Weekly Links & Thoughts #191

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).

  • No More Glorification of Entrepreneurial Struggle (medium.com, 5 minutes)
    On the phenomenon of “strugglepreneurs” and how their gurus keep perpetuating the myth that endless entrepreneurial struggle signals progress.
  • Did I Make a Mistake Selling My Social-Media Darling to Yahoo? (nymag.com, 7 minutes)
    Most of you probably remember Delicious, the legendary web 2.0 social bookmarking site. Here its founder Joshua Schachter looks back on its early days and wonders what had happened if he hadn’t sold the company to Yahoo (where it started its demise).
  • YouTubers Will Enter Politics (buzzfeednews.com, 17 minutes)
    Primarily, this is a text about the changes in Brazilian politics. But a secondary narrative is how YouTube’s algorithms create politicians. This will happen elsewhere, too. And of course, these algorithms bring people to the foreground who are primarily good at one thing: optimizing for maximum attention.
  • Are We Already Living in Virtual Reality? (newyorker.com, 27 minutes)
    A captivating longread from earlier this year around the multilayered question of when a human experience qualifies as “real”.
  • Do journalists pay too much attention to Twitter? (cjr.org, 7 minutes)
    They do, and its a problem.
  • Interpretability and Post-Rationalization (medium.com, 8 minutes)
    Insightful perspective from a machine learning and robotics scientist on what it means for explainability of decisions made by artificial intelligence that humans tend to post-rationalize their decisions and actions, thus actually are unable to give proper explanations at all.
  • Your next doctor’s appointment might be with an AI (technologyreview.com, 12 minutes)
    Talking to a chatbot instead of a doctor to get a first opinion on a health issue – despite some challenges, I love it.
  • AI in 2018: A Year in review (medium.com, 11 minutes)
    Year in review posts are coming earlier and earlier. But this excerpt from a talk by Kate Crawford and Meredith Whittaker, co-founders of the AI Now Institute, about the events and concerns that occupied the minds of the AI community in 2018, is great!
  • How should autonomous vehicles be programmed? (sciencedaily.com, 4 minutes)
    “The most emphatic global preferences in the survey are for sparing the lives of humans over the lives of other animals; sparing the lives of many people rather than a few; and preserving the lives of the young, rather than older people.
  • The Gray Market’s Impact on iPhone Pricing (aboveavalon.com, 9 minutes)
    One major difference between Android phones and iPhones: There is a big and growing gray market for refurbished iPhones, which in fact helps Apple to boost sales for higher-priced flagship iPhones.
  • Even a censored Google would be better for China than Baidu (scmp.com, 5 minutes)
    Democracy-loving and Google-using Americans are actually deciding the fate of Chinese internet users – isn’t that paternalism? The Chinese are the ones who suffer from the lack of access to Google.”
  • Swedish Competition Agency Rejects Forcing Banks to Handle Cash (bloomberg.com, 3 minutes)
    In an almost cashless society, who is in charge of ensuring that access to physical money is maintained, despite lacking demand and therefore unattractive economics? This is a question Sweden currently has to figure out.
  • DAPPs are not Apps! (medium.com, 2 minutes)
    “DAPP” stands for “decentralized app” (typically relying on a blockchain), but a DAPP is not what people usually think of when hearing the term “app”. Instead, it is a layer between the protocol and the client.
  • Is Your Product Designed to Be Calm? (medium.com, 7 minutes)
    Amber Case wrote a scorecard for creating human-centered, anxiety-free technology solutions. According to her, a product is “calm” if it is designed to seamlessly, unobtrusively integrate with person’s life and daily habits. Obviously, many consumer apps are not calm at all, although things are getting better.
  • What Emails Reveal About Performance at Work (joshbersin.com, 7 minutes)
    “A study among 650 top leaders shows a 74% statistical correlation between communication patterns and the highest levels of individual performance. The finding: The highest performing leaders use simpler words to communicate, they respond faster, and they communicate more often. In other words, they are more engaged, more efficient, and more action-oriented.”
  • Networking for Nerds (benjaminreinhardt.com, 8 minutes)
    A bunch of tactics developed by the author that all boil down to one thing: make it easy for the other person – to remember you, to help, and to meet.
  • Growth Without Goals (investorfieldguide.com, 7 minutes)
    Brilliant take. One can grow without having clearly outlined goals. One can explore for the sake of exploration, without expectation. Great habits and practices make a great and successful life. Cultivate those and the rest will take care of itself.
  • What do 1980s concept cars and 2000s cell phones have in common? (uxplanet.org, 21 minutes)
    The author is very disappointed in the current and future state of technology, which “has no physicality”. But I’m sharing this mainly for the many truly stunning photos of 1980s concept cars’ cockpits

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