Weekly Links & Thoughts #132

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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  • Eager To Burst His Own Bubble, A Techie Made Apps To Randomize His Life (npr.org, 2)
    What a fantastic way to break out of routines and one’s comfort zone. But it also needs quite some determination to pull through.
  • The Fallacy of Biological Determinism (continuations.com, 2)
  • How Grit, radical candor and access to information can improve diversity (jennifersoffen.com, 2)
    Albert Wenger and Jennifer Soffen take the heated debate about (gender) diversity to the next level and make what I find a tremendously intelligent point: Technology plus information, specific feedback and a growth mindset are increasingly enabling humans to go beyond whatever biology or genetics might dictate. In my eyes, this is important to internalize and it promises so much more of a bright future to everyone compared to the in parts dark ideas and dogmas that got so visible in the wake of the debate about the Google memo and its content (see more about that further down in this post).
  • How to Disagree (paulgraham.com, 2)
    Old but it doesn’t hurt to have a look at this text occasionally. It happens easily that one slips into destructive patterns.
  • No, Smartphones are Not Destroying a Generation (psychologytoday.com, 2)
    A recent essay by the book author and professor of psychology Jean M. Twenge describes the negative impact of smartphone obsession on young generations. The cognitive behavioral scientist Sarah Rose Cavanagh offers a rebuttal of Twenge’s conclusions.
  • Can an App Make You a Better Runner? (theringer.com, 3)
    Struggle with the new realities of the smartphone world is not exclusive to teens, though. Some might recognize themselves in this description: “Running is simple. But I, with the help of some demanding technology, have managed to complicate it.”
  • Where are the Pilotless Airliners? Why Aren’t They Here Yet? (avgeekery.com, 2)
    The fundamental reason why pilots still are on the airplane? Decision making. Humans are much better than machines at pattern recognition and heuristics, which is required in ambiguous situations.
  • Bitcoin makes even smart people feel dumb (wired.com, 2)
    While it is awkward to apply an attribute like “smart” to oneself, I for sure can agree to the second part of the title: It’s easy to feel dumb when dealing with Bitcoin. I can’t stop being impressed by the developers who build crypto-related products or services and who seem to successfully be able to wrap their head around how all this stuff works. Well, I hope they do. Otherwise, one has to worry about what the NY Times just concluded: “Grandpa Had a Pension. This Generation Has Cryptocurrency“.
  • Inside the world of Silicon Valley’s ‘coasters’ — the millionaire engineers who get paid gobs of money and barely work (businessinsider.com, 3)
    Most likely some of these “coasters” also are Bitcoin millionaires.
  • ‘Self-driving car’ actually controlled by man dressed up as a car seat (theguardian.com, 2)
    What do you do if you are part of a University’s research project that examines how people react to driverless cars, but you don’t have a driverless car at hand? Simple: You put someone in the driver’s seat who wears the costume of a driver’s seat. This one might deserve a prize for the most creative idea of the year.
  • Cheers launches first unmanned, cashless store in Singapore (retailinasia.com, 2)
    The only odd thing is that this store has opening times, but this might be because it is part of a school campus.
  • Expect OEMs to Keep Omitting the Headphone Jack as Their Newest Phones are Selling Better and Better (xda-developers.com, 2)
    If this analysis is right, then most smartphone buyers don’t care too much about the absence of the headphone jack, meaning that its end definitely might be upon us. However, of course not everyone is happy, as the top comment (115 upvotes while I am writing this) below the article shows: “Why are people OK with this crap? I hate people.”
  • Finding the right advice (blog.asmartbear.com, 1)
    There is certainly no shortage of advice, but what advice is worth listening to? Here is some advice for how to evaluate – in the context of startups, but it might be applicable in other areas of life.
  • The Power of Anti-Goals (medium.com, 1)
    I for myself decided that this is valuable advice: Achieving things by focusing on which outcome one definitely does not want to happen, following the mantra of Warren Buffet’s business partner, Charlie Munger: “A lot of success in life and business comes from knowing what you want to avoid: early death, a bad marriage, etc.”
  • Why Many Smart Contract Use Cases Are Simply Impossible (coindesk.com, 2)
    An enlightening take on what’s possible with so called smart contracts (that mostly run on the Ethereum blockchain) and what’s not possible.
  • Inside Patreon, the economic engine of Internet Culture (theverge.com, 3)
    Insightful profile of an online service which many digital creators have high hopes in.

Recently on meshedsociety.com

  • The Google memo, the reactions to it, and why my mind couldn’t let go
    I went into introspection mode after my mind just couldn’t stop thinking (and worrying) about how the story about the widely criticized memo published by a Google engineer regarding the company’s diversity efforts played out. I got some answers about why it agitated me so much.

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