The Facebook-owned company is actively pursing that philosophy, essentially trying to create something akin to a digital Disneyland.
  • How I think about free speech: Four categories (juliagalef.com, 1)
    Julia Galef, whose work and fight for rational, self-critical thinking I am a big fan of, offers intelligent thoughts on the nuances and limits of free speech – a question which seems increasingly hard to navigate in a polarized, connected world.
  • Inside the Wild World of Sneaker-Buying Bots (motherboard.vice.com, 2)
    From the department of “things you probably didn’t even know existed”.
  • Quick Thoughts on Amazon’s Echo Show (500ish.com, 2)
    It’s remarkable how the display-equipped version of the Amazon Echo has managed to “reinvent” the tablet concept for a specific purpose in a way which actually gets people excited. This emphasizes how important seemingly small iterations to products actually can be.
  • Inside the Increasingly Complex Algorithms That Get Packages to Your Door (technologyreview.com, 2)
    “If one single driver has to go to 57 stops, you already have a quattuorvigintillion possible combinations”.
  • The State of Cryptocurrency: Mid-2017 Edition (hackernoon.com, 2)
    Taylor Pearson went to the 2017 Blockstack Summit and presents his take aways about the state of cryptocurrency technology and market.
  • The Token Effect (blog.ycombinator.com, 2)
    Explaining Bitcoin, Ethereum, smart contracts and ICOs in an article which only takes 4 minutes to read is quite an achievement!
  • The Actually Distributed Web (linuxjournal.com, 2)
    Open source advocate and co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto, Doc Searls, explains how and why the Blockchain (he uses the term “distributed ledgers”) could make his long-term vision of full agency for individuals as distributed peers on the internet become reality, at last.
  • The Blockchain Problem Space (blog.ironbay.digital, 2)
    But what happens if one puts all passion about the alleged world-changing potential of the Blockchain aside and evaluates it purely as a technology ?
  • Platform Sprawl Leaves No Industry Behind (sloanreview.mit.edu, 2)
    It’s not unthinkable that eventually every single industry will be characterized by platform dynamics.
  • No More Lost Decades (medium.com, 1)
    According to the perspective presented here, the decade of startup “Blitzscaling” is over, the next ten years will be about building real businesses.

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Bitcoin, a Black Swan: What can be learned from a missed opportunity

Here is a German version of this article.

Until recently, there was no decision or lack of decision in my life that I regretted afterwards. With the rise of Bitcoin, this changed slightly. I nowadays occasionally catch myself thinking that I missed a big opportunity by not purchasing a few Bitcoins early on, when one BTC only cost a few bucks. I am probably not the only one with that sentiment.

I was actually quite close. In 2011 I mentioned Bitcoin in a blogpost for the first time. So at that point I was aware of the crypto currency. However, it took a few more years until I actually made a purchase – for the sole purpose of a text I was about to write about the purchasing procedure. So I only bought 0,1 BTC, which I paid about 50 Euro for. At that point, one BTC was already valued at around 500 Euro / 600 USD. Today, after an unprecedented increase particularly over the past weeks, the Bitcoin price hovers around 4000 USD. Continue Reading

Weekly Links & Thoughts #132

Here is this week’s edition of meshedsociety.com weekly, loaded with thoughtful opinion pieces, interesting analyses and significant yet under-reported information bits from the digital and technology world. Published and annotated every Thursday (CET), just in time so you have something good to read over the weekend.

======
If you want to make sure not to miss this link selection, sign up for free for the weekly email. It is being sent out each Thursday before this post goes live, including all the links. Here is an Example. Also, check out the meshedsociety.com chatbot on Facebook Messenger.
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  • Eager To Burst His Own Bubble, A Techie Made Apps To Randomize His Life (npr.org, 2)
    What a fantastic way to break out of routines and one’s comfort zone. But it also needs quite some determination to pull through.
  • The Fallacy of Biological Determinism (continuations.com, 2)
  • How Grit, radical candor and access to information can improve diversity (jennifersoffen.com, 2)
    Albert Wenger and Jennifer Soffen take the heated debate about (gender) diversity to the next level and make what I find a tremendously intelligent point: Technology plus information, specific feedback and a growth mindset are increasingly enabling humans to go beyond whatever biology or genetics might dictate. In my eyes, this is important to internalize and it promises so much more of a bright future to everyone compared to the in parts dark ideas and dogmas that got so visible in the wake of the debate about the Google memo and its content (see more about that further down in this post).
  • How to Disagree (paulgraham.com, 2)
    Old but it doesn’t hurt to have a look at this text occasionally. It happens easily that one slips into destructive patterns.
  • No, Smartphones are Not Destroying a Generation (psychologytoday.com, 2)
    A recent essay by the book author and professor of psychology Jean M. Twenge describes the negative impact of smartphone obsession on young generations. The cognitive behavioral scientist Sarah Rose Cavanagh offers a rebuttal of Twenge’s conclusions.
  • Can an App Make You a Better Runner? (theringer.com, 3)
    Struggle with the new realities of the smartphone world is not exclusive to teens, though. Some might recognize themselves in this description: “Running is simple. But I, with the help of some demanding technology, have managed to complicate it.”
  • Where are the Pilotless Airliners? Why Aren’t They Here Yet? (avgeekery.com, 2)
    The fundamental reason why pilots still are on the airplane? Decision making. Humans are much better than machines at pattern recognition and heuristics, which is required in ambiguous situations.
  • Bitcoin makes even smart people feel dumb (wired.com, 2)
    While it is awkward to apply an attribute like “smart” to oneself, I for sure can agree to the second part of the title: It’s easy to feel dumb when dealing with Bitcoin. I can’t stop being impressed by the developers who build crypto-related products or services and who seem to successfully be able to wrap their head around how all this stuff works. Well, I hope they do. Otherwise, one has to worry about what the NY Times just concluded: “Grandpa Had a Pension. This Generation Has Cryptocurrency“.
  • Inside the world of Silicon Valley’s ‘coasters’ — the millionaire engineers who get paid gobs of money and barely work (businessinsider.com, 3)
    Most likely some of these “coasters” also are Bitcoin millionaires.
  • ‘Self-driving car’ actually controlled by man dressed up as a car seat (theguardian.com, 2)
    What do you do if you are part of a University’s research project that examines how people react to driverless cars, but you don’t have a driverless car at hand? Simple: You put someone in the driver’s seat who wears the costume of a driver’s seat. This one might deserve a prize for the most creative idea of the year.
  • Cheers launches first unmanned, cashless store in Singapore (retailinasia.com, 2)
    The only odd thing is that this store has opening times, but this might be because it is part of a school campus.
  • Expect OEMs to Keep Omitting the Headphone Jack as Their Newest Phones are Selling Better and Better (xda-developers.com, 2)
    If this analysis is right, then most smartphone buyers don’t care too much about the absence of the headphone jack, meaning that its end definitely might be upon us. However, of course not everyone is happy, as the top comment (115 upvotes while I am writing this) below the article shows: “Why are people OK with this crap? I hate people.”
  • Finding the right advice (blog.asmartbear.com, 1)
    There is certainly no shortage of advice, but what advice is worth listening to? Here is some advice for how to evaluate – in the context of startups, but it might be applicable in other areas of life.
  • The Power of Anti-Goals (medium.com, 1)
    I for myself decided that this is valuable advice: Achieving things by focusing on which outcome one definitely does not want to happen, following the mantra of Warren Buffet’s business partner, Charlie Munger: “A lot of success in life and business comes from knowing what you want to avoid: early death, a bad marriage, etc.”
  • Why Many Smart Contract Use Cases Are Simply Impossible (coindesk.com, 2)
    An enlightening take on what’s possible with so called smart contracts (that mostly run on the Ethereum blockchain) and what’s not possible.
  • Inside Patreon, the economic engine of Internet Culture (theverge.com, 3)
    Insightful profile of an online service which many digital creators have high hopes in.

Recently on meshedsociety.com

  • The Google memo, the reactions to it, and why my mind couldn’t let go
    I went into introspection mode after my mind just couldn’t stop thinking (and worrying) about how the story about the widely criticized memo published by a Google engineer regarding the company’s diversity efforts played out. I got some answers about why it agitated me so much.

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The Google memo, the reactions to it, and why my mind couldn’t let go

Dear reader, if possible, please don’t just skim this text until you spot something with which you agree or disagree. It would be brilliant if you could read the whole piece. The estimated reading time is about 7 minutes. 

The past days have been rather depressing. The infamous memo of a Google engineer (which can be read here) and the response to it kept occupying my mind in a way which surprised me, which I didn’t welcome, and which went against one of my core philosophies in life. Over periods I had a hard time focussing on anything else. Not even a jog or food and a beer with friends would help my mind to let it go.

Through self-observation, I tried to understand what was happening. Is it that I hold a deeply ingrained but somehow subconscious belief that women are worse engineers than men, and so I took it very badly that so many of my peers in the tech industry instantly were out on social media and tech blogs condemning 100% of what was written in the memo? I mean, if they all were so sure about their point of view, and I somehow might doubt the ability of a female programmer or other type of engineer in comparison to a male one (without being aware of it), that would explain my own strong emotional reaction.

But the honest answer I could give to myself is “no”. In fact, over the past years, I have been strongly supporting women who code in various situations of my private life, and I have found myself multiple times suggesting to females that maybe a career within computer engineering would be something for them. While the biases we have are sometimes extremely hard to access, I couldn’t come to think of any evidence that would point to that I somehow carry around the unconscious bias that women cannot be incredibly good software engineers or that they through their biology would be unable to be as good as male engineers (It’s worth noting here that this was not the claim of the Google engineer’s memo, but became part of the overall media and social media misrepresentation of his text. I read the memo 3 times over the past days but I only found claims by the author about the average distribution of traits. He did, as far as I can tell, at no point state or imply that a female engineer cannot be extremely good at her job. Talking about “average distribution of traits” is completely different thing than stating “person from group X is worse at something than person from group Y”. I tried to briefly explain this here, and here is a similar but more professional take).

Another question I posed to myself: “Am I against initiatives that strive to achieve diversity in workplaces at tech companies?”. Again, “no”. As much as I digged, I didn’t find any biases about that hidden in my subconscious. If you ask me “Is it a good thing if software engineering stops being a sausage fest?”, my unconditional answer is “yes”.

So then what caused me to be so captivated and agitated by how this story played out? Continue Reading

The only good rebuttal of the Googler’s memo that I’ve seen

You might have heard about the controversial memo by a Google engineer about diversity that started to make its rounds a few days ago. I won’t summarize it here, as any summary I’ve seen failed to get the author’s points accurately across (no surprise considering the length of the text).

Unlike others, I considered his text as a sincere attempt by a thinking individual to point towards something which he personally perceives as a systemic problem inside Google and the tech industry in general. So when I saw the “quality” and style of the negative reactions, I was… well, not impressed, to put it nicely. In fact, it made me even feel solidarity with the author.

Fortunately, the writer and social scientist Adam Grant today published a compact rebuttal of the memo’s core conclusions, which sets things right. Grant avoids expressions of hot-headed outrage, moral preaching, name calling and denial of scientific facts, while he at the same time presents the available scientific evidence from meta analyses and studies that clearly indicate that the memo’s author most probably overestimates the larger effects of biological/neurological gender differences on girl’s/women’s professional choices in regards to the IT industry. That is to say, he is not wrong about the general scientific foundation that he builds his argumentation on (as it seems to be consensus among researchers in the natural sciences community), but his conclusions are overblown.

In other words, the role of cultural biases is with some large likelihood much more significant, which is why striving for diversity, working to change cultural stereotypes and encouraging more girls/women to become IT professionals/programmers remains a smart and right thing to do.

Personally though, I don’t think at all that the author of the memo should be fired, as some have demanded.

Update: A few hours after I posted this, word came out that he has been let go. In case you are interested in the scope of opinions about the whole situation, head over to Hacker News.

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Weekly Links & Thoughts #131

Here is this week’s edition of meshedsociety.com weekly, loaded with thoughtful opinion pieces, interesting analyses and significant yet under-reported information bits from the digital and technology world. Published and annotated every Thursday (CET), just in time so you have something good to read over the weekend.

======
If you want to make sure not to miss this link selection, sign up for free for the weekly email. It is being sent out each Thursday right after this post goes live, including all the links. Here is an Example. Also, check out the meshedsociety.com chatbot on Facebook Messenger.
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Reading time indicator: 1 = up to 3 minutes, 2 = 3 to 10 minutes, 3 = more than 10 minutes

  • World’s Richest Person Escapes Scrutiny From His Own Paper—and Its Rivals (fair.org, 2)
    Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos (who now is back at the second place in the richest person ranking, but most likely will conquer the throne soon again) has not only built up an incredibly successful global company, but also managed to escape a lot of the usual scrutiny that comes with being in his kind of position. Strange.
  • Amazon’s name pops up on 10% of U.S. earnings conference calls (venturebeat.com, 1)
    Meanwhile, an increasing number of business executives is impressed by and/or terrified of Amazon.
  • The Tech Humanist Manifesto (medium.com, 2)
    Very thought-provoking essay. I love particularly this part: “As we develop an increasingly machine-driven future, we need to encode machines with the best of who we are. And in that way, infuse the future with our brightest hope, our most egalitarian views, our most evolved understandings.
  • Big brother in Berlin: Face recognition technology gets tested (dw.com, 2)
    The German police is launching a six month trial of a facial recognition system at a Berlin train station, involving a few hundred volunteers. I am very conflicted about this. When a crime or terror attack at a public place happens, I always find myself hoping that surveillance footage exists. On the other hand, especially when face recognition technology is being implemented, how will this not lead to an ever growing surveillance society, and an increasingly broadening application of these types of systems? Which maybe is not a threat in a democratic, liberal state. But any country could turn autocratic at one point, and then mass surveillance becomes a threat to anyone in opposition.
  • Understanding Complexity (medium.com, 2)
    When is a system obvious, when complicated, and when is it complex? Intelligent analysis using the games Tic Tac Toe, Chess and Poker as object of study.
  • A Primer on Critical Mass: Identifying Inflection Points (farnamstreetblog.com, 3)
    Extensive investigation of another theoretical concept – one which has massive impact in the digital era.
  • Self-Driving People, Enabled by Airbnb (nytimes.com, 2)
    The metaphor of “self-driving” might appear a bit overdone here, but this piece offers an intriguing perspective of what Airbnb could turn into: The world’s biggest jobs platform; with “jobs” not to be understood in the traditional cubicle 9-5 sense of course.
  • Silicon Valley Censorship (meforum.org, 2)
    The author asks why Silicon Valley does believe it should decide what is valid speech and what is not. To me, it seems the answer is obvious: Because the likes of Facebook, Google and Twitter have concluded that in order to achieve their business goals, they have to. Sadly, the result is devastating.
  • Do Targeted Digital Ads Work Better? (naofumi.castle104.com, 2)
    About the seemingly unbreakable ceiling for digital ad spending (about 1% of the GDP) and the possibly ineffective ad targeting based on intrusive data harvesting. Naofumi Kagami suggests that tech needs to stop relying on advertising and that this is starting to be an urgent issue.
  • Klarna launches a peer-to-peer payment app called Wavy (techcrunch.com, 1)
    I am bullish on this new app, even though, admittedly, I haven’t tried it out yet, since I am not living in a country which has Euro as currency. But Klarna, a Sweden-based payment and fintech company, knows what it is doing and has been able to collect lots of learnings and best practices when it comes to handling money and transactions. The Euro countries are still lacking an universal p2p payment app, so the potential is definitely there.
  • NeoBank skeptic (medium.com, 2)
    The well-known European VC Fred Destin describes why, from an investor perspective, he is rather skeptical of “NeoBanks” (fintech startups that are reinventing banking for the digital and mobile age).
  • How BuzzFeed’s Tasty Conquered Online Food (nytimes.com, 2)
    Gotta respect Buzzfeed for how it champions a trial and error approach to find the next big (Buzzfeed) thing.
  • Surviving as an Old in the Tech World (wired.com, 2)
    Age discrimination in tech does not receive a lot of public attention so far. However, this will probably change over time as more of the previous youngsters are discovering their first grey hair.
  • The Inside Story Of SoundCloud’s Collapse (buzzfeed.com, 3)
    Chances are that you have already read this lengthy piece. If not: It’s very informative and offers some lessons learned.
  • Why Europe’s next $100B company could be German (medium.com, 2)
    My (gut feeling-produced and therefore rather weak) prediction is that this won’t be a startup but one of the old economy giants. Diesel scandal aside, the German car companies for example are busy reinventing themselves, in large parts through startup acquisitions and investments in companies from all around the globe that develop cutting edge technology. The probability for that old, spoiled behemoths remain innovative in an environment characterized by a new technological paradigm is not large, but is has happened before.
  • The Uber of Startup Lingo: A translation of 47 startup one-liners (unsupervisedmethods.com, 3)
    To wrap up, a very entertaining and comprehensive list of the terms that you have to know in order to be considered part of the startup scene.

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Weekly Links & Thoughts #130

Here is this week’s edition of meshedsociety.com weekly, loaded with thoughtful opinion pieces, interesting analyses and significant yet under-reported information bits from the digital and technology world. Published and annotated every Thursday (CET), just in time so you have something good to read over the weekend.

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  • The evolution of trust (ncase.me, 3)
    A fun, gamified demonstration of the dynamics of game theory and of why people seem to trust each other less instead of more.
  • This Is How Your Fear and Outrage Are Being Sold for Profit (medium.com, 3)
    Spot-on essay. One of my biggest hopes right now is that eventually, enough people will grow tired of participating in this destructive process. Without “eyeballs” and user engagement, there is no business model. But it would mean for people to significantly reduce (or even stop) using feed-based social media (aka the Facebook news feed and Twitter), and to acknowledge their role as exploited characters in someone else’s game. Without admitting this and without being willing to make sacrifices, things likely will get worse and the dumbing down of the media landscape (and subsequently of the public debates and political sphere) will continue.
  • The quitting economy (aeon.co, 3)
    Food for thought: “In a way new to the world, and begun by the re-orientation of companies to maximise shareholder value, quitting work is now central to what it means to have a job in the first place. People apply for jobs with the conscious plan to quit, with an eye toward what other jobs the job for which they are applying might help them get.”
  • Money Is A Consensual Hallucination (feld.com, 1)
    The more electronic or digital currency is finding its way into our lives, the more apparent gets the abstract concept of money.
  • The Rise of the “Retro Human” Business (medium.com, 1)
    If the vinyl can have its come back, the human worker can have too – in selected scenarios at least in which people crave nostalgia.
  • This Is Tesla’s Greatest Competitive Advantage (singularityhub.com, 1)
    Indeed often overlooked: Tesla is building technology platforms, not simply electrical cars.
  • A few points to keep in mind when reading any upcoming story about Elon Musk (observationalepidemiology.blogspot.com, 2)
    Or is this all just a house of cards and Tesla founder Elon Musk’s actual strengths don’t go beyond creating hype and raising money?
  • Daimler and Bosch create a driverless parking garage (techcrunch.com, 2)
    In my opinion this is an absolutely brilliant way of introducing people to the benefits of self-driving cars. Because, who likes navigating through a narrow parking garage to find a tiny parking spot between two huge pillars?!
  • A Discussion with Albert Wenger: Thoughts on a ‘World After Capital’ (hackernoon.com, 3)
    The German-born but NYC-based Venture Capitalist Albert Wenger is one of my favorite digital thinkers. Unsurprisingly, this interview is filled with plenty of smart observations and musings. One I find especially worth highlighting: “I think one of the most foundational steps is to just educate more people about what we now know about the brain. There’s this strange thing where you can go through high school and you have physical education, economics, math, but where’s the owner’s manual to your brain?”. Yes. Yes. Yes. 
  • 15+ Ways a Venture Capitalist Says “No” (unsupervisedmethods.com, 2)
    If you ever find yourself in need of raising a financing round from a Venture Capitalist or want to know what those who do have to go through…entertaining list.
  • Windows 10 is making too many PCs obsolete (computerworld.com, 2)
    It appears as if Microsoft really wants people to buy new PC hardware sooner than technically necessary. Not cool.
  • Intel packs a neural network into a USB stick (newatlas.com, 1)
    AI on a stick.
  • What It’s Like to Be a Woman at a Tech Conference (shift.newco.co, 2)
    Nice, non-angry write-up encouraging empathy and reflection without a “I’m the victim” tonality.
  • Where Do the Initial Coin Offerings End? (observer.com, 3)
    The untamed hype described in this intelligent and for the complex topic remarkably comprehensible analysis reminds me a bit of what I’ve read about the final days of the dotcom boom.
  • Facebook worker living in garage to Zuckerberg: challenges are right outside your door (theguardian.com, 2)
    That’s quite a dilemma and the result of a too big gap between the top earners and the rest of the population: The workers at Facebook’s cafeteria at the company headquarter in Menlo Park earn comparatively well, but way too little to be able to afford housing in the notoriously overpriced area. So they live in a garage.
  • YouTube And Latin America Are Taking Over The World (musicindustryblog.wordpress.com, 2)
    Fascinating point: Latin America is turning into a music streaming powerhouse, especially on YouTube, generating snowball effects for songs which then subsequently even receive global fame.
  • Shazam’s First Television Venture Is Already A Hit, And It’s Just Getting Started (forbes.com, 2)
    There is a show running on U.S. TV called “Beat Shazam” and it is exactly about what you imagine. As the author notes: “Beat Shazam only works because there aren’t many people left in America, or the world by this point, who don’t at least know what Shazam is and what it can do.”
  • Here’s Spotify’s biggest problem – in a Netflix-shaped nutshell (musicbusinessworldwide.com, 2)
    Both companies grow on the same rate. But the average revenue from a Netflix subscriber is going up, while the average revenue from a Spotify subscriber is going down.
  • Should you force quit your iOS apps? Let’s look at the data (birchtree.me, 2)
    No, the tiny savings in processing power are not worth it.
  • Say Goodbye to Spain’s Glorious Three-Hour Lunch Break (citylab.com, 2)
    Throwing in this article even if it is completely unrelated to everything I am writing and sharing here. But I learned a lot from this piece about why the Spanish work and meal schedule differs so much from most other countries in the world, and why this might be changing.

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Technological leapfrogging: Why rich countries lag behind in FinTech adoption

Here is a German version of this article.

The results of a study recently published by the consulting firm EY revealed that China and India have the highest adoption of FinTech services among its online population out of 20 countries. 69 percent of China’s and 52 percent of India’s digitally active citizens have used at least 2 FinTech services over the past 6 months. The statistic clearly shows a tendency towards a higher FinTech adoption in emerging countries compared to developed countries.

The notion of that the richest countries lag behind in regards to FinTech has been confirmed a few days ago by the Swiss watchmaker Swatch, when the company presented the second generation of its contactless payment solution. Unlike the predecessor, “Swatch Pay” will exclusively be launched in China, at least for now, and won’t be available in Swatch’s home country or elsewhere in Europe. According to a spokesperson cited by the Swiss business paper Handelszeitung, the reason for the decision are the “old-fashioned banks and credit card providers”. Continue Reading

Weekly Links & Thoughts #129

Here is this week’s edition of meshedsociety.com weekly, loaded with thoughtful opinion pieces, interesting analyses and significant yet under-reported information bits from the digital and technology world. Published and annotated every Thursday (CET), just in time so you have something good to read over the weekend.

======
If you want to make sure not to miss this link selection, sign up for free for the weekly email. It is being sent out each Thursday right after this post goes live, including all the links. Here is an Example. Also, check out the meshedsociety.com chatbot on Facebook Messenger.
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Analyzing the Hacker News front page as a Python beginner

The following post might only be of interest to you if you want to know about my progress of learning to code or if you are an avid user of the tech news community Hacker News. Please also note that I cannot give a guarantee for the accuracy of the shown data, even though after thorough double-checking I think it is quite accurate. But don’t bet all your money on it.

As mentioned two month ago in this post, in my quest to teach myself programming with Python, I discovered the Hacker News API as an ideal way to learn about accessing APIs and to take first steps with data analysis and visualization. The API is rather simply structured and doesn’t require an authorization (although I subsequently managed to conquer the Reddit API as well which is more complex and requires an authorization via OAuth).

Something I have been curious about for a while is the dynamic with which articles submitted by a Hacker News user hit the front page of the site. So I went ahead and indulged in a little project to find out. Continue Reading