Weekly Links & Thoughts #99

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.

If you want to make sure not to miss this link selection, do like more than 250 other smart people (as of December 2016) and sign up for free for the weekly email. It is being sent out each Thursday right after this post goes live, including all the links. Example.

Length indicator: 1 = short, 2 = medium, 3 = long

  • The Secret, Dangerous World of Venezuelan Bitcoin Mining (3)
    After years of crisis and in the lights of galloping inflation, Venezuelans turn to Bitcoin, despite becoming even more vulnerable once they manage to create some wealth. Both a hopeful and depressing read.
  • Nobody is home (3)
    An enlightening essay about the meaning and importance of the concept of “home” and how it is being disrupted in our global, connected world. It made me think about why I never have a problem developing a feeling of “home” almost anywhere in the world, whereas others seem to struggle with this so much more. I concluded that my perception of home is virtual and not so much about physical location and tangible stuff.
  • Amazon Go and the Future of Work (3)
    You have probably heard the news of Amazon’s cashier-free supermarket. The concept is fantastic from a customer’s point of view (possible privacy implications aside). But the obvious flip side is the disappearing need for cashiers – which in the United States is the second most-common occupation as mentioned in the article. On the other hand, no one is born feeling the deep urge to work as a cashier. So the occupation itself does not need to be preserved. The question is only how to keep a society running in which additional millions of people with mixed to low skill sets are struggling to find new ways of making a living.
  • Understanding That Unregulated Monopoly Was Always Uber’s Central Objective (3)
    Uber would be happy of course if all those former cashiers would become drivers (until the large-scale roll out of driver less cars, of course). This long and pretty harsh analysis argues that Uber’s end goal is and has always been a monopoly. I disagree with the claim made by the author that Uber has not created innovation and that it adds little value in a competitive market, but I share the concern about Uber’s monopolistic tendencies.
  • The slow, uninteresting death of Android tablets is unfolding, and it is no one’s fault (2)
    One frequently hears about the decreasing demand for the iPad. But there is a similar trend happening for Android tablets – only that even less people seem to care about this.
  • Milking the iPhone (3)
    One of the reasons why tablets are being ignored? The cannibalization through large screen smartphones. This is an extensive and informative analysis of how Apple has built its product strategy around the iPhone, trying to squeeze as much profits out of it as possible until the need for the next groundbreaking cash-cow becomes pressing.
  • Best Buy vs. The Apple Store (2)
    An entertaining tale highlighting how Apple’s store concept might have peaked in regards to the customer experience.
  • How to Stay Informed Without Losing Your Mind (2)
    I bet many people who have proudly called themselves “information junkies” in the past are asking themselves this very question. I do and I actually have installed the Chrome extension mentioned by the author in order to remove the news feed from Facebook.
  • Facebook and Google make lies as pretty as truth (2)
    An interesting angle to the fake news debate: Facebook’s Instant Articles and Google’s AMP reduce quality media sites’ abilities to distinguish themselves visually from fake news outlets – because on the new, lightweight, mobile-optimized layouts promoted by the two giants, content always looks the same.
  • How Jack Dorsey Runs Both Twitter, Square (2)
    This article is one year old, but it hasn’t lost its relevancy at all: The CEO of Twitter and Square has just confirmed that he does not plan to end his unusual double role. How he is able to pull that off is a mystery to me.
  • State of Startups 2016 (3)
    A bunch of numbers, facts and graphs about the state of the U.S. startup sector of 2016.
  • Without Technology Inside, How Can Prisoners Thrive When They Get Out? (3)
    This is probably not something most of us think about often, but it’s an important issue: If a prison sentence would come with any intention of rehabilitation and reintegration back into society, access to technology during the the time in prison is essential. Otherwise, how would anyone expect individuals released from prison to thrive in our digital economy?
  • A Governance Alternative to Faltering Nation-States (2)
    Majors of cities and urban areas from all over the world are participating in a new global governance project to discuss challenges that nation-states fail to tackle. Way to go, the city is the new nation state. Or something like that.
  • Berlin: The City With the World’s Toughest Anti-Airbnb Laws (3)
    A balanced analysis of how Berlin’s legislation intended to limit the spreading of Airbnb is affecting (or not affecting) the city’s housing market and its people.
  • 4chan raids: how one dark corner of the internet is spreading its shadows (2)
    One wonders what kind of individual would feel good about being part of a hate-driven community such as this one.
  • The age of outrage (3)
    The editor of the British satire magazine Private Eye’s take on the crumbling support for the principles of free speech and the growing lack of acceptance of opposing ideas. He reminds the readers of how George Orwell observed similar trends 70 years ago.
  • Crony Beliefs (3)
    Some psychology to end this week’s edition: An extremely fascinating essay investigating why the human brain seems to be so accepting of the weirdest, most unreasonable beliefs.


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