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).
- The 8chan story: Destroyer of worlds (members.tortoisemedia.com, 16 minutes)
Incredible but also gloomy read: A profile of Fredrick Brennan, who created 8chan, “one of the most dangerous sites on the internet”. According to the piece, he had done so not out of ideology or inherent evilness, but rather by accident, as a result of his own very challenging personal situation and the need to find community in loneliness.
- Can you stop yourself being infected with other peoples’ desires? (aeon.co, 10 minutes)
- A glimpse into the sweeping — and potentially troubling — cloud kitchens trend (techcrunch.com, 7 minutes)
The trend towards “cloud kitchens” (centralized facilities without storefronts where food for a large number of restaurant delivery brands is being cooked) could change the game of food delivery as well as our cities.
- This neural net would like to deliver these petitions (aiweirdness.com, 3 minutes)
If you train a neural network with 190,000 petition titles from Change.org and then ask it to produce its own petition titles, this is the result. I kept laughing while reading through the list. A favorite: “Anyone: Stop the use of the word ‘shoe’ in a derogatory way.“
- Why Google Duplex might make my design job redundant (thenextweb.com, 4 minutes)
A web designer ponders what it means for webdesign und websites now that an AI such as Google Duplex is able to use websites on behalf of its users. The money quote: “Duplex is making websites redundant. Designers like me are now faced with the possibility that we could ‘optimize’ the experience by simply removing it altogether and have the AI interact with the server instead”.
- When You Listen, They Watch: Pre-Saving Albums Can Allow Labels to Track Users on Spotify (billboard.com, 6 minutes)
I have never used the “pre-save” feature on Spotify (not sure if it is available everywhere yet), but turns out that utilizing it means sharing a lot of personal data with music labels – and most people are probably not aware of it.
- Soon, satellites will be able to watch you everywhere all the time (technologyreview.com, 9 minutes)
Every year, commercially available satellite images are becoming sharper and taken more frequently. Unless stricter limits will be imposed, one day everyone from ad companies to suspicious spouses to terrorist organizations will have access to tools previously reserved for government spy agencies.
- Intelligent, Automated Self-Service (the-vital-edge.com, 5 minutes)
Intriguing point: Most of what we think of as the “high-tech sector” is actually just the service economy becoming automated. And this process simultaneously generates vast quantities of data that allow the likes of Google, Facebook, and Amazon to dominate the field of machine learning.
- The Easy Way Out (reallifemag.com, 10 minutes)
L. M. Sacasas on the modern tech-driven society’s tendency to prioritize convenience and accept costly trade-offs.
- Facebook, Libra, and the Long Game (stratechery.com, 11 minutes)
At first I wanted to write a separate blog post, but then I saw Ben Thompson’s analysis and figured I might simply recommend it (chances are many of you have read it already though) and emphasize the – in my opinion – most important point: “Just as Google long boasted that the more people use the Internet the more revenue Google generates, it stands to reason that the more people use digital money the more it would benefit dominant digital companies like Facebook, whether that be through advertising, transactions, or simply making networks that much more valuable.” In other words: Facebook does not need any formal control over Libra in order to be its biggest beneficiary (and therefore, becoming even more dominating).
- What if All Your Slack Chats Were Leaked? (nytimes.com, 3 minutes, )
If you think about this, it actually is astonishing, in 2019, for this type of service: Slack stores everything you do on its platform by default — your username and password, every message you’ve sent, every lunch you’ve planned and every confidential decision you’ve made. And: The data is not end-to-end encrypted.
- At 9.8 GB per month, India has the highest data usage per smartphone (thehindu.com, 2 minutes)
In 2018, mobile data traffic per smartphone per month stood at 7 GB for North America, 3.1 GB for Latin America, 6.7 GB for Western Europe, 4.5 GB for Central and Eastern Europe, 3 GB for Middle East and Africa, 7.1 GB for northeast Asia and 3.6 GB for southeast Asia and Oceania region.
- Memes Are the New Pop Stars: How TikTok Became the Future of the Music Industry (theringer.com, 15 minutes)
An emerging class of TikTok musicians represents a new wave of music made to burn fast and bright in an era of smartphone-first media consumption. “In a way, TikTok users are both the new A&R and publicity team, supplanting many of the functions traditionally performed by record labels“.
- We moved to Turkey from San Francisco to continue working on our startup (shafyy.com, 4 minutes)
This isn’t a solution for many startups, but under certain circumstances, not accepting the absurd living costs of the San Francisco Bay Area (or other expensive hubs) can be a smart way to cut down on costs and increase quality of life.
- Here are 10 ways AI could help fight climate change (technologyreview.com, 5 minutes)
Two of the strengths of AI are that it can be brought to “think” in ways that are entirely different than the human way of thought, and of course the ability to quickly find patterns in large amounts of data. And so, it can be used to produce all kinds of possible solutions to problems that humans themselves might not have the capacity to come up with.
- Researchers develop first contactless cardiac arrest AI system for smart speakers (washington.edu, 5 minutes)
What an amazing sounding use case for smart speakers: The device could monitor the noise people make during sleep, and spot signs of (acute) health issues – in this specific case, agonal breathing which is a symptom of cardiac arrest.
- The Paradox of Connection (edgeperspectives.typepad.com, 8 minutes)
We are becoming more connected with each other and less connected with each other at the same time.
- Is the Immediate Playback of Events Changing Children’s Memories? (nytimes.com, 5 minutes)
Fascinating question (you might not be able to read the article though because The New York Times has started to block users who open the site with the browser’s private mode. This will probably lead to that I’ll link to fewer NYT articles in the future).
- A virtual reality massage center will open in Los Angeles this week (engadget.com, 2 minutes)
Sounds enticing: A place offering 10 different virtual reality environments for people to relax in while sitting in automated massage chairs, including a sauna, a koi pond at an ocean-side resort and a ski cabin with a crackling fireplace.
- Stockholm family wraps home in greenhouse to warm up weather (faircompanies.com, 2 minutes)
And something different to wrap up: this piece from 2015. The house can apparently be visited (although the project’s website shows the next visiting date as “June 2018”, so not sure about the current status).
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