Weekly Links & Thoughts #44

Here is a weekly selection of thoughtful opinion pieces, interesting analyses and significant yet under-reported information bits from the digital and technology world. Published and commented every Thursday, just in time so you have something good to read during the weekend.

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  • Why It’s OK to Block Ads
    An incredibly thought-provoking think piece, suggesting that users might have a moral obligation to block ads. I am not using ad blockers myself, however, I would lie if I’d say I don’t like the idea of better informational environments that respect our scarce attention, as described in this text.
  • How the internet is uniting the world
    Last week’s reading list was loaded with pessimistic pieces, so it is time for some optimism. I am tempted to rephrase the title and state that the Internet unites and divides the world and its people at the same time, but that would not be optimistic so I won’t do that. Kinda.
  • A 23-year-old Google employee lives in a truck in the company’s parking lot and saves 90% of his income
    This account is remarkable in two ways: First that even well-paid Google employees in the San Francisco Bay Area find rents in the area unacceptably high, and second that a truck is everything a Google employee needs as an “apartment”, since all other amenities are being provided by the company at the workplace. So this is a story touching both the philosophy of a minimalist lifestyle as well as the issue of exploding real estate prices at the world’s tech hub.
  • The Porn Business Isn’t Anything Like You Think It Is
    You might have heard about the stereotype that each new digital technology has first been adopted and turned into a mainstream thing by the porn industry. While that might have been true in the past, this article explains why the porn business is increasingly running behind, constantly trying to catch up with the latest innovation in tech. Very insightful.
  • The Programs That Become the Programmers
    About the ultimate algorithm in programming: The one that learns and can write programs itself.
  • I Built a Botnet that Could Destroy Spotify with Fake Listens
    Considering that music streaming services pay royalties based on the number of streamed songs, bots that pretend to be streaming users are a pretty obvious way to scam and exploit these services.
  • An Engineering Theory of the Volkswagen Scandal
    No matter whether this really happend or not, this theory offers a convincing explanation for why engineering teams end up performing unethical tasks or creating solutions that intend to cheat and deceive: normalization of deviance.
  • Your phone’s homescreen is dead
    I hardly ever open apps by clicking on their icon, instead I type their names into the search of iOS. Correspondingly, I tend to agree with the overall point of this piece.
  • Google’s growing problem: 50% of people do zero searches per day on mobile
    Informative article explaining why the switch to the mobile web is such a big challenge for Google.
  • Unicorns, Startups and Hosted Email
    Even in the age of Slack, email is still at least a necessary evil for companies. At least among startups, one cloud email player is totally dominating. You guess right: Gmail.
  • The New York Times is shipping Google Cardboard to its print subscribers
    I have never used it myself, but it for sure seems as if Google’s low-budget VR “gadget” cardboard is turning into more than a PR stunt created to show at Google I/O conferences.
  • The end of bootstrapping
    Bootstrapping means building a startup company without the help of external capital. According to this point of view presented in this blog post, making bootstrapping work is increasingly difficult because winning a market has never been more expensive.
  • The Future of News is Not an Article
    This article (!) contains valuable ideas about how to advance written journalistic work in the digital age. My only gripe is the terminology: To me, an article is a written text that I consume through reading. Unless someone claims that reading itself will go away (which this piece does not), we’ll still read written texts that I’d call “articles”. No matter what sophisticated technologies are being used to generate that article. But I still see why the author chose this headline: She wants the reader to forget the associations and historic thought concepts that come with the term “article”. The article of the future might (or possibly must be) modular, dynamic, personalized.
  • Janet Jackson Cracks Down On Fans Who Instagram Concert Photos
    Some celebrities are mentally stuck in the past. I find it stupid to punish your fans like that. It is not that anyone would refrain from going to a concert of Janet Jackson because he/she is satisfied with seeing a few photos on Instagram.

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