Weekly Links & Thoughts #105
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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- Programming languages shape the way their users think (3)
An informative read explaining a phenomenon which actually does not surprise so much considering that this is also happening with spoken languages.
- When Their Shifts End, Uber Drivers Set Up Camp in Parking Lots Across the U.S. (3)
These drivers are not homeless, but they prefer to drive for Uber in areas with higher demand. It is a type of work migration. I wonder whether it would be beneficial to Uber’s business and rider experience if the company provided accommodation to those drivers. Running an “Uber motel” in wealthy metropolitan areas such as San Francisco where there is high demand and where a lot of high-paying rides are happening…
- Unexpected Consequences of Self Driving Cars (3)
Here is someone thinking a bit further than what most musings about a future with self-driving cars usually do: self-driving cars as social outcasts and anti-social behavior of owners.
- How statistics lost their power — and why we should fear what comes next (3)
I am worried about this. Even if statistics can be manipulated as well as manipulative, they in many cases are a more accurate way to describe reality than subjective observations or single stories.
- Algorithmic Life (3)
A philosophical essay about the algorithm, a word “whose time has come”.
- Android permissions and hypocrisy (1)
The anti-virus company Kaspersky warned people about installing the Chinese selfie app Meitu due to the overreach in permissions which its Android app requires from users during installation. Funny though that according to this post, the Kaspersky Android app asks for even more permissions.
- Google AMP is Not a Good Thing (1)
I have activated AMP for meshedsociety.com but this short piece made me question that decision a bit. However, maybe the caching of AMP pages on Google servers is not that different to what content delivery networks (CDN) usually do?
- Amazon Echo and Echo Dot update adds “Computer” wake word (1)
Genius. If the trend towards anthropomorphizing of machines is a problem, then this is the ultimate solution.
- Here’s to the Crazy ones. (1)
“The world runs in the browser, and there is no reason to look down on people who don’t buy Apple products.”
- Why is it so Hard to Forecast the Future? (2)
Great piece packed with insights and a couple of useful recommendations on what to do when exponential developments make forecasting harder than ever.
- Britain Has No Fake News Industry Because Our Partisan Newspapers Already Do That Job (2)
Fake news insight #1: If you have a sensationalist yellow press which regularly bends the truth, there might be less desire for “fake news” created by alternative media outlets.
- Fake news’ power to influence shrinks with a contextual warning, study finds (2)
Fake news insight #2: Combining facts about climate change with a small dose of misinformation — in the form of a warning about potential distortion — helps people to resist the influence of the false information. It’s an effect akin to a medical inoculation, whereby a small amount of a virus can be used to bolster immune resistance to an illness ahead of time, before a person encounters the virus in the wild.
- Lazy Thinking: Modularity Always Works (2)
I honestly was not aware that there apparently is a theory stating that modularity always wins, but it clearly does not, as the smartphone showed.
- Netflix Is Killing It — Big Time — After Pouring Cash Into Original Shows (1)
The original content strategy was (yet another) risky decision by Netflix, but it (yet again) paid off.
- United cuts newspapers from international flights (1)
The reason: lack of interest. People on planes are not interested anymore in paper newspapers. Not only on planes.
- This startup raised $20 million to help Uber and OpenTable find customers inside other apps (1)
The New York-based startup Button is worth paying attention to. It’s building an affiliate network for mobile apps, enabling apps to deep-link into other apps and to earn money based on certain user actions.
- Why 2017 Will Be the Year of the ‘Micro Moment’ (1)
Marketing people never get out of ideas for the next trendy label to promote their goals. But actually, “micro moment” as way to describe situations in which consumers search for nearby information is not such a bad term.
- How To Read (3)
Inspiring collection of reports how people read.
- ‘European culture’ is an invented tradition (2)
I found this to be very instructive. According to Benjamin G Martin, director of the Euroculture MA programme at Uppsala University in Sweden, “European culture” is a rather new invention that was not on people’s minds even 100 years ago.
Recently on meshedsociety.com:
- The year when social media died
It was nice while it lasted, but for me it’s time to move on. (please note: obviously the headline requires some abstraction. As everyone is aware of, social media services are still there and see a lot of activity. I hope what I mean with “dead” will get apparent when reading the article).
- The internet does to the world what radio did to the world
In finally found the time to (re)read Marshall McLuhan’s “Understanding media”.
Podcast episode of the week:
- Rationally Speaking: Jason Brennan on “Against democracy”
An extremely thought-provoking interview about the flaws of democracy and a concept called Epistocracy (knowledge-based voting) which could replace it. Here is a review of the interviewee’s recent book, “Against democracy”. Personally I don’t think making voting-rights depending on a basic competency test akin to a driver’s license (but of course free) necessarily would have to be labeled as abandonment of democracy, but I am not an expert on this topic so I keep the option open to change my mind (or to reject the whole idea of Epistocracy).
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Originally published at meshedsociety.com on January 26, 2017.