meshedsociety weekly #195

Here is issue #195 of meshedsociety weekly, loaded with interesting analyses and essays, significant yet under-reported information bits as well as thoughtful opinion pieces from the digital and technology world.


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  • Inside an Amazon warehouse on Black Friday (vox.com,9 minutes)
    Working in an Amazon warehouse is incredibly tough, no doubt. On “shopping holidays” even more. My immediate thought is: “Hopefully these warehouses can soon be run entirely by robots”. But that obviously leads to new challenges. So what to wish for? That the warehouses would neither be optimized for efficiency (which leads to inhumane working conditions) nor be entirely run by robots (which leads to unemployment)? That does not really seem right either.
  • Engineered for Joy? (thefrailestthing.com, 3 minutes)
    Somewhat related to Black Friday: Decluttering one’s life with a simple question about a chosen item: Does it bring joy? The answer determines whether or not to keep it.
  • Video Games In East Germany: The Stasi Played Along (zeit.de, 22 minutes)
    A fantastic feature. How the Stasi – the GDR’s secret police – gathered information about and saw the underground computer and gaming scene in East Berlin. I recall that I myself have been at the “House of Young Talents” (HdjT) at Klosterstrasse which is described in the article as the place where the few owners of Commodore 64 computers (C64) in East Berlin met during the second part of the 80s. Although I was only 6 when the wall fell. So most likely I must have been there at some point during the early 90s.
  • A Few Principles for Better Emotional Clarity (nickwignall.com, 10 minutes)
    Let’s talk about feelings. Or well, read about it. I found this piece pretty amazing. The therapist and psychologist Nick Wignall offers a handful of the most helpful ideas and principles for achieving better emotional clarity. It all starts with labeling one’s emotions with plain language…
  • The Information Pathology (jjbeshara.com, 18 minutes)
    The consumption of information and food are biologically hardwired. And our biology could have never predicted (nor prepared us for) the excesses of both that surrounded us today. After the obesity crisis comes the information crisis. James Beshara wonders: What are we supposed to do with all this new information? Why do we seek it in the first place? What is a healthy amount? What is the healthy kind? What is an unhealthy amount? And what is the unhealthy kind?
  • Why Are Humans Suddenly Getting Better at Tetris? (kottke.org, 3 minutes)
    Fascinating phenomenon and thoughts about what the implications could be for other areas such as education.
  • People who live in smart-houses, shouldn’t throw parties (shkspr.mobi, 2 minutes)
    Smart homes and people who don’t live in the home don’t mix well yet.
  • Can Employees Change the Ethics of Tech Firms? (knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu, 11 minutes)
    The rising tension between tech firms and their employees about ethical implications of the companies’ projects is a very interesting development to watch.
  • The American Dream Is Alive in China (nytimes.com, 5 minutes)
    How things are changing
  • The Seven Wonders of AliExpress (hackernoon.com, 5 minutes)
    Informative observations from an AliExpress “addict”.
  • LinkedIn cuts off email address exports with new privacy setting (techcrunch.com, 3 minutes)
    I’m actually shocked to learn that this was even possible in the first place. I had no idea. So there was yet another reason not to accept any random contact request on LinkedIn (a principle I broke way too often). Well, good that this is taken care of now.
  • Resist Google’s Attempts to Turn You Into a Robot (medium.com, 5 minutes)
    Do you use Gmail’s smart replies feature? It might condition you into sounding like a machine.
  • Are Closed (and Secret) Facebook Groups the Future of Social Media? (medium.com, 5 minutes)
    Probably the answer is at least partially, yes. In fact, I lately joined a couple of Facebook groups, which after many months of almost total Facebok abstinence (except Messenger) has again increased my time spent on Facebook (but I’m using a browser extension to hide the newsfeed, so I won’t get pulled too much back into the service).
  • The Micro-Propaganda Machine: The Shadow Organizing of Facebook Groups (medium.com, 10 minutes)
    If conversations increasingly happen in closed groups, that naturally also has a flip side: Radicalization and the spreading of disinformation and propaganda hidden from the public eye.
  • On Bryce Harper and the Impact of Social Media on Athletes (calnewport.com, 3 minutes)
    At the elite level, athletes differentiate themselves by maximizing every physical and cognitive advantage. But then there’s social media. These services create cognitive drag by subjecting you to a compulsive mix of drama and distraction. If you’re famous, this drag is even more pronounced.
  • Swap Marc Andreessen for Mary Meeker with VC trading cards (cnet.com, 2 minutes)
    Which venture capitalist are you most excited to collect?
  • Climate Solutions: Is It Feasible to Remove Enough CO2 from the Air? (e360.yale.edu, 10 minutes)
    I’m not curating a lot about this topic although I probably should.
  • Will Germany’s plan for AI make it a leader? Or will it divide Europe? (ethicsofalgorithms.org, 8 minutes)
    Germany – like so many other countries – wants to become a leader in Artificial Intelligence (AI). But the government’s new strategy for AI development will likely launch a divisive AI race within Europe and further undermine an already divided union, writes Steven Hill.

Quotation of the week:

  • To condemn a person for their thoughts is to chain them to those thoughts forever. To punish someone for an opinion is to ensure that the opinion will matter to them, always; will become their treasure; will, in many cases, become the foundation they build the rest of their life upon.
    Annie Mueller in “You can cross the mountain, or you can fill the tunnel” (anniemueller.com, 7 minutes)

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