Weekly Links & Thoughts #106

Here is this week’s edition of meshedsociety.com weekly, loaded with thoughtful opinion pieces, interesting analyses and significant yet under-reported information bits from the digital and technology world. Published and annotated every Thursday (CET), just in time so you have something good to read over the weekend.

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  • On Progress and Historical Change (3)
    An absolutely brilliant essay shedding light on questions about inevitability of progress and historical changes. I found especially the second half to be truly enlightening and educating.
  • The Data That Turned the World Upside Down (3)
    This comprehensive article detailing the impact that big data analysis has on political marketing and opinion-making made huge waves when it was published in German a couple of weeks ago. Now it’s available in English as well. The authors drew criticism for too far-reaching conclusions and for buying all the claims made by Cambridge Analytica – the big data firm profiled. But in my eyes certain flaws of this work don’t invalidate its important message: That large-scale data collection and the new possibilities for microtargeting of single individuals based on their digital interest profiles offer powerful tools to subtly and effectively manipulate people’s political positions, thereby influencing public opinion.
  • More than one million people will work from coworking spaces in 2017 (1)
    To be honest, I found this number to be surprisingly low, considering how many people I know who at least occasionally hang out at co-working spaces. But that only shows in how much of a bubble we “tech people” live in.
  • The Schedule and the Stream (3)
    Thanks to the Internet, media consumption is moving from a schedule- to a stream-based paradigm. That also shifts the public space, which in the stream is currently quite contested. Thought-provoking reflection.
  • Does the era of No Interface also mean No Revenues? (2)
    Will the looming shift from screen to voice interaction kill large parts of the advertising market? A captivating question to ponder, and one which Amazon does not need to worry about too much. Theoretically, one could make a case for that Google (or Facebook) should buy e-commerce companies, to mitigate possible risks that will affect their advertising-based business models in a voice-first world.
  • Apple strategy in ‘smart home’ race threatened by Amazon (2)
    This piece offers interesting details on the different approaches by Apple and Amazon towards how third party manufacturers get their products connected to their respective company’s smart home platform. It’s a slow but thorough vetting approach taken by Apple vs a quick but less quality-focused one by Amazon, akin to the different app approval procedures for Apple’s App Store and Google Play. As we have learned, both paths come with their own particular set of weaknesses.
  • Silicon Valley’s criticism of Donald Trump (2)
    I’m admittedly rather thrilled by how the U.S. technology industry is being forced to take clear sides now that Donald Trump sits in the White House. For too long, the leading companies of the industry were able to adopt “good” policies only when it helped their PR or recruiting efforts. The rest of the time, they were busy externalizing the costs of their disruptive business models. Now they have to face reality like everyone else.
  • Is Tech Disruption Good for the Economy? (2)
    The study presented here, focusing on 85 years worth of patents, suggests that overall and seen over a long period, tech disruption is indeed good for the economy (in terms of total wealth created), despite its destructive impact on certain industries.
  • Google, in Post-Obama Era, Aggressively Woos Republicans (2)
    Is this an indicator for a broken system, or just an inevitable aspect of how the world works?
  • Instagram Stories is stealing Snapchat’s users (2)
    Snapchat must hate this narrative. Just imagine if Facebook’s Instagram would mange to screw up Snapchat’s imminent IPO in the last moment.
  • Hideo Kojima says games and films will merge together (2)
    That’s what I expect as well. My guess is that people will eventually be able to switch between a lean back (passive consumption) and a lean forward (active participation) experience as they please.
  • Earn Anywhere with the 21 App (1)
    A curious concept. 21 offers users a personal online profile and messaging inbox which pays users Bitcoins for reading messages as well as for accomplished micro tasks advertised through the service. Here is my personal profile.
  • Why is Successful Change so Difficult? (3)
    Intelligent analysis of the difficulty of getting an organization to accept and embrace change. Many of these insights should be applicable to other contexts such as a incentivizing change within a society as well.
  • India Is Building the Infrastructure for a Truly Digital Economy (2)
    Along with the controversial cash ban and ambitions to investigate a future implementation of an universal basic income, India appears to push hard towards transforming its society.
  • Smartphone orders clog Starbucks shops, forcing coffee giant to revamp store designs (2)
    The phenomenon of unintended consequences is always fascinating.
  • Software Is Politics (2)
    Not sure if the majority of IT engineers and tech entrepreneurs are aware of how political their actions are.
  • With the Internet of Things, we’re building a world-size robot (3)
    Renowned security expert Bruce Schneier comes up with an effective metaphor for the Internet of Things and explains in detail why the market is unable to ensure that all the parts of this “world-size robot” are properly secured.
  • United we stand, divided we fall (2)
    Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, wrote a passionate, gripping letter to the 27 EU heads of state or government, summarizing the challenges faced by the EU but also outlining the potential of a united Europe. Completely resonates with me.
  • The Throughput of Learning (3)
    This philosophical & somewhat abstract look at the goals and process of learning will require 100 percent focus of you, but it can change your perspective on the topic.

Recently on meshedsociety.com:

  • What’s next?
    I am scratching my head about the state of the world, but don’t have any good conclusions. However, a few thoughts keep swirling through my mind, so I wanted to pen them down. Featuring Hegel, brain hacking, counter-intuitive outcomes and more.


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