Weekly Links & Thoughts #55

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 annotated every Thursday (CET), just in time so you have something good to read during the weekend.

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  • Are cities the new countries?
    This lengthy piece resonates a lot with me. Increasingly, cities and their populations seem to have less in common with their respective nation states but more with other cities and the people there.
  • Today, I stared into the eyes of God – and saw only emptiness
    This post really captivated me. Unlike what the headline might suggest, it describes the chat interaction with a Google support “employee” who, with 95 % percent likelihood, turns out to be a bot. I guess bot-spotting will become a popular (or annoying) activity for many. Why? Read the next piece…
  • 2016 will be the year of conversational commerce
    Conversational interaction with online services is one of the most buzzy topics right now in tech, and it is poised to change the way commerce works. Lots of interesting remarks and points to consider in here.
  • Cars and the Future
    Lately, there has been no shortage of articles discussing the disruptive forces that are changing the automobile industry. Even if you already have read many of them, don’t miss out on this excellent one by Ben Thompson.
  • Peak content: The collapse of the attention economy
    It is not easy to define at what point there is “too much content” available online. But the author of this article thinks it does, and he expects a collapse of the attention economy (the market that the digital content industry caters to).
  • Viral publishers, seeing fewer Facebook clicks, shift focus to video
    The trend described in this post would actually confirm the theory of a collapse of the attention economy. Or at least that this market is going through a consolidation.
  • Adblock is destroying ads. Good
    Even the increase in the use of adblocking software is contributing to the changes affecting the content industry. I enjoyed this post and found myself nodding to this line: “But the only way to get ‘true fans’ is by creating content that will first and foremost speak to them (i.e. is reader centric), not one that has the interests of the advertiser fairies in mind (advertiser centric).”
  • Globalization for the little guy
    Globalization has been a reoccurring theme on meshedsociety.com. This is interesting research by the McKinsey Global Institute, looking at the effects of social media and digital platforms on globalization. One tidbit from the post: “More than 12 percent of Facebook friendships are between people living in different countries, and half of active Facebook users have at least one cross-border friend—a threefold increase from 2014.”
  • A free shipping mystery
    This indeed sounds mysterious: Apparently it is possible to buy things on AliExpress, the consumer version of the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, and have them shipped for free to Europe – no matter how cheap the items are. This blogger did some tests and managed to have an item that costs 3 cents shipped for free from China to France. On Hacker News, a lively discussion about the phenomenon takes place.
  • Kids Are Scared Of A Future Where Robots Take All Their Jobs
    The nowadays widespread talk of the robot revolution and its possible impact on jobs is, rather unsurprisingly, causing concern among those who will be affected the most. Probably, that’s the best that can happen. It would be much worse if nobody would care, until the day their job is being taken over by robot.
  • Dating App Happn Reaches 10 Million Users, Adds Voice
    This is quite a fascinating development. Until recently it looked like Tinder has completely taken over the mobile dating sector. But now this French startup seems to have reached a critical mass, which is the essential thing you need to succeed on the dating app market.
  • In countries where gay sex is taboo, Grindr and other apps open a window
    Reading that makes me think that operating a casual dating app for homosexuals comes with a lot of responsibility, because in countries without an open attitude towards gays, using these apps can be outright dangerous. So users need to be sure that the company gives them any tool necessary for staying safe.
  • A year later, Netflix still doesn’t understand China
    Looks like Netflix, despite its overall success, has underestimated what it takes to be able to launch in China.
  • Google Play saw 100% more downloads than the iOS App Store, but Apple generated 75% more revenue
    Still the same old story. And still astonishing.
  • Death and the internet: How Facebook and Twitter are changing the way we think about death
    This is not one of these generic articles describing the challenge for social media platforms to deal with the deceased. Instead, the author details how digital technology changes the way people encounter death.
  • Deathly euphemisms: “rest in peace” and “thoughts and prayers”
    Related to the previous link. I am glad that I’m not the only one who can get irritated about how people online respond to the death of some public person.
  • Why some Koreans make $10,000 a month to eat on camera
    This article made me instantly head to AfreecaTV to watch young Korean indulge in massive binge-eating sessions. Somehow I wish that this will become a trend in Europe, too.
  • Annual Global State of In-Flight Wi-Fi 2016
    Some informative insights from Routehappy about the state of in-flight Wi-Fi. Overall, the U.S airlines are leading. At least one thing they are good at, since otherwise, they have been totally out-competed.

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