Weekly Links & Thoughts #143

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 = 4 to 9 minutes, 3 = 10 to 29 minutes , 3+ = 30 minutes or more

  • Why Futurism Has a Cultural Blindspot (nautil.us, 3)
    A truly outstanding essay from 2015 pointing out how people in the technology field get things wrong: They fail to take into account and extrapolate cultural changes, even though these often happen at a more rapid pace than technological progress.
  • Why are we so confident? (medium.com, 3)
    The term “confidence calibration assessment” might not fill you with excitement, but this is a great piece investigating people’s tendency to be too confident in predictions (and it links to a fun test in which you can check your own overconfidence).
  • Could Cryptocurrency kill online advertising? (linkedin.com, 2)
    An increasing number of (often shady) websites are being caught secretly mining cryptocurrencies using visitors’ computing capacity. Critics see this as a malicious act which has to be stopped. But one could also choose a positive framing, as done in this piece: The possible emergence of a new business model for websites which could enable them to abandon (widely hated) online advertising as revenue source. Worth thinking about.
  • The Battle For The Soul Of Bitcoin (forbes.com, 3)
    Skip this long feature if you don’t consider yourself at least “significantly interested” in Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. If you are significantly interested though, then this extensively researched, comprehensive look at the debates and turmoil surrounding Bitcoin’s upcoming, highly polarizing hard fork expected to happen around November 16 might be an essential read. Impressive work by Laura Shin considering how convoluted this whole topic is.
  • How I Socially Engineer Myself Into High Security Facilities (motherboard.vice.com, 2)
    Sophie Daniel has an incredibly interesting but also highly challenging job: She gets hired by companies that want to test their (information) security procedures. Usually she uses social engineering to get access to areas and information that no outsider is supposed to have access to.
  • Antisocial media? (techcrunch.com, 2)
    This hits the nail on its head: “Maybe social media’s openness actually ends up fostering the opposite of connectedness. Maybe it’s really rather better-suited to fracturing the consensus narratives traditionally used to glue societies and peoples together because it’s so good at isolating and magnifying differing viewpoints — and thus at ripping apart the social fabric along existing fault lines.”
  • Teens’ online friendships just as meaningful as face-to-face ones, UCI study finds (news.uci.edu, 1)
    I am sure this does not only apply to teens: “Online contact enhances companionship between friends via conversations that can continue throughout the day and night without disrupting others, and it also allows more time to control emotions and calm down before crafting and sending a response to something upsetting.”
  • Selfies as a second language (eugenewei.com, 2)
    Smart reflections on the role of selfies and the question why “oldies” respond to Snaps with a text message, while young people tend to respond with a selfie (at least based on the experience of the author).
  • In a Distracted World, Solitude Is a Competitive Advantage (hbr.org, 1)
    This makes a lot of sense.
  • Introducing Neom, the 500 billion-dollar, ultra-high tech future megacity of Saudi Arabia (newatlas.com, 2)
    A “blank sheet” approach for building a new megacity, promised by Saudi Crown Prince Mohhamed bin Salman (“There is no room for old thinking.”), has undoubtedly allure. It remains to be seen though if an otherwise ultra-conservative country can deliver on this promise. In other news from the region: Neighboring United Arab Emirates is the first country in the world with a Ministry dedicated to artificial intelligence. It’s led by a 27-year old. Kinda cool.
  • Returning to Second Life (arstechnica.com, 3)
    Quite a fascinating look inside the virtual daily life in Second Life, which – surprisingly – has survived ever since its hype back in 2007.
  • Singapore Will Stop Increasing Car Numbers From February 2018 (bloomberg.com, 1)
    People living in Singapore who want to own a car have to buy an expensive permit. Permits are auctioned monthly by the government. From next year, the number of permits in circulation will not be increased anymore.
  • After the end of the startup era (techcrunch.com, 2)
    The dominance of ever-expanding technology giants and the large investment and data requirements of cutting-edge tech makes today a very bad time for startups, argues Jon Evans.
  • Why Facebook Shouldn’t Be Allowed to Buy tbh (stratechery.com, 2)
    It seems indeed as if the only pragmatic way to allow for actual competition in today’s social networking space is to prohibit a dominating player such as Facebook from buying small, potential future rivals.
  • Why Uber is The Revenge of the Founders (steveblank.com, 3)
    Compelling analysis of how tech CEOs became as powerful as they are today, and how boards and investors simultaneously lost a lot of influence.
  • This Little-Known Startup Just Hit a Valuation of $30 Billion (bloomberg.com, 1)
    Meituan Dianping, the world’s fourth-most valuable startup, is completely unknown to most people outside of China.
  • Can Basic Income Plus The Blockchain Build A New Economic System? (fastcompany.com, 2)
    An article bringing together two of the most hyped ideas of our times is guaranteed to attract storms of enthusiasm as well as ridicule.
  • The (near) future of data is linked (blog.data.world, 2)
    Data linked to other data in a similar way as the World Web Web linked information on webpages to each other? It’s still a bit abstract to me how this will look like, but interesting to ponder.
  • Mobile Has Largely Displaced Other Channels for Email (emarketer.com, 1)
    More than half of emails worldwide are read on a mobile device.
  • How to Remember What You Read (farnamstreetblog.com, 3)
    An astonishing long list of hacks and strategies to get the most out of reading (focusing on nonfiction books). I thought of myself as a well-versed reader but after this I guess I have to adjust my self image.

Podcast episode of the week:

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