Welcome to issue #235 of meshedsociety.
Hey, hope you still remember me and what this email is about. 😆
It has been a while. Not entirely surprising, once one removes the obligation of a fixed frequency, it's so easy to keep postponing. But anyway, I hope you find something interesting in my collected reading recommendations below.
Note: Some of the publications may use “soft” paywalls. If you are denied access, open the URL in your browser’s incognito/private mode (or subscribe if you find yourself reading a lot of the content on a specific site and want to support it).
Last issue's top 3 most clicked articles:
Quote of the week:
- Planet Zoo is, temporarily, a game about mass-producing knackered warthogs
(rockpapershotgun.com, 7 minutes)
Hilarioius example of the havoc that bad incentives can cause to a system.
- The PC was supposed to die a decade ago
(zdnet.com, 6 minutes)
On January 27, 2010, Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad. Many pundits predicted the rapid demise of the personal computer. But ten years later, the industry is still selling more than a quarter-billion PCs every year. Here is how that happened.
- What reduces our personal CO2 footprint? We have no clue!
(linkedin.com/pulse, 7 minutes)
It's all complicated: "In Germany, the impact of energy-efficient heating & insulation on our CO2 footprint is a whopping 250 times bigger than stopping to use plastic bags." Yet, it's the abstaining from plastic bags that tops the list of actions that are assumed to have the biggest positive effect on the climate.
- The Illusion of Technological Permanence
(medium.com, 4 minutes)
Deep food for thought: All technologies are temporary, but they evolve through recombination, often expontentially. Humans are unable to recognize exponential growth, fail to recognize that technology gradually changes how we do things, and fail to recognize that language, laws, customs, ethics, and beliefs are all also technologies, writes Carlos E. Perez.
- Why tech companies need philosophers—and how I convinced Google to hire them
(qz.com, 10 minutes)
"The relatively recent advent of AI is a far-reaching philosophical event. And AI labs and tech companies are our most potent philosophical laboratories."
- Who’s Hacking Your Spotify?
(nytimes.com, 4 minutes)
When one's music streaming account is hacked and taken over by someone else who plays their own music, interesting observations and experiences can happen.
- Who Listens to the Listeners?
(librarianshipwreck.wordpress.com, 7 minutes)
Apropos Spotify: The company just released its yeary collection of statistics called "Wrapped", which provides users with an appealing and entertaining summary of their listening habits. But Wrapped also is a "very clear reminder to Spotify users that when they are listening to music the platform is listening to them do it".
- Just enough Smart City
(thewavingcat.com, 7 minutes)
How smart should a city become? This is a plea for a Smart City model based on restraint, and focused first and foremost on citizen needs and rights.
- Sweden's "Bank-ID": One ID to rule them all
Sweden's most important app is the digital identification "Bank-ID", used by 90 percent of Swedes to open bank accounts, sign agreements, transfer money, take out loans and do tax returns. It emerged "with little or no public debate as to the risks and issues. It just happened, with the consent and active support of the government."
- “You Don’t Bring Bad News to the Cult Leader”: Inside the Fall of WeWork
(vanityfair.com, 26 minutes)
This is long and contains exactly the type of revelations one would expect from the world of WeWorld.
- Larry Page is the tech world’s Dr. Manhattan
(theverge.com, 4 minutes)
This column on the departure of the Google founders made me laugh a few times.
- Douglas Rushkoff: Was Humanity Simply Not Ready for the Internet?
(medium.com, 6 minutes)
This is actually what I think has a high likelihood to turn out true, although I don't even want to start speculating on how we might find out. Hopefully as a species, we advance fast enough (in which case we will have been ready for the internet, after all). A while ago I wrote about how the internet amplifies our cognitive biases, which I consider a major cause for many of today's challenges and conflicts.
- The rise and fall of the PlayStation supercomputers
(theverge.com, 6 minutes)
For as short period starting from around 2002, some of the most powerful computers in the world could be hacked together with code, wire, and gaming consoles.
- The Hype Cycle of Features
(medium.com, 2 minutes)
There isn't only a hype cycle for emerging technologies, but also for features, as pointed out by Sarah Tavel.
- An Epidemic of AI Misinformation
(thegradiant.pub, 14 minutes)
When it comes to coverage of AI progress, media, research institutions and scientists themselves tend to exaggerate and misinform, at least sometimes.
- How Machine Learning Pushes Us to Define Fairness
(hbr.com, 7 minutes)
Machine learning might succesfully push us to define fairness, as outlined in this piece. But before that, it certainly lays bare the tensions and contradictions within the concept of fairness itself. See also "Can you make AI fairer than a judge? Play our courtroom algorithm game".
- Doctors are turning to YouTube to learn how to do surgical procedures
(cnbc.com, 5 minutes)
...but there's no quality control.
- Expectations vs Reality at Work
(medium.com, 7 minutes)
A long, fascinating list, showing that how work happens is often different from how we think it happens.
- The joy and power of being the independent underdog
(m.signalvnoise.com, 3 minutes)
"It’s powerful to be the underdog. Creatively, it’s the best place to be. There’s no other circumstance where you can continually try your wildest creative pursuits and see them through to fruition."
- AirPods Are Becoming a Platform
(aboveavalon.com, 9 minutes)
I have been bullish about the AirPods from the day Apple launched the first generation, and I still am. More now, probably. Sadly the regular AirPods didn't fit me. I rarely buy gadgets (I'm more in the "consuming less physical stuff" camp generally), but when the AirPods Pro were released, I knew right away that I had to buy them, and I love using them ever day. As Neil Cybart puts it: AirPods are computers for the ears (and first thanks to them, I start using Siri, since the integration is so seamless).
- Every Tech Company Wants to Be a Bank—Someday, At Least
(wired.com, 6 minutes)
Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Uber are all eyeing financial services as the next frontier.
- "If you are under 30, and you are able to think for yourself right now, God bless you. If I was (that age), it would have defeated me entirely. All I wanted was people’s approval, and I would have been right in there tweeting it up."
By Zadie Smith in an interview on fighting the algorithm (thestar.com, 7 minutes)
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meshedsociety - made in Stockholm (or somewhere else).