Weekly Links & Thoughts #111

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.

If you want to make sure not to miss this link selection, do like almost 350 other smart people (as of March 2017) and sign up for free for the weekly email. It is being sent out each Thursday right after this post goes live, including all the links. Example.

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  • I dared two expert hackers to destroy my life (fusion.net, 3)
    An eye-opening experiment which teaches a few important (and sobering) lessons about personal IT security. I’d say this is a must-read (or must-watch as there also is a video).
  • The Invisible Force That Warps What You Read in the News (backchannel.com, 3)
    Serious food for thought, especially for people in tech: How “narrative gravity” directs journalist’s and blogger’s focus and coverage towards the stories that fit into the existing narratives, even if the result can be a very skewed depiction of reality.
  • What do Uber, Volkswagen and Zenefits have in common? They all used hidden code to break the law (medium.freecodecamp.com, 2)
    Companies utilizing software to circumvent the law is a thing now.
  • Why the dark net is more resilient to attack than the internet (newscientist.com, 1)
    In order to make the Internet more resilient against attacks, the leading players should learn from how the dark net works.
  • Millennials have a voice first love affair (readmultiplex.com, 2)
  • How millions of kids are being shaped by know-it-all voice assistants (washingtonpost.com, 2)
    Not so much to add other than: While younger generations are as usual a driving force behind the shift to voice, the typical Amazon Echo buyer presumably is older than 30 (which is the age at which most people have their own place).
  • The Internet of Microphones (mjg59.dreamwidth.org, 1)
    In the wake of this week’s Wikileaks dump of internal CIA documents, here is something to keep in mind: It’s the smartphone microphone that creates the biggest (because constant) vulnerability in everyone’s personal life, not smart home devices such as smart TVs.
  • Why Companies like Lyft, Uber, Postmates, Instacart etc Will Never Be Profitable (hackernoon.com, 2)
    An intelligent analysis of the gig economy’s flawed economics and a suggestion for how its protagonists can become sustainable businesses: By renting own assets to the providers of services on the platforms, like Amazon did with its storage facilities for retailers or cloud resources for developers.
  • YouTube TV will be huge. Apple must respond (theregister.co.uk, 2)
    With its new TV subscription service (US-only for now), Google is stepping up its game in competing with cable companies and over-the-top video services such as Netflix and Amazon Video. How long can Apple afford to wait?
  • How YouTube Is Changing Our Viewing Habits (npr.org, 1)
    Related: With personalized suggestions for what to watch, YouTube is having a significant impact on people’s viewing habits – and a responsibility it doesn’t seem to acknowledge yet.
  • Will Native-Social Ads Dominate Mobile? (streetfightmag.com, 2)
    Probably yes, because most other ad types don’t work that well on mobile.
  • 2017: The year people are forced to learn new skills… or join the Lost Generation (enterpriseirregulars.com, 2)
    While this post focuses on enterprises and managers, I’d argue that in 2017 (and from now one forever), the need to learn new skills essentially applies to every person below a certain age.
  • Sexbots and the Singularity (futureofsex.net, 2)
    Possibly the most inevitable trend in tech.
  • Culture is the Behavior You Reward and Punish (jocelyngoldfein.com, 2)
    A superb explanation for what culture is – here in the context of organizations, but the definition would also work for the broader cultures and sub cultures in societies: Culture is the behavior people reward and punish. So simple, so well put. In consequence: If one wants to change a culture, one has to alter what’s being rewarded and punished.
  • Inside the Changes That Could Save Twitter’s Business—and Reshape Civil Discourse (slate.com, 3)
    I don’t know why this became such a long, self-congratulatory piece. I summarize it for you: Twitter’s timeline is getting more similar to Facebook’s news feed thanks to the algorithmic selection of tweets. That decision comes with the same benefits and flaws as can be experienced at Facebook. The author finishes his post with the following claim: “We’ll be better off with a more automated Twitter than we would be with no Twitter at all”. A few years ago I would have agreed. Now I doubt it. But of course it’s a purely theoretical point to discuss.
  • You Don’t Get AMP (blog.153.io, 2)
    Google’s AMP initiative (“Accelerated Mobile Pages”) is catching on. But when referring to AMP, the various parts of the undertaking easily get mixed up. This post clarifies.

Recently on meshedsociety.com:

  • What Uber’s crisis means for the company – and what it doesn’t mean
    To say that Uber is used to controversies would be an understatement. But a couple of recent missteps and scandals led to a dimension and intensity of criticism which the company hasn’t experience before. However, what does the negative press really mean for Uber? Let’s have a look at the possible impact on the five groups that the transportation giant relies on.

Podcast episode of the week:

  • PessimistsArc: Horseless Carriage
    The Pessimist Arc podcast dedicates its most recent episode to the hostilities early car owners in New York had to endure. People labeled the car, which was about to replace the horse, as “devil wagon”.


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