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.
If you want to make sure not to miss this link selection, do like more than 200 other smart people (as of April 2016) and sign up for free for the weekly email. It is sent out each Thursday right after this post goes live, including all the links. Example.
- How to Think Exponentially and Better Predict the Future
Without an expontial mindset, it’ll become increasingly hard to succeed. Essential read.
- These 25 Companies Are More Powerful Than Many Countries
This is not just a silly comparison intended for a catchy headline: The increasing, state-like power of some companies could, at some point, rival nation states, in some way or another. Through lobbyism, they already are doing it of course.
- In The Age Of Trump, Tech CEOs Cast Themselves As The New Statesmen
If you have read the previous piece, the observation described in this artice is the logical consequence.
- Investigating the Potential for Miscommunication Using Emoji
Next time you are sending an emoji to someone whose device is running on another operating system, don’t just assume that the sentiment represented by your emoji will be the same for the recipient.
- Why The FBI Director Puts Tape Over His Webcam
This is what I call a role model. If the FBI Director does it, probably everyone should.
- Why Is There Uncertainty Surrounding Virtual Reality Hardware?
Because so far, there is little interest from mainstream consumers. Instead, those most fascinated by the promise of VR are youngish gamers, who often don’t have the kind of deep pockets required to properly get started with VR. Of course, things and mainstream appeal can change quickly.
- Lyft, Didi Kuaidi Launch U.S. Ride-Sharing For Chinese Visitors
Three large competitors of Uber are working on a plan to create interoperability between their apps, enabling users of each of these apps to use the partnering ride sharing service when traveling to one of its markets. I would not rule out that this eventually turns out to be a more effective approach than Uber’s more than ambitious attempt to dominate each single national market.
- How Far to AI-topia?
Food for thought about the role of artificial intelligence in creating various types of utopia (i.e. accomplishing goals that humanity so far has failed to accomplish).
- Bots are the New Apps, Voice is the User Interface, AI is the Protocol and Messaging Apps are the Browsers
Connecting a few dots. But don’t misunderstand this as the imminent death of visual interface-based apps. While a few use cases will be better served through converstional interfaces (written text or voice), others will remain a domain of graphical interfaces for the foreseeable future.
- Known Bots on Facebook
On Tuesday, Facebook launched the Messenger Platform which enables developers to built chatbots. Here is a list with a few early adopters. My first experiences with these bots have been underwhelming (and slow), but of course patience is necessary.
- Is the future of news the future?
For many years, the future of news has been a popular topic on digital and media conferences. I think Dave Winer is right: Often, the talks and panels are not so much about the future of news but about money and careers. Which is understandable of course, yet might make it much harder to actually shape the future of news.
- Against Technological Determinism: Blockchains and Encryption
Full ack: “If we want to reap the benefits that blockchain and encryption technologies can have for increasing individual freedom then it is *not* enough to build them. We must also want to change ourselves and society accordingly.”
- Meet the people bringing Silicon Valley to Belgium’s ‘jihad central’
Interesting profile of Molengeek, a working space and “pre-incubator” for young entrepreneurs in the now infamous Brussel district Molenbeek, trying to fight the lack of opportunitites that is pushing individuals into extremism.
- How Cheap Can Electric Vehicles Get?
The cheaper, the more disruptive.
- Hardware is not ‘software wrapped in plastic’
Building a hardware startup is considered much easier today than a few years ago for several reasons. Why this is true, one should not underestimate the unique challenges that hardware builders are faced with compared to software creators.
- Alibaba’s $1B investment came just in time for cash-strapped Lazada
In 2011, the Berlin-based company builder (or “clone factory”) Rocket Internet launched the Amazon copycat Lazada in Southeast Asia. This week it was announced that China’s Internet giant Alibaba has invested $1 billion into Lazada. This is quite a big deal for Rocket Internet. The article analyzes the purchase and offers a host of interesting background facts.
- Spotify founders threaten to move from Sweden in open letter
This open letter which criticizes the Swedish politician’s inactivity in supporting the countries growing tech industry has led to a lot of discussion within the Swedish tech scene, receiving both praise and criticism itself.
Recent articles on meshedsociety.com
- Why not being on WhatsApp not being a big deal is a big deal
In 2011 or 2012, if you were not on Facebook, your social life and access to personal gossip was most likely severely limited. In 2016, if you are not on WhatsApp, the most preferred chat app by most Europeans and hundreds of millions of people elsewhere, it would have minor consequences, at worst. Most people can be reached through other apps and services as well. Of course, the companies behind the world’s leading chat apps will try hard to put and end to the user-friendly market conditions.
- Smart Home: Google, Apple and Microsoft are watching the cake while Amazon is eating it
In November 2014 Amazon released the early version of its voice-controlled smart assistant Echo. One and a half year later, the gadget is considered a huge success, which surprised many. Apparently it also surprised Google, Apple and Microsoft, which still have not anything comparable to offer. But they’ll have to come up with something fast.
Documentary of the week
- Elon Musk: How I Became The Real ‘Iron Man’
If you want to understand Tesla you need to understand Elon Musk. This Bloomberg documentary, while not a very recent one, does a good job.
If you like what you read, you can support meshedsociety.com on Patreon!