meshedsociety weekly #206

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).

  • How AI Will Go Out Of Control According To 52 Experts (cbinsights.com, 15 minutes)
    This is actually quite a good summary of all the worries that some experts and some well-known non-experts have about AI. Fairly one-sided but that’s obviously the point.
  • OpenAI Trains Language Model, Mass Hysteria Ensues (approximatelycorrect.com, 6 minutes)
    You might have read about the “dangerous” text algorithm which OpenAI has developed but chosen not to release. In the light of all the worries about AI, the hysteric reactions aren’t exactly surprising. But according to the author not justified in this case.
  • When Kids Realize Their Whole Life Is Already Online (theatlantic.com, 7 minutes)
    Parents are engaging in so called “sharenting” and the result is a weird realization for many kids when they get older.
  • We’re Entering the Golden Age of Podcasts (chartable.com, 11 minutes)
    Podcasts are booming, and this post does an excellent job outlining why. One smart observation from the text: “Many people are creating podcasts for the same reason journalists and others are starting newsletters: Podcasts are a great way to connect directly to an audience. There’s no single gatekeeper, or gatekeeping algorithm, that will prevent you from reaching your audience—if someone subscribes to your podcast, they’ll see all your new episodes.” Let’s hope it stays that way.
  • What happens when social media manipulation targets religious faith? (thedailybeast.com, 14 minutes)
    Enlightening read: An ex-Mormon used Facebook ads to expose thousands of Mormons to information intended to raise their awareness of critical aspects of their faith – something Mormons try to avoid at all costs.
  • Come for an Action, Stay for the Community (usv.com, 5 minutes)
    As the excitement over major social media services fades, the coming years will likely be a time of renewed opportunity in new forms of social systems, the kind that has been difficult to come by during the major platforms’ ascension and dominance, writes Rebecca Kaden. It’s good times again for startups in this field.
  • The Search for the One Perfect Answer (wired.com, 17 minutes)
    Fueled by the increasing importance of voice control, there is a move toward one-shot answers, which would kill off the internet as we know it.
  • Study blames YouTube for rise in number of Flat Earthers (theguardian.com, 3 minutes)
    How long can this type of insanity continue? I mean the fact that the tech platforms are not prevented from polluting minds and pushing people back into the pre-enlightenment era.
  • I got banned for life from AirBnB (thenextweb.com, 4 minutes)
    It’s a problem if you get banned from a dominating tech platform without any form of explanation, particularly if you actually didn’t do anything wrong.
  • Give Me What You Want (reallifemag.com, 9 minutes)
    A critical piece on the “Spotification” (derived from “Spotify”) of retail: Consumers pay by the month to receive a stream of algorithmically chosen goods.
  • The Long Reach of Short-Term Interests (unintendedconsequenc.es, 6 minutes)
    How should short-term (or immediate) vs long-term interests be measured, and what types of short-term interests do exist? Here are some answers.
  • Emoji are showing up in court cases exponentially, and courts aren’t prepared (theverge.com, 5 minutes)
    Emoji are showing up as evidence in court more frequently with each passing year. Unfortunately, emoji experts who can help to “translate” evidence which involves Emoji such as text messages, don’t really exist. Yet, one should add.
  • The Reddit Protests and China’s Control of American Culture (nicholasjrobinson.com, 5 minutes)
    If Chinese companies keep investing in Western tech platforms, will that lead to self censorship? It’s likely.
  • Technology could make a hard border disappear, but at a cost (economist.com, 7 minutes)
    The concept of borders doesn’t necessarily need its physical representation anymore.
  • Scooters for Sustainable Suburbs (medium.com, 12 minutes)
    Unpacking the social, environmental, and business case for scaling micromobility aka e-scooters, from a North American perspective.
  • Wish List: Whole-home AirDrop (sixcolors.com, 3 minutes)
    AirDrop, Apple’s smart technology to transfer files wireless, requires physical proximity. But this limitation could and should be removed so files could be sent around seamlessly in large houses or offices, argues Jason Snell.
  • How We Lost Our Ability to Mend (dieworkwear.com, 8 minutes)
    “Everyone has a stash of spare buttons rattling around in some drawer, with each button still neatly tucked inside its original packaging until we gather the will to throw it away.”

Quotation of the week:

  • In the past, it often made sense to believe something until it was debunked; in the future, for certain information or claims, it will start making sense to assume they are fake. Unless they are verified.
    Zeynep Tufekci in “The Imperfect Truth About Finding Facts in a World of Fakes” (wired.com, 5 minutes)

Podcast episode of the week:

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meshedsociety weekly #205

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).

Quotation of the week:

  • “Some good advice is simple but made complicated because professionals can’t charge fees for simple stuff.”
    Morgen Housal in “Short Money Rules” (collaborativefund.com, 2 minutes)

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meshedsociety weekly #204

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).

  • Fortnite Is the Future (redef.com, 24 minutes)
    Tremendously informative and nuanced analysis of Fortnite’s remarkable success. The author manages to both put some of the hype into perspective but also to outline the massive future potential which the game presents to its developer Epic Games. Spoiler: To create the Metaverse before Facebook figures that one out.
  • AirPods Are Now One of Apple’s Most Important Products (medium.com, 6 minutes)
    Yes. It even might be Apple’s most important product right now, period, seen from its promise to disrupt the existing paradigms of how people interact with digital devices. Here in Stockholm for example (as presumably in many other places elsewhere), one nowadays sees people from all generations, backgrounds and social classes, alone and in groups, sporting AirPods. This is a “silent” revolution in the making, which will unfold once a tipping point has been reached (and we’re close).
  • Apple redistributes more wealth upward than any corporation or country on earth (bostonreview.net, 11 minutes)
    Thought-provoking perspective.
  • Is Alexa working? (ben-evans.com, 5 minutes)
    Beyond the large number of Amazon Echo devices sold and even bigger install base (due to other companies integrating Alexa into their hardware), what purpose does Alexa serve for Amazon? At least for now, it doesn’t seem to be a major driver of sales on Amazon. Possibly the answer is this: “The end point has become much more strategic for web platform companies. So, anything you can do to get an end-point of your own has value for the future, even if no-one today uses it to buy soap powder.”
  • Self-driving cars may worsen traffic by cruising instead of parking (newatlas.com, 2 minutes)
    What an outlook! For owners of self-driving cars, it might be cheaper to have a car circle around at low speed instead of paying for parking. Of course, there are those who believe that self-driving cars won’t be owned by individuals but instead only by Uber & other companies. In that case, there is hardly a point in having to park the cars anyway. Either way, congestion might become worse.
  • Flying Cars Are Closer to Reality Than You Think (medium.com, 10 minutes)
    Maybe congestion will decrease with “flying cars”, aka VTOL (“vertical take-off and landing”) aircrafts.
  • Money Machines (logicmag.io, 25 minutes)
    Extensive interview with an anonymous algorithmic trader. He/she believes that in financial trading, tons of jobs are on the verge of getting wiped out because technology can do those jobs.
  • Four Lessons after Eleven Years in Silicon Valley (medium.com, 6 minutes)
    Not the first post about lessons learned in Silicon Valley, but Ashley Mayer expresses a few insights which – to me who has never worked there – were quite informative. Among other things, she mentions the high value of relationships with former coworkers and the little respect that people working in non-tech/founding/investing functions receive.
  • Philippines tops world internet usage index with an average 10 hours a day  (theguardian.com, 1 minute)
    The top five countries in the world ranked by screen time according to HootSuite and We Are Social: Philippines, Brazil, Thailand, Colombia and Indonesia. I suspect this is partly due to the extreme popularity of chat apps in these countries. In Colombia for example, everything (private and business matters) is managed via WhatsApp. Without it, the country would come to a standstill. Furthermore, because of zero-rating, the likes of Facebook and WhatsApp are excluded from monthly data caps, so using those services for many hours is really free (minus what it costs to charge the smartphone).
  • The Bleak Reality of the Instagram Experience (thewalrus.ca, 8 minutes)
    On the rise of “pop-up experiences” appearing in various cities of North America, where people can take social-media-optimized photos and videos in particularly unconventional environments.
  • Why Friendships Are Dead (hackernoon.com, 5 minutes)
    I disagree with the pessimistic tone of this post, but it is intriguing food for thought. Friendships are certainly changing radically these days. But whether one is able to create deep friendships depends in parts on one’s skill and willingness to break with shallow norms of communication (see next piece).
  • The Power of Negotiating Boundaries (designluck.com, 8 minutes)
    Reading this was eye-opening for me: Personal relationships remain at a shallow level as long as norms of communication are constantly upheld, and societal boundaries are always respected. Achieving a level of depth directly correlates with the courage of breaking with existing norms to create new, personal norms.
  • Machine learning leads mathematicians to unsolvable problem (nature.com, 4 minutes)
    On the question of “learnability” — whether an algorithm can extract a definite pattern from limited data.
  • Is fraud-busting AI system being turned off for being too efficient? (scmp.com, 6 minutes)
    Some Chinese cities and counties are using an algorithm to spot corruption among officials. But it is working too well and creating increasing resistance (Meta remark: According to Betteridge’s law of headlines, the headline of this article would have to be answered with a “no”. But it in fact seems to require a “yes”. Thus, the editors chose the wrong type of headline).
  • The Onion headlines could teach AI what makes satire funny (sciencenews.org, 3 minutes)
    Talking about headlines: A new analysis of the differences between real and joke headlines reveals a how-to formula for aspiring satirists — human and AI alike.
  • Why one VC investor invites entrepreneurs to go for a walk (sifted.eu, 4 minutes)
    In my opinion, pretty much everything that requires thinking, expressing of ideas and brainstorming but doesn’t rely on visual material is best done while walking. If I may make a deliberately exaggerated claim (which shouldn’t be understood literally): The perfect office has no traditional meeting rooms but is located in an area with excellent walkability or has facilities for “walking meetings”.
  • How Much Would You Pay for a Foldable Smartphone? (nymag.com, 4 minutes)
    For the moment, nothing. Still waiting to understand the point of that hyped device category.
  • Nobody Knows How To Learn A Language (blog.usejournal.com, 13 minutes)
    It’s not the most humble thing to say, but I do know. Aside from obligatory English at school, I’ve learned 2 languages so far, taught to myself. One (Swedish) I do speak fluently, and one (Spanish) I’m at maybe 60 to 70 % and will speak fluently eventually. And I’m certainly not a “language talent”. The formula is quite simple: Give yourself a 10-year horizon, spend a tiny amount of learning every day (5 minutes is enough. What matters is to do it daily. Duolingo is a great way to start), be patient, don’t choose too hard tasks because they’ll discourage you, slowly scale up (through news articles, books, movies, podcasts, local immersion).

Recently on meshedsociety:

Quotation of the week:

  • “Software is now more important than camera hardware when it comes to mobile photography.
    Sam Byford in “How AI is changing photography” (theverge.com, 5 minutes)

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Leaving Social Media, one step at a time

After about 2 years of having been mostly inactive on my personal Twitter account, I decided to initiate the next step in my ongoing process to withdraw from Social Media, by deleting 24,300 tweets. It didn’t hurt at all. It feels pretty good actually, although the high number of tweets that I had accumulated since getting “hooked” on Twitter in around 2009 kind of shocked me. It made me realize how much time I’ve spent with the service; and how things have changed. There was certainly a time when I truly loved Twitter. This was before it became a place for polarized, impulsive political and ideological discussions and group think.

A few weeks ago I also finally deleted my Facebook account. It wasn’t such a big step because I already had stopped consuming the news feed and stopped posting way before, also about 2 years ago. Before I deleted the account, I accessed each 3rd party service where I previously had used Facebook as login, and generated a separate login, to make sure not to be locked out later.

Currently I’m working on reducing my Instagram usage. I’ve found somewhat of a primitive hack: When I want to have a look or check private messages, I download the app, browse around for a few minutes, and delete it again.

There are still some aspects of Instagram that I appreciate. It’s a nice way to connect with people one meets for example during travel, or to share some shots from places few people have visited before (= meaning places which I consider at least potentially interesting for others, if I happen to be at such as a place), but that’s it.

I’m still ambivalent about Instagram. But like all other major Social Media services, Instagram is built for distraction and as a way for the company to gain as much user attention as possible. Because Facebook has to make money with Instagram, the experience has gotten much worse lately, in my eyes.

I know some people who appear to be neurologically “immune” against the various habit forming patterns of social media apps. Good for them. I am not, which is why I have to take to radical measures such as deleting accounts.

In some ways, I am cheating a bit: I created a new Facebook Messenger account to be able to keep participating in a few messaging groups. Also I am operating 2 publication-specific Twitter accounts for promotional reasons. Both have a very clear narrow content profile and little activity on my part. In addition, I use Nuzzel to get a quick overview of the articles shared by those I follow with my personal Twitter account.

So am I happier without the major social media services, as several recent studies have been suggesting? No idea. But I don’t miss them at all, I definitely have more time, and it’s easier to focus again. That’s good enough. It also feels great not to contribute anymore to the business models of the giant tech firms which increasingly get into people’s minds and impact the way everybody thinks. I like to think for myself, and to come to my own conclusions, instead of being exposed around the clock to algorithmically-reinforced impulsivity and outrage, mob mentality, dogmatism, moral grandstanding and narcissism. It’s also pleasant to free oneself from the temptation to blare out any impetuous thought through the big digital megaphones that comes to my mind – a behavior which the platforms reward and incentivize. For me, adding some friction in that regard has been a good choice. So has been leaving social media, one step at a time.


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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.


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 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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Who will become Europe’s and North America’s “Super App”?

A “Super App” is an app that combines many functions in one single app; the equivalent of a Swiss army knife.

Around the world, tech companies are trying to become a Super App, and are also succeeding.

In China, it famously is WeChat, essentially the inventor of the category.
In Southeast Asia, both Grab and Go Jek are battling to become the region’s major Super App.
In Latin America, Colombia-based Rappi is turning into a Super App.

But who will evolve as Europe’s and North America’s Super App? Facebook Messenger? WhatsApp? A transportation or delivery service such as Uber or Delivery Hero? A FinTech? Will there be national players for particular countries? Or will there be no Super Apps at all, due to the inevitable anti-trust issues or maybe due to lack of demand?

It’s an interesting development to watch.

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.


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).

  • A Lifetime of Systems Thinking (thesystemsthinker.com, 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? (overcomingbias.com, 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 (perell.com, 9 minutes)
    Brilliant personal framework for maximizing enjoyment and learning when reading.
  • What’s cooking in Europe’s lab-grown meat startups? (sifted.eu, 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 (zdnet.com, 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 (cnbc.com, 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 (nytimes.com, 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 (thenation.com, 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. (cdevroe.com, 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 (linkedin.com, 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 (cjr.org, 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 (news.crunchbase.com, 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 (marketwatch.com, 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 (startupheatmap.com, 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 (reactionwheel.net, 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 (fastcompany.com, 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 (medium.com, 7 minutes)
    Author Ryan Holiday runs because it improves the quality of his work.

Recently on meshedsociety.com:

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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I love email, more than ever

Yesterday I dropped a package for return at the post office in Stockholm. The person behind the counter asked me: “Do you want the receipt on paper or to your email?”. I chose email. She showed me her smartphone screen where my email address was already filled in and asked me to confirm. I said yes. Done.

It’s 2019 and being offered an email recipe doesn’t sound like rocket science of course, even though this was the first time that I recall I got this option. But while walking home, I couldn’t stop thinking about the greatness of email. Even in 2019. Particularly in 2019.

In a time in which many of the proprietary commercial communication platforms are revealing their dark sides, email is as solid as a rock. It’s available as (ad-financed) free or paid option, it runs decentralized, it is fairly secure, and it’s universally established. It’s far from perfect of course and there are a lot of things that more modern communication tools can do that email cannot (although someone people try to replace Facebook with email) – but the benefits clearly are strong enough to have turned email into “the cockroach of the internet” – to use the words of Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield. It’s the nicest thing anyone ever has said about cockroaches.

Over the years, one frequent type of blog post published by tech heavyweights laments their struggle with managing their emails, often ending in death wishes for this technology.

I however want email to live, to thrive, and to be eternal. Not only because I publish weekly email newsletters (ok, that makes me biased), but also because email offers a huge benefit to every person on this planet with a comparatively little downside for them individually and for society at large. That’s something which cannot be said about most of what came later.

I do love email. And I appreciate it more than ever before.

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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My new email newsletter: Swedish Tech Weekly

Here is just a short announcement:

In December I launched Swedish Tech Weekly, a free more-or-less-weekly email newsletter providing a compact curated selection of the latest and most important news from Sweden’s tech and startup industry.

The Swedish startup and tech industry is one of the most important ones in Europe and arguably even in the world, particularly considering the country’s small size. At the same time, coverage is fragmented. While the major funding rounds and news from Swedish startups and tech firms are reported by the international tech press, these articles are easy to miss among the massive amount of content that’s published every day. Many other news are only covered by the two major tech sites in Swedish language, Breakit and DI Digital.

I figured that there clearly is a need for a regular, brief overview of what’s going on in the tech sector of that Nordic country, in English. I’ve so far published 5 issues (here is the most recent one), and the early metrics regarding signups and subscriber retention suggest that people in fact appreciate the format.

If you are an investor, founder, tech journalist or employee at a startup or tech firm and would like to stay informed about one of the world’s trendsetting tech nations with as little time investment as possible, or if you simply happen to be interested in both technology and the country of IKEA, Spotify and Köttbullar, then I recommend you to sign up at swedishtechweekly.com.