Weekly Links & Thoughts #56

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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  • How Facebook Squashed Twitter
    This has been the week in which many people in tech seriously started to worry about whether Twitter can be saved. If you want to understand how the company ended up here, read this spot-on analysis. Let me add an additional thought: For many years, Twitter has been characterized as the prime example for a product that people did not know they needed before it was created. Today however we might conclude that for the majority of Internet users, Twitter remains a service which they do not need. Twitter has been a service serving a niche target group, but with the structure, goals and external pressure of a service looking for mass-appeal. This cannot work forever.
  • The threat Uber poses to competition and productive capitalism
    An intelligent text which points to what I think is possibly the biggest issue with the current development of the U.S. tech industry: the rise of monopolies. Capitalism turns into monopolistic capitalism.
  • The case for ‘innovation altruism’ – Europe leads in global impact on innovation
    What a great idea: Measuring how a country’s economic and trade policies contribute to or detract from global innovation. Nice to see the European countries performing well in that regard. Although the U.S. ranks ahead of Germany, which does not make it into the top 10.
  • The end of app stores as we know it
    This is essentially a sequel to a widely shared blog post titled “The end of apps as we know them“. And it’s worth a read as well. This point struck me the most: “App stores are a payment gateway, and nothing more.”
  • A Conversation With Marc Andreessen: AI, Robotics, Jobs and Accelerating The Future
    Marc Andreessen does not think that there will be less jobs in the future. But he has no doubt about that new jobs will be very different than what most people are doing today, which brings a huge need for more ubiquitous education and skills training. I would agree. To add one additional remark: My biggest concern are unskilled, uneducated males. Their jobs will vanish, leaving them with nothing to do. The negative consequences for these individuals and for societies as a whole are apparent.
  • AT&T’s CEO says Tim Cook shouldn’t have any say in encryption debate
    The AT&T CEO’s comments emphasize a pretty interesting question: What kind of say should device and software makers have about encryption levels?!
  • What World Are We Building?
    Smart reflections about how when building our digital technologies, we unnoticeably transferred our existing social relations and dynamics from the analog world, reproducing the kind of social issues and discrimination in the digital world that we should have gotten rid of.
  • An End to Parking
    This long article sheds a light on one aspect related to the changes in the automobile industry which usually is ignored: the chance to drastically reduce parking space.
  • How this blogger became one of the most influential voices in tech policy
    Insightful profile of Mike Masnick and his widely known blog Techdirt. I wasn’t aware that Masnick coined the well-established term “Streisand Effect”.
  • Anywhere but Medium
    I wholeheartedly agree with Dave Winer. People who have an interest in keeping the open web alive should not use Medium as their premier destination for published content. It’s so obvious, actually.
  • Tech’s ‘Frightful 5’ Will Dominate Digital Life for Foreseeable Future
    I think the chance that this will be the case is about 80 %. Meaning, it’s very likely.
  • Google Will Soon Shame All Websites That Are Unencrypted
    Time to figure out how to switch meshedsociety.com to https, I guess.
  • This is what happens with most Product Hunt launches
    Linking to this gives me the opportunity to state that I have never fully understood the hype about Product Hunt. I am not convinced that a site which shows “a curated list of new products every day” really serves a bigger purpose, other than allowing a few lucky/well-connected startups to gain a bit more attention within the circles of other people who build or fund startups.
  • Politicians are so predictable, a robot can literally write their speeches
    Nobody is surprised.
  • World’s Oldest Torrent Is Still Being Shared After 4,419 Days
    All issues about piracy aside, the invention of the torrent protocol was one of the most fantastic things to happen to the Internet, ever.
  • Has the Internet Made Air Travel Irrelevant?
    As you might expect after seeing the question mark at the end of the headline, this long read does not answer the question asked. Neither do I think there is any other answer than “no”. Still, thinking about this topic makes for a stimulating exercise for the mind. And who knows, maybe once Virtual Reality has been adopted by the masses, air travel might in fact become much more irrelevant.
  • Mark Zuckerberg on how building his AI
    Fresh back at work after his 2 month parental leave, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg presents details about his personal project of 2016, which is to build a simple Artificial Intelligence to help him with work and to run his home.

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