Weekly Links & Thoughts #39

Here is a weekly selection of thoughtful opinion pieces, interesting analyses and significant yet under-reported information bits from the digital and technology world. Published and commented every Thursday (sorry for being a bit late this week), just in time so you have something good to read during the weekend.

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  • The downfall of Kinect: Why Microsoft gave up on its most promising product
    I remember the time when Kinect looked like Microsoft’s next big thing. But somewhere on the way, things went wrong. This insightful piece explains what happened.
  • Intelligent machines: Call for a ban on robots designed as sex toys
    I have not made up my mind about where I stand in this fairly new debate. However, I see why this topic might lead to major discussions. Highly recommended read.
  • How Ashley Madison Hid Its Fembot Con From Users and Investigators
    Sometimes it is just unbelievable how few ethical boundaries some entrepreneurs have. People who would do everything to get rich are, in my eyes, one of the most ugly side effects of capitalism.
  • What Makes Uber Run
    Speaking about capitalism and entrepreneurs: A pretty interesting profile of Travis Kalanick, CEO and founder of Uber.
  • Vampire Porn
    This article about the concentration of power in the online porn industry is already a year old but nevertheless very informative. It helps to understand what happens when one player gets so powerful that it controls a whole digital industry.
  • My Life as a Robot
    Awesome account of a WIRED remote worker who had been using a telepresence robot over an extended period of time to “be” where her colleagues were.
  • Why is Europe Failing To Create More Unicorns?
    Comprehensive and competent summary of what keeps today’s Europe from producing more billion dollar tech companies.
  • The “Sharing Economy” Is Dead, And We Killed It
    The idea to share resources instead of buying them generally sounds intriguing. However, most online platforms that were launched unter the “sharing economy” moniker failed. In the end, people prefer convenience.
  • Venmo Scammers Know Something You Don’t
    This surprised me. Turns out that the very popular US p2p money transfer app Venmo is not transfering money as instantly as it makes its users believe. The underlying issue though is America’s ancient banking infrastructure. It finally gets clear to me why some of the new European p2p apps such as Swish in Sweden or Paymit in Switzerland are so superior: They have been created by the banks, are leveraging Europe’s much more modern banking infrastructure and do not only pretend to transfer money instantly but actually deliver on that promise.
  • Why Apple Decided to Block Ads on the Same Day It Started Pushing a News App
    I agree with this assessment: With iOS 9 Apple is attacking the online media industry from two sides: Launching Apple News (initially only available in very few markets) and allowing ad blocking for Safari users. The problem I see with this development is that while the short-term benefits are clear (an improved user experience), in the long run this might simply lead to even more concentration of power in the hands of a few giants, especially Apple. I hope I am wrong.
  • Nescafé declares the brand website ‘dead’ as it moves to Tumblr
    A couple of years ago the same was said and some brands moved to Facebook. Now, it’s Tumblr. Let’s see what comes next.
  • The trouble with Foodpanda
    It’s pretty much always the same with these hyper-growing global delivery and commerce platforms that are backed by lots of money and that try to expand as fast as possible: It tempts executives and employees to get involved in questionable tactics and scams, exploiting a lack of efficient structures and quality control.
  • Subscription iPhones
    Pretty significant changes are happening to the smartphone hardware value chain, initiated by Apple.
  • The apple ios 9 review
    An unbelievably extensive review of iOS 9. But definitely worth reading for iOS users who want to make sure to be aware of all the major (and minor) changes.
  • Case Study Of A Magazine Purchase
    Anecdotal report but this suggests one of the possible ways of how magazines or high quality journalism products in general is being sold to people in the future.
  • The curator gene
    This post might come across as a bit self-referential since it quotes me, but I find the idea of a “curator gene” too exciting not to mention it here.
  • How to Disagree
    If you ever participate in discussions online (or elsewhere), this piece by Paul Graham from 2008 is pure gold.

And most recently on meshedsociety.com

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