Weekly Links & Thoughts #140

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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  • Why Does Sweden Have So Many Start-Ups? (theatlantic.com, 2)
    Comprehensive and pretty accurate analysis. As is often the case with phenomenon of particular success, they are caused by combination of multiple factors.
  • Inside the World of the ‘Bitcoin Carnivores’ (motherboard.vice.com, 2)
    How does the principle “Use only Bitcoin, eat only meat” sound to you?
  • Voice is the next big thing (medium.com, 2)
    I’d also put my money on voice right now, which I expect to beat visual AR/VR in regards to the time until mainstream adoption.
  • First Evidence That Night Owls Have Bigger Social Networks than Early Risers (technologyreview.com, 2)
    According to new research, if you stay up late, your social network is likely to be bigger than those of morning people.
  • The secret online world of British teens: how streaks, deep likes and ghosting define young lives (wired.co.uk, 3)
    This is yet another piece trying to shed a light on teenage online behavior. Even if this format has become quite generic, I found the text to be quite insightful.
  • China’s Weibo Hires 1000 ‘Supervisors’ to Censor Content (thediplomat.com, 1)
  • Facebook Pledges to Hire 1,000 More Ad Reviewers Amid Russian Political Scandal (variety.com, 2)
    It seems as if the field of online moderation, monitoring, censorship and denunciation (the transition is fluid) will see an explosive growth of jobs in the time to come, as AI clearly isn’t up to the task for now.
  • How Apple is managing the iPhone buying dilemma (macworld.com, 2)
    Some speculation on how Apple’s added complexity to the iPhone product line (with the new iPhone 8 on sale but the even more sophisticated iPhone X not yet) will impact consumer behavior.
  • Books and Blogs (stratechery.com, 2)
    Blogs might be dead for some, but Ben Thompson has found a way to monetize blogging in a way which makes it financially superior over book deals.
  • Why testing self-driving cars in SF is challenging but necessary (medium.com, 2)
    Which strategy is better? To focus tests with self-driving cars on dense, tricky urban environments which might take longer but will then allow for a quicker, broader roll-out, or to focus on less challenging suburbs? The General Motors-owned startup Cruise chose the first option, letting cars drive around in San Francisco.
  • San Francisco: now with more dystopia (mhudack.com, 1)
    In more way than one, San Francisco could be the future everywhere. Or maybe suburban “company towns” are. Or both.
  • Highly ideological members of Congress have more Facebook followers than moderates do (pewresearch.org, 2)
    As Twitter and Medium co-founder Evan Williams stated recently: The big internet platforms reward extremes…
  • How Silicon Valley turned off both the left and right (mercurynews.com, 2)
    … but that does not change the fact that highly ideological people on both sides of the political spectrum are growing skeptical of Silicon Valley.
  • Stop Teaching Students WHAT to Think. Teach Them HOW to Think. (scottsantens.com, 2)
    “Human-automaton creation must end. To succeed in a world of automation will require being as unmachinelike as possible.”
  • The US Government is Forcing Coursera to Ban Iranian Users Again (techrasa.com, 2)
    Absurd. Because of U.S. export control regulations, the well-known U.S.-based online education and MOOC platform Coursera is forced to block users from Iran from using its services. So when you happen to live Iran (or in a few other places), U.S. regulations prevent you from accessing the knowledge the rest of the world can make use of.
  • Poor coding limits IS hackers’ cyber-capabilities, says researcher (bbc.com, 2)
    The global talent market is tough. Being rewarded with the promise of a future paradise doesn’t fare well against the big salaries that today’s tech companies pay qualified software engineers.
  • The state of data journalism in 2017 (blog.google, 2)
    42% of reporters use data to tell stories regularly. 51% of all news organizations in the U.S. and Europe now have a dedicated data journalist.
  • Physicists find we’re not living in a computer simulation (cosmosmagazine.com, 2)
    Well, I guess that settles it. Except of course if the simulation has been designed in a way to ensure that its protagonist won’t find out that they are living in a simulation.
  • Women in crypto (medium.com, 1)
    Women are extremely underrepresented in the emerging field of cryptocurrencies and blockchain. This is unfortunate, and to some extend I do not understand it, as anyone can start reading up on the topic online, do some small experimental trades with BTC, ETH, start publishing a blog etc. However, for those women who are or want to become active in this segment as entrepreneurs, speakers or experts, the over-representation of men brings additional challenges (which, of course, are in large parts the typical challenges of women in tech in general). Linda Xie offers a good list of small actions everyone in this field can do to break down those additional barriers. She also has compiled a useful list of women who work in the crypto space or write about it.
  • Different Worlds (slatestarcodex.com, 3)
    Some interesting psychological reflections to wrap up this week’s edition: The practicing psychiatrist Scott Alexander explores the phenomenon that certain people repeatedly and reliably seem to bring out certain characteristics in other people. “Some people have personalities or styles of social interaction that unconsciously compel a certain response from their listeners.” I find this to be a highly fascinating point to ponder, as it could explain a whole lot about our sometimes remarkably differing social experiences.

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