meshedsociety weekly #203

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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  • The Power of Talk: Who Gets Heard and Why (hbr.org, 31 minutes)
    From 1995, but oh so good and in no way outdated. Deborah Tannen on the influence of linguistic style on conversations, communication rituals that are mistakenly being understood literally, typically observed gender differences in communication and how they impact who gets access to power and praise.
  • Faking it: how selfie dysmorphia is driving people to seek surgery (theguardian.com, 12 minutes)
    An increasing number of people want to look like their Snapchat/Instagram filter selfie.
  • Researchers develop a machine learning method to identify fake honey (techxplore.com, 4 minutes)
    Honey is currently the third most counterfeited food product globally. AI might soon be used to spot mislabeled or diluted honey.
  • Loop, a new zero-waste platform that may change how we shop (fastcompany.com, 6 minutes)
    The increasing  public awareness of environmental problems and the threats connected to climate change are pushing companies to innovate. The initiative Loop wants to ship name-brand products in containers that are part of a circular system and that go beyond the “Green Dot” recycling system that already is in use in Germany and some other parts of Europe. Loop plans to launch in Spring 2019 in the United States and France.
  • The Insidious Device Revolutionizing Piracy in Latin America (americasquarterly.org, 12 minutes)
    Millions of people in Brazil and elsewhere in Latin America are streaming live TV by way of “illegal streaming devices”, which are manufactured and programmed in Asia and Eastern Europe, and then marketed in rather professional ways by retailers on street markets.
  • Meet the man behind a third of what’s on Wikipedia (cbsnews.com, 3 minutes)
    Steven Pruitt has made nearly 3 million edits on Wikipedia and written 35,000 original articles. He’s been dedicating his free time to the site for 13 years. The second-place editor is roughly 900,000 edits behind him.
  • The robot revolution will be worse for men (recode.net, 9 minutes)
    Except if all men who are going to be made obsolete by automation start to contribute diligently to Wikipedia, the outlook of a large number of men without purpose should be a major concern.
  • IBM launches commercial quantum computing – we’re not ready for what comes next (theconversation.com, 3 minutes)
    There is a crisis looming caused by the rise of quantum computing, which society is not prepared for yet according to the author.
  • The Rise of “No Code” (medium.com, 4 minutes)
    Product Hunt’s Ryan Hoover explains why one doesn’t have to be a programmer anymore to build things on the internet, which leads to a new wave of makers from different backgrounds and perspectives.
  • For $29, This Company Swears It Will ‘Brainwash’ Someone on Facebook (thedailybeast.com, 9 minutes)
    A startup promises it can target an individual Facebook user to influence her/his behavior. While claims like this deserve scrutiny and skepticism, I do find the general idea of deliberately chasing a particular person throughout the web (as opposed to algorithmically automated re-targeting – which already is annoying enough) both fascinating and discomforting. The term for this apparently is “Sniper targeting”.
  • A Complete Taxonomy of Internet Chum (theawl.com, 6 minutes)
    This piece from 2015 is three things in one: Hilarious, insightful and a bit gross. A chumbox is a grid-like ad unit filled with thumbnails and short texts that sits at the bottom of a many leading publisher’s web pages, and promotes usually highly questionable content. It “clearly plays on reflex and the subconscious. The chumbox aesthetic broadcasts our most basic, libidinal, electrical desires back at us. And gets us to click.” Well, or at least it did in the past. I suspect that most of you readers of meshedsociety weekly wouldn’t click on chumboxes.
  • Revolut, N26 and the others – The arms race among European banking challengers accelerates (linkedin.com, 3 minutes)
    If you ask me, it’s not even going fast enough :)
  • Does Europe needs a sovereign wealth fund for tech? (sifted.eu, 3 minutes)
    Europe needs to create a new sovereign wealth fund to help it create big, global tech companies at the same rate as the US, concludes the World Economic Forum’s Innovate Europe Report.
  • Economics of Music Streaming is making songs shorter (qz.com, 2 minutes)
    Pop music songs are getting shorter, thanks to the economics of Spotify and Apple Music.
  • Small Groups, Loosely Connected (digitaltonto.com, 6 minutes)
    If you want to change the world, you need to start with small groups, loosely connected but united by a shared purpose. Leaders are important, but not for control.
  • Feel the Fear (edgeperspectives.typepad.com, 7 minutes)
    Fear has become pervasive and people are often not aware of their own fears, writes John Hagel.
  • How to Walk 100,000 Steps in One Day (betterhumans.coach.me, 21 minutes)
    Some Fitbit users are challenging each other to walk 100,000 steps during one day. Here is the report of a 66-year old man who accomplished this. Incredible: His 100,000 steps translated into 41.4 miles/66 kilometers.
  • How To Be Successful (blog.samaltman.com, 14 minutes)
    Y Combinator President Sam Altman offers 13 thoughts about how to achieve outlier success (as founder but also in general). “Compounding is magic” is his the first insight on his list.

Quotation of the week:

  • You’re more likely to succeed in life by looking at what unsuccessful people do. And then, simply avoid doing those things.
    Darius Foroux in “Things To Avoid When You Feel Lost ” (dariusforoux.com, 5 minutes)

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