Weekly Links & Thoughts #89

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

  • The Third Transportation Revolution (3)
    The co-founder of Uber rival Lyft looks at the history of the automobile, how it impacted society and people’s life and outlines how the next ten years of mobility will probably play out as well as how self-driving cars will initiate another transportation revolution. This is a pretty good read, no matter whether you know Lyft or not. Just one thing strikes me as odd: In the complete 8000 word text, there is not a single mention of Uber. And that despite Uber’s very recent introduction of actual self-driving cars on the streets of Pittsburgh. Pretending that Uber does not exist does, in my opinion, damage the effort to sell an honest, credible vision of a better, more people-centric future of transportation. Or maybe it is just a healthy reminder that corporate publishing is not the same as independent journalism, even if it might try hard to come across as the latter.
  • Neither Uber nor Lyft believe sharing is the future (1)
    Here is a vigilant observation based on the latest moves and declarations by Uber and Lyft: They companies increasingly sound as if they want to move away from the concept of people sharing their resources, focusing instead on the operation of large corporate fleets.
  • Design as Branding (2)
    John Gruber argues against tech-minded Apple critics who lament the iPhone 7’s lack of design changes. It surprises me that anyone would actually ask for significant modifications to the design of today’s smartphones. Personally I put a case around it anyway, so aesthetics play a very subordinate role. What matters is battery, performance, the screen, the OS.
  • The Netflix Backlash: Why Hollywood Fears a Content Monopoly (3)
    An informative read from the “when the rebellious newcomer becomes the establishment” department.
  • Twitter’s New NFL Live Video Feature Is Proving Popular (1)
    If this turns out to be more than a short-term effect, then I’d not be surprised if Twitter decides to fully pivot to focus on reinventing live TV. While Netflix has occupied the online market for pre-recorded TV content, no one has done so yet for high-end live TV (such as important sport events, live shows and so).
  • How Vestager took a bite out of Apple (2)
    The thought of reading about the process of policy-making in Brussels does not usually get people overly excited. But the account of how EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager took on Apple should be considered an exception.
  • The Internet Is Killing You And You’re Begging For More (1)
    A pessimist’s take on the negative effects of social media (he writes “Internet” but means social media), inspired by Andrew Sullivan’s widely shared long essay about his information addiction and the negative consequences for his life and health. I am planning to write a bit more about this topic another time, so I won’t comment too much here other than stating that I think the Internet is great, but that social media in its current state comes with high costs for individual well-being and the public discourse.
  • Cognitive bias cheat sheet – Because thinking is hard (3)
    A useful, well explained list and visualization of cognitive biases. Every day I wake up and wish that every person on Earth would have awareness of how these biases impact, interfere with and limit human thinking.
  • Messy Networks for the Internet of Things (1)
    Really insightful short read explaining a crucial difference between traditional cell phone networks and new IoT networks designed for unplanned network deployments. It sounds technical but I’d say its useful knowledge.
  • The automated city: do we still need humans to run public services? (2)
    If a machine can do a job better and more efficient than a human, and if human interaction in itself is not the point of the task, then probably not.
  • What the iPhone 7 reveals about Apple’s augmented-reality plans (2)
    What are the chances that the next iPhone, which also marks the 10-year anniversary of Apple’s smartphone, will feature augmented reality technology? Not too small.
  • What It Costs to Run Let’s Encrypt (1)
    The non-profit Let’s Encrypt made waves when it launched its free certificate authority for websites a few months ago. In this blog post the organization details how much it costs to operate the service. Nice to see that kind of transparency.
  • Bluetooth Capable Headphone Sales Surpass Non-Bluetooth Sales in the U.S. (1)
    And that is happening before the launch of Apple’s AirPods.
  • Have Spotify and Apple Music Just Won The Streaming Wars? (1)
    It seems so.
  • Don’t Use Allo (2)
    Privacy concerns aside, I did give Google’s new messaging app Allo a try. However, the messaging part is totally generic. Nothing to do there which one cannot do in 100 other apps. So the only reason to stick with Allo would be Google Assistant, a more or less intelligent chat bot. But somehow, exposing myself even more to Google just does not feel right. So for the moment I probably won’t become a frequent Allo user.

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