Weekly Links & Thoughts #84

Here is this week’s edition of meshedsociety.com weekly, loaded with 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 over the weekend.

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Length indicator: 1 = short, 2 = medium, 3 = long

  • This is Your Life in Silicon Valley (2)
    Even though this parody piece focuses on people actually living in and around the Silicon Valley, I wouldn’t be surprised if most of the regular readers of this weekly link list recognize themselves in parts. My favorite quote: “You are all too busy making your own points and citing articles to really listen to each other. ” I really know that one. Others do, too (thanks @polexa for sharing this video).
  • Scenes From the Terrifying, Already Forgotten JFK Airport Shooting That Wasn’t (3)
    A gripping eye-witness account of a recent mass panic that took place at New York’s JFK airport after people thought they were experiencing a mass shooting. A powerful reminder of how false stories evolve, spread and set people in motion.
  • “A Honeypot For Assholes”: Inside Twitter’s 10-Year Failure To Stop Harassment (3)
    Twitter didn’t like this lengthy Buzzfeed feature. Unsurprisingly. But clearly, the company failed in coming up with effective tools and solutions to the troll problem. However, one needs to be fair and admit that stopping harassment on a global publishing service is more complicated than some seem to think. Regulating speech is a messy business with possibly far-reaching consequences for every user. Imagine you want to jokingly tweet “You are such a moron” to your best friend on Twitter but it doesn’t let you because its algorithm has identified this tweet as harassment. This wouldn’t be a good approach. Nevertheless, Twitter needs to do something. My hope is that it will follow a principle based on the idea that everyone keeps their right to post whatever they want, but that every user also gets the right to not having to see what others are trying to catch their attention with. Currently, that’s not really possible (except for verified accounts, which are being rolled out more broadly, but which still are not available to everyone). If you want to use Twitter the way it is intended, you are basically forced to pay attention to your mentions.
  • No Control: Thoughts On The End Of The Headphone Jack And The Future Of Digital Music (3)
    Smart, critical analysis of Apple’s love-hate-relationship with DRM and the problematic decision to remove the headphone jack from the iPhone – which, like so many things, can been viewed through an optimistic lense and a pessimistic one, depending on one’s focus.
  • The Worry Piece (2)
    An accurate description of the widespread type of opinion piece that expresses concern about the negative impact of technology on social behavior and personal well-being; the one that always includes the recommendation that people should read a book.
  • The Internet Doesn’t Route Around Surveillance (1)
    A rather depressing quote from the article: “If people are concerned about the confidentiality and integrity of their communications, they will have to treat the internet at large as a hostile network over which one must tunnel securely.”
  • Cortana: The spy in Windows 10 (2)
    The trade-off between a futuristic user experience & privacy seems to be especially big with Windows 10 and Cortana. Or maybe it’s just the same as with every other current system.
  • The Chinese answer to Apple is falling apart (1)
    In technology, you never know which company will be the next to rather quickly go through the process of rise & fall. The latest contender: China’s former smartphone shooting star Xiaomi.
  • China’s big Artificial Intelligence (AI) push (2)
    Meanwhile, Chinese companies are making big advances with the proliferation of AI, fostered by a favorable environment for this discipline, such as the weak protection of people’s personal data.
  • Putting a computer in your brain is no longer science fiction (2)
    Great. Still waiting for that chip which would provide me with perfect skills in a specific language. I’m serious, actually. I cannot prioritize learning Mandarin & Arabic right now, but it’d love to speak it.
  • Edward Snowden is now earning up to $25,000 a speech (1)
    I admire what Snowden did and the risks he took. Good to hear that he can fund his (probably rather weird) life in Russia. However, I had the “pleasure” to listen to one of his live interviews (at an event that otherwise was fantastic). It felt as if it was pre-recorded. Everything Snowden said sounded canned. His answers to questions were too long, which I interpret as a sign that he has started to take himself way too seriously. Overall he gave the impression that he is so intertwined with “his” topic that there is no room for any doubt, any joke, any counter argument, any human touch. It makes me a bit wary of him.
  • Move over, phones. Cars are becoming the new mobile target for marketers (2)
    Sounds like another reason not to own a car. Although, of course, one could – as always – argue that showing highly targeted personalized ads to people driving are better than the most irrelevant billboards you stare at while waiting for or sitting in the subway. But somehow, I personally don’t feel that way.
  • News is afflicted by its own climate change: It’s called social (2)
    A pretty clever metaphor.
  • Revenge of the nerds (2)
    The Economist points to a trend its author observed among Silicon Valley’s big shots: The former nerds are using their freedom, technology and (tiny parts) of their money to turn themselves into superfit “jocks”.
  • The bandwidth bottleneck that is throttling the Internet (3)
    Very informative post about the latest challenges and expected solutions to satisfy the ever increasing need of bandwidth.
  • Inside the mind of a venture capitalist (2)
    Bad news for those not in the rocket business: These days, a venture capitalist is more likely to fund a startup aiming for space than a social web app. At least this one.
  • Pirate Bay is The King of Torrents Once Again (1)
    I lost track of how many times over the past 10 years I’ve been reading about news that sounded like the end of The Pirate Bay. And yet, it’s still there. Astonishing.
  • Forget Self-Driving Cars: Autonomous Trucks, Trains And Ships Will Transform Commerce (2)
    Smart drivers of trucks & captains of ships would already today keep their eyes open for that online course about remote management of driverless truck, train & ship fleets. They’ll need this skill soon if they want to have a future in their industry.
  • Kanye West, Leonard Cohen And Death Of The Creative Full Stop (2)
    Interesting point: Why are most music releases considered finished once they have been released (with the exception of remixes)? Yes, mostly because of historical limitations of physical media. In the digital age, the approach maybe should change. Because it could.

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