Weekly Links & Thoughts #49

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, just in time so you have something good to read during the weekend.

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  • Failures of Our Global Imagination
    Fantastic and important piece describing how the developed countries and its people and companies fail to understand how technology is being used in developing countries. This leads to misunderstandings, lack of empathy and all kinds of wrong decisions.
  • The Politics of Empathy and the Politics of Technology
    Good take on the increasing intertwining of technology and politics, illustrated by the example of Facebook’s safety check feature. By deciding when and for which cities to active it, the social network is indirectly taking political sides. As the author puts it: “The people who run the Internet platforms are making calls about who they think is deserving of empathy”.
  • “Refugee camps are the “cities of tomorrow”, says humanitarian-aid expert
    How you look at things can change a lot. Thus seeing the large refugee camps in the Middle East as “cities of tomorrow” would have a large impact on how they are managed and improved. And it probably would allow for much more technological innovation to be applied in and around those camps.
  • Does Deutschland do digital?
    The short answer is: Not so well, yet.
  • Facebook’s new internet.org is evil
    One can see Facebook’s attempts to bring a scaled down, free version of the Internet to the population of India from two different perspectives. This perspective is taking a clear stance against such an undertaking.
  • Inside Mark Zuckerberg’s Bold Plan For The Future Of Facebook
    Talking about Facebook: This is a insightful longread about what comes next for the company.
  • The Knowledge Disconnection Downfall
    With the combination of digitization and consumerism, we might eventually end up in a situation in which crucial knowledge is being lost. To avoid this fate, the author deems it important that our kids are being raised as explorers and adventurers, not only consumers.
  • Adele just broke *NSYNC’s record for single-week US album sales
    We live in strange times. Revenue of music sales has been decreasing steadily for many years. Owning music is a pretty outdated concept for an increasing number of people. Yet, now, in 2015, a record for single-week albums sales is being broken. Of course, it is not that odd if you consider Adele’s global super star status as well as the fact that she did not release the album for streaming. Her achievement also resembles a well-observed dynamic of the digital age: The winner takes it all and the rich get richer. Nowadays, only very few artists can pull off what Adele just did. But those who can, will benefit from it more than ever before.
  • Mozilla is removing tab groups and complete themes from Firefox
    I hope they continue along this path. I am a fan of Mozilla’s mission and the Firefox browser. Unfortunately, it is way too slow for my taste.
  • Firefox maker Mozilla: We don’t need Google’s money anymore
    That too is good news. Mozilla’s financial dependency on one major player – which also is a competitor in the browser market – was not healthy for an idealistic organisation such as Mozilla.
  • Free Food For Tech Employees Goes To Waste
    As one person quoted in this article puts it with a bit of sarcasm: There should be an app helping with recovering the free food that is not consumed by the San Francisco Bay Area’s tech employees.
  • Dance to Calypso
    Matt Mullenweg, the creator of WordPress and CEO auf Automattic (that runs WordPress.com), writes about how WordPress.com is being reinvented and about the risks that come with such a move.
  • Taiwan Tech Demise Shows Pain of Dependence on Desktop PCs
    While we are at the topic of reinvention: Taiwan seems to be in an urgent need to do that.
  • How Should We Talk to AIs?
    The well-known computer scientist Stephen Wolfram suggests that there is a need for a special language for communication between humans and artificial intelligence (AI) as well as between different AIs.
  • Japan is running out of people to take care of the elderly, so it’s making robots instead
    This will not only help the Japanese society but also transform the country into an even bigger global player when it comes to robotics innovation.
  • Researchers Teaching Robots How to Best Reject Orders from Humans
    Considering the development described in the previous article, this endeavor highlighted here makes a lot of sense.
  • Using Twitter in late 2015
    A pretty accurate description of how it feels to use Twitter in 2015.
  • Why Startups Occasionally Act Like Sociopaths
    According to this, it is the Venture Capital’s fault. However, without VC, there would be significantly less startups. Not sure if that would be a more desirable scenario.
  • The Secret Power of ‘Read It Later’ Apps
    I am basically living inside Instapaper. Reading a piece praising that type of app and how it impacts reading makes me happy.

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