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.
I’ll take next week off, so there is a chance that the next edition will be published in 2 weeks.
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- Identity 2016: ‘Global citizenship’ rising, poll suggests
Fascinating results. Good to see that more people are identifying themselves as global rather than national citizens. I’m impressed by the Spanish perspectives, disappointed in my fellow German’s attitudes and unfortunately not very surprised by the Russian lack of global-mindedness. Specifics aside, the different results really show the impact of cultural peculiarities on individual thinking.
- Uncanny Valley
A lengthy essay describing the distinct and to some extend absurd as well as unhealthy culture that shapes the work with and for up and coming tech companies in the Silicon Valley. You most likely don’t learn anything new here, but it’s a good read nontheless (if you have the time). I saw a lot of praise for this text.
- Inside Salesforce’s Zen-Heavy, Eco-Groovy, Starchitect-Designed New Building
This piece seems to fit perfectly to the topic from the previous one.
- How Silicon Valley Created Donald Trump
A critical take on the tech industry’s reluctance to consider and account for what its creations will be used for once they have become readily available for everyone.
- Can Netflix Double-Pivot To Be A Media Game Changer?
First Netflix transformed itself from a video rental service into a streaming service. Now it is trying to become a market leader in original programming. One definitely cannot accuse the company for being complacent.
- A Flop Unlike Any Other…
A very reasonable and balanced assessment of the Apple Watch, answering the question whether it is a flop or not.
- Amazon’s Alexa & The Vaudeville of Things
I have recommended a couple of articles about Amazon’s voice-controlled personal assistant Alexa in the past. However, I suggest that if you are interested in that topic, you should read this review, too. It’s not only very well written but also offers some solid insights into why Alexa is better than Siri and similar solutions, and thus explains why Amazon’s Alexa-equipped smart box Echo has become such a consumer hit in the US.
- Reinvent Yourself: The Playboy Interview with Ray Kurzweil
A fascinating and thought-provoking interview with Ray Kurzweil – even recommended for those who don’t buy into his predictions of a looming Singularity.
- Bots won’t replace apps. Better apps will replace apps
This piece has been widely shared over the past days, arguing that instead of focussing too much on developing bots, Western tech companies should build better apps. The author Dan Grover, who works for the Chinese messaging giant WeChat, has some suggestions.
- Bots are awesome! Humans? Not so much
Just in case you are not totally sick yet of reading about Bots – some informative observations from someone who built a bot for Facebook Messenger and then kept an eye on how users interacted with it.
- Traffic to Wikipedia terrorism entries plunged after Snowden revelations
In a surveillance society, sometimes self-censorship can be a bigger issue than the actual snooping. People should not be worried of consuming certain types of information just because they do not want to draw the surveillance system’s attention, but that’s exactly what happens.
- The most important question about a self-driving car is whether it has a steering wheel
This is one of those questions which one initially might brush off as a minor detail but which in reality have wide-reaching consequences.
- Foursquare predicted Chipotle’s disastrous quarter
It for sure looks like as if Foursquare, the tech industry’s long-term problem child, has finally found a sexy and very-promising business model.
- Rocket Internet – A detailed look
The German company builder Rocket Internet’s ambition is to become the biggest Internet company outside of China and the US. The entrepreneur Christoph Gerber is not convinced and offers some facts that make him quite skeptical about Rocket.
- Singapore Is Taking the ‘Smart City’ to a Whole New Level
Reading this will make you realize how closely related the concepts of a smart city and a surveillance city are.
- The Ingenious Way Iranians Are Using Satellite TV to Beam in Banned Internet
This description of how to access content blocked in Iran sounds totally freaky.
- Facebook Isn’t the Social Network Anymore
Facebook has managed to transform itself from a social network to everyone’s entry point into the digital world without that this process hurt its bottom line. On the contrary, the company’s most recent quarterly results look splendid.
- What Networks Does BuzzFeed Actually Use?
Quite amazing: Buzzfeed distributes its content through 45 different channels ranging from social networks to home-grown apps. I’m not a big fan of most of the site’s content, but this kind of successful hyper distribution is impressive.
Recent articles on meshedsociety.com
- Video is taking over the web, with a few exceptions
In many ways, videos are a more rewarding, more pleasant and more powerful experience than photos and other types of media. This is at least what the leading social media platforms are convinced about.
- Uber, Lyft and tipping
Uber does not encourage riders to tip their drivers. Its biggest US competitor Lyft on the other hand lets riders tip drivers right from within the app. What sounds like a minor detail is actually a large differentiation factor for Lyft, and Uber might be realizing that.
Podcast episode of the week
- Ben Thompson on how the media business is changing
A fun, insightful and inspiring interview of Vox Media’s Ezra Klein with Stratechery-publisher (/blogger) and technology analyst Ben Thompson. 92 minutes long and I was not bored once.
Video of the week
- Why Sweden Is So Good at Making Tech Everyone Wants
23 minutes explaining why Sweden has become a regular producer of digital innovation, and why this is actually challenging the Swedish way of living.
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