Weekly Links & Thoughts #184

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.


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Please 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).

  • Why the world is full of buttons that don’t work (cnn.com, 5 minutes)
    Next time you’ll be about to press a button, you’ll think about this text.
  • Types of dark pattern (darkpatterns.org, 2 minutes)
    Succinct list of practices found on websites and apps to lure people into actions or behaviors which go against their actual intentions.
  • Fitbit’s 150 billion hours of heart data reveal secrets about health (finance.yahoo.com, 8 minutes)
    Assuming these statistics are at least somewhat meaningful, this is great stuff. I’m now actually a step closer to buy some kind of health tracking device.
  • Who Will Own Your Augmented Reality? (streetfightmag.com, 5 minutes)
    A thought-provoking question.
  • Cognitive Biases and the Human Brain (theatlantic.com, 22 minutes)
    About the challenging but important quest to fight one’s cognitive biases.
  • How Duterte Used Facebook To Fuel the Philippine Drug War (buzzfeednews.com, 32 minutes)
    Just as the Trump presidency has been defined by Twitter, so too has the Duterte presidency been defined by Facebook. In the Philippines, Facebook essentially is the internet.
  • Fewer startups, more indies (joshsharp.com.au, 4 minutes)
    Startup culture is built on the core idea of rapid growth, often with the help of massive amounts of venture capital. This is not always a good path, and startups are less anti-establishment than they think they are, argues Josh Sharp. More founders need to be made aware that it’s okay to be indie instead, he writes.
  • An entrepreneur says 32-hour weeks ‘killed work ethic’ at his startup (businessinsider.com, 2 minutes)
    It’s not really a surprise that 32 hours a week are not enough for a startup.
  • How to Procrastinate Productively (nickwignall.com, 9 minutes)
    A successful attempt to reframe at least one type of procrastination (the indirectly “productive” one) as something positive.
  • The End of Amazon (businessoffashion.com, 7 minutes)
    The author believes that Amazon will falter within the next 10 years. Predictions like this are nothing but a wild guess (which follow the well-known dynamic of being forgotten if false but of generating admiration if correct). However, as an article detailing the challenges for the e-commerce and internet giant which right now can seem invincible, it’s worth reading.
  • Why Every Business Will Soon Be a Subscription Business (gsb.stanford.edu, 4 minutes)
    Another prediction. An interesting scenario to ponder.
  • How to Tell Stories About Complex Issues (ssir.org, 10 minutes)
    Considering that nowadays almost everything is a complex story, these recommendations are useful to keep in mind. One important point from the text: “The best stories leave space for your audience to put the pieces together. Think about your favorite movies and books. The moral of the story was probably never explicitly stated, but instead shown through the characters’ experiences”.
  • Tesla, software and disruption (ben-evans.com, 17 minutes)
    Really good and widely shared, so I assume many who see this have already read it.
  • Thailand is becoming a critical country for blockchain (techcrunch.com, 6 minutes)
    Totally feeding into the selective perception bias, but I know someone who just moved to Bangkok to work in the blockchain field. Doesn’t really lend any more credibility to the claim this piece makes, but it would certainly be interesting if the described trend continues.
  • The Online Gig Economy’s ‘Race to the Bottom’ (theatlantic.com, 12 minutes)
    The rise of the global online gig economy enables a subset of productive and driven people in low-income countries to improve their income and standard of living, while causing a race to the bottom from the perspective of “competitors” in high-income countries. Hard to say yet whether this is an actual problem or just a necessary step in an overall positive process, considering that there are winners and losers.
  • $600 Chromebooks are a dangerous development for Microsoft (arstechnica.com, 4 minutes)
    Google has been patiently expanding its “cloud” notebook product line Chromebook, and it is now starting to look like a serious contender.
  • What Technophiles Need To Know: Part One (medium.com, 11 minutes)
    It’s always a sign of real quality if a text published decades ago still feels totally relevant. Like this one. Howard Rheingold suspects that “our position today regarding the way we make decisions about technologies is similar to the dilemma that pre-Enlightenment scientists faced in the sixteenth century. We simply don’t have a good method for thinking and making decisions about how to apply (and not apply) the powerful tools of rationality, the scientific method, reductionism, the combination of logic and efficiency embodied by technology.”
  • The Worst Part of Dating an Older Guy Is His Texting Habits (thecut.com, 6 minutes)
    A fun read pointing to possible generational conflicts when it comes to digital communication (although at 32 years, the guy mentioned here should theoretically be familiar with contemporary texting patterns).
  • This Non-Nomadic Life (nomadicmatt.com, 4 minutes)
    Suggested read only for those who call themselves digital nomads or who practice a location-independent lifestyle without using the label.

Podcast episode of the week:

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