Here is this week’s edition of meshedsociety.com weekly, loaded with interesting analyses and essays, significant yet under-reported information bits as well as thoughtful opinion pieces from the digital and technology world. Published every Thursday (CET) or slightly earlier, 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
Note: Some of the publications may use “soft” paywalls. If you are denied access, open the URL in your browser’s incognito/private mode.
- The real risk of automation: boredom (weforum.org, 2)
It really depends. Isn’t this where “Bread and circuses” has proven successful? Also: To what extend can people learn not to be bored, i.e. to occupy themselves? I am never bored, for example, and probably neither are most of you who are reading this. Why would one assume that other people are inevitably doomed to be bored?
- Is the economy suffering from the crisis of attention? (bankunderground.co.uk, 2)
Different angle on a related topic (one might even call it a counterclaim): In the digital age, people are so extremely distracted all the time, that it has a negative impact on productivity and the economy.
- China’s Citizen Score Could Herald New Global Data Based Caste System (hackernoon.com, 3)
Powerful essay suggesting that the West’s digital attention economy and the built-in incentives for giant companies to persuade users into various types of behaviors, isn’t that different from China’s controversial attempt to create a massive social credit system.
- China’s most addictive news app Toutiao eyes world domination with AI feeds (techinasia.com, 2)
The Chinese company that recently bought Musical.ly, Bejing-based Bytedance, is also behind the content aggregator Toutiao, which is said to have 120 million daily active users in mainland China. Now Bytedance wants to bring the app to the rest of the world. So far, Chinese tech companies have not been very successful in expanding globally. But this of course doesn’t have to remain that way forever.
- The neo-generalist (scenariomagazine.com, 3)
Interview with the authors of the book “The Neo-Generalist”, Kenneth Mikkelsen and Richard Martin, about the importance of people with a broad set of competencies.
- Loveable Digital Kittens Are Clogging Ethereum’s Blockchain (coindesk.com, 2)
Ethereum has its first (temporary) “killer application” outside of ICOs. Unfortunate though that this instantly leads to scaling problems.
- A Stationary Smart Speaker Mirage (aboveavalon.com, 2)
Neil Cybart explains why smart speakers are overrated and do not represent a paradigm shift in computing. I disagree with this analysis. However, if I’d own an Apple Watch, maybe my perspective would be different. But I’d still need a smart speaker to play music.
- How Reuters’s Revolutionary AI System Gathers Global News (technologyreview.com, 1)
How the news agency Reuters mines Twitter to almost automatically identify news stories.
- A simple theory of Moore’s Law and social media (marginalrevolution.com, 1)
Thought-provoking reflections on how social media divides people.
- Internet Content Moderation 101 (hunterwalk.com, 2)
How does YouTube identify potentially problematic videos? A former director at YouTube’s product management offers insights.
- Conflicting Skill Sets (collaborativefund.com, 1)
Succinct overview of the various competing skill sets that are needed in today’s day and age. This is kind of tricky to navigate.
- How to read 100 books in a year (and still have a life) (forrestbrazeal.com, 2)
If you are looking for a goal for 2018.
- Fixing the Monopoly Board Game (thenewstack.io, 2)
Fascinating: Bringing balance to the famous board game Monopoly so that every player has the same chance of winning.
- Maintaining An Independent Browser Is Incredibly Expensive (robert.ocallahan.org, 1)
On the costs of maintaining the Firefox browser.
- Startups That Seek to “Disrupt” Get More Funding Than Those That Seek to “Build” (hbr.org, 2)
Whether a startup founder sees herself/himself as a “disruptor” or “builder” leads to different outcomes.
- How brands secretly buy their way into Forbes, Fast Company, and HuffPost stories (theoutline.com, 3)
Another tale from the sad world of online publishing. I see some people expressing worry about the imminent implosion of digital media outlets. I actually think this is necessary. There is just too much bullshit content funded by VC money or crappy ads.
- The Leaning Tower of Morality (ribbonfarm.com, 3)
Intelligent considerations about morality. The author’s conclusions represent two possibly bitter pills: 1. There’s no instinct for true altruism. 2. Most forms of moral behavior are rooted, ultimately, in self-interest.
Recently on meshedsociety.com:
- Of course Bitcoin is in a bubble. Let’s end the debate and think about what it means.
I want the Bitcoin price to keep increasing. But I also want it to crash.
- A culture of responsible behavior is possible and could save the web
In order to prevent the web’s demise, the emergence of a culture of responsible behavior is required. Examples from the “analogue” world prove that under certain circumstances, such a culture is possible.
Podcast episode of the week:
- James Altucher podcast: Tyler Cowen: What the Future Holds: Stagnation or Innovation?
Enlightening interview with the unbelievably quick-witted Tyler Cowen on innovation and how politics and society (with a focus on the U.S.) are preventing necessary break-throughs.
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