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Welcome to issue #213 of meshedsociety weekly.

First, the answer to the question from the subject line about the defining feature of the digital generation: It's the ability to break down cardboard boxes from stuff that has been delivered. More on that in the piece titled "Outsourcing Adulthood" further below.
Second, I published a text describing how the internet is amplifying the harmful consequences of cognitive biases, why this a problem, and how a solution could look like (AI! What else :)).

Now let's get to this week's selection of articles!

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).
  • I let a stranger watch me work for a day and I’ve never been more productive
    (, 10 minutes)
    The type of idea which would sound absurd at first, but (surprisingly?) seems to work: Focusmate is a virtual co-working service that pairs you with a complete stranger for 50 minutes of silent, mutual labor over a webcam. According to the author Isabelle Kohn who tried it out, the result was massively increased productivity and (surprisingly!) no creep or Chatroulette vibe.

  • Outsourcing Adulthood
    (, 9 minutes)
    Who knew that the defining feature of my generation would be our ability to break down cardboard boxes? We are masters of reverse cardboard origami, a side effect of entering adulthood at the dawn of a radical new age of convenience”. Hilarious quote by Maureen O’Connor. The bigger point she makes in this piece: Many of the tasks once viewed as integral components of adulthood (cooking, laundry, driving, moving furniture, decision making etc) are no longer mandatory. One only needs a smartphone and money.

  • Are the kids all right? These school surveillance apps sure want to tell you
    (, 7 minutes)
    Meanwhile, to avoid bullying and harassment, with the help of specialized companies, schools in the U.S. are increasing their surveillance efforts.

  • How much can we afford to forget, if we train machines to remember?
    (, 7 minutes)
    Important questions. Civilisations evolve through strategic forgetting of what were once considered vital life skills. Other information is being retained in external ways such as books, libraries or databases. But what becomes safe to forget? And what are the changing implications when many of our “memory partners” are smart machines?

  • How to increase your chances of finding a hidden camera
    (, 5 minutes)
    Whether you think that you’ll one day be faced with the risk of a hidden camera in an accommodation or not, this is informative.

  • Blowing a Raspberry Pi at the computer industry
    (, 7 minutes)
    The tiny, cheap, pared-back computer Raspberry Pi was created by its inventor Eben Upton in 2008 to inspire children to learn coding. It ended up selling over 25M units so far, not only to children but also to computer hobbyists and increasingly to industrial and business users. Upton now has an unusual problem for a hardware designer: he can’t seem to stop making money.

  • Boston Dynamics’ robots — impressive, but far from the Terminator
    (, 9 minutes)
    Formerly Google-owned firm Boston Dynamics regularly captivates people’s attentions with demonstrations of impressive and sometimes creepy robots. But there remains a discrepancy between staged demonstrations and real world performance.

  • Smart home, machine learning and discovery
    (, 5 minutes)
    When electric things entered the home, people got toasters and blenders, but no one got an electric can opener. When it comes to the smart home, we’re currently in discovery mode to find out what’s the equivalent to the toaster, and what’s the equivalent to the electric can opener, as Benedict Evans points out.

  • Record 83% of Surveyed U.S. Teens Own an iPhone
    (, 1 minute)
    That is quite an impressive stat. Also: 27 percent of U.S. teens own a smartwatch.

  • Emirates: The Media Company That Happens to Fly Jets Too
    (, 5 minutes)
    On the Dubai-based airline Emirates’ sophisticated approaches to buying media and providing entertainment for passengers.

  • The Lyft and Uber Endgame: Oligopoly Prices, Impoverished Workers
    (, 1 minute)
    Hmm. Is there any other likely outcome (if not government regulation somehow would prevent this from happening)?

  • In China, an App About Xi Is Impossible to Ignore – Even If You Try
    (, 7 minutes)
    The pace and intensity with which the Chinese government is using technology to control its people and to spread its ideology, is breathtaking. I should use the word “shocking” but that would be a lie: The trajectory has been clear for a while, so there is little shock effect left. Another very predictable trend: Many other countries will likely copy at least parts of the Chinese approach.

  • Second-Order Thinking: What Smart People Use to Outperform
    (, 3 minutes)
    On the ability to think through problems to the second, third, and nth order is a powerful tool to think more sophisticated. From 2016.

  • End the time management world. Start the mind management world.
    (, 3 minutes)
    Instead of putting all effort toward making the most of our time, one should put more effort into making the most of one’s mind, writes David Kadavy. Well put.

  • Are we assessing 21st century skills based on 20th century standards?
    (, 4 minutes)
    Food for thought: “If our educational systems are truly to promote ’21st century skills’, the main purpose of assessment has to change from comparing students to supporting learning. Otherwise we will be assessing the goals of the 21st century based on the standards of the 20th century.”

  • Google Stadia has a lot of ‘last mile’ challenges
    (, 5 minutes)
    The biggest challenge for Google’s planned game streaming service Stadia: the last mile, both in regards to technical aspects and convenience.

  • Let’s stop patronising startups
    (, 4 minutes)
    I wonder if this is possible or even an issue… That startups tend to be patronized and sometimes might not be taken seriously (at first) could have to do with the fact that a large percentage fails, that they often begin with an idea and end up with something very different, that they do a lot of trial and error (like children), and that – at least occasionally – they behave rather unprofessionally (or, to use an euphemism, “unconventionally”) due to missing best practices for whatever they are doing or lack of experience of the founders. I’m not writing this in a judgemental way. To me, this simply appears to be the nature of startups, and not a problem.

  • What happens if you do get a big win?
    (, 7 minutes)
    Are you planning to get rich from a startup exit? Then here are some considerations and suggestions for how to deal with the new situation and wealth.
Last issue's top 3 most clicked articles: +++

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