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Welcome to issue #226 of meshedsociety weekly.

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One book tip before getting started with this week's recommended articles: If you are interested in human behavior, cultural evolution and how norms evolve, you might like "The Secret of Our Success: How Culture is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating Our Species, and Making Us Smarter" by Joseph Henrich. I'm currently listening to the audio book and find it both eye-opening and captivating (even though I've consumed lots of other books on this or related topics before). It has received excellent ratings, too.

Now let's get to it!

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).
  • The Hidden Costs of Automated Thinking
    (, 9 minutes)
    Intellectual debt is the gap between working methods to solve human problems and the knowledge about how and why they work, according to Jonathan Zittrain. He mentions the example of Aspirin which was discovered in 1897 but only convincingly explained in 1995. Zittrain worries that with artificial intelligence, the amount of intellectual debt is becoming too large.

  • A timeline of high-profile tech apologies
    (, 11 minutes)
    Amusing term coined by Kaitlyn Tiffany in this overview of high-profile apologies from tech people: regreditorial.

  • The Metamorphosis
    (, 10 minutes)
    Henry A. Kissinger, Eric Schmidt and Daniel Huttenlocher see the historic significance of the rise of AI as unprecedented or at best comparable with the transition from the medieval to the modern period.

  • How Banksy Authenticates His Work
    (, 4 minutes)
    The famous anonymous street artist Banksy uses a clever system relying on a public and private key to authenticate the sold art work.

  • The coming deepfakes threat to businesses
    (, 2 minutes)
    Criminals are starting to use deepfakes — starting with AI-generated audio — to impersonate CEOs and steal millions from companies.

  • Facebook Is a New Form of Power
    (, 5 minutes)
    This nails it. Facebook is much more than just a company, but it’s not a state either (although it’s always tempting to use the analogy).

  • The Trouble with Emoji
    (, 3 minutes)
    Thought-provoking perspective on a difference between words and emoji: Due to their high level of abstraction, written words let readers fill in whatever they imagine (for example, when reading “human”, everyone imagines a human how it is most common to them). Emoji lack this universally, which means they have to add ever more representations.

  • Most YouTube climate change videos oppose the scientific consensus
    (, 3 minutes)
    YouTube’s response: More scientists should start taking YouTube seriously as a platform for sharing information.

  • Finnish company makes food out of thin air
    (, 6 minutes)
    The startup Solar Foods is planning to bring to market a new protein powder, Solein, made out of CO₂, water and electricity.

  • The $60 Gadget That’s Changing Electronic Music
    (, 13 minutes)
    A feature on the Swedish company Teenage Engineering, which until now has sold more than 350,000 affordable pocket synthesizers, compared to the famous Korg M1 synthesizer which was sold about 250,000 times.

  • The Challenges with Single Toggle Buttons
    (, 2 minutes)
    Insightful even if you aren’t a web designer but only a user.

  • An Underground Economy Selling Links From Major News Sites
    (, 5 minutes)
    Search engine optimization consultants buy expired URLs that have been linked to by prominent news websites and redirect these domains to their clients' sites in a bid to game search results.

  • The Benefits of Two Computer Monitors
    (, 6 minutes)
    This piece makes it sound as if it is almost universally better to work with two monitors. I’d argue it depends a lot on one’s type of work and work philosophy. If the second monitor is used mostly for Slack and Twitter, then this might actually decreasing productivity (while possibly creating the illusion of increased productivity). But again, it depends on many factors.

  • Plex makes piracy just another streaming service
    (, 8 minutes)
    Plex, a project that started over 10 years ago, lets people set up their own media servers and share content with others. According to this piece, it has a growing community of happy users.

  • Demetrification: Removing the numbers of likes and retweets from public view
    (, 10 minutes)
    I don’t understand why the author decided to focus on who came up with the idea of demetrification first instead of making the trend the object of the piece (the underlying intellectual work is not exactly Nobel Prize worthy-level) but the trend itself is refreshing and probably healthy. I hope it spreads.

  • I was Insta-famous and it was one of the worst things to happen in my 20s
    (, 4 minutes)
    “Normally you take a photo because you want to capture a great moment, right? But as an influencer you have to manufacture those moments, stripmining the fun out of coffee dates because you’re managing the scene like Annie Leibovitz – if Annie Leibovitz was a basic bitch with a passion for latte art.”

  • From South Korea to Malaysia, ‘smart cities’ turn to ghost towns
    (, 8 minutes)
    Hailed as answer to world’s urban ills, at least for now, urban developments aren’t living up to expectations, and create new ills.

  • How to become a restaurant regular
    (, 1 minutes)
    Funny, I try to achieve the opposite: To remain an “anonymous” customer even if I frequent a certain place often.
Last issue's top 3 most clicked articles: +++

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