Welcome to issue #232 of meshedsociety.
Hope you are doing well! It's time for a new list with recommended things to read. But first, a quick story about accidental destruction:
I played around with some URL settings in the backend of the meshedsociety WordPress blog. Somehow I broke the whole thing. Fortunately my hoster provided me with easy to access backups. Or so I thought. Turns out, this feature had been removed. And I hadn't activated any WordPress backup plugin myself. "Damn", I thought for a second.
I could have fixed the issue by digging into the database. But a) I was too lazy for that b) I somehow didn't feel so great about the blog anymore anyway c) I'm a fan of the buddhist concept of accepting impermanence. And so I decided to embrace the situation and to move on. The blog is gone, meshedsociety.com is now the landing page for this email – and I actually do feel lighter.
Now onto the article recommendations!
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:
Quotation of the week:
- WeWork and Counterfeit Capitalism
(mattstoller.substack.com, 11 minutes)
Brilliant essay that questions the media's euphemistic descriptions of (now former) WeWork CEO and founder Adam Neumann as well as SoftBank's predatory investment approach. One of several pointed remarks: "Capitalism itself is breaking down in the face of business models that are simply organized around loss-making and endless access to the small number of (largely) men who can enable unlimited access to the capital markets."
- For Airbnb employees, dream turns into disillusionment
(sfgate.com, 7 minutes)
Airbnb’s 6,000-person workforce has become increasingly frustrated by not being able to cash in the company stock that was received in compensation packages. Waiting for the startup to go public (which is now expected to be happening next year) has become a growing source of stress.
- Startups Need a New Option: Exit to Community
(ioo.coop, 4 minutes)
Compelling thought for services for which neither IPO nor being acquired seems to be the right option.
- A Good Place: The fake town where everybody knows your name
(theoutline.com, 6 minutes)
Amazing. In the subreddit r/HaveWeMet, users roleplay as longtime neighbors in a non-existent town called “Lower Duck Pond". It's "the fastest-growing open-source fictional town on Earth".
- Four truths about climate action
(bucketrides.org, 12 minutes)
The right amount of nuance, in my eyes. "Let’s not panic. This is not about individual salvation or doom. This is about collectively being radically realistic and courageously creative about what we can do – together, and each of us on their own."
- 10 European startups serving the vegan community
(eu-startups.com, 8 minutes)
I find the foodtech sector quite exciting right now.
- The subtle art of (not) understanding Gen Z
(medium.com, 19 minutes)
Insightful overview how members of Gen Z – true digital natives – tick.
- Generation Z and the environmental impact of digital
(contagious.com, 3 minutes)
Apropos Generation Z and being digital native: "Among the many undesirable by-products of digital experience, one of the more difficult to quantify and rarely discussed, is its environmental impact."
- When hype is harmful: why what we think is possible matters
(medium.com, 7 minutes)
Constructive debates about the implications of new technologies are prevented or at least hindered because of widespread lack of understanding of their actual abilities.
- Travel without social praise
(sivers.org, 1 minutes)
Since I deleted Facebook and stopped using Instagram, that's what I do: traveling without social praise. It does impact certain decisions and parts of my behavior during travel.
- Norway's Bold Plan to Tackle Overtourism
(outsideonline.com, 13 minutes)
“The biggest challenge for us are 10 to 15 trails that exploded on social media".
- Amazon’s Echo Show can now identify household pantry items held in front of its camera
(techcrunch.com, 2 minutes)
Potentially great for blind and other low-vision people.
- The Appification of Everything & Why it Needs to End
(medium.com, 7 minutes)
Not everything is best managed through an app, argues Amber Case.
- Apple is going after market share with the iPhone 11. Finally.
(medium.com, 5 minutes)
With the iPhone, Apple raked in outlandish profits and became the most valuable company in the world - at the cost of its market share. The profit-chasing strategy that has served the company so well for over a decade appears to be changing with the recently announced iPhone 11.
- Computational photography
Photos taken with the latest smartphones are increasingly being processed, with the result of extremely clear pictures in which each object is appropriately visible. "Should this even be called photography any more?".
- Wi-Fi Alliance's certification program sees Wi-Fi 6 as game-changer for advanced connections
(techxplore.com, 5 minutes)
Not only is the new version naming for Wi-Fi generations pleasant, but Wi-Fi 6 overall seems to be worth appreciating.
- Face recognition and the ethics of AI
(ben-evans.com, 18 minutes)
One of the best analytical pieces I've read about our worries in regards to AI and face recognition.
- A World of Uploaded Minds
(overcomingbias.com, 6 minutes)
Some fascinating thoughts on a hypothetical future in which people can "upload" their minds .
- The worst sales promotion in history
(thecut.com, 8 minutes)
In late 1992, the UK branch of the vacuum manufacturer, Hoover, offered an impossibly sweet promotion: If a customer bought any product worth £100, they'd get two free round-trip flights to the United States. This eventually led to the destruction of the company (thanks John for sharing this with me).
- Armenia: how booming startups are reversing a population exodus
(sifted.eu, 7 minutes)
The small landlocked country of Armenia is experiencing a "brain gain", thanks to people from the diaspora who move there to work for startups in the booming tech sector.
Recommended podcast episode:
- "I think that many climate activists hate the very idea of technological fixes because if they should happen to work that would mean that the bastards got away with it."
Alan Jacobs in "Climate Hope" (blog.ayjay.org, 6 minutes)
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P.S. another newsletter that I create: Swedish Tech Weekly.
meshedsociety - made in Stockholm (or somewhere else).