Weekly Links & Thoughts #108

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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  • Universal Basic Income Accelerates Innovation by Reducing Our Fear of Failure (evonomics.com, 2)
    A brilliant text. One of the best I’ve read about the potential of a basic income. When it comes to the core argumentation for considering such a solution, usually the focus lies on the angle of smarter, more efficient social welfare – about ensuring that even when millions of additional jobs are being automated, people will still be able to pay for basic needs. In this essay, the other, in fact more exciting angle is being emphasized: That a basic income would empower more people to take risks such as becoming entrepreneurs, by reducing fear of the consequences of failure. If you decide to read it, pay particular attention to the insurance analogy. I find that one very intriguing.
  • When Good Intentions Backfire (points.datasociety.net, 3)
    Engineers and journalists should think 10 steps ahead in order to imagine how products, ideas or principles that are born out of good intentions might be manipulated or repurposed in much less desirable ways later, suggests Danah Boyd.
  • Channeling Steve Jobs, Apple seeks design perfection at new ‘spaceship’ campus (reuters.com, 2)
    Amazing how much effort and focus on details Apple is putting into creating its new headquarter. Of course, if any company would be a candidate for such an approach, it’s Apple.
  • I’ll never bring my phone on an international flight again (medium.freecodecamp.com, 2)
    An eye-opening text that makes a gruesome prediction: “It’s only a matter of time before downloading the contents of people’s phones becomes a standard procedure for entering every country.”
  • Amazon Go For China? WeChat Store Of The Future (chinachannel.co, 1)
    A completely automated physical store that handles customer identification and payment through WeChat. Incredible.
  • Amazon’s Friction-Killing Tactics To Make Products More Seamless (firstround.com, 3)
    An interesting read even if you are not specifically involved with building products – it’s valuable to learn about the drive towards less and less friction even if you are just a user/customer. Often, it’s the presence of friction which makes incumbents vulnerable to the upstarts.
  • Trust: the inside story of the rise and fall of Ethereum (aeon.co, 3)
    Very thought-provoking take questioning Blockchain enthusiasts’ hope that technology could replace the human dimension of trust.
  • Why our company’s remote work system failed (medium.com, 2)
    When people prefer to keep coming to the office despite the availability of remote work opportunities, then this is a clear statement.
  • Inside Medium’s Meltdown (businessinsider.com, 2)
    After reading this I am undecided whether I now believe less or more in Medium. If the problems are caused by the personality and ideals of his founder & CEO Ev Williams, then the question is if he can put those aside.
  • How tech ate the media and our minds (axios.com, 2)
    This sums it up well. Also, this process happened while no one noticed it (the neo luddites don’t count, because they are generally against everything that has to do with digital technology).
  • In the time you spend on social media each year, you could read 200 books (qz.com, 2)
    A striking point.
  • A fuck-you money attitude (m.signalvnoise.com, 1)
    “Fuck-you money” means being well-off enough to be able to tell anyone off for any reason without risking one’s livelihood. But how often does this really happen? Asks David Heinermeier Hansson aka DHH.
  • The Disease of more (markmanson.net, 2)
    Maybe part of the answer to this question is the “disease of more”. Nothing is ever “enough” and relative happiness quickly plunges back to the famous “7” on a 1-10 scale, meaning that the next venture has to happen, and it has to be bigger than the previous one.
  • One person at a time (jarche.com, 1)
    A brief note on the importance of individuals as nodes in the networked society – which is what we are headed to right at this moment. These nodes become so crucial because “our institutions and markets will fail to deliver in a network era society because they were never designed for one.”
  • The Meaning of Decentralization (medium.com, 3)
    Apropos networks: These networks sometimes tend to show decentralized characterics. Here is a well thought out explanation of what decentralization actually means, what different types exist and why some of them are harder to achieve than others.
  • Here’s What Happens When @realDonaldTrump Tweets A Link (buzzfeed.com, 1)
    Trump uses the public version of the URL shortener Bitly which allows everyone to check click statistics for any Bitly URL.
  • Has Facebook slipped up with VR? (bbc.com, 3)
  • Google Daydream hasn’t done anything to fix VR’s biggest problem – it’s just not very good (androidpolice.com, 2)
    Two pieces that illustrate how the optimism about the short-term impact of VR is currently taking a few hits. Is there any limit to the number of times VR can loop through the different stages of the hype cycle?
  • Don’t Look Now, but the Great Unbundling Has Spun into Reverse (nytimes.com, 2)
    The great unbundling of traditional media is followed by the great bundling of digital media. The economics of bundling are too attractive and powerful to be neglected.
  • Mass entertainment in the digital age is still about blockbusters, not endless choice (economist.com, 2)
    That’s an interesting point considering how frequently it is lamented that during water cooler talks, people today are lacking this one single show or movie which everyone watched the evening before on TV. Other than that the consumption does not happen at exactly the same time for everyone, might that just be myth?
  • How Sonos will take on Alexa and Google: by integrating them (theverge.com, 3)
    Sonos could have been the company that introduced the concept of smart home speakers instead of Amazon. Now the iconic maker of wireless speakers is trying to catch up – by wanting to play nice with all the new contenders in the field.

Recently on meshedsociety.com:

  • The crisis of optimism
    People have lost their optimism for the future – with the exception of the technology industry in Silicon Valley. And so they turn to the banal methods of the past. What could bring optimism back?

Video of the week:


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