meshedsociety weekly #200

Happy new year everyone. Here is a new issue 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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  • How Much of the Internet Is Fake? (, 9 minutes)
    Turns out, almost everything is fake. To use the words of the author: “Everything that once seemed definitively and unquestionably real now seems slightly fake; everything that once seemed slightly fake now has the power and presence of the real.”
  • Dr. Elon and Mr. Musk: Life Inside Tesla’s Production Hell (, 39 minutes)
    Incredible long-read from mid December. If only half of what’s written in here about Musk’s way of dealing with his staff and the challenges of producing cutting-edge electrical cars while trying to please the impatient market is true, then Musk officially can be labeled a madman. But a damn successful one already. As the article states: “Steve Jobs is gone; now we have Elon Musk.
  • Netflix Has A Plan To Change The Way You Chill (, 17 minutes)
    Due to licensing issues and the rise of competing services launched by big media companies, Netflix is facing the threat of losing a lot of licensed content. Thus, more than ever, it has to get its almost 150 million subscribers hooked on its own original content. The onus is on the company’s product team to get people to watch content they’ve never heard of (and like it!).
  • The ‘Future Book’ Is Here, but It’s Not What We Expected (, 19 minutes)
    Are email newsletters, from the perspective of authors, one of our time’s iterations of the good old book? Interesting thought.
  • Can Users Control and Understand a UI Driven by Machine Learning? (, 15 minutes)
    We are constantly interacting with machine learning algorithms, but often they do their work without any transparency. Here is an examination of the challenges that users encounter when interacting with machine-learning algorithms on Facebook, Instagram, Google News, Netflix, and Uber Driver.
  • Does AI make strong tech companies stronger? (, 7 minutes)
    According to Ben Evans, the answer to the question from the title is: Yes, but not as much as it is sometimes suggested. Using AI will have a similar impact as the use of database technology: Necessary, but it won’t make the company different or interesting.
  • Should We All Be Taking ‘Irony Poisoning’ More Seriously? (, 5 minutes)
    Irony poisoning is the ironic detachment from certain arguments and statements that can be observed among certain subcultures on social media.
  • The Threat and Opportunity of Lifelong Learning (, 7 minutes)
    Lifelong learning is great, but those promoting it rarely question society’s traditional view of learning. To accomplish the systematic implementation of lifelong learning, all of our institutions have to be transformed to help people to learn faster and accelerate performance improvement, argues John Hagel.
  • What Are Stablecoins? (, 15 minutes)
    Helpful primer on a crypto currency trend which we’ll probably hear a lot about in 2019: Stablecoins. Their main feature: less volatility than “traditional” crypto currencies such as Bitcoin.
  • Why your pizza may never be delivered by drone (, 5 minutes)
    There are all kinds of issues with using drones for delivery of consumer items on a large scale. I’m skeptical, for now.
  • The GPS wars have begun (, 5 minutes)
    Another consequence of rising nationalism and mistrust: Several countries and geographies are exploring, testing and deploying satellites to build out their own positioning capabilities. The dominance of the United States’ GPS is ending, and that puts the tech giants in a tough position.
  • Apple needs to change iPhone’s call UI because robocalls are killing us (, 3 minutes)
    Spencer Dailey makes a point which seems so obvious yet never crossed my mind: Why do calls on iOS have the privilege of interrupting people at anything they do, with a full screen alert? I don’t accept most incoming calls, so it makes no sense that there is still this interruption every time.
  • Urgently Wanted — A startup that pushes my son out of my home (, 4 minutes)
    Something possibly many parents would wish for? Note: This is not about grown-ups who don’t want to or cannot move out of their parents’ basement, although even for that scenario, there might be market opportunity.
  • A foreigner’s guide to WeChat payments in China (, 21 minutes)
    I don’t have any plans to travel to China for the moment but still found this piece quite informative.
  • Don’t turn this list into 100 startups (, 7 minutes)
    ~100 scenarios where a resource is underused. Should there be an individual startup to solve each of them?
  • From the happiness of survival-mode poverty to an anxious ‘better life’ (, 9 minutes)
    A thought-provoking essay from a traveler perspective trying to make sense of the phenomenon of often encountered happiness and friendliness of people in poor countries who struggle with satisfying their basic human needs, and the anxiety and depression that seems more and more common in wealthy countries.
  • 30 Behaviors That Will Make You Unstoppable In 2019 (, 43 minutes)
    Apart from some generic advice that one has heard a billion times before, this list offers some amazing inspiration. Probably my favorite: Creating more peak experiences – experiences that change the very fabric of one’s memories and identity. I love the idea of deliberately working towards changing one’s identity, instead of doing everything to keep it as it is.
  • Tokyo Wants People to Stand on Both Sides of the Escalator (, 8 minutes)
    Intriguing question: What’s the ideal behavior on escalators? If the goal is to accommodate more people, having everybody stand apparently should be the preferred choice. But if the goal is to let individuals decide whether they want to pass through fast or slowly, then having one side for walking and one for standing is clearly better.

Podcast episode of the week:

  • a16z Podcast: How the Internet happened
    An entertaining chat between VC Chris Dixon and Brian McCullough, author of “How the Internet happened”, about the evolution of the internet, from college kids in a basement and the dot-com boom, to the applications built on top of it and the entrepreneurs behind them.

Quotation of the week:

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