Weekly Links & Thoughts #135

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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  • What We Get Wrong About Technology (timharford.com, 3)
    The most significant, game changing innovations and inventions often are those that seem so trivial that no one pays attention to them or realizes their long-term impact.
  • Proactive Paranoia (reallifemag.com, 2)
    Interesting read on a principle named “OPSEC”, following the idea of radical distrust of everyone one associates with, employed by the often shady personalities that run and contribute to market places on the dark web.
  • Will AI enable the third stage of life? (kurzweilai.net, 2)
    The Swedish-American cosmologist Max Tegmark is out with a new book, named “Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence”. It apparently is more accessible than his masterful but pretty challenging (for those who don’t call math their passion) first one “Our Mathematical Universe”. Here is a short excerpt from his new book. Also note Sam Harris’ podcast interview with Tegmark linked further below.
  • Let’s face reality: US Teens engage with iMessage more than any other social platform (hackernoon.com, 3)
    As an iOS user, there is something special about sending a text message to someone only to see it being transformed into “iMessage”.
  • Reflections on a trip to crypto valley (medium.com, 2)
    Alexander Lange of Berlin-based Earlybird VC joined a crowd of about 25 crypto enthusiasts to visit Zug in Switzerland, also known as “crypto valley” (because many startups in the field of blockchain and crypto currencies have their legal base there).
  • How Blockchains mirror Nature (blog.consensusx.com, 2)
    Intuitively, it seems logical that human-made systems that represent aspects of social behavior follow certain mechanisms found it nature. Still, intriguing observation.
  • Burger King launches WhopperCoin crypto-cash in Russia (bbc.com, 2)
    We are living in crazy times. This news also made me wonder whether all loyalty programs soon will become blockchain-based and thereby enabling peer-to-peer trade of company-specific currencies? Which airline will be the first to reward frequent fliers with tradable coins on a blockchain instead of traditional miles?
  • The Top 10 Mistakes Crypto Newcomers Make (decentralize.today, 2)
    If you plan to put money into crypto currencies or tokens, you better read this. Note that this list only will make sense if you have acquired enough theoretical knowledge about how this stuff works.
  • Facebook Ditched The Red Cross For Hurricane Harvey Relief (buzzfeed.com, 2)
    One of the ever-growing number of second-order effects that Facebook’s dominance has on society: The company can channel donation money away from the established actors if its leaders think they are not effective enough, thereby disrupting how charity works.
  • The Difficulties Of Running A Sex-Inspired Startup (fastcompany.com, 2)
    Startups in the buzzy field of “sextech” (which is not the same as the porn industry) are facing various obstacles, from getting funding to access to essential b2b services – because of people’s fear about what other people might think (about them getting involved in this area).
  • ‘Link in Bio’ Keeps Instagram Nice (theatlantic.com, 2)
    The absence of abilities to effectively link to external content might actually be one of Instagram’s major features, even if it for creators of content can sometimes feel like a bug.
  • This VR cycle is dead (techcrunch.com, 3)
    Virtual reality has in fact managed to end up in another “Trough of Disillusionment” (to apply a stage from Gartner’s Hype Cycle here).
  • 8 Lessons from 20 Years of Hype Cycles (linkedin.com, 3)
    Speaking about the Hype Cycle: What one can learn about innovation and technology when revisiting and analyzing past versions of it.
  • It’s Time to Think Beyond Cloud Computing (wired.com, 2)
    With IT and AI integrating deeper into every part of our life, low latency becomes a necessity. In this regard, cloud computing has limitations. So here comes “Edge computing”.
  • Uber’s new CEO (stratechery.com, 2)
    Dara Khosrowshahi, who until now successfully ran Expedia, is Uber’s new CEO. Ben Thompson explains why he is a smart choice.
  • Skyscanner’s Gareth Williams On How Its Bet On Asia Led To Its Big Win, Being CEO and The Future Of Apps (webintravel.com, 2)
    Almost a year after its $1.7 billion acquisition by Chinese travel giant Ctrip, the founder of European flight and travel search engine Skyscanner talks about how it all happened.
  • Beyond anger (aeon.co, 3)
    A deep, essential essay from last year about the problem of giving in to anger. I wish the protagonists of the digital outrage machinery would reflect on this. One quote from the piece: “Whenever we are faced with pressing moral or political decisions, we should clear our heads, and spend some time conducting what Mandela (citing Marcus Aurelius) referred to as ‘Conversations with Myself’. When we do, I predict, the arguments proposed by anger will be clearly seen to be pathetic and weak, while the voice of generosity and forward-looking reason will be strong as well as beautiful.” The cited Marcus Aurelius was one of the key figures of the ancient Stoicism philosophy, which was my best discovery last year.
  • Maybe We All Need a Little Less Balance (nytimes.com, 2)
    “I don’t believe that balance — which essentially asks us to never go all-in on anything — is the right solution”. I would agree with the author if that’s how balance is defined.

Recently on meshedsociety.com:

  • Twitter and Trump: A truly destructive relationship
    Some people wish Twitter would ban Trump. But for Twitter, Trump is by far the biggest asset. Without him, the company’s notoriously weak performance would be even worse. This puts the company’s liberal CEO and staff in a very uncomfortable, almost pitiful position.
  • Learning to code, 420 hours later: How to teach yourself Python, for free
    After 420 hours of learning to code with Python, spread out over 20 months, I am formally completing the project (but of course I will continue with coding). Here is the whole chronological list of sites and resources I used, and how I did it.

Podcast episodes of the week:

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