Weekly Links & Thoughts #165

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

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Reading time indicator: 1 = up to 3 minutes, 2 = 4 to 9 minutes, 3 = 10 to 29 minutes , 3+ = 30 minutes or more
Note: Some of the publications may use “soft” paywalls. If you are denied access, open the URL in your browser’s incognito/private mode (or subscribe if you find yourself reading a lot of the content on a specific site and want to support it).

  • Why it’s as hard to escape an echo chamber as it is to flee a cult (aeon.co, 3)
    Possibly the best thing I’ve read on the topic of filter bubbles and echo chambers – two terms that are often used interchangeably. In this essay the philosophy professor C Thi Nguyen explains the crucial difference: Filter bubbles (or as he calls them, epistemic bubbles) happen when people don’t have access to different viewpoints and facts. This phenomenon is less common than widely assumed. Echo chambers on the other hand are social structures from which other relevant voices have been actively discredited. In echo chambers, there usually is no lack of access to different view points or facts – but there is no trust in them. This is why just throwing more facts at people in echo chambers does not work. Nguyen also offers a very helpful check: “Does a community’s belief system actively undermine the trustworthiness of any outsiders who don’t subscribe to its central dogmas? Then it’s probably an echo chamber.”
  • An Apology for the Internet — From the Architects Who Built It (nymag.com, 3+)
    What went wrong with the internet? Why did many of its lofty promises didn’t come true, whereas an ugly side of it has emerged that no one expected? A bunch of early internet architects and leading figures offer their critical and partly self-critical views.
  • The Price of Free is Actually Too High (feld.com, 1)
    Hard to make an objective statement here, but it seems reasonable to state that there should be a cap to the price of free.
  • The Half-Life of Danger: The Truth Behind the Tesla Model X Crash (thedrive.com, 3)
    Smart analysis of the uncanny valley of automated driving, where understanding it requires a level of driver training equivalent to that of pilots. You also find some really funky matrices in here.
  • When algorithms surprise us (aiweirdness.com, 2)
    When machine learning algorithms solve entirely different problems from the ones the programmer intended.
  • Inside the Jordan refugee camp that runs on blockchain (technologyreview.com, 3)
    Critics say one might easily just use a traditional database. But there is something to the idea of owning and controlling one’s data, and for this, a blockchain is presumably the more feasible approach.
  • Post-Authenticity and the Ironic Truths of Meme Culture (medium.com, 3)
    A thought-provoking attempt to connect contemporary phenomena and trends such as fake news, authenticity, irony and memes.
  • Want to feel unique? Believe in the reptile people (aeon.co, 2)
    Why do some people believe in extreme conspiracy theories? It might be because of a deep-seated need for uniqueness.
  • Consumers don’t need experts to interpret 23andMe genetic risk reports (statnews.com, 1)
    Anne Wojcicki, the CEO and co-founder of 23andMe, a company that has pioneered providing accessible consumer DNA tests, believes that people don’t need a medical professional nearby when learning about genetic risks. In a recent essay, Mikaela Pitcan pointed out though that the reaction towards learning about risks differs significantly from person to person.
  • How to save your privacy from the Internet’s clutches (techcrunch.com, 3)
    A comprehensive list of tips to escape “surveillance capitalism”.
  • The New Octopus (logicmag.io, 3)
    What to do when corporate entities become too big and too powerful? The recipes of the past don’t necessarily work anymore with today’s new giants.
  • The Paradox of Universal Basic Income (wired.com, 2)
    Joi Ito with a very nuanced take on the UBI.
  • World After Capital: Scarcity (continuations.com, 2)
    How scarcity has shifted over time from food to land to capital and is now shifting to attention.
  • Duolingo Suddenly Has Over Twice As Much Language Learning Material (fastcompany.com, 2)
    I’d call Duolingo one of the best, most beneficial commercial web services in existence. Recently a cab driver in Colombia told me that he learned English through Duolingo and by subsequently talking with passengers. There must be hundreds of thousands, if not millions of similar cases.
  • The axes of HomePod evolution: don’t judge what you can’t yet see (theoverspill.blog, 2)
    Every major Apple product has been an MVP (minimal viable product) when it first hit the market and gradually received missing features and services. HomePod most likely is no exception.
  • A Big Phone (mattgemmell.com, 2)
    Attempts to use an iPad as a notebook replacement have been a thing ever since the iPad was introduced. Reading this makes me wonder if now maybe is the point at which this actually could work without too many sacrifices.
  • Why New York City Stopped Building Subways (citylab.com, 3)
    Insane if you think about it: “Since December 16, 1940, New York has not opened another new subway line“.

Quotation of the week:

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Weekly Links & Thoughts #163

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

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Reading time indicator: 1 = up to 3 minutes, 2 = 4 to 9 minutes, 3 = 10 to 29 minutes , 3+ = 30 minutes or more
Note: Some of the publications may use “soft” paywalls. If you are denied access, open the URL in your browser’s incognito/private mode (or subscribe if you find yourself reading a lot of the content on a specific site and want to support it).

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Weekly Links & Thoughts #162

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

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Reading time indicator: 1 = up to 3 minutes, 2 = 4 to 9 minutes, 3 = 10 to 29 minutes , 3+ = 30 minutes or more
Note: Some of the publications may use “soft” paywalls. If you are denied access, open the URL in your browser’s incognito/private mode (or subscribe if you find yourself reading a lot of the content on a specific site and want to support it).

Recently on meshedsociety.com:

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Weekly Links & Thoughts #161

Here is this week’s issue of meshedsociety.com weekly, loaded with interesting analyses and essays, significant yet under-reported information bits as well as thoughtful opinion pieces from the digital and technology world. Usually published every Wednesday/Thursday (CET), just in time so you have something good to read over the weekend (but temporarily on a slightly irregular schedule).

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Reading time indicator: 1 = up to 3 minutes, 2 = 4 to 9 minutes, 3 = 10 to 29 minutes , 3+ = 30 minutes or more
Note: Some of the publications may use “soft” paywalls. If you are denied access, open the URL in your browser’s incognito/private mode (or subscribe if you find yourself reading a lot of the content on a specific site and want to support it).

Quotation of the week:

  • “It is human preferences, not machines, that are unpredictable and incomparable, as well they should be. For coordinating our interactions with strangers, impartial automata are often crucial.”
    Nick Szabo in “Things as authorities“, back in 2006. (unenumerated.blogspot.com)

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Weekly Links & Thoughts #160

Here is this week’s issue of meshedsociety.com weekly, loaded with interesting analyses and essays, significant yet under-reported information bits as well as thoughtful opinion pieces from the digital and technology world. Usually published every Wednesday/Thursday (CET), just in time so you have something good to read over the weekend (but temporarily on a slightly irregular schedule).

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Reading time indicator: 1 = up to 3 minutes, 2 = 4 to 9 minutes, 3 = 10 to 29 minutes , 3+ = 30 minutes or more
Note: Some of the publications may use “soft” paywalls. If you are denied access, open the URL in your browser’s incognito/private mode (or subscribe if you find yourself reading a lot of the content on a specific site and want to support it).

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Weekly Links & Thoughts #159

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

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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 to more than 500 people (February 2018). Here is an archive of previous issues.
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Reading time indicator: 1 = up to 3 minutes, 2 = 4 to 9 minutes, 3 = 10 to 29 minutes , 3+ = 30 minutes or more
Note: Some of the publications may use “soft” paywalls. If you are denied access, open the URL in your browser’s incognito/private mode (or subscribe if you find yourself reading a lot of the content on a specific site and want to support it).

Quotation of the week:

  • The engineer’s mindset has been replaced by the lawyer’s mindset, wherein you pick a side in advance of getting any evidence, and then do absolutely everything you can to belittle, dismiss, and ignore any opposing data, while trumping up every scrap that might support your own side as if it were written on stone tables brought down from the mountain by Moses.”
    Jon Evans in “Fake news is not the real problem” (techcrunch.com, 2)

Video of the week:

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Weekly Links & Thoughts #158

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

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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 to more than 500 people (January 2018). Here is an archive of previous issues.
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Reading time indicator: 1 = up to 3 minutes, 2 = 4 to 9 minutes, 3 = 10 to 29 minutes , 3+ = 30 minutes or more
Note: Some of the publications may use “soft” paywalls. If you are denied access, open the URL in your browser’s incognito/private mode (or subscribe if you find yourself reading a lot of the content on a specific site and want to support it).

  • Meet Fashion’s First Computer-Generated Influencer (businessoffashion.com, 2)
    This could be just an one-off, or it is the beginning of a major trend.
  • What is it like to live in the world’s biggest experiment in biometric identity? (howwegettonext.com, 3)
    Aadhaar, operated in India, is the world’s largest, most ambitious digital identity scheme. This text discusses problems that arise from the growing dependency of everyday processes on the system, in a country with significant parts of the population still living in poverty.
  • What happens when I choose to “Suppress Ads” on Salon? (salon.com, 2)
    Salon asks its users to either turn off ad blockers or to be fine with crypto mining on their machines. Thumbs up for testing this approach. I am sure other media and news sites will watch closely. Then again, there are already browser plugins that block website crypto mining (which unlike in the case of Salon, often happens without the users’ consent), and possibly every ad blocker soon will include such a feature. But maybe people who block ads would be fine with mining, considering that it doesn’t come with privacy intrusions and questionable tracking?
  • Inside Facebook’s Two Years of Hell (wired.com, 3+)
    I usually only recommend articles that I actually did read. But this monstrous piece (45 minutes reading time) is an exception. I simply didn’t find the time to check it out yet. However, only hours after it was published on Monday, I noticed on Nuzzel how it was praised by dozens of people on social media. Beats me how they managed to read through it so quickly on a Monday morning (if they did?), but anyway: It seems to be a must read.
  • He Predicted The 2016 Fake News Crisis. Now He’s Worried About An Information Apocalypse. (buzzfeed.com, 3)
    “Reality apathy,” “automated laser phishing,” and “human puppets” are names for predicted phenomenons characterizing a not-very-distant future of news and media. This feature article might seriously spoil your mood.
  • Clone Wars (reallifemag.com, 3)
    A deep philosophical exploration of the fact that humans appear to behave like robots when joining political movements on social media.
  • My professional opinion as a blockchain researcher: I don’t see the point (yet) (jmkorhonen.net, 2)
    Excellent food for thought. I increasingly find myself annoyed by some of the extremist libertarian positions that fuel the crypto currency and blockchain movement.
  • The Sacred and the profane (finiculture.com, 2)
    Hyper-libertarianism aside, cryptocurrencies indeed seem to challenge the current “sacred sphere” of money creation, which explains the “borderline hysteria exhibited by most if not all central banks”.
  • Cognitive Ability and Vulnerability to Fake News (scientificamerican.com, 2)
    When people learn that their attitudes are based on false information, they adjust them, but people with low cognitive ability adjust attitudes to lesser extent than those with high cognitive ability. If the study results are accurate, this would suggest (to me) that in order to maintain a stable democracy, a focus on increasing the cognitive abilities of every single member of a society (through high-end and relevant education – for example about how the mind and brain works, and how easily it is tricked) should have the highest priority.
  • Why Competitive Advantages Die (collaborativefund.com, 2)
    “Brands are hard to build and even harder to span across generations. You can do everything right and still fail because customers don’t want to be associated with products of their parents’ generation.”
  • A curated life: the lost art of human interaction (roadlesstravelled.me, 2)
    An interesting read which accurately describes one of the most important functions of smartphones: The smartphone frees us from the burden of interactions and prolonged eye-contact with strangers. While the author calls “human interaction” an art and sounds a bit romanticizing, it’s important to remember that sharing small spaces with strangers who do not belong to our kin/tribe is a rather new experience for humans, seen over the total existence of human life. So it makes sense that people usually look for an escape.
  • Why Toys? (blog.ycombinator.com, 2)
    Some of the biggest technology companies look like toys in the beginning. This trend does not fit with history. Why? Aaron Harris discusses a particular phenomenon of the tech industry.
  • Radio Is Streaming’s Next Frontier (musicindustryblog.wordpress.com, 2)
    Despite pressure from music streaming, radio still has some time left to figure out how to survive.
  • Don’t Compete. Create! (dariusforoux.com, 1)
    A plea for adopting an “abundance mindset” instead of one obsessed with competition.
  • World After Capital: Digital Technology – Zero Marginal Cost (continuations.com, 2)
    Because of the zero marginal cost dynamic of digital technology, an abundance mindset is indeed justified.
  • Why Google Stories will save, not screw, Snapchat Discover (techcrunch.com, 2)
    Last year I asked for an open alternative to Snapchat Stories and Instagram Stories. A system for Google’s fairly open but not uncontroversial AMP protocol was not what I had in mind, but it’s probably a step into the right direction. Yet, there needs to be something even better and more decentralized.
  • How Isaac Asimov shaped robotics and space exploration and predicted the Internet (rossdawson.com, 1)
    There probably are at least a few Isaac Asimov fans among readers/subscribers of meshedsociety.com weekly.
  • Eight flying taxis that are so crazy, they just might work (newatlas.com, 2)
    This overview also offers a brief, informative interview with a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering on the potential and challenges of flying taxis.
  • Artists envisioned the future of work, and the results are pure fantasy (technologyreview.com, 1)
    Awesome illustrations and ideas.
  • Is reading better for you than a spa? (bbc.com, 2)
    “Reading retreats” are now a thing.

Quotation of the week:

  • In a perfect world, I could hop in the bunk in Salt Lake City, optimize my speed settings for fuel economy, literally set it at 55, and say, ‘I’m taking my siesta,’ wake back up, and take over in Reno. I get that people think I’m smoking bird shit, but that’s what we are ultimately talking about with this technology.”
    Joe Rajkovacz, a director of and spokesperson for a trucking association, in “Could Self-Driving Trucks Be Good for Truckers?” (theatlantic.com, 2)

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Weekly Links & Thoughts #157

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

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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 to more than 500 people (January 2018). Here is an archive of previous issues.
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Reading time indicator: 1 = up to 3 minutes, 2 = 4 to 9 minutes, 3 = 10 to 29 minutes , 3+ = 30 minutes or more
Note: Some of the publications may use “soft” paywalls. If you are denied access, open the URL in your browser’s incognito/private mode (or subscribe if you find yourself reading a lot of the content on a specific site and want to support it).

  • Bad Romance (logicmag.io, 2)
    What the mainstream movies Her, Lucy, and Ex Machina have in common: They represent a new genre of AI love stories that isn’t about the fear of being replaced by robots, but about the fear of being rejected by them (and, specifically, about men fearing to be rejected by “female” AIs).
  • South Korea’s Crypto Craze Explained by Seoul’s Largest Investor (cryptoambit.com, 3)
    Great to finally have some solid explanations on why the people of South Korea became the world’s biggest proponents of cryptocurrencies.
  • Making a Crypto Utopia in Puerto Rico (nytimes.com, 2)
    While the cryptocurrency prices are falling to new lows (which of course were record-breaking heights only a few months ago), a bunch of libertarian crypto investors are trying to turn Puerto Rico into their safe haven.
  • ‘Fiction is outperforming reality’: how YouTube’s algorithm distorts truth (theguardian.com, 3)
    With 1.5 billion active users, YouTube is a massive force that’s often forgotten when negative effects of algorithmic content recommendation systems are being discussed.
  • Optimization over Explanation (medium.com, 3)
    An informative longread on the challenge of maximizing the benefits of machine learning for society without sacrificing its intelligence.
  • How Delivery Apps May Put Your Favorite Restaurant Out of Business (newyorker.com, 2)
    The boom of food delivery platforms is creating economical challenges for many restaurants, even those who are highly popular.
  • Have Self-Driving Cars Stopped Getting Better? (spectrum.ieee.org, 2)
    The piece does not really answer the question posed in the headline, but it offers an indicator for that maybe, there has been too much optimism about the immediacy of the big breakthrough for self-driving cars. Being fairly good is just not good enough in this field.
  • Can VR Survive in a Cutthroat Attention Economy? (wired.com, 2)
    This is an intriguing perspective to assess virtual reality’s ongoing failure to break through into the mainstream: The attention economy simply is too cutthroat for VR to thrive. For specific purposes though, VR can be very valuable. Such as for readying prisoners for release.
  • Intel made smart glasses that look normal (theverge.com, 3)
    AR, if done well, won’t have the same struggle with the attention economy as VR. Intel might be onto something here. However, considering the growing public concern about the damage done to the mind through constant, compulsive connectivity (see: “Early Facebook and Google Employees Form Coalition to Fight What They Built“), the chip maker and its partners will have to be careful in what advantages of such glasses to promote. “Now you can check social media even without your friend noticing” won’t cut it.
  • Can an app that rewards you for avoiding Facebook help beat smartphone addiction? (theguardian.com, 2)
    In Norway, 40 % of students are using an app called Hold, which allows users to earn rewards such as cinema tickets for not using their phone.
  • Facebook hired a full-time pollster to monitor Zuckerberg’s approval ratings (theverge.com, 2)
    This full-time pollster which the article is about said he left Facebook after only six months after coming to believe that the company had a negative effect on the world. It’s remarkable how the general view of Facebook has turned absolutely negative over the course of the past 1-2 years.
  • No Cutting Corners on the iPhone X (medium.com, 2)
    This is a serious case of paying attention to details (which designers of course do).
  • HomePod (daringfireball.net, 3)
    John Gruber is reviewing Apple’s new HomePod (see also my post below on how the device is putting Spotify into an uncomfortable situation).
  • How to protect privacy in a world awash in data (staceyoniot.com, 2)
    “Inadvertently disclosing new information will be the new challenge of our age.”
  • Europe’s new data protection rules export privacy standards worldwide (politico.eu, 2)
    This is a good thing and somebody has to push this forward. Drawing parallels to European colonialism as the authors do, adds no constructive value to the debate.
  • WHATIS Going to Happen With WHOIS? (motherboard.vice.com, 2)
    With the upcoming European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the fate of the domain WHOIS  (which allows anyone to see who has registered a domain) is uncertain.
  • Where Dutch directness comes from (bbc.com, 2)
    I haven’t had many interactions with Dutch people in my life, so I wasn’t aware of their reputation as being direct. I know that as a native German, I am direct, and I also know that in my country of residence Sweden, people are not direct at all. This really makes Europe such an interesting (and sometimes tricky) place.

Recently on meshedsociety.com:

  • Spotify’s voice platform problems
    My analysis on why and how Apple’s HomePod and the rise of voice platforms and smart speakers pose a new kind of problem for the music streaming pioneer Spotify.
  • Humans have handed over their minds to the AI
    Whatever decision you’ll make next (even if it is only what to eat tonight), it will at least indirectly have been influenced by an algorithm. Here I describe how humans have handed over their minds into the hands of the AIs, while tech pundits still debate about when the AI will take over. It already has.

Quotation of the week:

  • “Thanks mostly to the cryptocurrency boom and because a lot of early investors in cryptocurrencies were among our donors, the Machine Intelligence Research Institute is no longer strapped for cash, so much it is strapped for engineering talent.”
    Eliezer Yudkowsky, decision theorist and computer scientist, in “Waking Up Podcast #116 with Sam Harris”: “AI: Racing Toward the Brink” (samharris.org)

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Weekly Links & Thoughts #156

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

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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 to more than 500 people (January 2018). Here is an archive of previous issues.
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Reading time indicator: 1 = up to 3 minutes, 2 = 4 to 9 minutes, 3 = 10 to 29 minutes , 3+ = 30 minutes or more
Note: Some of the publications may use “soft” paywalls. If you are denied access, open the URL in your browser’s incognito/private mode.

  • What I learned from three months of Content Moderation for Facebook in Berlin (sz-magazin.sueddeutsche.de, 3)
    An open letter by a former content moderator for Facebook. Is there a worse job than having to deal with a constant stream of pictures and videos showing the cruelest and most despicable sides of human nature? Are business models that require human tasks which no one voluntary would want to do if better job options existed, in any way morally defensible? These were the thoughts that occupied my mind after reading.
  • Growing apart and losing touch is human and healthy (m.signalvnoise.com, 1)
    A truly interesting perspective: Growing apart from people is a normal and healthy process in order to grow and prosper, according to David Heinemeier Hansson. Facebook is built on the exact opposite principle: stay connected with everyone you’ve ever friended forever.
  • Open Letter to the Airbnb Community About Building a 21st Century Company (press.atairbnb.com, 2)
    This open letter by Airbnb founder Brian Chesky is worth a read. Some goods things in here, but also the stated goal of wanting to turn “every city into a village”. If that means that everybody knows each other and has their hands in everybody else’s business, then no thank you.
  • Engineered for Dystopia (thebaffler.com, 3)
    Do engineers have a natural tendency to favor and participate in the creation of dystopias and authoritarian systems? I don’t necessarily agree with everything in here, but it’s certainly food for thought.
  • Will Everything Stay in New Orleans If Cameras Capture It All? (nytimes.com, 2)
    Speaking about dystopia: This article discusses whether large-scale video surveillance will lead to inhibitions among people seeking to partake in New Orleans’ famous vibrant and expressive public life. In general terms, this is a question which is relevant for all modern societies that are subject to mass surveillance, regardless of whether we are talking about government-run surveillance or “little brother” surveillance (people recording and sharing everything that happens around them).
  • Why publishers should consider the “Smart Curation” market (mondaynote.com, 2)
    Curation is still underestimated by many journalists and media companies. Hopefully this will eventually change.
  • Why there is so much bullshit: an analysis (withoutbullshit.com, 2)
    An apt comparison of who created the things we were reading in 1980 with the situation today.
  • Plateau Kindle Before Peak Kindle (500ish.com, 2)
    M.G. Siegler on the Kindle’s plateau, why this is not a bad thing, and what the holy grail-like next step should be.
  • With teen mental health deteriorating over five years, there’s a likely culprit (theconversation.com, 2)
    The smartphone and social media-fueled obsession with perfection.
  • A therapy chatbot and app for depression and anxiety (businessinsider.com, 2)
    But of course, it is not the smartphone per say that leads to worsening of mental health among teens, but how the device is being used. The solution to the dilemma might as well be Smartphone-based. And apart from learning to use smartphones moderately (airplane mode helps!), something like Woebot could be part of a solution: a new chatbot app for iOS that promises to provide a basic form of cognitive-behavioral therapy.
  • Online Communities Are the Best Thing About the Internet (biznology.com, 2)
    And of course, there is the other side of the coin: the awesomeness of some online communities.
  • Why Trump Tweets (And Why We Listen) (politico.com, 3)
    Brilliant analysis of the unfortunate symbiosis of Donald Trump and Twitter. These two really go hand in hand.
  • Up close with Apple’s HomePod (techcrunch.com, 2)
    It’s hard to predict whether the HomePod will sell well or not. Which also makes it exciting.
  • Want to code? You better start teaching yourself (technologyreview.com, 1)
    About 74 percent of software developers are at least partially self-taught, says a survey of 39,000 developers.
  • Giving Ourselves Permission Not To Crush It All The Time In Tech (sarahbrownmarketing.com, 2)
    A reflective post on the challenge of dealing with the pressure to “crush it” all the time because of the illusion that everyone else is crushing it all the time as well. From the text: “But I frequently don’t know others’ private struggles, pains, illnesses, and challenges. And they don’t know of mine unless I share.”
  • The Mind Meld of Bill Gates and Steven Pinker (nytimes.com, 3)
    A chat over lunch with Bill Gates and the cognitive psychologist and book author Steven Pinker (most known for “The Better Angels of Our Nature”) about the state of the world.

Recently on meshedsociety.com:

Quotation of the week:

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Weekly Links & Thoughts #155

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

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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 to more than 500 people (January 2018). Here is an archive of previous issues.
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Reading time indicator: 1 = up to 3 minutes, 2 = 4 to 9 minutes, 3 = 10 to 29 minutes , 3+ = 30 minutes or more
Note: Some of the publications may use “soft” paywalls. If you are denied access, open the URL in your browser’s incognito/private mode.

  • Is Social Media Good or Bad for Democracy? (newsroom.fb.com, 2)
    Facebook is currently building a case against itself with blog posts investigating how social media might be bad for people and democracy. It’s probably unprecedented for a company to do such a thing. But of course Facebook is also an unprecedented type of company, and its leadership knows that people probably won’t just quit using Facebook in large numbers (and even if so, there’s Instagram and WhatsApp). We’ll see about where all this leads. In any case, this post by Harvard professor Cass R. Sunstein on the phenomenon of group polarization is well worth a read. I see this dynamic play out on both sides of the political spectrum: Positions become increasingly extreme and dogmatic. The theory of group polarization offers a possible explanation for why this happens.
  • “Mobs” vs “Crowds” (jjbeshara.com, 2)
    On the difference between mobs and crowds, and why everyone is constantly exposed to attempts for mob-recruitment, where power is given to volume, and wisdom gets run over.
  • The Dangers of Elite Projection (humantransit.org, 1)
    This is a widespread phenomenon among tech pundits: “Elite projection is the belief, among relatively fortunate and influential people, that what those people find convenient or attractive is good for the society as a whole.”
  • Are Driverless Cars the Future of Transport or the Last Gasp of the Automobile? (medium.com, 2)
    Some call the common assumption that self-driving cars will fundamentally transform urban transport an “elite projection”.
  • The end of the conference era (marco.org, 1)
    YouTube has possibly killed the conference era.
  • Smart Speakers and Clocks (naofumi.castle104.com, 1)
    Why do people put clocks into the rooms of their apartments and houses? Could smart speaker adoption be driven by the same underlying desire to easily be able to retrieve critical information? Intriguing line of thought.
  • Amazon Go Has the Potential to Change How Customers Think About Automation (adweek.com, 1)
    Amazon’s newly opened cashier-less store in Seattle “has the potential to change shopper expectations on how fast a transaction can go”. Also, read Ben Thompson’s analysis of Amazon’s strategy with this store concept.
  • The radical re-writing of European tech ecosystems (medium.com, 2)
    Within a comparatively short amount of time, Paris has positioned itself as one of Europe’s most promising tech hubs. Mattias Ljungman of European VC firm Atomico uses this example to explain the important role of vibrant tech ecosystems for any economy that wants to be a global leader – and for Europe as a whole.
  • Geoblocked Europe fails to clear hurdle on video streaming legislation (tech.eu, 2)
    Then again, it’s depressing how challenging it is to “defragment” Europe’s digital industry.
  • Forging a Swiss Lens: How Zurich’s tech scene changed my view of Silicon Valley (nextrends.swissnexsanfrancisco.org, 2)
    Comparing the living and work conditions in Switzerland and California (or the U.S. in general) is probably unfair. But that alone says something.
  • Tinder’s Lack of Encryption Lets Strangers Spy on Your Swipes (wired.com, 2)
    It is actually quite embarrassing that Tinder still isn’t fully encrypted. On a more general note, this is really a problem with native apps compared to web apps. With web apps in general, you see whether you are on a secure connection, indicated in the URL bar. When it comes to native apps, there is no obvious way (that I know of) to check if they transfer data through a secure connection (at least for a security layman like me). And yeah, I know that this blog is not using https either. But at least you don’t do dating here :)
  • Here are some obvious questions about the HomePod (theverge.com, 2)
    Considering that Siri is being offered in dozens of languages, I was expecting Apple to immediately launch its smart speaker HomePod also in markets where neither the Amazon Echo nor Google Home are being sold with local interfaces (like, for example, in the Nordics). But so that won’t happen. Could be a supply-related issue. Or that Apple does not consider the higher priced, music focused HomePod as a competitor to Amazon’s and Google’s smart speakers, and therefore doesn’t feel the need to quickly capture markets so far neglected by those two companies. Or, another possible reason: Apple focuses on markets where its music streaming service Apple Music has a sufficiently large user base already, because HomePod will only support Apple Music natively. The Nordics are a Spotify stronghold, for example. Personally, I would like to buy a HomePod – but only once it works with Spotify. If that should ever happen.
  • In the age of algorithms, would you hire a personal shopper to do your music discovery for you? (theverge.com, 2)
    Paid personal curators. I can see that happening more often.
  • “Tweetdecking” Is Taking Over Twitter. Here’s Everything You Need To Know (buzzfeed.com, 2)
    One more addition to the list of “jobs” of the future that are already here: Selling retweets on Twitter.
  • The Rise of the Autonomous Organization (stories.lemonade.com, 2)
    Soon we all might have a lot of “colleagues” who are bots.
  • The Rise of German Board Games (theatlantic.com, 2)
    Awesome trend.

Recently on meshedsociety.com:

Quotation of the week:

  • “Bitcoin’s mere existence is an insurance policy that will remind governments that the last object establishment could control, namely, the currency, is no longer their monopoly. This gives us, the crowd, an insurance policy against an Orwellian future.”
    Nassim Nicholas Taleb in “Bitcoin” (medium.com, 1)

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