meshedsociety weekly #202

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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  • A Lifetime of Systems Thinking (, 12 minutes).
    If I could, I’d quote the whole piece. Lots of very intelligent remarks and insights in here, such as this one: “Most large social systems are pursuing objectives other than the ones they proclaim, and the ones they pursue are wrong. They try to do the wrong thing righter, and this makes what they do wronger.
  • How Does Brain Code Differ? (, 12 minutes)
    If, in an abstracted way, the brain is similar to a computer, and thinking patterns are the algorithms, then how does the underlying code differ from artificial code? Fascinating perspective.
  • How I Choose What To Read (, 9 minutes)
    Brilliant personal framework for maximizing enjoyment and learning when reading.
  • What’s cooking in Europe’s lab-grown meat startups? (, 8 minutes)
    A growing number of European and Israeli startups are racing to build businesses that can make lab-grown meat an affordable reality. Something this piece also taught me: Israel is home to the most vegans per capital globally.
  • Revolut’s clumsy automated bank compliance results in frozen accounts and lack of customer service (, 8 minutes)
    Maybe the biggest disadvantage with neobanks (or challenger banks, as they are also called): Due to their high level of automation and lack of human customer service, if an algorithm flags you due to (assumed) suspicious activity, you might get locked out with little options to resolve the issue.
  • Inside Facebook’s ‘cult-like’ workplace, where dissent is discouraged and employees pretend to be happy all the time (, 11 minutes)
    The big question is: Does this differ from most other employers? Isn’t it typical for the entire corporate world that employees have to constantly pretend things and make sure not be seen as a trouble-makers? On the other hand, if comparing Facebook and Google, there clearly seems to be more of an open dissent culture at the latter, at least judging from the aggregated picture of media reports.
  • Tinder and Bumble Are Hungry for Your Love (, 9 minutes)
    About the communication efforts of dating apps Tinder and Bumble to position themselves in ways that serve their business goals while also making sure that users aren’t feeling bad about being active on those apps. Bumble is selling itself as a means to personal betterment and greater sophistication, and Tinder tries to create the picture of dating (including misadventures) as cool, exciting, invigorating and youthful.
  • In the Shadow of the CMS (, 13 minutes)
    Kyle Chayka gives a short historic overview of the rise of content-management systems (of which WordPress is the most well-known one) and investigates how they are shaping the future of media business big and small.
  • RSS is not dead. Subscribing is alive. (, 1 minute)
    True: “We should likely stop talking about RSS. We need to simply start calling RSS ‘Subscribing’.” Although this then might lead to confusion with other forms of subscription, such as to email newsletters.
  • After 25 Years Studying Innovation, Here Is What I Have Learned (, 9 minutes)
    Harvard Professor Clayton Christensen famously wrote “The Innovator’s Dilemma”. More than 25 years later, he revisits his initial question: Why do great firms fail, especially at the hand of smaller and less resourced upstarts?” Interesting text, although by using “God” and “heaven” as arguments underpinning his theory (in his last point), he’s giving the whole piece a weird flavor. It would be better not to mix business strategy and religion/spirituality, in my opinion.
  • No, tech companies shouldn’t fund journalism (, 7 minutes)
    I do agree. However, what I personally consider the biggest issue here is only considered briefly in this piece: The compromising of journalism and the chilling effect that likely would come with not wanting to bite the hand that feeds you.
  • 2018 Sets All-Time High For Investment Dollars Into Female-Founded Startups (, 6 minutes)
    17 percent of dollars invested into startups in 2018 went to companies with at least one female founder. This figure is slowly growing.
  • Response rates from investors to pitch emails: Women got more expressions of interest (, 3 minutes)
    On the same topic: In a big experiment, pitch mails to investors coming from senders with female names received 8 % more expressions of interest than those from senders with male names. Of course, that says nothing about the probability of a deal actually getting done. As researcher Dana Kanze suggests: Investors approach female entrepreneurs with a prevention focus and male entrepreneurs with a promotion focus.
  • Europe’s startup hubs are failing to connect (, 5 minutes)
    An informative analysis of how European startup hubs are or are not connected to each other and how capital, talent and opportunities flow.
  • Schumpeter on Strategy (, 9 minutes)
    The vast majority of entrepreneurs are people creating their own job so they can work for themselves. They earn what they would earn as employees (or less). Those that make money, an entrepreneurial profit, do so by breaking the status quo. They innovate. They either get their inputs for less or they sell their outputs for more. This entrepreneurial profit goes away over time. Based on this framework by economist Joseph Schumpeter, investor Jerry Neumann concludes two things: “People will always want to work for themselves, we don’t need to encourage them, we just need to let them. If we want more world-leading companies we need more funding for basic research, easier and cheaper access to higher education, and a better understanding of what makes these companies succeed.”
  • This is the first truly great Amazon Alexa and Google Home hack (, 3 minutes)
    Genius idea. Two Danes created an open source maker project that consists of a software and hardware solution, can sit on top of a smart speaker such as Amazon Echo or Google Home, take control over it on behalf of the user, and protect his/her privacy.
  • The Timeless Link Between Writing and Running and Why It Makes for Better Work (, 7 minutes)
    Author Ryan Holiday runs because it improves the quality of his work.

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Podcast episode of the week:

  • a16z Podcast: The Business of Cybercrime
    Informative talk with Jonathan Lusthaus, director of the Human Cybercriminal Project at the University of Oxford, about the cybercrime business and its sociological, operational, and tactical realities.

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