Weekly Links & Thoughts #118

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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  • Tech Companies are Addicting People! But Should They Stop? (nirandfar.com, 2)
    Two years ago, Nir Eyal published “Hooked” which became somewhat of a holy book for tech companies and developers who strive for creating engaged users. Since then, he tries to navigate the thin line between advocating for the principles underlying the idea of getting users hooked on apps through intelligent design and the exploitation of primal impulses, and distancing himself from when the steps taken by companies are going too far. This new piece by him pretty much sums up the conflict he put himself in. He claims that tech companies have no interest in creating addicted users and therefore should implement concepts to prevent strong compulsive user behavior. I personally am not convinced that this claim is true. That being said, it’s well worth reading.
  • Sebastian Thrun Defends Flying Cars to Me (backchannel.com, 2)
    Tech billionaires are toying with ideas and projects to make flying vehicles reality. In this interview, the German-born computer scientist Sebastian Thrun who was a VP at Google and co-founded Udacity passionately defends the concept against an array of critical questions. However, not everyone in the industry agrees with him: Elon Musk prefers to dig tunnels and doesn’t believe in the feasibility of flying vehicles for the masses. See the “video of the week” at the bottom of this list.
  • This is How Google will Collapse (medium.com, 2)
    A comprehensive overview of the variety of actual or potential weaknesses in Google’s current market position and business model.
  • Quitting the Silicon Valley Swamp (pando.com, 2)
    The book author, blogger and writer Paul Carr, known for not mincing his words, writes about his long-standing habit of strategically quitting bad habits and removing destructive elements from his life. And he explains why it is now time for him to give up covering the Silicon Valley tech industry.
  • The death of the smartphone is further away than you think. And there is no ‘Next Big Thing’ (zdnet.com, 2)
    At the current moment I do subscribe to the assumption that we won’t move past the smartphone as prime personal device for a while – with maybe the exception of the home.
  • FOMO? Teens Can’t Put Down Their Phones (emarketer.com, 1)
    A statistic that encapsulates the difference between digital natives and the rest of the population: Teen users worldwide spend 48 more minutes every day using their smartphones for online activities (with a total of 3 hours 38 minutes) than average people ages 16 to 64.
  • We don’t want to be an office: Café owners are pulling the plug on WiFi (theglobeandmail.com, 1)
    Independent café owners are removing WiFi from their venues so that guests start to talk to each other again. What’s with this cliche that the (most likely) shallow small talk with strangers is in any way more desirable/better/important/valuable than reading, writing, programming, learning, messaging with loved ones far away or anything else that can be done on a device?!
  • Our world outsmarts us (aeon.co, 2)
    A great essay on an issue that I have been thinking about a lot lately: How the human brain’s inability to intuitively grasp statistical concepts and mathematics increasingly prevents us from understanding today’s complex problems and thereby from finding adequate solutions.
  • Facebook Stories is a total failure (mashable.com, 2)
    It totally is, but it also does not matter at all, as long as Stories are a huge success for Facebook-owned Instagram. This is the advantage of operating multiple leading services that are in some kind of competition with each other (for attention and user engagement): Not every feature needs to be a big hit in every one of the entities.
  • How Web Forums Make Neuroticism Viral (truthhawk.com, 2)
    Here we have an hypothesis which probably would require more research in order to be qualified as accurate. But as a possibility based on empirical observation it’s interesting to consider whether people featuring certain personality traits are dominating the online discourse and “exporting” certain patterns to a bigger audience.
  • Clayton Christensen, Doubling Down (insidehighered.com, 1)
    Clayton Christensen, the author of “The innovator’s dilemma” and father of the theory of “disruptive innovation”, expects half of the colleges (in the U.S.) to close within a decade, driven by the spread of online learning.
  • Mobile Payment Is Now Officially Available in Iran (techrasa.com, 2)
    Who knows, maybe mobile payment will become prevalent in Iran quicker than in many European countries. According to this text, one third of Point of Sale systems in the country can accept mobile payment.
  • Apple Can’t Ignore Microsoft’s Slick New Laptop (bloomberg.com, 2)
    Let’s assume for the sake of the argument that Microsoft will manage to make former Mac users switch in significant numbers back to a Windows device: It would be an incredible turn-around for the company. But of course, right now, this is hypothetical.
  • 2017 Global Startup Ecosystem Report (thenextweb.com, 2)
    The Startup Genome project has released its third report on global startup ecosystems, including a top 20 ranking. Nice to see Stockholm receiving the recognition it deserves (although within the European Union, Berlin is considered the leading ecosystem). From the article: “When it comes to Europe the big news is Stockholm. For Gauthier, Stockholm had the most impressive upward movement this year by jumping into number 14, making its debut in the top 20”.

Recently on meshedsociety.com:

Video of the week:

  • Elon Musk’s TED 2017 Full Interview
    A must-watch if you haven’t seen it yet. If Elon Musk can pull of all the things he plans to, he will become one of the most important people of this century.


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