meshedsociety weekly #201

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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Please note: Some of the publications may use “soft” paywalls. If you are denied access, open the URL in your browser’s incognito/private mode (or subscribe if you find yourself reading a lot of the content on a specific site and want to support it).

  • Dropgangs, or the future of darknet markets (opaque.link, 18 minutes)
    Absolutely fascinating read about the constantly evolving, extremely sophisticated logistics of selling (illegal) stuff on the darknet and of safely getting it to the customer. At the center of the piece are so called “dead drops”: Goods are hidden in publicly accessible places like parks and the location is given to the customer on purchase. 
  • Most lives are lived by default (raptitude.com, 9 minutes)
    Such an amazing reflection (from 2012), pointing out how most aspects of how we live our lives are not based on deliberate choices, but on conditions we’ve fallen into: “We gravitate unwittingly to what works in the short term, in terms of what to do for work and what crowd to run with.”
  • The Instagram-Husband Revolution (theatlantic.com, 9 minutes)
    Who is taking all those high quality photos of the world-traveling influencer crowd on Instagram? Often, their husbands, wives, boyfriends or girl friends. Some of them are even becoming influencers themselves.
  • CES 2019: A Show Report (medium.learningbyshipping.com, 40 minutes)
    Steven Sinofsky went to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and wrote an extensive report with what he saw and thought. Long but pretty interesting even if one isn’t a total gadget nerd.
  • The nightmare horrorshow that is the Apple TV remote (arstechnica.com, 5 minutes)
    Entirely justified rant. This part is hilarious: “I’m a short man with Trump-sized hands. And let me tell you, size does matter when it comes to TV remotes. A TV remote only does one thing: be held, stationary, in one hand. A human hand, not a raccoon hand”.
  • How the Internet Is Broken: Big Questions and Bad Answers (nextbison.wordpress.com, 5 minutes)
    This is not another “centralization and ads have broken the internet” piece. This is about something else and much more thought-provoking: About the internet’s strength of helping to start the process of social construction of knowledge, and its simultaneous failure to finish this process. Why? Because it makes it too easy to jump to incorrect conclusions.
  • What software will you trust when you get senile? (lifepim.com, 12 minutes)
    Have you asked yourself this question before?
  • The Truly Viral Movie is Here (500ish.com, 4 minutes)
    With Bird Box, Netflix unlocked the first truly viral movie, writes M.G. Siegler.
  • The Internet is Facing a Catastrophe For Free Expression and Competition: You Could Tip The Balance (eff.org)
    The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) makes it easy for citizens in various European countries to contact their minister to convey concern about the widely criticized Articles 13 and 11 of the EU Copyright Directive.
  • Why more companies could sell discomfort (medium.com, 1 minute)
    Most consumer services are selling comfort to people. The market for selling discomfort (in order to achieve long-term goals) clearly exists but hasn’t been as nearly as much focused on.
  • Madagascar has become a business outsourcing hotspot thanks to its super-fast internet (qz.com, 5 minutes)
    Madagascar, one of the poorest countries in the world where 75% of the population lives on less than $1.90 a day, has the fastest internet in Africa, by a wide margin. The impact on the country’s economic development is massive.
  • Insider view: Minsk as a startup hub (shifted.eu, 5 minutes)
    Belarus is in various ways uniquely situated between Russia and Europe. While politically a dictatorship, the country has lately pursued a strategy of carefully opening up. Its capital is nowadays a popular hotspot for IT offshoring/nearshoring, but also shows clear signs of turning into somewhat of a startup hub.
  • Is Lithuania another Iceland banking crisis in the making? (theguardian.com, 4 minutes)
    Meanwhile, the central bank of the small Baltic country Lithuania, member of the European Union, is promoting itself as a go-to hub for fintech companies. The Guardian’s Patrick Collinson sees some issues.
  • Toto’s ‘Africa’ to play ‘for eternity’ in Namibia desert (cnn.com, 2 minutes)
    My type of preferred art work: A solar-powered sound installation called “Toto Forever” in an undisclosed location in the 1,200 mile-long Namib Desert.
  • You Need To Unlearn (medium.com, 5 minutes)
    This resonates with me. The older I get, the more I realize the importance of unlearning (in addition to learning new things). An additional challenge is realizing what one has to unlearn. Because so much of what we learned since childhood has become internalized. I’m referring to both assumptions about the external world as well as about ourselves.
  • Your Ideal Therapist Might Not Be Human (4 minutes, outsideonline.com)
    Definitely. I believe that one day, every single human will use a personal, intelligent chatbot therapist (or “coach”) for personal development, growth and comfort in mentally challenging moments. The (expensive) human experts will take care of the more complicated issues.
  • The Welfare State Is Committing Suicide by Artificial Intelligence (foreignpolicy.com, 7 minutes)
    The implementation of artificial intelligence for government tasks by liberal democracies in the name of efficiency, consistency and precision, threatens these very liberal democracies, argue the authors using the example of Denmark.
  • Why Are All Apple Products Photographed at 9:41 A.m.? (inc.com, 3 minutes)
    Emblematic of Apple’s focus on details.

Podcast episode of the week:

Quotation of the week:

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