Weekly Links & Thoughts #113

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.

Personal note: Back from vacation!

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Reading time indicator: 1 = up to 3 minutes, 2 = 3 to 10 minutes, 3 = more than 10 minutes

  • The future of the open internet — and our way of life — is in your hands (medium.freecodecamp.com, 3)
    A griping depiction of the repeating dynamic that steers information technology towards corporate monopolies until a new technology comes and disrupts the old order. But when it comes to the Internet, there might be no disruptor.
  • Tech and the fake market tactic (anildash.com, 3)
    How the tech industry leverages the advantages of the free market in order to create rigged markets.
  • Systems smart enough to know when they’re not smart enough (bigmedium.com, 3)
    Machines have an over-confidence problem, writes Josh Clark, who also has some ideas about how to handle this situation. One might want to add that most humans have an over-confidence problem as well.
  • The Trade-Off Every AI Company Will Make (digitopoly.org, 2)
    Like a person who starts a new job, an AI with machine learning capabilities has to “practice” in order to get better. Companies that want to utilize AI are therefore faced with a tricky question: when to shift from in-house training to on-the-job learning.
  • The Wonders of the Future (collaborativefund.com, 2)
    Big breakthroughs don’t happen on their own. They are a conglomeration of small discoveries and often unforeseen.
  • Tech Bigwigs Know How Addictive Their Products Are. Why Don’t the Rest of Us? (wired.com, 2)
    In my eyes, psychological dependency (or addiction if you want to call it that way) on digital technology is a massive challenge. Those who fail to resist and fail to remain in control are, more than with any other information technology before, becoming subject to large-scale manipulation by commercial and ideological actors.
  • Why we can’t put our smartphones down – and what it’s doing to our relationships (newatlas.com, 2)
    Related to the previous article. It’s the first time I hear the term “phubbing”. It stands for “phone snubbing” – phone distractions that occur in the presence of other people. What’s described here makes a lot of sense to me: “The more one romantic partner perceives that they are being phubbed, the more it hurts their feelings, which ultimately fed into reporting higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression.”
  • Reframe Work And Be Free (truthhawk.com, 1)
    A brilliant way to view work: investing time instead of spending time. An added thought from myself: If a certain work doesn’t feel like a good investment, it’s probably something one should try to let go as soon as possible.
  • Lessons in Tenacity from the Co-Founder of Foursquare (firstround.com, 3)
    For over ten years, Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley had a vision, and he never gave up.
  • Is Netflix ringing the death knell for cinemas? (denofgeek.com, 2)
    Betteridge’s law applies of course. But Netflix undeniably is changing movie distribution and consumption patterns, so it will have an impact on cinema.
  • The Google Pixel does not exist (phonearena.com, 1)
    Google’s Pixel phone is said to be the best Android smartphone on the market – but it appears as if Google is not really keen on selling it to people.
  • Apple Is Pushing iPad Like Never Before (aboveavalon.com, 2)
    A lengthy, in-depth analysis of Apple’s latest strategy for the iPad. The tablet market is not as dead as some claim it to be.
  • Why Employees At Apple And Google Are More Productive (fastcompany.com, 2)
    Some companies from the tech sector are remarkably more productive than the average company, while having not significantly more “star players” among their employees. The key to this success lies in how these high performers are distributed among the teams.
  • Poaching passengers: An Uber driver endorses Juno (blog.wandr.me, 2)
    Occurrences during which Uber drivers try to get a passenger to join them on another ride-sharing app highlight Uber’s issue with lacking driver loyalty – which only remains unproblematic for Uber as long as no serious (global) competitor exists.
  • Upgrade your Medium (blog.medium.com, 2)
    Evan Williams, founder of Medium, outlines the rough details of the platform’s upcoming subscription system. This will be interesting to watch.
  • It Will Take Google 22 Days to Find You (motherboard.vice.com, 1)
    If you launch a website that you don’t index for search engines and that you solely tell a few friends about who you encourage to spread the word, how long does it take until Google finds you? One guy tried it.
  • Now We Know Why Microsoft Bought LinkedIn (backchannel.com, 2)
    At least in parts the reason my be: LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, who is extremely well connected, appreciated and influential in Silicon Valley.
  • Elon Musk’s Billion-Dollar Crusade to Stop the A.I. Apocalypse (vanityfair.com, 3)
    I have seen some criticism about this long read (for example here) but I found it to be pretty effective at making the reader feel how much the (possibly sensationalist) debate about AI as a potential threat is captivating the industry big shots’s minds. In the end, no one knows. In comparison to this superior AI that some are afraid and others are excited about, an Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking or Ray Kurzweil are not much more intelligent than anyone else. So everyone is just speculating about the future while being subject to the same cognitive limitations.

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