meshedsociety weekly #217

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.

If you want to make sure not to miss this link selection, sign up for free for the weekly email.

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).

  • The Tyranny of Ideas (, 7 minutes)
    What if you see the world through a lens in which it is run by ideas, rather than people? Nadia Eghbal writes about this thought-provoking perspective, in which people are intermediaries, voice boxes for some persistent idea-virus that’s seized upon them and is speaking through their corporeal form.
  • I turned my interview task for Google into a startup (, 5 minutes)
    He didn’t get the job but made the best (or the better?) out of it.
  • Sorry, your hardware is all software now (, 5 minutes)
    Google decided to turn Nest smart home devices that were once capable of independent communication with other devices into a zombie controlled by Google Home. It highlights an ongoing challenge for the sector: Smart products behave more like software than hardware.
  • Unraveling The JPEG (, 19 minutes)
    A deep dive into the compression magic of the JPEG file format. “As we unravel the layers of compression, we learn a bit about perception and vision, and about what details our eyes are most sensitive to.”
  • What is the opposite of guacamole? (, 2 minutes)
    The hilarious results of tasking an AI with showing the opposite of an object on an image.
  • Evidence that pop music is getting sadder and angrier (, 7 minutes)
    An algorithm analyzed the lyrics of 6,150 Billboard Hot 100 singles from 1951 to 2016. It revealed that the expressions of anger and disgust roughly doubled over those 65 years, for instance, while fear increased by more than 50%.
  • Study Finds Most Ransomware Solutions Just Pay Out Crypto (, 4 minutes)
    Companies that offer solutions to other companies that fell victim of ransomware might pretend to be specialists in fixing the problem with software, but according to a new study, they sometimes simply pay the ransom.
  • Only 4% of people trust what influencers say online (, 3 minutes)
    Do “influencers” deserve their label if almost nobody trusts them? However, of course it is possible that people are still influenced even though they claim not to trust an “influencer”.
  • How Silicon Valley’s successes are fueled by an underclass of ‘ghost workers’ (, 9 minutes)
    Interview with Mary L. Gray who wrote a book about the invisible labor that powers our technology platforms. According to Gray, the great paradox of AI is that the desire to eliminate human work generates new tasks for humans.
  • A Geocode Is Not an Address (, 5 minutes)
    Geocoding systems such as the one devised by a company called What3Words offer unique codes that correspond to geographic coordinates. They are supposedly helpful for regions with inadequate or non-existing address systems. But on a philosophical level, they cannot be a full substitute.
  • The Slippery Slope of In-Product Messaging (, 4 minutes)
    Lots of apps are utilizing in-app education such as a chatbot or guided tours for new users. But investment in in-product education can limit user experience, as convincingly outlined in this piece. Like in the physical world, it might be smarter to design a tool so it is intuitively understood, instead of having to actively inform people how to use it.
  • How to thrive in an unknowable future (, 2 minutes)
    If you like me find value in stoicism and buddhist philosophy, then you might find these suggestions proposed by Derek Sivers in 2016 inspirational or simply recognize them as the way how you look at things. Otherwise, they possibly sound extreme.
  • Part Of The Conversation (, 6 minutes)
    Music industry analyst Bob Lefsetz muses about people’s need to be part of a conversation (like him I have never watched Game of Thrones, which means not being part of the GoT conversation), the fragmentation in media consumption, and the huge potential for the company that creates the product that brings in everybody.
  • Even Astronauts Binge-Watch TV While in Space (, 5 minutes)
    Astronaut Drew Feustel had watched all seven seasons of Game of Thrones while on the International Space Station.
  • When Did it Became Impossible to Say, ‘I Don’t Know’? (, 7 minutes)
    I suspect that most people prefer to pretend having a clue instead of admitting that they don’t know because they intuitively understand that they, themselves, fall for this when others practice this. We are easily tricked by well-presented confidence and therefore we know that employing this approach often is effective. Just my theory.
  • How scooter startups Tier and Voi plan to conquer Germany (, 6 minutes)
    True to the stereotype, before letting e-scooters onto its cities’ streets, Germany had to create the appropriate rules and legal framework. Now, if nothing unexpected happens, the various protagonists finally are able to enter this potentially big market.
  • One year later, restaurants are still confused by Google Duplex (, 7 minutes)
    For people working in restaurants in the US, receiving automated, but human-sounding calls from Google Duplex still is a weird confusing experience. However, it also represents a polite type of caller.
  • Against Advice (, 6 minutes)
    When someone is found to have specialized knowledge that provokes public engagement and interest, you can bet she will be asked to offer suggestions as to how others might follow in her footsteps. And you can bet those suggestions will be useless.”

Reading time estimation powered by Instapaper.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.