Weekly Links & Thoughts #190

Here is this week’s issue of meshedsociety.com 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. Usually published every Wednesday/Thursday (CET),  just in time so you have something good to read over the weekend.


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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).

  • Please Purchase My Personal Data From Me Directly (mcsweeneys.net, 4 minutes)
    Cutting out the middle men aka the big tech platforms. Actually, why not?!
  • Why Doctors Reject Tools That Make Their Jobs Easier (blogs.scientificamerican.com, 7 minutes)
    There was a time when doctors rejected the use of the thermometer and preferred to define whether a patient had fever by feel alone.
  • Movement rises to keep humans, not robots, in the driver’s seat (freep.com, 7 minutes)
    People who don’t want to give up driving a car themselves because they love it so much. Depending on how many they’ll become and how much influence they will be able to gain, this could become yet another serious obstacle for the protagonists of the self-driving car race.
  • The amazing ascent of Priscilla Chan (qz.com, 26 minutes)
    A very interesting profile of Priscilla Chan and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative which she runs together with her husband, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Gotta admire when a romantic couple manages to be a great team even in professional regards, which certainly seems to be the case here.
  • Pack Experience (ribbonfarm.com, 15 minutes)
    A fascinating sociological perspective! The offline world is designed around “pack experience” – families ride in cars together, groups of coworkers, take elevators together, dating couples go to movies in pairs. The internet is disrupting this default mode. Online, individual experience reigns supreme. Disruptions of higher-order social realities, at troop, tribe, or nation-state levels, can all be traced back to pack-level disruptions.
  • Five Questions for rethinking civilization (medium.com, 5 minutes)
    This is the beginning of an upcoming ten-part series called “The Next Enlightenment”, and it provides plenty of food for thought in the form of questions such as “What kind of freedom can a solitary person achieve?” and “Why do we teach our children responsibility, but not integrity?”.
  • Instagram Has a Massive Harassment Problem (theatlantic.com, 20 minutes)
    In this long piece, Taylor Lorenz completely destroys the cliche of Instagram being the friendly, polite platform where people can exist without having to deal with trolls and harassment.
  • Interviews with former Google employees to find out why they decided to leave (businessinsider.com, 11 minutes)
    Google is widely considered as one of the best places to work. But that doesn’t mean that all employees stay forever. Here is an informative collection of individual reasons why people left Google.
  • Brave New World Revisited, Revisited (spectator.us, 6 minutes)
    While George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984 is often brought up as a cautionary example for where we are headed, Huxley’s Brave New World should not be ignored – because in large parts, his vision has already come true.
  • Algorithmic merchandising will erode trust in Amazon (shift.newco.co, 7 minutes)
    Amazon is increasingly seduced by the short-term profit potential of using algorithms against customer interest.
  • Why doesn’t Silicon Valley just give Saudi Arabia its money back? (sfchronicle.com, 4 minutes)
    In the light of recent news events, Silicon Valley is finding itself in deep trouble about its close ties to Saudi Arabia. For example, the Saudi royal family owns about 14 percent of Uber, both directly and through its part-ownership of the SoftBank Vision Fund.
  • How Index Ventures became Europe’s startup success factory (wired.com, 7 minutes)
    For a VC firm with European roots, London-based Index Ventures has been remarkably successful. But judging from this portrait, the major reason for this accomplishment ironically appears to be that the firm does also operate from San Francisco, and that it sees itself as a “global firm with European outlook”.
  • The new Palm is a tiny phone to keep you away from your phone (theverge.com, 10 minutes)
    Do you feel like getting a second, tiny phone to help you get away from your main phone? Sarcastic tone aside, in the end that’s one of the promises of smartwatches as well.
  • Lord Keynes Would Be Proud (medium.com, 8 minutes)
    A clever thing suggested by the author: The most rational way to spend Bitcoin is to buy something with a regular credit card and sell just enough Bitcoin to pay the credit card bill. Ideological cryptoheads don’t like this suggestion, because it doesn’t get them closer to their libertarian utopia.
  • On Podcasts, News and Well-being (blog.amitgawande.com, 3 minutes)
    Maybe there is a case to be made to not fill every available minute of one’s day with a podcast in order to create some periods of intentional boredom? I’m undecided.
  • Scaling Audio Service: How we launched a high-quality Text-To-Speech service at NZZ (medium.com, 5 minutes)
    But nothing against audio, of course. In fact, an increasing number of people prefer to listen to newspaper articles instead of reading them. So the Swiss newspaper NZZ built a system which lets users listen to its stories. Here its head of digital product explains how it was done.
  • Noticing internal experiences (lesswrong.com, 2 minutes)
    This could be en enlightening exercise: Sitting down, observing one’s thoughts, and writing them all down, no matter whether they make sense or are connected to each other in any way.
  • Animals that are currently monitored using facial recognition technology (nymag.com, 6 minutes)
    Salmon are the latest entry in a growing cornucopia of animal faces loaded with AI into databases.

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Weekly Links & Thoughts #189

Here is this week’s issue of meshedsociety.com 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. Usually published every Wednesday/Thursday (CET),  just in time so you have something good to read over the weekend.


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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).

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Weekly Links & Thoughts #188

Here is this week’s issue of meshedsociety.com 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. Usually published every Wednesday/Thursday (CET),  just in time so you have something good to read over the weekend.


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 Most Important Survival Skill for the Next 50 Years (gq.com, 11 minutes)
    Yuval Harari is kind of all over the place right now. In my opinion, rightly so (but he also seems to have hired someone with amazing PR skills). Even though I’ve read his most recent book, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, I still found this interview with him highly interesting to read. Harari explains that he considers emotional intelligence and mental balance to be the most important skills needed to handle the upcoming decades. “The hardest challenges will be psychological”.
  • Why Animal Extinction Is Crippling Computer Science (wired.com, 4 minutes)
    Fascinating perspective from a computer scientist: Animals represent biological problem-solving algorithms created by natural selection. When a species is lost because of questionable human behavior, it’s also the loss of algorithmic secrets.
  • The Coders Programming Themselves Out of a Job (theatlantic.com, 10 minutes)
    The other type of automation: The one that isn’t forced on people, but that people (primarily programmers) create themselves. It’s not always appreciated and sometimes does backfire.
  • The Myth of The Infrastructure Phase (usv.com, 7 minutes)
    A very smart framework. The history of new technologies shows that apps beget infrastructure, not the other way around. It’s not that first we build all the infrastructure, and once we have the infrastructure we need, we begin to build apps. It’s exactly the opposite.
  • How Bird & Lime can build moats (blog.usejournal.com, 8 minutes)
    How to compete and differentiate in the (over?)hyped field of dockless e-scooters.
  • How a Small Start-Up Reverse-Engineered Swedish Banks and Hacked Its Way to Over 500,000 Users (netguru.co, 3 minutes)
    The Swedish startup Tink reverse-engineered the non-public APIs of the banks, aggregating data (mostly account details and savings rates) from the top 30 banks in Sweden into one single place and built it into an app. Instead of suing Tink, the banks started cooperating with it.
  • For Rent: 98-Square-Foot BR in Co-Living Apt., Community Included (wsj.com, 5 minutes)
    Flat sharing is now being branded as “co-living” targeting millenials, enhanced with services and turned into big, tech-powered business.
  • Data Factories (stratechery.com, 11 minutes)
    What is Facebook? A data factory. It processes data from its raw form to something uniquely valuable both to Facebook’s products and also to advertisers.
  • World’s Oldest Torrent Still Alive After 15 Years (torrentfreak.com, 3 minutes)
    Being covered as the oldest torrent still alive by the media comes with the perk of people seeding it as a torrent just for the sake of it.
  • The Rise of Netflix Competitors Has Pushed Consumers Back Toward Piracy (motherboard.vice.com, 3 minutes)
    Apropos torrents: They seem to experience a kind of comeback, caused by exclusivity streaming deals which mean that people would have to subscribe to and pay for not only one but several streaming services at once to get access to the most talked about shows.
  • In Praise of Mediocrity (nytimes.com, 4 minutes)
    Tim Wu laments the loss of the gentle pursuit of a modest competence, the doing of something just because you enjoy it, not because you are good at it.
  • Risk Management (collaborativefund.com, 4 minutes)
    “Risk management comes down to serially avoiding decisions that can’t easily be reversed, whose downsides will demolish you and prevent recovery.”
  • Your Work Is the Only Thing That Matters (medium.com, 7 minutes)
    Ryan Holiday (author of “The obstacle is the way” and “Daily stoic”), points out an unintended consequence of, what one might call, total brand and business control for creatives: It diverts attention away from the most essential part of any creative profession: Making great stuff.
  • “Social network” of brains lets people transmit thoughts to each other’s heads (technologyreview.com, 5 minutes)
    Scientists have created a network that allows three individuals to send and receive information directly to their brains.
  • Fitbit may have helped catch a killer, again (techcrunch.com, 2 minutes)
    If someone who wears a fitness tracker or health monitoring smartwatch dies, the device can help the authorities to figure out whether the death is the cause of a crime or not. If these devices keep catching on, investigators can rejoice.

Quotation of the week:

  • If politics becomes a behavioural science of triggers and emotional nudges it’s reasonable to assume this would most benefit candidates with the least consistent principles, the ones who make the flexible campaign promises.
    Jamie Bartlett in “The war between technology & democracy (medium.com, 17 minutes)

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Weekly Links & Thoughts #187

Here is this week’s issue of meshedsociety.com 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. Usually published every Wednesday/Thursday (CET),  just in time so you have something good to read over the weekend.


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).

  • Why the Apple Watch Series 4 is a big deal (thealeph.com, 6 minutes)
    While the first versions of the Apple Watch were a solution looking for a problem, with the Series 4, Apple really has made clear what it will be good for: to help people to live healthier lives in a radically changing world which requires people to take care of themselves and to stay fit. The author makes a great point when he writes: “Apple didn’t come out with a compact ECG to compete with hospitals. What Apple wants is to skip hospitals altogether through an early detection system.” The company is ahead of the curve, plus it can leverage its pro-privacy positioning. This is much harder for Google/Android. And “indies” such as Fitbit will struggle anyway to compete with Apple head on, so they must look for niches.
  • FOMO in China is a $7 billion industry (marketplace.org, 7 minutes)
    The Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) that the headline refers to is a particular kind of FOMO: one of fearing to miss out on information and knowledge that can bring people ahead. As a consequence, there is a thriving “pay-for-knowledge” (podcast) economy in China.
  • Startup Nation? Entrepreneurs Still Toil in Macron’s France (bloomberg.com, 4 minutes)
    Changing a culture takes much longer than a few years. I’d like to propose a “readiness test” for the mostly export oriented European countries to understand at which point a nation really is ready to become a “startup nation” (which would mean global success and recognition): if the lingua franca within the ecosystem (and for example on conferences) is not the country’s native language, but English; even when two natives talk to each other within a business context. Unless this is the case, it’s impossible to break out of local cultural programming and thinking patterns, to attract large numbers of startup-minded foreign talent, and to fully internalize the necessary mindsets. I’m not claiming that language is the only important criteria. By far. But I consider it a Litmus test.
  • Artificial Intelligence Will Keep Our Loved Ones Alive (medium.com, 7 minutes)
    This will very likely happen, and people might be shocked how little data from text conversations will be needed in order to create a bot which at least in 80 % of the situations resembles an actual person.
  • Computers can solve your problem. You may not like the answer. (apps.bostonglobe.com, 11 minutes)
    The Boston Public Schools used an algorithm to reconfigure start times in order to make more efficient use of buses required for transportation to the school. The algorithm was created by the MIT and promised racial equity. It seemed to be a smart solution for BPS – except that many parents didn’t like the changing start times suggested by the algorithm. It’s an interesting aspect of the increasing use of algorithms in society: They might present humans with objectively better solutions for certain tasks or processes, but require an openness to change among people which isn’t the norm.
  • Amazon just pulled an Apple on the smart home (staceyoniot.com, 7 minutes)
    Amazon is taking over the smart home by getting both developers and manufacturers on board and providing an outstanding user experience. But of course, given Amazon’s dominance, from a macro perspective, this is not necessarily something to be celebrated.
  • Want to See What’s Up Amazon’s Sleeve? Take a Tour of Seattle (nytimes.com, 7 minutes)
    Seattle is a special city. As the home of Amazon, it is the place where the giant tests various stationary retail and logistics concepts.
  • Revolut’s Nikolay Storonsky Is Building The Amazon Of Banking (forbes.com, 6 minutes)
    Profile of one of Europe’s most interesting startups right now (at least for a b2c fintech fan like me).
  • The Post-Sale Stay-Period (avc.com, 2 minutes)
    When a startup is acquired, this is a logical step for most founders to make their own exit, writes Fred Wilson. The fact that the Instagram founders stayed with the buyer Facebook for a whole 6 years after the acquisition actually is astonishing.
  • How to have a good conversation (marginalrevolution.com, 2 minutes)
    Do you favor the common approach to “good” conversations or Tyler Cowen’s suggestions?
  • Machine Learning Confronts the Elephant in the Room (quantamagazine.com, 7 minutes)
    It is still ridiculously easy to confuse an AI. Here it was done by adding a picture of an elephant into a living room scene and to task a computer vision algorithm with correctly identifying the objects it saw. It totally failed.
  • Why McDonalds & Starbucks are All-In on Native Mobile Apps (medium.freecodecamp.org, 5 minutes)
    It’s a bit of an obvious read, but it raises awareness about a phenomenon which I only recently became consciously aware of: Restaurant chains (at least here in Sweden even smaller ones) release their own native mobile apps, which sometimes include exclusive discounts and other goodies to incentivize people to download and spread the word about it. Remarkable that it took 10 years since the launch of the app economy for this to become a major trend (or for me to realize this).
  • The Problem with Facebook Is Facebook (logicmag.io, 13 minutes)
    Siva Vaidhyanathan, author of “Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy” says in this interview that all the negative effects that Facebook has on society and which emerged over the past years are not mistakes – they’re fulfillments of a vision. They happen by design.
  • The Mines (pedestrianobservations.com, 4 minutes)
    A fascinating analogy: People moving to San Francisco or the Silicon Valley to work in tech is similar to how in the past ambitious young man went to work in the mines for a few years to earn an income with which they went back home. The various issues that the Bay Area is struggling with are at least in part a consequence of this.
  • How Dieselgate saved Germany’s car industry (theverge.com, 4 minutes)
    Imagine if in the end, Dieselgate would in fact turn out to be the thing that the German car industry needed to free itself from the innovator’s dilemma.
  • 13 cities that are starting to ban cars (weforum.org, 7 minutes)
    This is not a list of cities that want to ban cars completely at this point, but that are limiting car access at least temporarily or in certain areas. It’s a good trend.
  • The Publisher’s Patron: How Google’s News Initiative Is Re-Defining Journalism (en.ejo.ch, 13 minutes)
    “How did Google become so popular among publishers? The answer could be money. Google appears to have turned itself into a Renaissance-style patron of journalism. It is rare that a private company hands out so much cash to other private companies, with apparently so few conditions.”
  • Apple News Is Giving the Media Everything It Wants—Except Money (slate.com, 12 minutes)
    Apple News has been kind of an under-the-radar service. But it appears to become increasingly important for many publishers. However, there is a catch: “Slate makes more money from a single article that gets 50,000 page views on its site than it has from the 54 million page views it has had on Apple News this calendar year.

Quotation of the week:

  • If you have food, friends, and a comfortable place to live, you are all set to live an incredible life. Everything you buy, and every experience and commitment you add to the plate beyond this point is a tradeoff: a guaranteed reduction in cash and free time, in exchange for a possible increase in thrills delivered by fun or novelty.
    Peter Adeney in “Why you should Get your Shit Together Before you Make it Big” (mrmoneymustache.com, 8 minutes)

Podcast episode of the week:

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Weekly Links & Thoughts #186

Here is this week’s issue of meshedsociety.com 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. Usually published every Wednesday/Thursday (CET),  just in time so you have something good to read over the weekend.


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 European Union Versus the Internet (stratechery.com, 15 minutes)
    Ben Thompson makes strong arguments for why the European Union is misunderstanding regulation of the internet and tech giants (caveat: see my comment for the next article). At the end of the piece he suggests a much smarter approach than the one currently favored by Europe’s politicians.
  • EU’s Copyright Directive and the P2P Internet (staltz.com, 6 minutes)
    However, one reason why I am not extremely worried about the consequences of this kind of bad regulation is explained well here. In short: The decrease of user experience as a result of new regulation could eventually kill the “old” internet (the one dominated by giant centralized platforms) and pave the way for a new iteration which circumvents this regulation by design. While I am writing this, I’m starting to wonder if the hidden intention of the EU’s regulation might in fact be to decrease the user experience of the likes of Facebook and Google to the point at which users will flee these services. Seen from that perspective, any criticism of the latest regulatory measures (such as the one voiced by Ben Thompson) would entirely miss the point. Because then the regulation would neither be primarily aimed at protecting copyright nor at being balanced, pragmatic and at finding a good compromise for all parties. Instead, it would be meant to actively sabotage the workings of today’s commercial internet, while simply accepting plenty of collateral damage. This wouldn’t have to be an explicit “hidden agenda”. It’s enough if this scenario would be discussed during informal backroom conversations and would exist in the collective awareness of the members of the EU parliament. No one can just say “We want the U.S. tech giants to lose a lot of users so they eventually will go where MySpace went”. But this might exactly be what some people hope for.
  • How AI changed organ donation in the US (qz.com, 19 minutes)
    Insightful and educational read about one of the success stories of AI: Enabling the creation of complex organ donor chains to more effectively match donors and those in need. Lots of lives have been saved.
  • This AI Predicts Obesity Prevalence—All the Way from Space (singularityhub.com, 3 minutes)
    How does the AI predict obesity prevalence when looking at satellite images? Correlations between the physical makeup of a neighborhood and the prevalence of obesity. Lots of things that could skew the results, but fascinating approach in any case.
  • Forget the new iPhones, Apple’s best product is now privacy (fastcompany.com, 8 minutes)
    In the current climate and with all the issues surrounding big tech, it is almost comically easy for Apple to position themselves as the “better” guys. And at least to some extend and from the point of someone who can afford Apple products, there is truth to it.
  • The $1,500 iPhone (500ish.com, 7 minutes)
    Speaking about Apple: M.G. Siegler discusses the decline and subsequent explosion of the iPhone price and outlines Apple’s path towards one day potentially launching a monthly subscription offering akin to Amazon Prime – but for Apple’s products and services. By the way: Who invented the iPhone? At least if you look at the technological achievements that underpinned it, many people.
  • What cardiologists think about the Apple Watch’s heart-tracking feature (washingtonpost.com, 4 minutes)
    One more Apple thing: The Apple Watch Series 4’s heart-tracking feature (initially only available in the U.S.) is cool. But there is at least a small risk that it will create lots of hypochondriacs and cause many unnecessary visits to the doctor. However it will for sure also lead to a few necessary visits to the doctor. So it is benefits vs costs.
  • The strength of a monopoly can be guessed at by calling customer support (blogs.harvard.edu, 2 minutes)
    Intriguing point.
  • Are Ride-hailing Platforms Keeping their Drivers Honest? (medium.com, 5 minutes)
    The frequent occurrence of dishonest taxi drivers is one of the main reasons why people in many countries choose on-demand transportation services such as Uber. A study tried to find out whether Uber drivers really are less prone to taking advantage of riders. Turns out, yes.
  • So Good They Can’t Ignore You (commoncog.com, 15 minutes)
    A critical review of the concepts and strategies proposed in the 2012 book “So Good They Can’t Ignore You” written by Cal Newport about how to personally become successful and have a fulfilling profession. The overall philosophy described by Newport is solid.
  • It’s Like Amazon, But for Preschool’ (hackeducation.com, 4 minutes).
    For those of you who enjoy cynical commentary on tech billionaire’s philanthropic endeavors. In this specific case, Jeff Bezos and other’s who target the education “market”.
  • 100 Days of Digital Minimalism (nickwignall.com, 9 minutes)
    Whether one agrees with his radical approach or not (no podcasts?! 😱), it’s an inspiring read.
  • Cycling Is Key to Safer, Healthier, More Vital Cities (citylab.com, 11 minutes)
    Cities that are built around cycling as a primary means of non-pedestrian transportation are clearly doing it right. Related read: Life in the Spanish city that banned cars.
  • Proof of Work is Efficient (medium.com, 11 minutes)
    A contrarian, in-depth take on the common narrative of Bitcoin and other crypto currencies being highly energy-inefficient.
  • What was the one book that you read and it actually changed your life? (news.ycombinator.com)
    Lots of contributions to this comment thread on Hacker News.
  • What Most Remote Companies Don’t Tell You About Remote Work (blog.doist.com, 9 minutes)
    Remote work clearly is not for everybody. This post depicts the experience of someone who clearly belongs into an office surrounded by colleagues. I on the other hand have a hard time imagining ever working non-remotely again. I’ve done it for 8 years now and I love it. There is no one-size fits all solution. In the ideal world, all information workers would get the chance to find their best setup, and thrive.
  • Amazon Maintains Smart Speaker Market Share Lead, Apple Rises Slightly to 4.5% (voicebot.ai, 4 minutes)
    Numbers for the U.S.: “Amazon Echo device share stands at 64.6% with Google Home products is use by 19.6% of smart speaker owners. Apple HomePod has been adopted by 4.5% of smart speaker owners while 11.3% say they have access to a smart speaker that is not made by Amazon, Google or Apple. “
  • How WhatsApp Destroyed a Village (buzzfeednews.com, 25 minutes)
    How does WhatsApp exactly contribute to lynchings in India (which, by the way, happened also before WhatsApp existed)? This feature offers a good understanding of the situation and of the challenges that arise when people in areas where a lack of education, media/internet literacy and trust in authorities prevails, suddenly are carrying a powerful device which connects them to everybody else.

Recently on meshedsociety.com:

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Weekly Links & Thoughts #185

Here is this week’s issue of meshedsociety.com 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. Usually published every Wednesday/Thursday (CET),  just in time so you have something good to read over the weekend.


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).

  • As Germans Seek News, YouTube Delivers Far-Right Tirades (nytimes.com, 8 minutes)
    It is time to acknowledge that YouTube’s algorithms are at least as big of a threat to a well-informed, enlightened public as Facebook’s.
  • The Constant Consumer (reallifemag.com, 12 minutes)
    Amazon’s mission is to make customer identity more primary than citizenship, writes Drew Austin.
  • Sweden offers glimpse of a world without Amazon (politico.com, 6 minutes)
    It’s certainly a less convenient world than in countries where Amazon is the dominant e-commerce player. As someone who grew up in Germany and now has my home base in Sweden, I know both worlds well. But on the macro level, the absence of incredibly powerful player such as Amazon probably has advantages, too. It somehow “feels” like a more healthy economy, based on the knowledge of the negative effects of too much market concentration.
  • Welcome to the Drone Valley (swissinfo.ch, 5 minutes)
    When Sweden is mentioned, Switzerland is usually not far :) How and why Switzerland became a leading force in the research and development of drones.
  • Europe’s New Copyright Law Could Change the Web Worldwide (wired.com, 4 minutes)
    Despite the numerous doomsayers who see this copyright legislation passed by the European Parliament this week as the end of the internet as we know it, I feel (to my own surprise) rather unemotional. Sure, the copyright-loving protagonists of the entertainment industry cannot be trusted. But how much can “we” friends of the often cited “open and free internet” trust our own instincts of what’s the best way to go forward? If the last years have shown something, it is that even internet activists and open web evangelists should show some humility. Yet many commentators behave as if they know exactly the detailed consequences that this law will have – and all are apparently bad. Maybe they’ll turn out to be that bad indeed. Maybe not. Maybe some sacrifices are simply necessary. Fact is: The good old web from the past decades is gone. It’ll never come back. Maybe it’s time to let go and replace idealism with realism.
  • Elon Musk’s Brain Isn’t Like Yours (bloombergquint.com, 8 minutes)
    Admittedly, Elon Musk had a strong presence here over the past months. But this interview with Melissa Schilling, author of the book “Quirky: The Remarkable Story of the Traits, Foibles, and Genius of Breakthrough Innovators Who Changed the World”, offers very intriguing insights about the behavior and characteristics of brain chemistry of a rare breed of serial breakthrough innovators, who in management could be described as “low self-monitors” – people who don’t monitor their persona or the way they present themselves very carefully.
  • 10 Years Is A Long Time: The Difficulty of Predicting Interesting Markets for Startups (innospective.net, 14 minutes)
    A decade-old list of startup ideas provides an interesting perspective on how hard it is to predict the markets in which startups have the best chances to be successful.
  • Don’t Become A Startup Addict! (hackernoon.com 4 minutes)
    Speaking about startups – to some people, building a company is addictive.
  • The Rise of Anti-Notifications (medium.com, 4 minutes)
    “Anti-notifications” aren’t meant for you; they’re meant for everybody else. Their sole purpose isn’t increasing value, but optimizing for short-term engagement.
  • In-store good vs. At-home good (m.signalvnoise.com, 3 minutes)
    Jason Fried bought a bath tub which looked fantastic – but was not good at all when actually being used. He calls it a product that is “in-store good”. Something which seems great in theory (/in store /in the description), but isn’t.
  • Designing Automation Systems to Be Calm: Five Principles (medium.com, 8 minutes)
    All too often, the assumption is that automated systems must be complex, and imposing. We take the damage it can do to cultures and peoples for granted, as a necessary evil for better efficiency. The philosophy of calm technology aims to achieve more efficiency by making automation simple and unobtrusive — and searching for friction points where it is not.
  • These familiar sounds will soon disappear from our world (fastcompany.com, 2 minutes)
    Short piece about “Conserve the Sound”, an online archive of sounds that are “endangered” in our world, created by two Germans.
  • A New Spotify Initiative Makes the Big Record Labels Nervous (nytimes.com, 5 minutes)
    This has been evident from the first days of Spotify’s existence: Eventually, the company needs to get rid of its dependency on the major labels. Spotify technically doesn’t actually need labels to provide its service. Except of course, that most of the music people want to listen to has to be licensed from the labels. But what if Spotify slowly but steadily could build up its own catalog of tunes from directly signed artists? That’s the obvious end goal. But getting there is so tricky, because the labels know they must not let it happen.
  • Are Audiobooks As Good For You As Reading? Here’s What Experts Say (time.com, 6 minutes)
    The short answer appears to be “no” with some caveats, and of course audiobooks are still better than not consuming the book.
  • This Lens-less Camera Is Built Specially for AI and Computer Vision Programs (spectrum.ieee.org, 5 minutes)
    Fascinating point: “If machines are going to be seeing these images and video more than humans, then why don’t we think about redesigning the cameras purely for machines? Take the human out of the loop entirely, and think of cameras purely from a non-human perspective.”
  • The End of More – The Death of Moore’s Law (steveblank.com, 5 minutes)
    For 60 years, computer chip manufacturers have been able to pack more transistors onto a single piece of silicon every year. Not anymore. The result is the end of the type of innovation we’ve been used to. Instead of just faster versions of what we’ve been used to seeing, device designers now need to get more creative with the 10 billion transistors they have to work with. The world of computing is moving into new and uncharted territory.
  • Franken-algorithms: the deadly consequences of unpredictable code (theguardian.com, 23 minutes)
    We have entered an era in which we slowly lose control over the increasingly complex systems of interconnected, self-learning yet still kind of dumb algorithms. At the end of the text, the author Andrew Smith makes a particularly crucial point: “So what is the opposite of an optimization, ie the least optimal case, and how do we identify and measure it? The question we need to ask, which we never do, is: ‘What’s the most extreme possible behavior in a system I thought I was optimizing?'”

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Weekly Links & Thoughts #184

Here is this week’s issue of meshedsociety.com 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. Usually published every Wednesday/Thursday (CET),  just in time so you have something good to read over the weekend.


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).

  • Why the world is full of buttons that don’t work (cnn.com, 5 minutes)
    Next time you’ll be about to press a button, you’ll think about this text.
  • Types of dark pattern (darkpatterns.org, 2 minutes)
    Succinct list of practices found on websites and apps to lure people into actions or behaviors which go against their actual intentions.
  • Fitbit’s 150 billion hours of heart data reveal secrets about health (finance.yahoo.com, 8 minutes)
    Assuming these statistics are at least somewhat meaningful, this is great stuff. I’m now actually a step closer to buy some kind of health tracking device.
  • Who Will Own Your Augmented Reality? (streetfightmag.com, 5 minutes)
    A thought-provoking question.
  • Cognitive Biases and the Human Brain (theatlantic.com, 22 minutes)
    About the challenging but important quest to fight one’s cognitive biases.
  • How Duterte Used Facebook To Fuel the Philippine Drug War (buzzfeednews.com, 32 minutes)
    Just as the Trump presidency has been defined by Twitter, so too has the Duterte presidency been defined by Facebook. In the Philippines, Facebook essentially is the internet.
  • Fewer startups, more indies (joshsharp.com.au, 4 minutes)
    Startup culture is built on the core idea of rapid growth, often with the help of massive amounts of venture capital. This is not always a good path, and startups are less anti-establishment than they think they are, argues Josh Sharp. More founders need to be made aware that it’s okay to be indie instead, he writes.
  • An entrepreneur says 32-hour weeks ‘killed work ethic’ at his startup (businessinsider.com, 2 minutes)
    It’s not really a surprise that 32 hours a week are not enough for a startup.
  • How to Procrastinate Productively (nickwignall.com, 9 minutes)
    A successful attempt to reframe at least one type of procrastination (the indirectly “productive” one) as something positive.
  • The End of Amazon (businessoffashion.com, 7 minutes)
    The author believes that Amazon will falter within the next 10 years. Predictions like this are nothing but a wild guess (which follow the well-known dynamic of being forgotten if false but of generating admiration if correct). However, as an article detailing the challenges for the e-commerce and internet giant which right now can seem invincible, it’s worth reading.
  • Why Every Business Will Soon Be a Subscription Business (gsb.stanford.edu, 4 minutes)
    Another prediction. An interesting scenario to ponder.
  • How to Tell Stories About Complex Issues (ssir.org, 10 minutes)
    Considering that nowadays almost everything is a complex story, these recommendations are useful to keep in mind. One important point from the text: “The best stories leave space for your audience to put the pieces together. Think about your favorite movies and books. The moral of the story was probably never explicitly stated, but instead shown through the characters’ experiences”.
  • Tesla, software and disruption (ben-evans.com, 17 minutes)
    Really good and widely shared, so I assume many who see this have already read it.
  • Thailand is becoming a critical country for blockchain (techcrunch.com, 6 minutes)
    Totally feeding into the selective perception bias, but I know someone who just moved to Bangkok to work in the blockchain field. Doesn’t really lend any more credibility to the claim this piece makes, but it would certainly be interesting if the described trend continues.
  • The Online Gig Economy’s ‘Race to the Bottom’ (theatlantic.com, 12 minutes)
    The rise of the global online gig economy enables a subset of productive and driven people in low-income countries to improve their income and standard of living, while causing a race to the bottom from the perspective of “competitors” in high-income countries. Hard to say yet whether this is an actual problem or just a necessary step in an overall positive process, considering that there are winners and losers.
  • $600 Chromebooks are a dangerous development for Microsoft (arstechnica.com, 4 minutes)
    Google has been patiently expanding its “cloud” notebook product line Chromebook, and it is now starting to look like a serious contender.
  • What Technophiles Need To Know: Part One (medium.com, 11 minutes)
    It’s always a sign of real quality if a text published decades ago still feels totally relevant. Like this one. Howard Rheingold suspects that “our position today regarding the way we make decisions about technologies is similar to the dilemma that pre-Enlightenment scientists faced in the sixteenth century. We simply don’t have a good method for thinking and making decisions about how to apply (and not apply) the powerful tools of rationality, the scientific method, reductionism, the combination of logic and efficiency embodied by technology.”
  • The Worst Part of Dating an Older Guy Is His Texting Habits (thecut.com, 6 minutes)
    A fun read pointing to possible generational conflicts when it comes to digital communication (although at 32 years, the guy mentioned here should theoretically be familiar with contemporary texting patterns).
  • This Non-Nomadic Life (nomadicmatt.com, 4 minutes)
    Suggested read only for those who call themselves digital nomads or who practice a location-independent lifestyle without using the label.

Podcast episode of the week:

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Weekly Links & Thoughts #183

Here is this week’s issue of meshedsociety.com 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. Usually published every Wednesday/Thursday (CET),  just in time so you have something good to read over the weekend.

======
If you want to make sure not to miss this link selection, sign up for free for the weekly email. Here is an archive of previous issues.
======

Reading time indicator: 1 = up to 3 minutes, 2 = 4 to 9 minutes, 3 = 10 to 29 minutes , 3+ = 30 minutes or more
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).

  • Programming My Child (bostonreview.net, 3)
    Amazing essay which manages to capture and convey the fascinating similarities of a developing child and a maturing complex network of algorithms – and which also explains at which point the analogy suddenly ends. This is one of those pieces that has the potential to seriously advance one’s perspective if one allows it to happen. One of many good remarks from the text: “Now that large systems such as Google and Facebook are persisting and growing for years and decades, we can contemplate the possibility of an evolving, maturing network whose intelligence is not intrinsic to its algorithms but lies in its evolved complexity, developed over great periods of time and through repeated, varied, and error-prone interactions with the world—just like a child.
  • The best life hack for 2018 that isn’t on any life hack list (medium.freecodecamp.org, 2)
    Praising touch typing – a skill which is extremely useful, while at the same time totally underappreciated by those who have learned it once and today just take it for granted. Reading this made me remember how I taught myself touch typing as a teenager with a CD-ROM course.
  • The Approval Economy (zandercutt.com, 2)
    It has become almost impossible to detach any action from the external approval that will accompany it. The best way to sell a discretionary good in a saturated market is to convince people that others will approve of them if they purchase that good.
  • The four ways that ex-internet idealists explain where it all went wrong (technologyreview.com, 2)
    A fun read (despite the unfortunate topic) for ex-internet idealists like myself. Personally I find myself somewhere in between the 4 options given, possibly with a tilt towards the “revisionist”.
  • Hackable humans and digital dictators: Q&A with Yuval Noah Harari (aljazeera.com, 2)
    I particularly love what Harari says about “culturism”. Culture is not about biology. Cultures change and adapt. Even if one is born into a particular culture, it doesn’t mean that for the rest of your life one can’t change their worldview, morality, behavior.
  • The struggle of VR (innospective.net, 2)
    At the moment, there still is too much wrong with VR for it to finally evolve past its notorious status as eternal “next big thing”. Although even among techies, the excitement is waning.
  • Understanding What Artificial Intelligence Actually Sees (hackernoon.com, 2)
    Intelligibly illustrations of the trickiness of making sure that an image recognition AI sees the “right” thing.
  • Some Techies Are Shunning Silicon Valley for the Japanese Dream (bloomberg.com, 2)
    There is no indication that this might be a bigger trend, but it is an interesting read nonetheless. Hard to deny the fascination that Japan can have.
  • People Spent 85 Billion Hours In WhatsApp In The Past 3 Months (Versus 31 Billion In Facebook) (forbes.com, 1)
    Let that number (and the comparison to Facebook) sink in.
  • Why “Uber for X” startups failed: The supply side is king (andrewchen.co, 1)
    Rideshare has better economics, at the same acquisition cost, than many other sectors.
  • Everybody lies in the Blockchain and AI industries (medium.com, 2)
    Lying is probably widespread in all industries surrounding a seemingly “magical”, hyped, emerging technology.
  • Vodacom launches Africa’s first commercial 5G service in Lesotho (venturebeat.com, 1)
    The kingdom of Lesotho is now one of the few countries on Earth that already has a commercial 5G service. Good example of leapfrogging.
  • How TripAdvisor changed travel (theguardian.com, 3)
    Undoubtedly, TripAdvisor is one of the most impactful online services in existence.
  • Paradise Lost: How Tourists Are Destroying the Places They Love (spiegel.de, 3)
    In Europe and elsewhere, over-tourism is becoming a serious issue, fueled by technology.
  • ‘I hate them’: Locals reportedly frustrated with Alphabet’s self-driving cars (cnbc.com, 1)
    Something tourists in some places and self-driving cars have in common: They annoy the locals.
  • In Defense of Feeling Bad (medium.com, 2)
    “If we’re unwilling to experience emotional pain—constantly trying to manage and control how we feel—we’re teaching our brain to fear any and every uncomfortable emotion.”
  • What to Do When Algorithms Rule (behavioralscientist.org, 3)
    From the wish to control a space capsule’s angle of attack on re-entry, to unwillingness to get into a lift without an operator, the reluctance to have our decisions and actions replaced by automated systems extends through a range of human activity and decision-making.
  • Norway’s plan for a fleet of electric planes (bbc.com, 2)
    Please, yes. It’s hard nowadays to fly with a good conscious when knowing how much harm it does to the environment. But giving up on flying is just not an option. For me at least. I love it too much. I’m not willing to make this sacrifice. The way out of that dilemma would be: much cleaner planes.

Quotation of the week:

  • “Things can be both relative and absolute in relation to each other. The differences we see are matters of perspective, the speed of personal growth, directionality, our ability to observe. Increasing entropy is nothing but a lack of observational capacity. There is _always_ an integral view. Always the shift you can make to understand even if you don’t agree. “
    By Max Niederhofer in “Spacetime and the order of things” (blog.maxniederhofer.com, 1)

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Weekly Links & Thoughts #182

Here is this week’s issue of meshedsociety.com 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. Usually published every Wednesday/Thursday (CET),  just in time so you have something good to read over the weekend.

======
If you want to make sure not to miss this link selection, sign up for free for the weekly email. Here is an archive of previous issues.
======

Reading time indicator: 1 = up to 3 minutes, 2 = 4 to 9 minutes, 3 = 10 to 29 minutes , 3+ = 30 minutes or more
Note: Some of the publications may use “soft” paywalls. If you are denied access, open the URL in your browser’s incognito/private mode (or subscribe if you find yourself reading a lot of the content on a specific site and want to support it).

  • The Tyranny of the Coming Smart-Tech Utopia (blogs.scientificamerican.com, 2)
    The author of this piece makes a thought-provoking point: In order to thrive, humans need friction in their lives. But the tech industry is focused on eliminating every single occurrence of friction. What will happen to our human experience in case one day all friction will be gone?
  • The robots won’t take over because they couldn’t care less (aeon.co, 2)
    Robots lack intrinsical motivation and the feeling of satisfaction when accomplishing tasks, which is why they won’t actually take control over the world, argues Margaret Boden.
  • “Coerced into tipping”? How apps are changing the culture of tipping in SF (sfgate.co, 2)
    Tablet-based point of sale payment systems such as Square coerce people into paying higher tips than what they otherwise would have done, or to tip on purchases which previously wouldn’t have been subject to tipping.
  • The 30 % Tax (avc.com, 1)
    That Apple and Google are still able to require 30 % (or in certain scenarios 15 %) of the revenues generated on the App Store and Play Store is quite scandalous, in my opinion. I’m hoping that Netflix’ current experiment as well as Fortnite’s similarly motivated circumvention of the Play Store mark the beginning of a bigger trend, which eventually forces the two gatekeepers to significantly lower their cut.
  • Gartner’s Great Vanishing: Some of 2017’s emerging techs just disappeared (theregister.co.uk, 2)
    There is something wrong with the hype cycle.
  • After the Bitcoin Boom: Hard Lessons for Cryptocurrency Investors (nytimes.com, 2)
    Lots of late-stage crypto speculators are facing financial ruin.
  • We can’t all be friends: crypto and the psychology of mass movements (tonysheng.com, 3)
    Reflections about the tribalism and conflicts within the crypto sphere, which now, in the light of the crash, are in full swing.
  • Venezuelan Petro: An unfortunate start for government-backed cryptoccurrencies (hackernoon.com, 2)
    Venezuela is the first country with a state-backed cryptocurrency. But the country’s “Petro” sets a problematic example not only for its investors but also for the cryptocurrencies as whole.
  • Facebook Fueled Anti-Refugee Attacks in Germany, New Research Suggests (nytimes.com, 3)
    By now everybody has realized that large-scale one-to-many social networks are quite a trade-off between positive and negative effects. While many of the positive outcomes had been understood early, nowadays, more and more of the negative outcomes become evident (see also: the situation with Facebook in Myanmar). How many more will emerge? How many more should society be willing to accept? And what can there even be done to stop this, if a hypothetical consensus would emerge that positive effects wouldn’t justify the numerous negative outcomes?
  • Who needs democracy when you have data? (technologyreview.com, 3)
    Hopefully, a combination of democracy (possibly with some necessary iterations) and data will turn out to be a better approach.
  • When China Rules the Web (foreignaffairs.com, 2)
    If China’s rise in the technology sphere continues, the Internet will be less global and less open. A major part of it will run Chinese applications over Chinese-made hardware. And Beijing will reap the economic, diplomatic, national security, and intelligence benefits that once flowed to Washington.
  • Connect‘s Julian Gough: We’re Being Algorithmically Sorted & Controlled (unboundworlds.com, 3)
    A wide-ranging interview with the author of the science fiction book Connect, touching the topics of Minecraft (for which he wrote the ending), challenges of the future, gene editing with CRISPR, the surveillance society and manipulation through social media.
  • The World’s Most Disruptive Technology, Part 2: Quantum Computing (abovethelaw.com, 2)
    A lawyer’s perspective on Quantum Computing.
  • An Open Letter to Elon Musk (thriveglobal.com, 2)
    After Elon Musk’s unusual and revealing interview from last week in which he admitted that he’s not feeling very well right now, Arianna Huffington recommends him to work more efficiently – and less. Meanwhile, here is a rather skeptical assessment of what Musk said during the interview and of the media’s way in dealing with him.
  • Teaching iteration (m.signalvnoise.com, 2)
    A nice idea: Jason Fried would like to see the education system to teach the principles of iteration and problem solving.
  • Resilience (sethlevine.com, 1)
    Venture Capitalist Seth Levine writes that the most important feature of a successful entrepreneur is resilience. I’d add that this might even be one of the most important features of a successful human being, in general.
  • Drawing a Larger Circle (president.yale.edu, 2)
    An inspiring speech given by Peter Salovey, President of Yale University, earlier this year, on the importance of increasing the size of one’s social circle and the benefit of engaging in several circles at the same time in order to achieve greater “self-complexity.

Podcast episode of the week:

  • The Knowledge Project: Thinking About Thinking with Tyler Cowen
    This is the second time I am recommending a podcast interview with the economist, author, NYT columnist and frequent traveler Tyler Cowen. When he says things, I always find myself listening unusually carefully. During the talk, he drops the term “epistemological modesty”, which I instantly love. It refers to the knowledge of how little we know and can know. More here.

Quotation of the week:

  • “In the ’70s, Ford sold a car whose fuel tank had the propensity to explode in the event of a rear-end collision. Instead of quickly doing a complete recall of the Ford Pinto, some beancounters in Dearborn, Michigan, found out that it would be less expensive to deal with lawsuits resulting from accidents than making the necessary change on the cars. When it comes to fighting misinformation Facebook is making exactly the same kind of calculation.”
    Frederic Filloux in “Facebook’s Flawed DNA Makes It Unable to Fight Misinformation” (mondaynote.com, 2)

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Weekly Links & Thoughts #181

Here is this week’s issue of meshedsociety.com 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. Usually published every Wednesday/Thursday (CET),  just in time so you have something good to read over the weekend.

======
If you want to make sure not to miss this link selection, sign up for free for the weekly email. Here is an archive of previous issues.
======

Reading time indicator: 1 = up to 3 minutes, 2 = 4 to 9 minutes, 3 = 10 to 29 minutes , 3+ = 30 minutes or more
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).

  • What’s driving Elon Musk? (wired.co.uk, 3)
    Even though Elon Musk in 2018 has become a bit of a public annoyance in my eyes, that doesn’t change the fact that he is an incredible person with an insatiable hunger for pushing the envelop. In this piece, people who know Musk well talk about what drives him and what makes him able to pull off so many seemingly impossible things. It might also be a helpful read in a moment in which one experiences a lack of motivation and drive. “What would Elon do? Probably not sitting here procrastinating!”.
  • The Art (and Lies) of the Public Apology in the YouTube Age (melmagazine.com, 2)
    YouTube apologies are kind of becoming their own genre of content.
  • The Tech Industry’s Psychological War on Kids (medium.com, 3)
    That the social media (and gaming) industry’s reliance on persuasive technology and exploitation of the brain’s weaknesses causes lots of problems is no news – but it’s particularly effective on children, as extensively explained in this essay by child and adolescent psychologist Richard Free.
  • Why Wikipedia Works (nymag.com, 2)
    Instead of leaving everything to the “marketplace of ideas” like the ad-financed algorithmic tech platforms do, Wikipedia relies on a collection of fairly effective mechanisms which prevent clearly untrue information to gain any major weight.
  • Trust Me I’m Lying (quanticle.net, 2)
    In 2012, Ryan Holiday published a book called “Trust Me I’m Lying”, in which he explained how media manipulation works in the age of blogs and social media based on his own successful method. This is an insightful review of the book (which I haven’t read) and explainer of the practices outlined by Holiday. Feels completely relevant even in 2018, even though methods for media manipulation have evolved of course.
  • How Two Years of Instagram Stories Has Altered the Way We Love, Act and Play (esquire.com, 2)
    From January this year but in no way outdated. Rather the opposite: Stories are becoming a more crucial part of many people’s social media experience, and thus increase their impact on behavior and content consumption.
  • Not enough people are paying attention to this economic trend (gatesnotes.com, 2)
    Bill Gates reviews the book “Capitalism without Capital” and highlights a major trend which is changing the rules of the global economy: The growing share of intangible assets among consumed goods (aka software) and all the consequences this has.
  • Consumption as Identity (collaborativefund.com, 1)
    People’s day-to-day choices and the companies they support are increasingly important to how they define their identities.
  • In the Tesla drama, Saudi Arabia reminds Silicon Valley of its weight (recode.net, 2)
    Will history repeat itself? During the 20th century, the Western progress and accumulation of wealth relied heavily on Saudi Arabian oil, thereby contributing to the country’s unfortunate ability to export fundamentalist religious values to all the corners of the world. Now the kingdom tries to secure its role as a continued essential enabler of global prosperity and sustainability for the 21st century. Even though one should acknowledge the small positive changes which seem to be happening in the kingdom at the moment, I’m not happy about this renewed push for global influence by a country with the ideology of Saudi Arabia.
  • New study finds it’s harder to turn off a robot when it’s begging for its life (theverge.com, 2)
    A study confirming a well-known phenomenon: Once a machine resembles certain features of another living creature (or a human being), we tend to treat it accordingly.
  • The Spacebar That Broke the Camel’s Back: Why I Switched from Mac to Windows (medium.com, 3)
    In a time in which a renewed momentum for Microsoft and a growing disappointment about Apple’s apparent negligence of the Mac product line overlap, some people are switching back. This is an educational read.
  • Every Generation Learns The Same Lessons (feld.com, 1)
    The “crypto generation” is just learning the lessons that all the previous generations had to learn as well.
  • Bitcoin’s Open Secret: Lightning Is Making Better Online Payments Possible (coindesk.com, 2)
    There is still hope that at some point, Bitcoin’s theoretical promise of fast and cheap micro-transactions will become reality.
  • What the f*** is the edge? (arcentry.com, 2)
    The edge is a computer that’s closer to you than another computer, and it’s a growing trend shaping computing.
  • Google will lose $50 million or more in 2018 from Fortnite bypassing the Play Store (techcrunch.com, 1)
    Once you offer something that people really really want, you can define your own rules and even defy the big platform gatekeepers.
  • 23 People with the World’s Most Ridiculous Job Titles (cleverism.com, 2)
    Digital Prophets, Chief Storytellers, Meme librarians, Namer of Clouds and more.
  • The Disadvantages of an Elite Education (theamericanscholar.org, 3)
    An eye-opening essay. It has a focus on US elite education, but the points of criticism expressed here are probably fairly universal.
  • The mind as a collection of algorithms (medium.com, 2)
    When trying to understand my own thinking as well as the thinking of other people, I use the analogy of algorithms. Here I explore this topic a bit.

Data of the week:

  • Smoking around the world (ourworldindata.org)
    Several fascinating visulizations of data about global consumption of cigarettes. Why are there so many smokers in Europe?

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