Weekly Links & Thoughts #136

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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Reading time indicator: 1 = up to 3 minutes, 2 = 4 to 9 minutes, 3 = 10 minutes or more

  • The Last Auto Mechanic (medium.com, 3)
    While any prediction about the timeframe for the emergence of a mass market for self-driving cars should be taken with a grain of salt, it doesn’t hurt to theoretically play through a scenario in which this is going to happen within the next 15 years, as the author has done. Clearly, the impact of such a shift on people’s lives and the economy at large would be tremendous.
  • Uber’s Achilles’ Heel (medium.com, 2)
    What will be Uber’s advantage over other companies in the transportation and automotive space once self-driving cars will be the norm, considering that the company’s big asset today is the well-established two-sided market of drivers and riders? Intelligent post from early 2016 about a question that most who are bullish on Uber seem to ignore.
  • Return of the city-state (aeon.co, 3)
    Modern technology tends to be distributed, decentralized and (compared to how things were in the 20th century) uncontrollable. The societal, logistical and bureaucratic consequences of this shift undermine the workings and benefits of the concept of nation states. Jamie Bartlett explains in this essay why the 21st century could see the big comeback of the city-state.
  • The Leisure Economy — where we all get paid to play games (venturebeat.com, 2)
    The idea of a future in which most people play games all day long only sounds ridiculous as long as one has a very fixed view on an alleged dichotomy between “real life” and games.
  • What’s the difference between apps we cherish vs. regret? (timewellspent.io, 1)
    That’s thought-provoking: An analysis of data collected from a pool of 200,000 iPhone users shows a correlation between time spent with an app and the level of happiness that users report about their app usage.
  • Google & Microsoft Are Building Software To Identify Influencers And Trendsetters (cbinsights.com, 2)
    The Google Trends graph about usage of the term “influencer” clearly shows it: There doesn’t seem to be an end in sight for the influencer frenzy. Tech giants want to capitalize on this.
  • Europe’s most entrepreneurial country? (weforum.org, 2)
    According to a new report published by the World Economic Forum and the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, Estonia, Sweden and Latvia are spearheading Europe’s entrepreneurialism. When looking at the map shown in the article, the north-south divide couldn’t be more evident. Speaking about Sweden, here is a piece investigating what the Nordic country needs to do next in order to become not only a European but global tech super-power.
  • Foursquare Data Shows Up Today in More Places Than You’d Think (streetfightmag.com, 2)
    New York-based Foursquare, a location startup beloved by many early adopters and tech geeks but that for a long time struggled with finding its purpose and business model, has turned itself into the primary provider of location data for many of the world’s leading tech firms.
  • How Seth Godin Would Launch a Business With a $1,000 Budget (indiehackers.com, 2)
    This is a very inspiring collection of advices from marketing big shot and business/life strategist Seth Godin.
  • The fraud curve (acrowdedspace.com, 2)
    Any successful online project or business will have to deal with fraudsters. Here is a matter-of-fact analysis of how to do that.
  • 10 marketplace monetisation strategies (medium.com, 2)
    Most people nowadays use online market places on a frequent base, for shopping, travel or service requests. How do these sites make money? This comprehensive and competent compilation of revenue streams offers answers.
  • Kik’s Pivot to Cryptocurrency (attentionecono.me, 3)
    On September 12, the messaging pioneer Kik will initiate the public sale of its crypto token Kin. To me this will be the most interesting ICO so far, considering that this is the first high-profile consumer web company trying to leverage the blockchain and essentially betting its future on it. Kik hopes that Kin will become a decentralized currency utilized by third party developers, so while fundraising is one part of the goal, the vision of establishing a widely used utility token that generates network effects is another one. Thomas Euler has spent what looks to be an insane amount of time analyzing and dissecting Kik’s undertaking. Here is the second (more technical) part.
  • The Bitcoin Bubble Is Not a Bad Thing (wealthdaily.com, 2)
    I agree with this. In fact, in my eyes a bubble only is a negative thing if its bursting makes a lot of people lose assets that they technically cannot afford to lose. As far as I can tell, at least for now, this is not the case with Bitcoin.
  • Blockchain: The right side of crazy (hackernoon.com, 2)
    Interesting recap of 6 years of following the rise of the blockchain from a VC perspective.
  • Identity Thieves Hijack Cellphone Accounts to Go After Virtual Currency (nytimes.com, 2)
    It seems increasingly true that using Two Factor Authentication with SMS as verification channel is a bad idea – at least as long as the carriers are vulnerable to social engineering.
  • Funding Your Bliss: Mindfulness Startups Scale Up (news.crunchbase.com, 2)
    Whenever I see a funding announcement by a startup in the mediation and mindfulness space, I ask myself why these companies need so much money. If there is any field which technically doesn’t require a constant expansion of content, technology, staff and growth for the sake of growth, it is this, in my opinion.
  • Definite optimism as human capital (danwang.co, 3)
    A long read offering lots of food for thought about the value of optimism for humanity’s future and related issues that shape our sense of the present time.

Podcast episode of the week:

  • Masters of Scale with Reid Hoffman: Uncut Interview — Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg
    After having listened to this interview with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, two things became clear to me: The duo Zuckerberg and Sandberg is the reason why I am only critical of Facebook’s dominance, but not terrified. Both appear to have a lot of integrity and a healthy ethical compass (this judgement is of course based on my limited insights as an external observer). Also I realize that if Zuckerberg ever would leave the CEO role, Sandberg could easily take over without the company taking any harm. This is relevant as Facebook and its founder often can seem to be so synonymous that it might be hard to imagine any other person leading the company.

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