Here is this week’s edition of meshedsociety.com weekly, loaded with 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 over the weekend.
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Length indicator: 1 = short, 2 = medium, 3 = long
- Money as Message: How WeChat got users to adopt payments as a way to grow its network (3)
Incredibly interesting insights into China’s (digital) culture.
- The Principia Misanthropica (3)
A brilliant, slightly satirical but yet very serious longread about the historical evolution of culture and people’s view on happiness. Has not a lot to do with technology but I find it to be highly relevant nevertheless. After all, what we are witnessing right now is somewhat of a technology-enabled clash of cultures and ideologies.
- Inside the strange world of Amazon-to-eBay arbitrage (3)
Great read about a seemingly less-known but yet somehow widespread scheme to make money online without actually providing any value: Middlemen who sell products on eBay via Amazon, pocketing the difference in price.
- The Other Yahoo: How Protecting Its Core Business Doomed Innovation (1)
Basically, over the past 15 years, the story of Yahoo is one of one giant failure. From that perspective, it is remarkable that the company still managed to sell itself for almost $5 billion.
- Twitter’s Fucked (2)
Sadly, a lot of what’s written here seems very accurate to me. Twitter’s complete product structure incentivizes and encourages negative user behavior. Sometimes I even think that Twitter is at least partly responsible for some of the absurd phenomenons and hysteria we currently can observe in politics, culture and society.
- Dezinformatsiya has been democratized (1)
Intentional spreading of desinformation is one way of negative user behavior. Although, of course this is not only happening on Twitter. But it is especially easy on Twitter, thanks due to its brevity (I so wish for a removal of the 140 character limit) and the outlook to quickly hoard many new followers.
- Mark Zuckerberg should spend $45 billion on undoing Facebook’s damage to democracies (2)
Of course one cannot single out Twitter as a potential threat to a constructive public discourse without also looking at Facebook. This column had been published last December but started to become widely shared again over the past days, most likely due to recent events such as the Brexit and Trump.
- We Are The Media (1)
Related to the same topic: about the requirements for the networked citizen in an age in which he/she is the media. Short and smart take. By the way, the “networked citizen” didn’t even exist 10 years ago… (see next post).
- Most popular product of all time (1)
You guess it. The iPhone has been sold one billion times over a time span of only 9 years. Now, if you wonder why the world seems to get crazy, this is part of the explanation: A powerful mini-computer in each pocket, connected to every other mini-computer on the planet (and thereby to every other person). No surprise tectonic shifts are underway. Such a thing has never happened before.
- Facebook’s really big plans for virtual reality (3)
Meanwhile, Facebook is doubling down on virtual reality. This well-written, entertaining profile does not offer too much new information but manages to explain very well the company’s ambitions in this field.
- Pokémon Go vs Growth Hacking (1)
A very good point: Pokémon Go did not follow any of the common growth hacking practices. And yet it has generated more than 75 million downloads in about 20 days.
- Digital is just getting started (1)
I like the framing of this: Instead of seeing digital technology maturing, one could also see it as still in a very early stadium.
- How to overcome resistance to innovations (2)
This text does not really deliver on the claim from the headline, but it offers quite an informative historical perspective on resistance to innovation.
- Indian $4 smartphone starts shipping (1)
At least for its first batch, the device is sold at a loss and additional revenue is made through pre-installed apps.
- Germany: Apps are more popular than ever, but downloads have fallen (1)
The general pattern that we have seen before: More people use apps, but that does not lead to more app downloads. On the contrary. People stick to the few apps they already have installed.
- What is the fastest way for a robot with superhuman capabilities to make money? (2)
What a fascinating question to muse about.
- Why I left my new MacBook for a $250 Chromebook (2)
An informative read. Chromebooks are slowly, but steadily becoming serious alternatives to existing notebooks.
- How I built an app with 500,000 users in 5 days on a $100 server (2)
A more technical post but with an important message to everyone who ever plans to create an app or an online service: Scaling to many users does not need to cost a fortune if you do it right.
- Tinder Social, helping friend groups plan their night out, launches globally (1)
I have no idea if this can work out. The name “Tinder” is so much associated with dating that changing people’s perception of it must be a hard nut to crack.
- Hailo and Daimler-owned MyTaxi agree to merge in all-share deal to fend off Uber (and others) (1)
We here could see an European “Uber” in the making. And its owned by Daimler, which puts MyTaxi in quite a strong position.
- When Does a Company Stop Being a Startup? (1)
Being a “startup” has a cool sound and frees a company from many conventional expectations, so it is often used longer than what it should be.
- Why Cash is Worth Less Than You Think (2)
An intriguing, thought-provoking post on the difference of legible and illegible currencies.
Recently on meshedsociety.com
- When you hear about everything bad 1.5 billion people do, almost instantly
The Internet has changed the media landscape, globalized news coverage and thereby significantly impacted how people see the world. Which is, increasingly, in a very negative way. Maybe this text helps to put things into perspective.
Video of the week
- Shenzhen, hardware, openness
15 minutes worth watching about China’s Silicon Valley, Shenzhen. I once was almost there, when I took the Hong Kong Metro to the Chinese border. Due to open questions about my permission to enter without a Visa, I changed my mind at the very last second. In fact, it was already too late to just turn around. Instead I had to go through some administrative procedure with Chinese border guards to be allowed back into Hong Kong. That’s why Shenzhen is still on my list :)
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