Weekly Links & Thoughts #154

Here is this week’s issue 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 Wednesday/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
Note: Some of the publications may use “soft” paywalls. If you are denied access, open the URL in your browser’s incognito/private mode.

  • Digital Tribalism – The Real Story About Fake News (ctrl-verlust.net, 3)
    An insightful data analysis exploring one of the most concerning phenomena of our times: digital tribalism. The results presented suggest that the root of the problem aren’t filter bubbles (which turn out to be not as airtight to contrary opinions or facts as often assumed) or algorithms, but rather the way the human brain works, causing people to gather into groups they identify themselves with, and to separate themselves from others as a group. Through online networks and viral dynamics, the evolutionary behavioral patterns are simply supercharged (and often malfunctioning). Related book recommendation from me: “Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst” by Robert M. Sapolsky. Already one of the top 3 best books I have ever read. And I am only at 30 %. It’s 800 pages thick.
  • Your likes, hearts, and flattering comments are bad for my brain (medium.com, 1)
    Many dream of getting a lot of likes and shares on the stuff they post online. But positive engagement can be pretty addictive, and not in a good way.
  • What It’s Like to Be the Parent of a Social-Media Star (theatlantic.com, 3)
    What times to be alive, when this is an actual question that thousands of parents have to ask themselves: “How do you enforce rules and boundaries on children who frequently have more money than grown-ups, and thus, unusual levels of autonomy?”
  • CES 2018: Real Advances, Real Progress, Real Questions (medium.learningbyshipping.com, 3+)
    Former Windows President and now VC Steven Sinofsky went to the CES in Las Vegas, made a lot of notes about what he saw, and then used his observations to pen down an in-depth piece about the state of several of today’s most hyped fields of technology. And the result is really excellent, even for those not too interested in gadgets or the CES.
  • Alexa v. Google Assistant makes consumers the big winners (staceyoniot.com, 1)
    Let’s see if we remain the big winners in the long run. But in the short term, agreed.
  • The Network Uber Drivers Built (fastcompany.com, 3)
    Uber drivers may not have unions or worker protections, but they do organize themselves in online networks which give them at least a certain type of power over their algorithmic provider of work.
  • When It Comes to Gorillas, Google Photos Remains Blind (wired.com, 2)
    Google found a rather primitive workaround for fixing its discriminating image identification algorithm.
  • Your New Newsfeed: Why Facebook Made Its Latest Changes (wired.com, 3)
    Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s vice-president in charge of newsfeed, talks about the recently announced change to focus on friend and family interactions over page and news content. Ben Thompson wonders what the real motives are.
  • Everyone hates us, and it’s not because of our sex parties (techcrunch.com, 2)
    Historically, power corrupts. And now, that Silicon Valley is arguably the most powerful force on Earth, people are naturally looking for evidence of misconduct.
  • On building a meritocracy in our startup ecosystem (blog.elizabethyin.com, 2)
    The lack of a meritocracy in the startup ecosystem is hampering world progress, writes investor Elizabeth Yin. But she continues: “I’ve never had so much hope for our startup ecosystem as now.”
  • Beyond the Bitcoin bubble (nytimes.com, 3+)
    A beautiful feature explaining why blockchain technology is another (and right now probably the only) chance to revitalize the open principles that were so crucial for the rise of the web and its most important technological components.
  • Miners Aren’t Your Friends (blog.keep.network, 3)
    The major cryptocurrencies depend on that miners follow the rules. But the more money is in a system, the more likely it is that miners will mess with it.
  • To Understand Bitcoin, I Studied Karl Marx (coindesk.com, 1)
    An interesting analogy of how both Karl Marx and Bitcoin inventor “Satoshi Nakamoto” created unconventional ideas inspired by their environment, but (presumably) lacked the power to predict how their inventions would influence others or be implemented.
  • A World of Evolving Ideas (medium.com, 1)
    This might be me drinking the kool aid, but the idea of a global network of ideas stored in the form of blockchain sounds somehow intriguing.
  • Let the robots speak to one another (theverge.com, 1)
    This is a bad and smart idea at the same time. Spoken language is increasingly proving to be a bad way to communicate thoughts between people. Context is always missing, accidental or deliberate misunderstandings are the rule, attention spans are short… one can witness the messy result every day in online debates. Therefore, letting machines talk to each other through this flawed method seems backward. On the other hand, smart devices are not expected to talk politics or philosophy with each other. For simple commands and instructions, this actually might work.
  • Turning Design Mockups Into Code With Deep Learning (blog.floydhub.com, 3)
    Looks like web designers might get competition from neural networks soon.
  • Impatience: The Pitfall Of Every Ambitious Person (dariusforoux.com, 1)
    Both obvious and often ignored: Good things may take a while.

Recently on meshedsociety.com:

Quote of the week:

  • “The internet has become a mirror of our global societies. Fifty-one per cent of the world’s population is estimated to have access to it, many of them by way of smartphones. Some people are not happy with what they see in this mirror, but make the mistake of thinking that correcting the mirror will fix the problems reflected therein.”
    Vint Cerf in “In 2018, we will tackle the internet’s dark side” (wired.com, 1)

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