Weekly Links & Thoughts #156

Here is this week’s issue of meshedsociety.com weekly, loaded with interesting analyses and essays, significant yet under-reported information bits as well as thoughtful opinion pieces from the digital and technology world. Published every Wednesday/Thursday (CET), just in time so you have something good to read over the weekend.

If you want to make sure not to miss this link selection, sign up for free for the weekly email. It is being sent out to more than 500 people (January 2018). Here is an archive of previous issues.

Reading time indicator: 1 = up to 3 minutes, 2 = 4 to 9 minutes, 3 = 10 to 29 minutes , 3+ = 30 minutes or more
Note: Some of the publications may use “soft” paywalls. If you are denied access, open the URL in your browser’s incognito/private mode.

  • What I learned from three months of Content Moderation for Facebook in Berlin (sz-magazin.sueddeutsche.de, 3)
    An open letter by a former content moderator for Facebook. Is there a worse job than having to deal with a constant stream of pictures and videos showing the cruelest and most despicable sides of human nature? Are business models that require human tasks which no one voluntary would want to do if better job options existed, in any way morally defensible? These were the thoughts that occupied my mind after reading.
  • Growing apart and losing touch is human and healthy (m.signalvnoise.com, 1)
    A truly interesting perspective: Growing apart from people is a normal and healthy process in order to grow and prosper, according to David Heinemeier Hansson. Facebook is built on the exact opposite principle: stay connected with everyone you’ve ever friended forever.
  • Open Letter to the Airbnb Community About Building a 21st Century Company (press.atairbnb.com, 2)
    This open letter by Airbnb founder Brian Chesky is worth a read. Some goods things in here, but also the stated goal of wanting to turn “every city into a village”. If that means that everybody knows each other and has their hands in everybody else’s business, then no thank you.
  • Engineered for Dystopia (thebaffler.com, 3)
    Do engineers have a natural tendency to favor and participate in the creation of dystopias and authoritarian systems? I don’t necessarily agree with everything in here, but it’s certainly food for thought.
  • Will Everything Stay in New Orleans If Cameras Capture It All? (nytimes.com, 2)
    Speaking about dystopia: This article discusses whether large-scale video surveillance will lead to inhibitions among people seeking to partake in New Orleans’ famous vibrant and expressive public life. In general terms, this is a question which is relevant for all modern societies that are subject to mass surveillance, regardless of whether we are talking about government-run surveillance or “little brother” surveillance (people recording and sharing everything that happens around them).
  • Why publishers should consider the “Smart Curation” market (mondaynote.com, 2)
    Curation is still underestimated by many journalists and media companies. Hopefully this will eventually change.
  • Why there is so much bullshit: an analysis (withoutbullshit.com, 2)
    An apt comparison of who created the things we were reading in 1980 with the situation today.
  • Plateau Kindle Before Peak Kindle (500ish.com, 2)
    M.G. Siegler on the Kindle’s plateau, why this is not a bad thing, and what the holy grail-like next step should be.
  • With teen mental health deteriorating over five years, there’s a likely culprit (theconversation.com, 2)
    The smartphone and social media-fueled obsession with perfection.
  • A therapy chatbot and app for depression and anxiety (businessinsider.com, 2)
    But of course, it is not the smartphone per say that leads to worsening of mental health among teens, but how the device is being used. The solution to the dilemma might as well be Smartphone-based. And apart from learning to use smartphones moderately (airplane mode helps!), something like Woebot could be part of a solution: a new chatbot app for iOS that promises to provide a basic form of cognitive-behavioral therapy.
  • Online Communities Are the Best Thing About the Internet (biznology.com, 2)
    And of course, there is the other side of the coin: the awesomeness of some online communities.
  • Why Trump Tweets (And Why We Listen) (politico.com, 3)
    Brilliant analysis of the unfortunate symbiosis of Donald Trump and Twitter. These two really go hand in hand.
  • Up close with Apple’s HomePod (techcrunch.com, 2)
    It’s hard to predict whether the HomePod will sell well or not. Which also makes it exciting.
  • Want to code? You better start teaching yourself (technologyreview.com, 1)
    About 74 percent of software developers are at least partially self-taught, says a survey of 39,000 developers.
  • Giving Ourselves Permission Not To Crush It All The Time In Tech (sarahbrownmarketing.com, 2)
    A reflective post on the challenge of dealing with the pressure to “crush it” all the time because of the illusion that everyone else is crushing it all the time as well. From the text: “But I frequently don’t know others’ private struggles, pains, illnesses, and challenges. And they don’t know of mine unless I share.”
  • The Mind Meld of Bill Gates and Steven Pinker (nytimes.com, 3)
    A chat over lunch with Bill Gates and the cognitive psychologist and book author Steven Pinker (most known for “The Better Angels of Our Nature”) about the state of the world.

Recently on meshedsociety.com:

Quotation of the week:

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