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. Usually published every Wednesday/Thursday (CET), just in time so you have something good to read over the weekend.
It’s summer in Europe, and I try to take things a bit more easy. Thus this issue comes later than usual (or outside of the regular schedule, if you want to express it that way). The next issue can be expected around Thursday July 19.
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 (or subscribe if you find yourself reading a lot of the content on a specific site and want to support it).
- Complicating the Narratives (thewholestory.solutionsjournalism.org 3+)
Long and – in my opinion – extremely important essay discussing one of the biggest weaknesses of journalism in our day and age: The widespread custom to simplify and trivialize the narratives, when the complexity of reality would require the opposite.
- The Trolley Problem Tries to Probe Our Moral Compass. Does It Work? (slate.com, 3)
The famous trolley problem, a staple in techno-philosophical debates about self-driving cars (among other things).
- Ten ways Fortnite is like a social network (medium.com, 1)
Maybe the social networks of the future will all be game-like?
- Network Effects Matter Less Than They Used To. That’s a Really Big Deal. (hbr.org, 2)
Network effect might matter less nowadays at least for certain scenarios. On the other hand, it’s exactly the network effect that keeps Facebook as big as it is.
- There was a time when search engines were a thing. And it seems they still are (boston.conman.org, 2)
Turns out, lots of oldschool search engines from the early Internet days are still around.
- The rise of ‘pseudo-AI’: how tech firms quietly use humans to do bots’ work (theguardian.com, 2)
- Bot vs. Bot: Will the Internet Soon Be a Place Without Humans? (singularityhub.com, 2)
Two amusingly contradicting trends. Bots pretending to be humans, and humans pretending to be bots.
- I Am the Algorithm (newyorker.com, 1)
Read this just in case you have forgotten how much the algorithms you interact with every day know about you.
- Bothersome Bystanders and Self Driving Cars (rodneybrooks.com, 2)
As expected (see weekly #162), now we have a first call for people adjusting their behavior so self-driving cars don’t crash.
- Limits of Capitalism: Power Laws (continuations.com, 2)
Tech-enabled power laws are changing the core nature of capitalism and driving a huge increase of wealth and income inequality. Meanwhile, the tech elite is concerned with how to escape, as outlined by Douglas Rushkoff.
- The Hidden Cost of Touchscreens (medium.com, 2)
Sometimes touchscreens enhance the user experience. For other purposes, they are making it much worse.
- Inside JD.com, the giant Chinese firm that could eat Amazon alive (wired.com, 2)
The number of Chinese tech giants which are turning into objects of fascination and admiration outside of China keeps growing.
- Replacing Instapaper (disruptiveproactivity.com, 1)
Instapaper is my most important tool for organizing my online reading and curation. With the debut of the GDPR, the company operating the service abruptly closed it for users from the European Union. Until recently I have been in South America, but now I am back in Sweden and am forced to use a VPN basically all the time just to be able to access Instapaper (or to send articles there for later reading). I somehow am still hesitant to move elsewhere. But if this situation keeps persisting, I probably should.
- Europe is using smartphone data as a weapon to deport refugees (wired.co.uk, 2)
The smartphone has become the essential accessory for modern migration – but for its owners, it at the same time can become a risk factor.
- If You Say Something Is “Likely,” How Likely Do People Think It Is? (hbr.org, 2)
Love this. I do usually ask people to give me percentages instead of words such as “likely” or “probably” or “possibly” – and I started doing this after having read “Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction” by Phil Tetlock (mentioned in the article) and Dan Gardner. In general, our spoken languages are extremely imprecise (or at least, that’s how we use them). See also the podcast episode of the week further down below.
- Korean guy studying alone creates a huge following on YouTube (koreaherald.com, 1)
First there were people who drew a big following with videos showing them eating. Now there is another unexpected “genre”.
- Things That Are Different As A More Experienced Entrepreneur (saastr.com, 2)
This is quite informative.
- An Invisible Rating System At Your Favorite Chain Restaurant Is Costing Your Server (buzzfeed.com, 3)
The technology-enabled trend of rating restaurant servers (which according to this piece is becoming more widespread in the US) seems flawed when questions about the food quality are used to evaluate the performance of the serving staff.
- Eating for Peace: How cuisine bridges cultures (nautil.us, 3)
The magically unifying role of food explored in this piece strikes me every time I sit in a foreign country in a local (non-tourist) food place with only locals around me, which regularly makes me feel a type of connection to the people despite all language and cultural barriers.
Quotation of the week:
- “The creativity of human consciousness is threatened by few things, but religious or ideological or political totalitarianism is one.”
By Max Niederhofer in “Consciousness and creativity” (blog.maxniederhofer.com, 1)
Podcast episode of the week:
- Philosophize this: Episode #119 – Derrida and Words
What words of our spoken languages are when you put them under the microscope. “Most people under-analyze words”. This also helps to understand why the same word can mean so different things to different people.
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