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.
This is the last edition of 2016. The next meshedsociety.com weekly will be published on January 5. Happy New Year!
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Length indicator: 1 = short, 2 = medium, 3 = long
- Building Jarvis (3)
Every year Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg challenges himself with one specific task to achieve. For 2016 he had decided to program a simple, AI-based assistant for his home. In this lengthy post (probably written by someone on his behalf) he details how he approached the task and describes the result. He claims he spent 100 hours on this personal project, which seems reasonable but is nevertheless a massive time sacrifice for the CEO of the world’s possibly most powerful and influential company and the father of a 1-year old. Inspiring stuff.
- What it’s like to work at Snapchat, one of the most secretive companies in tech (3)
I missed this piece when it was published back in October. An entertaining and insightful description of Snapchat’s company culture which appears to be very different than the one of many other company’s in tech – except Apple. In fact, the depiction of CEO Evan Spiegel is reminiscent of the tales about Steve Jobs.
- Apple AirPods review: Wireless, but at what cost? (2)
I am almost as bullish on smart wireless headphones as I was on Amazon Echo when it initially was presented. Sadly, judging from this review, my fear that the AirPods, as the EarPods, would not sit very well in my ears, seems to be confirmed. So I will pass on this one and hope for a future iteration. Except of course if I’d consider this little “hack”.
- Three minutes with Hans Rosling will change your mind about the world (3)
An interesting profile of the Swedish statistician Hans Rosling whose visualizations of global improvements are heavily quoted by every networked and debate-happy optimist in the social media sphere. He is kind of the Neil deGrasse Tyson of Statistics.
- Socialism & Autonomy: A Self-Driving Car Shouldn’t Be Allowed To Make Left Turns Across Traffic (1)
I’ve never thought about that, but it seems important: Should the behavior of self-driving vehicles be optimized for the driver or for society at large?
- Uber launches electric fleet of Teslas in Madrid (1)
Are Uber and Tesla potential rivals or partners? For now, both.
- Sounding the Alarm about Uber’s Impacts on Transit, and on Cities (1)
This is my main concern when it comes to Uber: That one side effect could be decreased spendings on the expansion of public transport.
- Here are all the Twitter executives who flew the coop in 2016 (1)
What a list. It’s nowadays hard to find any reason for optimism about Twitter’s future.
- Medium has been great for us (1)
While I was reading this progress report detailing the experience with the publishing platform Medium, a thought struck me: Could Medium be the better Twitter? The basic principles are very similar, but Medium does not enforce a silly 140 character limit and is generally less designed as an outlet for emotional impulses but rather as a place for reflection and thoughtful ideas.
- Building software in a “chat native” world (2)
A few intriguing thoughts about what it means if chat becomes the new browser.
- Why Apple’s App Store Is A Bad Deal For Developers (1)
Nintendo’s Super Mario Run reveals the ceiling in regards of number of downloads for heavily promoted new apps on iOS.
- Yahoo breach: why does it take so long to tell people about a hack? (2)
Maybe that’s a question a few people have asked themselves lately: Why does Yahoo keep announcing major exploits of security breaches that happened a couple of years ago?
- Why isn’t Signal a thing? (1)
Good question. Edward Snowden does not get tired of recommending his favorite encrypted messaging app but it remains a niche phenomenon – unlike its underlying technology of course which now is being used by WhatsApp.
- Finland will hand out cash to 2000 jobless people to test universal basic income (3)
I am quite excited about this experiment (related: An older post written by me on the topic of the basic income).
- China invents the digital totalitarian state (3)
The downside of every house and individual being connected: The risk of totalitarianism on steroids. China is leading the pack.
- “Professional Idiot” Adam Saleh vs. EVA Air ATC Near Incident: We Need to Do Better (2)
A descriptive example for the severe misallocation of attention in today’s media environment. This is such a big problem.
- The Elephant in the Smartwatch Room (2)
In a comparatively small market (for now), the Apple Watch has won.
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