Weekly Links & Thoughts #124

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

  • Phil Libin Hasn’t Eaten Since Sunday (backchannel.com, 2)
    I have no comment on what the former Evernote CEO is doing here, but it is a pretty interesting read.
  • Young Men Are Playing Video Games Instead of Getting Jobs. That’s OK. (For Now) (reason.com, 3)
    “The surprising thing about the stereotypical aimless young man, detached from work and society, playing video games in his parents’ basement: He’s actually happier than ever.”
  • We Are All to Blame for Uber (bloomberg.com, 2)
    Agreed. Uber in its current, overly aggressive and morally kinda rotten state is how it is because the systems in which it exists have been rewarding the company’s way of doing things. At least until now. With the leave of absence of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and a couple of action points announced this week by Uber board member Arianna Huffington at an all-hands meeting, the company gets the chance to prove that it can succeed while being a bit “nicer”. Whether this actually can work remains to be seen. There is at least a possibility that without its asshole-like corporate personality and execution, the company will fail to fulfill its global hyper-growth targets.
  • Susan Fowler’s Uber Exposé Should Win A Pulitzer (forbes.com, 2)
    Pulitzer or not, with her blog post about Uber’s toxic work culture and the chain reaction it caused, Susan Fowler has changed the course of history. That’s actually a more meaningful and lasting thing than a prize, isn’t it?
  • The Coming War: Browsers Against Advertising Pollution (mondaynote.com, 2)
    Both Chrome and Safari will soon block and/or punish hostile ad formats. While in the case of Chrome that comes with questions about a conflict of interest, generally, browser makers taking the lead here is a good thing.
  • Facebook’s Safety Check is a stress-inducing flip of social norms (techcrunch.com, 2)
    Except for the use during large-scale catastrophes when a big number of people helping each other is crucial, the Safety Check is one of the worst features offered by Facebook. This text explains well why: “But by making Safety Check a default expectation Facebook flips the norms of societal behavior and suddenly no one can feel safe unless everyone has manually checked the Facebook box marked “safe”.” During April’s terrorist attack in Stockholm, about 100 out of my around 110 Stockholm-based Facebook contacts had marked themselves safe. I resisted but I clearly felt the pressure. It’s ridiculous.
  • “Google is bad for the airline industry” says CarTrawler. Airlines need vastly better data skills (centreforaviation.com, 2)
    The airline industry is worried that Google accumulates too much power in directing customers to flight fares through its (brilliant) flight search engine Google Flights.
  • In Products, as in Life, Not All Friction Is Bad (medium.com, 2)
    Most of what the tech industry is coming up with is intended to remove friction. But there are situations in which friction actually is a good thing. Interesting examples in this text.
  • This Startup Wants to Turn ‘Unboxing’ Videos Into a Big Business (fortune.com, 1)
    Every month, unboxing videos on YouTube get an estimated 10 billions views. Apparently, there are also “unboxing stars”. And now a company wants to capture this strange but lucrative niche.
  • The Other Shoe (mattgemmell.com, 2)
    A short while ago, the iPad was almost declared dead. With Apple’s upcoming release of iOS 11 and iPad Pro, the tablet device suddenly has its momentum back. It is now (for the second time) considered a potential replacement for laptops.
  • If you care about cities, Apple’s new campus sucks (wired.com, 3)
    This text might be a bit too long, but it offers a thought-provoking perspective.
  • We Need to Talk About the Power of AI to Manipulate Humans (technologyreview.com, 2)
    It has been shown multiple times: Even if they might state the opposite, humans have a tendency to become emotionally attached to robots or chatbots. The risks of being manipulated are obvious. Although, to be fair, this same is true for human-to-human interactions. Humans constantly manipulate other people to further their own agendas or goals.
  • Cryptocurrency Mining Is Fueling a GPU Shortage (motherboard.vice.com, 2)
    How did the old adage go again? “Don’t dig for gold, sell shovels”. Probably some companies are working hard right now to scale up GPU production for the Ethereum crowd.
  • The days and nights of Elon Musk: How he spends his time at work and play (qz.com, 2)
    Crazy guy.
  • Instagram’s most-followed celebs failed to label 93 percent of ads, report finds (theverge.com, 2)
    Is this due to lack of knowledge or lack of integrity?
  • This is how Big Oil will die (medium.com, 3)
    The money quote from this lengthy analysis: “This is what will kill oil: It will cost less to hail an autonomous electric vehicle than to drive the car that you already own.” Still worth reading if you are interested in how the economics of this field are going to change.
  • Inside The Chaotic Battle To Be The Top Reply To A Trump Tweet (buzzfeed.com, 2)
    One of the most absurd strategies to build a following on Twitter.
  • Quantum thought (medium.com, 1)
    A short post by me about an intriguing (and, in my opinion, fundamentally necessary) way of thinking.

Recently on meshedsociety.com:

Podcast episode of the week:

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2 comments

  1. There is another dimension to Advertising Pollution. First: It is not only about hostile ad formats. Second: It is not only about the browsers.

    The more important nubs of Advertising Pollution are the extremely manipulative articles, that come dressed up as informative articles (so glad your blog is an exception). In that way they pollute the search engines by occupying every thinkable keyword. This is called as inbound marketing or more known as content marketing.

    For this problem, I suggested a concrete algorithm, that is able to identify a site, blog article etc as part of an inbound marketing process. It calculates the probability to end up facing a so called “call to action” by following the links on a site. The nearer the probability is to one, the more likely the site is in an inbound marketing process.

    Now the bridge to the second problem is easy: Search engines should simply exclude (or let the user decide) pages with a probability higher than 0.5 (or whatever threshold they find appropriate).

    The browser could of course implement some kind of icon, based on that probability.

    • Interesting thoughts, thanks. I guess text analysis algorithms should be good enough nowadays to identify that type of content.

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