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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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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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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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.


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).

  • 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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meshedsociety weekly #200

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.


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).

  • How Much of the Internet Is Fake? (nymag.com, 9 minutes)
    Turns out, almost everything is fake. To use the words of the author: “Everything that once seemed definitively and unquestionably real now seems slightly fake; everything that once seemed slightly fake now has the power and presence of the real.”
  • Dr. Elon and Mr. Musk: Life Inside Tesla’s Production Hell (wired.com, 39 minutes)
    Incredible long-read from mid December. If only half of what’s written in here about Musk’s way of dealing with his staff and the challenges of producing cutting-edge electrical cars while trying to please the impatient market is true, then Musk officially can be labeled a madman. But a damn successful one already. As the article states: “Steve Jobs is gone; now we have Elon Musk.
  • Netflix Has A Plan To Change The Way You Chill (buzzfeednews.com, 17 minutes)
    Due to licensing issues and the rise of competing services launched by big media companies, Netflix is facing the threat of losing a lot of licensed content. Thus, more than ever, it has to get its almost 150 million subscribers hooked on its own original content. The onus is on the company’s product team to get people to watch content they’ve never heard of (and like it!).
  • The ‘Future Book’ Is Here, but It’s Not What We Expected (wired.com, 19 minutes)
    Are email newsletters, from the perspective of authors, one of our time’s iterations of the good old book? Interesting thought.
  • Can Users Control and Understand a UI Driven by Machine Learning? (nngroup.com, 15 minutes)
    We are constantly interacting with machine learning algorithms, but often they do their work without any transparency. Here is an examination of the challenges that users encounter when interacting with machine-learning algorithms on Facebook, Instagram, Google News, Netflix, and Uber Driver.
  • Does AI make strong tech companies stronger? (ben-evans.com, 7 minutes)
    According to Ben Evans, the answer to the question from the title is: Yes, but not as much as it is sometimes suggested. Using AI will have a similar impact as the use of database technology: Necessary, but it won’t make the company different or interesting.
  • Should We All Be Taking ‘Irony Poisoning’ More Seriously? (static.nytimes.com, 5 minutes)
    Irony poisoning is the ironic detachment from certain arguments and statements that can be observed among certain subcultures on social media.
  • The Threat and Opportunity of Lifelong Learning (edgeperspectives.typepad.com, 7 minutes)
    Lifelong learning is great, but those promoting it rarely question society’s traditional view of learning. To accomplish the systematic implementation of lifelong learning, all of our institutions have to be transformed to help people to learn faster and accelerate performance improvement, argues John Hagel.
  • What Are Stablecoins? (cbinsights.com, 15 minutes)
    Helpful primer on a crypto currency trend which we’ll probably hear a lot about in 2019: Stablecoins. Their main feature: less volatility than “traditional” crypto currencies such as Bitcoin.
  • Why your pizza may never be delivered by drone (bbc.com, 5 minutes)
    There are all kinds of issues with using drones for delivery of consumer items on a large scale. I’m skeptical, for now.
  • The GPS wars have begun (techcrunch.com, 5 minutes)
    Another consequence of rising nationalism and mistrust: Several countries and geographies are exploring, testing and deploying satellites to build out their own positioning capabilities. The dominance of the United States’ GPS is ending, and that puts the tech giants in a tough position.
  • Apple needs to change iPhone’s call UI because robocalls are killing us (spencerdailey.com, 3 minutes)
    Spencer Dailey makes a point which seems so obvious yet never crossed my mind: Why do calls on iOS have the privilege of interrupting people at anything they do, with a full screen alert? I don’t accept most incoming calls, so it makes no sense that there is still this interruption every time.
  • Urgently Wanted — A startup that pushes my son out of my home (medium.com, 4 minutes)
    Something possibly many parents would wish for? Note: This is not about grown-ups who don’t want to or cannot move out of their parents’ basement, although even for that scenario, there might be market opportunity.
  • A foreigner’s guide to WeChat payments in China (blog.lerner.co.il, 21 minutes)
    I don’t have any plans to travel to China for the moment but still found this piece quite informative.
  • Don’t turn this list into 100 startups (medium.com, 7 minutes)
    ~100 scenarios where a resource is underused. Should there be an individual startup to solve each of them?
  • From the happiness of survival-mode poverty to an anxious ‘better life’ (roadlesstravelled.me, 9 minutes)
    A thought-provoking essay from a traveler perspective trying to make sense of the phenomenon of often encountered happiness and friendliness of people in poor countries who struggle with satisfying their basic human needs, and the anxiety and depression that seems more and more common in wealthy countries.
  • 30 Behaviors That Will Make You Unstoppable In 2019 (medium.com, 43 minutes)
    Apart from some generic advice that one has heard a billion times before, this list offers some amazing inspiration. Probably my favorite: Creating more peak experiences – experiences that change the very fabric of one’s memories and identity. I love the idea of deliberately working towards changing one’s identity, instead of doing everything to keep it as it is.
  • Tokyo Wants People to Stand on Both Sides of the Escalator (citylab.com, 8 minutes)
    Intriguing question: What’s the ideal behavior on escalators? If the goal is to accommodate more people, having everybody stand apparently should be the preferred choice. But if the goal is to let individuals decide whether they want to pass through fast or slowly, then having one side for walking and one for standing is clearly better.

Podcast episode of the week:

  • a16z Podcast: How the Internet happened
    An entertaining chat between VC Chris Dixon and Brian McCullough, author of “How the Internet happened”, about the evolution of the internet, from college kids in a basement and the dot-com boom, to the applications built on top of it and the entrepreneurs behind them.

Quotation of the week:

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meshedsociety weekly #199

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.

meshedsociety weekly will be back in early 2019. Happy holidays and new year.


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).

  • Animated visualization of GDP by country from 1961 until today (twitter.com)
    Absolutely breathtaking to watch. Also great choice of music! :)
  • On the age of computation in the epoch of humankind (nature.com, 19 minutes)
    Thought-provoking big picture view on how the digital world impacts the planet through feedback loops and changing behavioral patterns.
  • Alexa will be able to tell when your relationship is ending, experts predict (nypost.com, 2 minutes)
    Fantastic! I’ve been thinking about a feature like this for smartphones, but it’s probably better for a smart home assistant. This could be truly life-changing (“Warning: Your conversation is close to turning into a fight. Take a break”).
  • The Coming Commodification of Life at Home (theatlantic.com, 8 minutes)
    Regarding the previous case: Maybe the smart home assistant would not warn the couple of the imminent relationship end and instead see potential for making someone money, by automatically ordering a breakup emergency package filled with napkins, booze and whatever other products it knows its owners want to have when going through a breakup.
  • What Does “On Demand” Mean, Anyway? (pedestrianobservations.com, 6 minutes)
    Yes. Despite the label, even “on-demand” transportation services come with wait times. “People within the tech industry dismiss schedules out of hand. Thus they insist that transportation be on-demand, even when in practice the wait is longer than on a competing mode of travel that is scheduled.”
  • Become A Facebook-Free Business (m.signalvnoise.com, 2 minutes)
    “Being a Facebook-Free Business means your customers can trust that you aren’t collaborators with the Facebook machine.”
  • Naval Ravikant Answers Questions (stoicjournal.com, 19 minutes)
    An amazing treasure trove of (life) wisdom and catchy quotes from AngelList CEO & founder and deep thinker Naval Ravikant. Among my favorites: ” We are biological machines programmed to survive and replicate. Happy is anti-evolution.”, “Looking forward to holidays takes the joy out of the everyday.” and “Meditate in bed. Either you will fall asleep or have a deep meditation. Victory either way.”
  • Asking the right question is more important than getting the right answer (lemire.com, 5 minutes)
    The value, impact and potential of (good) questions is certainly underestimated. I agree with the author: “The world would be better if we had more people asking better questions.”
  • The Spacing Effect: How to Improve Learning and Maximize Retention (fs.blog, 13 minutes)
    Humans are better able to recall information and concepts if we learn them in multiple, spread-out sessions. This effect can be leveraged by using spaced repetition to slowly learn almost anything.
  • What I learned from getting deported twice and building two successful businesses in the process (medium.com, 9 minutes)
    Some people’s resilience is so remarkable: Farzad Ban is a successful entrepreneur who had to endure 2 deportations from Sweden since the age of 14. Even though he runs a growing Stockholm-based company, he currently has no country in which he can stay in for more than 90 days.
  • Our Ownershipless Future (ivaylopavlov.com, 7 minutes)
    Is the trend to rent everything instead of owning it a net positive or net loss?
  • A Brief History of Leverage and Power (salon.thefamily.co, 13 minutes)
    When people talk about power in 2018, they mean “leverage”. Leverage is the ability to get more for your efforts than the energy you put in. Leverage is how you can get a bigger-than-hoped return on investment on your efforts. A couple of traditional rules about how to obtain and preserve power don’t apply anymore.
  • Instagram Stars Are Posting Fake Sponsored Content (theatlantic.com, 8 minutes)
    By the way, this weekly reading list is made possible in partnership with Apple, Tesla and Waffle House.
  • Why YouTube’s Biggest Star Can’t Be Cancelled (nymag.com, 8 minutes)
    YouTube is essentially dependent on its biggest stars. So if Felix Kjellberg, a.k.a. PewDiePie, says something questionable, it’s not like on Twitter where a person just would be banned right away. On the one hand, this is very good as a defense mechanism for free speech. On the other hand, it comes with problems, as detailed in this piece. Because once you are as big as PewDiePie, you have responsibility, because millions are influenced by what you are saying. What if a YouTube star cannot handle this responsibility?
  • The Dynamics of Network Effects (a16z.com, 9 minutes)
    Network effects are changing, not naturally leading to winner-take-all-markets anymore. Related: 16 Ways to Measure Network Effects.
  • Do we really need a mobile edge? (staceyoniot.com, 4 minutes)
    Mind-boggling: “Rahul Vijay of Uber told the audience that each self-driving Uber car generates about 4 terabytes of data a day. A terabyte is 1,000 gigabytes, or roughly 250 HD movies.”
  • How to make your podcast the right length (podnews.com, 3 minutes)
    I’ve never consciously thought about what the right length for a podcast would be. This article changed that. Currently my personal preference is about 1 hour, because I try to take hour-long walks as often as possible.
  • Everything you ever wanted to know about 5G but were too afraid to ask (sifted.eu, 6 minutes)
    Good primer with focus on the rollout of 5G in Europe.
  • Mental wellness startup Wisdo launches with $11 million in funding (techcrunch.com, 3 minutes)
    Sounds very impactful and like a potentially big market: Wisdo aims to connect and support people in some of their toughest moments.

Recently on meshedsociety.com:

Quotation of the week:

  • “As more of our actions and thinking happens while connected to the internet, our unconscious mind is no longer private.”
    Kristoffer Tjalve in his newsletter Naive Weekly (kristoffer.substack.com)

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meshedsociety weekly #198

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).

  • 25 Things that Won’t Exist in 25 Years (hackernoon.com, 6 minutes)
    Pure speculation of course, and in parts U.S.-centric, but also including a couple of noteworthy points. Among the things that the author expects to disappear within the next 25 years: Zoos, keys, handheld smartphones, trustworthy video evidence, cigarettes and – I had to chuckle – baldness.
  • Podcast industry aims to better track listeners through new analytics tech called RAD (techcrunch.com, 4 minutes)
    One great thing about podcasts is that they still are comparatively non-intrusive when it comes to tracking. But of course, the growing podcast industry wants to change that.
  • Some Words Defy Translation (nytimes.com, 4 minutes)
    German Chancellor Angela Merkel used the word “shitstorm” in a public speech. Among native English speakers, the term is considered a vulgarity. In German however, it has become quite established.
  • My Roommate’s Tik Tok Fame Made My Life Hell (flip.lease, 14 minutes)
    An entertaining and quite insightful read (despite being content marketing – but in the end, what isn’t?! See next link). When your work consists of pleasing a big social media crowd with selfies and short video challenges, you might become a bit weird.
  • Is there an actual Facebook crisis, or media narrative about Facebook crisis? (jakeseliger.com, 3 minutes)
    Facebook might be indeed in a crisis, or it only is the media narrative. But aside from Facebook, I think there is a bigger phenomenon going on: Media narratives increasingly are living their own lives, based on what editors, writers and columnist would like to be perceived as reality – which is often partly or even fully detached from the lived reality of most. In the end, one might easily call most stuff that is published in media outlets “ideological content marketing”.
  • The dark side of too much information (newatlas.com, 4 minutes)
    A new study offers some not extremely surprising conclusions: When faced with an overwhelming volume of information, humans lean on a series of biases in order to wade through the torrent of data: bias towards negative information, confirmation bias, bias towards social consensus, pattern recognition.
  • An interview with the documentary filmmaker Adam Curtis (economist.com, 38 minutes)
    If you liked HyperNormalisation or Curtis’ older documentaries, you’ll probably find this lengthy interview worth the time.
  • Yep, Bitcoin Was a Bubble. And It Popped. (bloomberg.com, 5 minutes)
    It did, but as the article notes, there is one important thing to remember: “The total amount of wealth involved — a few hundred billion dollars, spread out around the globe — was small compared to the 2000s housing bubble or the 1990s dot-com bubble, meaning the pain will be limited.”
  • On Blogs in the Social Media Age (calnewport.com, 4 minutes)
    I find the distinction between “collectivist attention markets” and “capitalist attention markets” proposed in this text worth pondering more.
  • Where The Wild Things Are (perell.com, 7 minutes)
    Brilliant mental model: Creativity always starts at the edge.
  • Land of the “Super Founders“— A Data-Driven Approach to Uncover the Secrets of Billion Dollar Startups (medium.com, 18 minutes)
    The result of 300 hours (according to the author) gathering data: An impressive and in parts extremely informative compilation of charts and statistics on what made the most valued startups become who they are today.
  • Can you grow a startup on the side? (justinjackson.ca, 7 minutes)
    Yes, but it means you’ll be slower and the chances to become one of the aforementioned billion dollar startups probably decrease (regardless of whether that’s a desirable goal to have or not).
  • ‘Start-up nation’: a symptom, but of what? (theconversation.com, 6 minutes)
    “Everywhere, institutional pressure to transform young people into entrepreneurs is becoming an obsession. It’s a symptom, but of what? Can it not be seen as a sign of panic among politicians contemplating the shortage of prospects to offer young people?”
  • The Interplanetary File System (IPFs) explained (achainofblocks.com, 11 minutes)
    The IPFS is a peer-to-peer web protocol, similar to torrent technology but for web content. Basically, people are storing parts of the data on their computers. The IFPS is still extremely niche and might never get beyond that, but who knows.
  • When Two Partners Have Very Different Feelings About Tech (medium.com, 6 minutes)
    A rarely discussed topic, but an interesting one.
  • Mechanical Keyboards (mattgemmell.com, 6 minutes)
    A mechanical keyboard is a more modern and practical equivalent of a typewriter. Writer Matt Gemmell got himself one.
  • Meet Zora, the Robot Caregiver (nytimes.com, 4 minutes)
    Short piece about the robot “Zora”, which is tested in France to change care for elderly patients. First results are promising: “Many patients developed an emotional attachment, treating it like a baby, holding and cooing, giving it kisses on the head.”

Recently on meshedsociety.com:

Quotation of the week:

  • “Talk about ‘green growth’, not about saving the planet. When societies are asked to choose between economic growth or cutting emissions, they always choose growth. So the green story should be: let’s modernise our economies, creating jobs and cleaner air.
    Stop predicting doomsday. The message should be, ‘Yes we can, and without much pain.’ Sacrifice doesn’t sell, and when most scenarios are pessimistic, people see little point in acting.

    Simon Kuper in “How to sell climate change and save the planet (paywall, ft.com, 4 minutes)

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meshedsociety weekly #197

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.


By the way, I launched a free curated newsletter, bringing you the most important news from Sweden’s vibrant startup and tech industry. You can sign up here.

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 roadblock to productivity is the smartphone on your desk (nytimes, 7 minutes)
    Isn’t it a bit tragic that the human will power is so easily sabotaged?
  • How to use Google Duplex to make a restaurant reservation (theverge.com, 5 minutes)
    When Duplex was presented, I speculated that Google might never have the intentions to actually release it. I was clearly wrong. It’s now available for users in certain U.S. cities who own the latest Pixel phones. This article describes the experience in the current early stage of Duplex. Notably, “some Duplex calls are placed by human operators at Google”.
  • Tech company patterns (richg42.blogspot.com, 10 minutes)
    A marvelous taxonomy of different company types and organizational dynamics, ranging from the “megacorp pattern” and the “acquired company pattern” to the “wealthy dictator pattern” and the “world domination pattern”.
  • Emotion Science Keeps Getting More Complicated. Can AI Keep Up? (howwegettonext.com, 13 minutes)
    Human emotions are complicated and very much culturally-dependent. So how is AI going to deal with this? Thought-provoking reflections.
  • Uber Is Headed for a Crash (nymag.com, 10 minutes)
    No one knows whether the authors conclusion will turn out to be correct or not. But in one regard, Uber has certainly failed: Even after nine years of its existence and after having created a global transportation empire beloved by dozens of millions of customers, the narrative of the company’s inevitable upcoming crash still is alive and thriving – regularly fueled by new reports of billion dollar losses.
  • Tumblr’s anti-porn algorithm is flagging basically everything as NSFW (dailydot.com, 3 minutes)
    Tumblr is banning pornographic content – but its algorithm to identify this content appears to be rather clueless of what to look for.
  • Tips on Getting Through a Bear Market (medium.com, 5 minutes)
    This piece is specifically about the crypto bear market and a pretty good read even if one isn’t a cryptohead. Good point here, I guess: “Bear markets suck because of social pressure. It’s not enough that there’s financial pressure, but the I-told-you-so’s of the critics that come out at every bear market can be a lot to bear (pun intended). “
  • I quit Instagram and Facebook and it made me happier (cnbc.com, 8 minutes)
    Totally. Apart from direct messaging, groups (on Facebook) and the benefits of using either service as a casual networking tool, the endless comparison, narcissism and presentation of only the best aspects of people’s lives are true happiness killers. I’m still opening Instagram way too often, sadly.
  • French riots: When Facebook Gets Involved With Local News (buzzfeednews.com, 12 minutes)
    This is a tricky one! How much has Facebook’s algorithm influenced the recent riots in France? That it plays a role is undeniable based on this article. But to what extend? What would have happened in alternative scenarios, in which a) the algorithm would have been optimized for other things b) there wouldn’t have been an algorithm c) Facebook would not have existed (but maybe a different platform) d) the internet would not have existed?
  • From aliens to immigration, international study finds most believe a conspiracy theory (newatlas.com, 4 minutes)
    The research mentioned surveyed over 11,000 adults across the US, Britain, Poland, Italy, France, Germany, Portugal, Sweden, and Hungary. Sweden was the most skeptical country with 48 percent of people disbelieving every conspiracy presented.
  • Why Xiaomi’s fancy phones aren’t selling (techinasia.com, 5 minutes)
    Turns out: The smartphones of Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi are sold at such a low price that despite their good features, people don’t feel comfortable buying them or pulling them out of their pocket when being with others. There is such a thing as “too cheap”.
  • Hero worship and the Sheryl Sandberg takedown (medium.com, 4 minutes)
    An intelligent defense of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, who has been subject to a lot of criticism lately. I agree with Fred Destin: The focus on individuals is mostly irrelevant. What matters is that we are faced with platforms that have aggregated insane economic power.
  • Daniel Kahneman: Your Intuition Is Wrong, Unless These 3 Conditions Are Met (thinkadvisor.com, 2 minutes)
    1. Regularity so that repeating patters can be picked up 2. A lot of practice 3. Immediate feedback.
  • Subtract (sivers.org, 1 minute)
    “Life can be improved by adding, or by subtracting. The world pushes us to add, because that benefits them. But the secret is to focus on subtracting.”
  • It *Should* Be Freakin’ Hard To Be In Media (rafat.org, 2 minutes)
    Various digital media companies are struggling. But starting something in media, building in, being in it, building a career in it, should be hard and a struggle, argues Rafat Ali.
  • Starting a Business in Silicon Valley (tlalexander.com, 21 minutes)
    What’s also hard, actually: Starting a hardware business in Silicon Valley.
  • European tech start-ups are having a record year — and the US isn’t keeping up (cnbc.com, 4 minutes)
    What a great angle to London-based VC firm Atomico’s  recently published “2018 State of European Tech Report”. There might be serious momentum building up for Europe’s tech industry.
  • South Korea’s “Hikikomori” health crisis (unherd.com, 6 minutes)
    Hikikomoris (“the departed”) are recluses who have retreated from offline life and live entirely online. At a rehab center in Seoul, some of them are being helped in taking their first steps on the long journey from the bedroom back into society.
  • The World’s Most Efficient Languages (theatlantic.com, 9 minutes)
    Fascinating. Some languages are more efficient than others. How does that impact people’s thinking? It’s evident that language does impact thinking. I witness it myself: I am communicating differently in German, English or Swedish. Certain ideas, values and sentiments are easier to express in one language than in another.

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meshedsociety weekly #196

Here is issue #195 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 rise of 8D Audio (mel.com, 9 minutes)
    A phenomenon called “8D Audio” music has taken off on YouTube in the past several months, seemingly out of nowhere. At least some of its roots are at the University of Medellin in Colombia, from where the 18-year-old student of audiovisual communication Samuel Correa runs one of the biggest YouTube accounts dedicated to this sound effect. Here is one of his 8D Audio reworks of an existing song. The suggestion is to use headphones and close one’s eyes for the best experience. It’s actually quite intense!
  • Electric scooters are causing injuries and accidents (cnet.com, 12 minutes)
    Really no surprise here. Riding on a little electric scooter through urban environments makes you quite a vulnerable protagonist. It’s similar for people on bikes, however, at least subjectively, I feel more unsafe and unstable on a scooter. Of course this could simply be due to lack of practice.
  • The $100 Million Bot Heist (nautil.us, 17 minutes)
    The story of Evgeniy Bogachev, the world’s most-wanted cybercriminal, and of how he stole millions with a giant global botnet. Some people’s criminal energy is astonishing.
  • The problem with invisible branding (fastcompany.com, 5 minutes)
    I find the application of the term “branding” confusing in this context, but the author makes a thought-provoking point: Sites like YouTube, which make heavy use of AI to create the user experience (and choice of content), ought to market their heavy use of AI to the users, and maybe even allow them to be active participants (unlike currently – unknowing participants) in the machine learning used to train AI systems.
  • What Kind of Happiness Do People Value Most? (hbr.org, 5 minutes)
    Interesting distinction: experienced happiness over remembered happiness.
  • Swiss hotels are hiring Instagram “sitters” to post photos for you (quartz.com, 3 minutes)
    This appears mostly to be a marketing campaign. Still, it has to be said again: Weird times we’re living in.
  • Time is different now (theverge.com, 2 minutes)
    Maybe another factor contributing to today’s weirdness? Or just in fact the same as it always has been? Bijan Stephen writes that our perception of time has been totally skewed. Something that happened last week has flattened into things that happened in the past, a category that holds everything. People are “living in a perpetual present, where events are disconnected from their antecedents and where history is counted in minutes and days rather than in months and years”.
  • You probably won’t make it to the top (m.signalvnoise.com, 3 minutes)
    Love this! “The top is full of people who hate what they had to do or who they had to become to get there. Even for the people who get there with a clean conscience often end up disappointed by how shallow the satisfaction really is.
  • My battle with ‘Post Founder Depression’ (medium.com, 6 minutes)
    Deep reflections by a former founder who struggles with the tricky question of: What now?!
  • What made me go to the doctor? (vowe.net, 2 minutes)
    Some people trust the data about their body from a health tracker more than signals the body sends via the brain. Understandable. The body’s signals are often ambiguous and rather confusing (think, psychosomatic symptoms).
  • Study shows Apple Watch health insurance deals yield substantial increase in exercise (9to5mac.com, 2 minutes)
    Leveraging the cognitive bias of loss aversion: If you offer people a fitness smartwatch and make them pay part of its price through variable monthly fees dependent on the amount of exercise – with those most active not paying any monthly fee – people on average become more active.
  • Cafe opens with robot waiters remotely controlled by disabled people (japantoday.com, 2 minutes)
    “Five robots, 1.2 meters tall, controlled by disabled people with conditions such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a form of motor neuron disease, took orders and served food at the cafe that opened on a trial basis.”
  • Finland’s digital-based curriculum impedes learning (yle.fi, 3 minutes)
    What if it turns out that learning with analogue tools overall generates better results in school than with digital-based ones? Would that create a moral and ethical requirement to go back to paper, pen and books only?
  • Wanted: The ‘perfect babysitter.’ Must pass AI scan for respect and attitude. (washingtonpost.com, 9 minutes)
    That parents will do everything to minimize the risk of picking an unsuitable or even dangerous babysitter is entirely understandable. It’s a typical case where accepting false positives (not choosing a potential babysitter who’s inaccurately deemed unsuitable by an AI) over false negatives (picking a babysitter which turns out to be unsuitable) makes sense for the individual. The issue is that this fact encourages the provider of the software to make its AI really picky, selective and possibly even discriminating. In aggregate, that creates ethical challenges, and a tension between individual and collective needs.
  • How a Mysterious Tech Billionaire Created Two Fortunes – And a Global Sweatshop (forbes.com, 14 minutes)
    “The world is going to a cloud wage“, says Andy Tryba, chief executive of Crossover. The firm is looking for anyone who can commit to a 40- or 50-hour workweek, but it has no interest in full-time employees. It wants contract workers who are willing to toil from their homes or even in local cafes.
  • Can Engineers Boost Corporate Value? (medium.com, 6 minutes)
    New research studies the returns on technological talent and investments in Artificial Intelligence. One result: An additional engineer at a U.S., publicly traded firm is correlated with approximately $854,000 more market value for the firm. But obviously, an additional engineer also costs the company lots of money.
  • The ‘Neo-Banks’ Are Finally Having Their Moment (nytimes.com, 6 minutes)
    Great! It took too long though.
  • Best non-fiction books of 2018 (marginalrevolution.com, 2 minutes)
    Tyler Cowen writes that 2018 was a remarkably strong year for intelligent non-fiction.

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