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 annotated every Thursday (CET), just in time so you have something good to read during the weekend.
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- The Melancholy of Subculture Society
A thought-provoking essay about the Internet’s characteristic quality to unite small groups by dividing larger ones. Created in 2009 but updated in January this year.
- 3 threats to incumbent car companies are converging into a tidal wave of disruption
A coherent and comprehensive summary of the three trends which force the car industry to question a lot of its established ways of doing business.
- Virtual Reality Is Full of Assholes Who Sexually Harass Me. Here’s Why I Keep Going Back
Nobody is surprised, I guess. Informative experience report by a user of Altspace, a kind of virtual reality social network.
- I’ve Been Waiting For The Oculus Rift My Whole Life, But Now It’s Sitting In My Closet
Just one person’s opinion, of course. Yet insightful.
- The Pentagon is building a ‘self-aware’ killer robot army fueled by social media
This very long investigative article apparently has been financed with crowdfunding. Terrifying stuff that is revealed here. The AI-powered global arms race is very problematic – except of course if in the end, machines fight against machines and human casualties will become a rarity during wars. But I have my doubts that this is a likely outcome.
- What Is Public?
Post from 2014 but still very relevant. What does public actually mean? Is a tweet visible to everyone by nature “public” and should it thus be treated accordingly? The author argues that there are more nuances and levels than only private and public. In his opinion, media and technology companies need to start acknowledging that better.
- This is what it’s like to grow up in the age of likes, lols and longing
I am sure that many people who are, say, older than 25, read this and experience a moment of gratitude for having not needed to go through this.
- The DAO: Or How A Leaderless Organization Raised $50 Million
Yesterday I attended Blue Yard’s Decentralized & Encrypted conference in Berlin. Lots of extremely smart tech people presented and talked about ideas and projects that help to make the Internet more resilient and secure. One of the names that was mentioned multiple times was The DAO, and it seemed as if I was the only person in the room who had not heard about it before. The DAO is a decentralized autonomous organization that runs on the Ethereum blockchain (which in simple terms can be described as an alternative to Bitcoin). So after the event I had to do some research to learn more about The DAO. This article does a good job explaining it. It’s really heavy tech stuff and I am still struggling with wrapping my head around how this works and what could be done with it. But challenges like that are fun and healthy.
- Technological innovation is often simply an innovation in how we think about technology
A smart comment. Often, apparent innovations only come with minor technological advances but bring major shifts in terminology and discourse. Like Siri, Cortana or Alexa, which are label “virtual assistants” but in fact are just advanced search engines.
- If You Talk to Bots, You’re Talking to Their Bosses
The insight explained in the previous article applies even to the current hype surrounding “Bots”. One significant difference between past machines and today’s bots is that bots have being equipped with a personality, they favor first-person pronouns like “I” and “me” over non-personal worlds like “the”. But that should not make us forget who and what’s behind, as this text points out.
- Publishers’ Facebook videos are shared 7 times more than links
As someone who loves reading, I find it a bit sad that article links on Facebook are receiving so much less engagement than videos. On the other hand, TV has always been the most popular type of mass media. It would be naive to think that this would be different in the digital age. Only the definition of “TV” changes.
- Spatial Computing: why Tim Cook better worry
First Marco Arment wrote a widely shared piece about Apple’s weakening position in the fight for future dominance in tech, now Robert Scoble does the same. Arment was focusing on AI, Scoble has his emphasize on user interfaces. He sees “Spatial Computing” as the next big thing after touch, and he thinks Tim Cook has reason to worry.
- The Most Popular Messaging App in Every Country
A fun map highlighting which messaging app dominates where in the world.
- WeChat’s global expansion has been a disaster
China’s messaging market leader WeChat is a giant in its home market. A while ago it began an international expansion, which did not work out very well at all.
- Gchat Was the Future of Messaging, But Google Didn’t Know What It Had
Somehow, while I read this, I felt almost sorry for Google. This company is so brilliant and yet has such a “talent” for failure when it comes to effectively connecting humans.
- Keeping it under your hat
Vertically integrated companies that try to control their complete value, production and distribution chain are fashionable again. Apple and Tesla are the leading examples.
- Snapchat Passes Twitter in Daily Usage
That’s huge in a symbolic way. Since Snapchat does not release official usage numbers, one has to rely on these “people familiar with the matter” as source.
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