Weekly Links & Thoughts #115

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 more than 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.

Reading time indicator: 1 = up to 3 minutes, 2 = 3 to 10 minutes, 3 = more than 10 minutes

  • Critical States (medium.com, 2)
    The moment when water is ready to turn into ice is called a critical state. For shallow observers, the surface doesn’t look different to the previous state though. For success in life or business, it is crucial to identify those metaphorical critical states early on to spot and seize opportunities that others are missing. Inspiring.
  • What in the World Is Causing the Retail Meltdown of 2017? (theatlantic.com, 2)
    A sound compilation of causes for the massive number of retail bankruptcies in the US in 2017. There already have been as many this year (9) as in all of 2016. The most fascinating suggested reason on the list: “Many young people are driven by the experiences that will make the best social media content—whether it’s a conventional beach pic or a well-lit plate of glistening avocado toast. Laugh if you want, but these sorts of questions—“what experience will reliably deliver the most popular Instagram post?”—really drive the behavior of people ages 13 and up.” I’m not 13 anymore but I would be lying to say that I have never caught myself thinking “This would look pretty cool on Instagram!” before doing something.
  • An off-grid social network (staltz.com, 2)
    Compared to the freaky-sounding peer-to-peer social network called Scuttlebutt profiled in this piece, Mastodon suddenly looks like pure establishment.
  • Why Uber Won’t Fire Its CEO (backchannel.com, 2)
    Due in part to the dual-class share structure which many tech founders have come to embrace, company boards’ influence over who gets to be CEO is being diminished. In the case of Uber, according to Jessi Hempel, the only person who can decide whether Uber needs a new CEO is its cofounder and current CEO, Travis Kalanick. I guess, if we would talk about heads of state, such a scenario would be labeled “dictatorship”.
  • Autonomous Trucking Overlooks Skilled Labor Need (supplychain247.com, 2)
    The looming disappearance of millions of truck driver jobs is often cited as a consequence of the ongoing trends towards automation and the emergence of self-driving vehicles. However, as always, things are more multifaceted.
  • End of road for trucking startup Palleter (medium.com, 2)
    Staying on the topic of trucking: The European startup Palleter had an interesting idea: Using a smart technical platform to fill unused capacity in trucks on demand. However, as the founders detail in this piece, their hypotheses had a a few flaws which made the whole idea unfeasible. So they shut down the company instead of raising money. As their update at the end of text notes, after its publication they received a lot of ideas and proposals, so this might not be the end of Palleter after all.
  • How BlaBlaCar faced growing pains and had to change its focus (techcrunch.com, 2)
    One more article focusing on vehicles on four wheels: Informative account of the French ride sharing company BlaBlaCar’s pivot away from Western Europe towards the Russian market.
  • The Spiritual, Reductionist Consciousness of Christof Koch (nautil.us, 3)
    An Illuminating interview about consciousness. The more you think about this feature of the brain, the more enigmatic it appears.
  • Shenzhen is a hothouse of innovation (economist.com, 2)
    Yet another insightful profile of the southern Chinese city Shenzhen’s rise as a hardware and innovation hub.
  • OK Google, do you track ads? (internetofpeople.eu, 1)
    A controversial Burger King commercial deliberately triggered Google’s smart speaker Google Home. Here are two relevant observations/conclusions.
  • A New, More Rigorous Study Confirms: The More You Use Facebook, the Worse You Feel (hbr.org, 2)
    Worth noting: The quantity of the Facebook usage matters according to the research. So checking Facebook occasionally won’t make people instantly feel worse. With extensive usage, the risk rises significantly.
  • The News Feed is Outdated: How Stories Changed the Way I Think About Social Media (blog.bufferapp.com, 2)
    But maybe all this will be obsolete very soon, considering the rise of stories as (possibly) the successor of the feed concept. The stories feature is being used very differently than a feed-based system, so researchers can start over.
  • This is the Jeff Bezos playbook for preventing Amazon’s demise (recode.net, 2)
    Jeff Bezos’s yearly letter to the shareholders, including lots of advice for professional flourishing. I instantly loved the concept of “disagree and commit” highlighted in the text.
  • It’s time for Google and Facebook to freak out about Amazon (mashable.com, 1)
    It’s certainly going well for Jeff Bezos’s company. Google is responding by turning its image search into a product search engine.
  • Apple’s AirPods make me feel like an alien (theverge.com, 1)
    What happens next is crucial: Will this feeling persist or will an increased number of people wearing AirPods help to normalize the AirPods product design? I am optimistic for the product.
  • Is Slack a product or a feature? The pros, cons and competition (diginomica.com, 2)
    A relevant question, well explained. Related observation: It’s a very subjective impression but lately I haven’t heard anyone rave about Slack anymore. Novelty definitely has worn off, which means the company is entering a more challenging stage.
  • The art inside you (medium.com, 1)
    A beautiful motto for the age of automation: Finding the art inside you.
  • Fuck virality, I want my ideas to be radioactive (markcarrigan.net, 1)
    I have made it my mission to only recommend radioactive articles in this weekly list, no viral ones… in all seriousness, while the label “radioactive” sounds pretty absurd, I like the point being made.
  • Singapore scientists teleport lemonade over the internet (cnet.com, 2)
    Eye-catching headline, and only a bit sensationalistic. The main difference to “real” teleportation is that the lemonade on the sender’s side didn’t vanish after the procedure. So it was rather a reproduction over a long distance instead of an actual “teleportation”. Still, kind of cool.
  • The new age of Ayn Rand: how she won over Trump and Silicon Valley (theguardian.com, 2)
    The works of the Russian-American novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand have influenced the world view of many of Silicon Valley’s tech libertarians – and not only those.

Recently on meshedsociety.com:

  • The internet brings people into space
    Tesla & SpaceX founder Elon Musk and Amazo founder Jeff Bezos have earned a lot of money with their web companies, which they now use to fund bold, visionary and pretty risky endeavors far beyond their initial focus areas. Seen through this lens, the effects of the internet are actually changing the world twice.
  • The end of roaming surcharges is a milestone for the EU
    For people living in the European Union, June 15 this year will be a date as import and symbolic as March 26 1995 was. At that day the Schengen agreement of open borders went into effect.

Podcast episode of the week:

  • The Knowledge Project: Naval Ravikant
    Naval Ravikant is the CEO and co-founder of AngelList and has invested in more than 100 companies. In this podcast interview he talks for a full 2 hours about a wide spectrum of topics, such as reading, habits, decision-making, mental models, and life. I was not bored a single second.


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