Weekly Links & Thoughts #59

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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  • The new mind control
    A slightly unsettling longread (and must read) about how the digital giants, and specifically Google, are able to influence and steer the public’s opinion. The insights presented here are based on a study which showed how easy it is to use biased search results to change the opinion of people about specific political candidates.
  • Facebook and the New Colonialism
    I never thought about it that way, but thanks to Marc Andreessen I am now clearly seeing it: The digital landgrab of Western (in fact, mostly U.S.) Internet companies that takes place all around the world and that goes hand in hand with an export of culture, values and civil and political policies resembles a new type of colonialism.
  • Digitally disrupted GDP
    An interesting column pointing out how traditional metrics to measure economic progress are losing their significance thanks to the laws and mechanics of the digital world.
  • How Silicon Valley Could Solve—Instead Of Cause—Income Inequality
    An important thing to keep in mind: Instead of promoting and defending income inequality, the Silicon Valley could actually solve the underlying issues.
  • Why the FBI’s request to Apple will affect civil rights for a generation
    Good explainer of the FBI’s request to Apple to build a backdoor into iOS, and why this is an issue with wide-reaching consequences. If you haven’t read the letter of Apple CEO Tim Cook to its customers about the matter, here it is.
  • How to win an online argument: lessons from Reddit
    Online arguments can be a real annoyance or a lot of fun. Often they are both at the same time. Those who frequently engage in discussions on Facebook, Twitter or in the comment sections of newspapers and blogs should read this.
  • Gearing Up for the Cloud, AT&T Tells Its Workers: Adapt, or Else
    This piece takes the American telecommunications giant AT&T as example, but basically the rule “adapt, or else” applies for employees at most “old school” companies. I found especially this quote remarkable: “People who do not spend five to 10 hours a week in online learning will obsolete themselves with the technology.”
  • The Unit Economics of On-Demand Startups Explained
    Interesting insights into why on-demand startups which cater to the physical world are so economically challenging.
  • Can PewDiePie grow up without alienating his fans?
    This was inevitable: For a couple of years “regular” people rose to become huge celebrities on YouTube. But that involuntary leads into a dilemma: How do you remain authentic and a “regular person” once you are widely recognized as famous?
  • Wolff: Print’s dead — but so is digital
    20 years after the first online publications appeared, the question of a stable, reliable and broadly applicable business model for digital journalism is still (or again) unanswered.
  • We’re hearing about troubles at Nest, the smart-home company Google bought for $3.2 billion
    Google’s smart home subsidiary Nest is internally going through a rough period, according to this report.
  • IBM goes all in on blockchain, offers cloud-based service
    I still struggle with comprehending the impact the blockchain technology can really have on businesses and the digital world. Nevertheless, IBM launching a platform targeting developers who want to set up blockchain networks sounds exciting.
  • A Conversation Between Two AIs
    Like from a science-fiction movie. But in 2016, this has become reality.

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