Weekly Links & Thoughts #53

Happy New Year everyone. Let’s kick 2016 off with this year’s first selection of 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 during the weekend.

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  • Can the blockchain make Uber, Spotify and Airbnb obsolete?
    In an era in which a few centralized digital platforms amass unprecedented amounts of power and capital (see the next article link), this piece suggests that there is still hope for a future that looks different: One day, blockchain technology could make the need for centralized platforms like Uber, Spotify or Airbnb obsolete.
  • In Silicon Valley Now, It’s Almost Always Winner Takes All
    Hard to deny, and in my eyes this is becoming a big issue – at least if all the winners come from the same part of the world, which is the case right now.
  • The Search for the Killer Bot
    2016 looks like it will become the year in which chat bots turn mainstream. A good overview about the history and status quo of bots.
  • Why bullshit is no laughing matter
    People had to deal with bullshit at all times. However, thanks to the Internet, the incentives for individuals to create and spread bullshit and the possibilities to reach a wide mass of people are much bigger than in the past. In my opinion, the general human proneness to be captivated by bullshit in combination with the new digital environment poses a real threat to collective intelligence, prosperity and well-being.
  • Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Shows Users Why 10,000-Character Tweets Aren’t So Crazy
    I don’t enjoy using Twitter anymore as much as I did in the past 7 years. I think one reason for that is that the 140 character limit feels increasingly insufficient for today’s global information and communication environment. Increasing the character limit could change Twitter a lot – and I am very excited about that.
  • Does Twitter’s New Share Button Mean Less Sharing? The Data Suggests So: Here’s What You Can Do About It
    Twitter recently changed its share button and removed the tweet counter. Early data suggests that this actually led to a decrease in shares. Which makes Twitter’s decision look even more strange.
  • Paul Graham has accidentally explained everything wrong with Silicon Valley’s world view
    Y Combinator founder and Silicon Valley heavyweight Paul Graham decided to kick off the year with a long blog post defending income inequality as a necessity to success for the startup and tech world. Responses have been numerous. This one is the best I have come across. Also, even though one might disagree with Graham on the matter, he deserves a thank you for putting this important topic on top of the agenda for 2016.
  • Why privacy is important, and having “nothing to hide” is irrelevant
    The assumption that people who have “nothing to hide” do not need to worry about expanded surveillance is unfortunately widespread. Those who still have not realized why this can be a fatal mistake, should read this text.
  • Uber’s No-Holds-Barred Expansion Strategy Fizzles in Germany
    When the world’s most aggressive tech company and its ultra-capitalistic ideology collide with German bureaucracy, skepticism and (selective) preference for rule- and law-obedience, a clash is inevitable.
  • How Medium is breaking Washington’s op-ed habit
    Medium’s momentum is ongoing. The big question will be whether it can find good enough revenue models. Publishing is one of the hardest areas of the digital economy to make money in.
  • Foursquare’s location data is way more powerful than people realize
    I will be quite surprised if Foursquare will not have been acquired by the end of 2016. It definitely can offer business and information value to other companies and generate revenue, but it has struggled for too long to reach the growth necessary to follow the path to an IPO. Investors must be very impatient by now.
  • Be The Nerd — Quit Facebook
    Mark Zuckerberg wants girls to become nerds in school. Natasha Lomas makes a very good point what the consequence of such a plea would have to be: to stay away from the procrastinating and consumer-culture promoting environment that is Facebook. Not sure how Zuckerberg would react to that.
  • Modern Literacy
    Short, smart post. The first sentence is something to memorize: “Digital literacy doesn’t start with tools. It starts with an understanding of how technology is changing the world, and a richer context of how those changes will impact the way we learn, communicate, create, co-operate, and collaborate down the road.”
  • Reading is no way to learn
    I love to read, but I also have to accept the fact that it might not be the most efficient or effective way to learn. But heck, I love it…
  • The Product Manager’s Essential Reading List for 2016
    Even if you are not a Product Manager, this list of book recommendations looks very useful.

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