Weekly Links & Thoughts #127

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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  • Shedding Light on the “Black Box of Inappropriateness” (cherylyeoh.com.com, 3)
    After an exclusive New York Times story revealing the culture of (sexual) harassment in tech – in this case particularly involving venture capitalists – lots of new personal accounts emerged. Like this cringing one by the entrepreneur Cheryl (Yeoh) Sew Hoy, illustrating exemplary how male investors feel comfortable abusing their power to gain sexual favors from those who seek funding. Note that this specific example is not about an investor just asking someone out (though even that kind of harmless seeming move might not be wise in such a context). But this is about an investor explicitly begging for sex (“Just one night, please just this one time.”). On the same topic: Danah Boyd finds the right words describing how the culture in the industry can (and must) change.
  • The Rise of the Thought Leader (newrepublic.com, 3)
    Someone on Hacker News used the term “Eloquent Bullshitters” instead of “Thought Leader”, which might give you a hint on the direction of this long read.
  • The Problem with Being a Top Performer (scientificamerican.com, 2)
    The price top performers within an organization pay for their above-average results: They might be resented by peers who even could end up strategically undermining their work.
  • How Amazon’s Echo Is Making Major Labels Rethink Their Tunes (billboard.com, 2)
    New technology creates new challenges/opportunities, such as: What music gets played if someone tells a voice-controlled smart speaker that they want to listen to a certain artist or music style.
  • Beyond public key encryption (blog.cryptographyengineering.com, 2)
    A detailed post for the technically interested on new approaches to make encryption on the Internet more safe and more usable.
  • Beyond Bitcoin: Truly Decentralized Banking (hackernoon.com, 3)
    This piece challenged some of my assumptions about money, Gold, inflation and the potential of crypto currencies.
  • We need to talk about sex, robot experts say (reuters.com, 1)
    Provided that the following assumptions are true: 1) people won’t stop seeking sexual pleasure and novelty 2) robots, sex toys and virtual reality tech are getting increasingly sophisticated 3) lots of money is to be made – then I can imagine this becoming a huge topic and a giant market within a couple of years. So yeah, talking about it and the implications seems necessary.
  • AI Will Make Forging Anything Entirely Too Easy (wired.com, 2)
    Considering how easily influenced people already are by written fake news, once forging audio and video perfectly will become feasible, the concept of “truth” will get even more undermined. This is worrying.
  • The Faceless Boss: A Look Into The Uber Driver Workplace (npr.org, 3)
    One of the major “innovations” of Uber is how it has created a workplace with a faceless boss. Even though the company promises freedom to drivers, in fact, it heavily controls how they do their work.
  • As Uber Stumbles, Lyft Sees an Opening, and Bites Its Tongue (nytimes.com, 2)
    Over the years of its existence, Uber rival Lyft has branded itself as the “friendly” alternative to the aggressive juggernaut. That also means that its CEO and team now have to avoid any public display of Schadenfreude.
  • Music industry welcomes landmark ruling in Google delisting case (completemusicupdate.com, 2)
    A Canadian Supreme Court case which ended with the decision that Google has to delist an entire website globally on the grounds of intellectual property infringement might spell bigger trouble for the search giant.
  • Tech giants eating the advertising world (axios.com, 1)
    This year, two-thirds of all global ad dollars will go to the five tech companies Google, Facebook, Tencent, Baidu and Alibaba.
  • German man hides machine dropping anti-Erdoğan leaflets from hotel room window (dailysabah.com, 1)
    Genius activism: Booking a hotel room, connecting a printer to a router and positioning it close to the open window, leaving the country and remotely initiating the printing of hundreds of political leaflets.
  • From Seed to IPO — 9 learnings by an early Delivery Hero investor (medium.com, 2)
    Last week, the German food delivery company Delivery Hero went public in one of the biggest tech IPOs in Germany for a while. One of his early investors has published an informative summary of learnings he gained about startups, entrepreneurship, marketplaces and early stage investing, from working with Delivery Hero. Turns out, it is entirely possible to build a really large tech company (from scratch!) in Europe.
  • As Paris’ mega startup campus Station F opens its doors, Silicon Valley has gone all in (venturebeat.com, 2)
    After years of political uncertainty, polarization and terrorist attacks, the French must be longing for some reason for optimism. Maybe the tech industry can help to deliver it.
  • Two Decades of Recommender Systems at Amazon.com (computer.org, 3)
    An in-depth analysis of how Amazon, the pioneer and major innovator when it comes to recommendation systems, figures out how products relate to each other.

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