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Welcome to issue #231 of meshedsociety.

I'm making a change to the frequency of this email: I'm giving up on the weekly schedule, as it has created increasing pressure for me lately. I don't read less than before. Yet it find less things over the course of a week that I consider worth sharing here. Meanwhile, my other weekly newsletter about the Swedish Tech industry is developing nicely (and, unlike meshedsociety, has obvious business potential, too), taking up a bit more of my attention.

Moving forward, I'll send an email whenever there are enough good pieces to include. You can expect one or two issues a month. However, sometimes I might decide to take a longer break. As far as I see it, you don't lose anything, since whenever there'll be an issue in your inbox, you can be sure that it'll be what you are used to. The only risk is that the percentage of pieces that you already have read by the time I send an email goes up. I'll keep an eye on this situation and the unsubscribes.

Consequently, I'm dropping the "weekly" in the name. I'll be adjusting the sign up page soon, too (most likely moving it to meshedsociety.com, and moving the blog to a subdomain).

I also paused the Patreons, since it wouldn't make sense to take money for the reduced frequency. Thank you for your support so far!

Now, onto this issue's 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).
  • Waze Hijacked L.A. Can Anyone Put the Genie Back in the Bottle?
    (lamag.com, 16 minutes)
    In notoriously congested Los Angeles, navigation apps such as Google-owned Waze have changed traffic flows, sending cars via roads that weren’t designed to carry a large volume through traffic, ignoring societal costs.

     
  • Social Media: What you see is what you paid for
    (circuitbored.com, 4 minutes)
    An intriguing theory: At least one reason why Facebook & Instagram are experimenting with removing the like feature could be to hide a decrease in user engagement around organic content (which would be followed by decreasing like counts), caused by the fact that more paid posts are being pushed into people’s timeless.

     
  • An underground Facebook market for rare meat
    (melmagazine.com, 11 minutes)
    There are invite-only Facebook pages where people gamble real money on the prospect of winning goods either super-rare or unavailable in their market due to distribution limitations.

     
  • Shopify and the return of the merchant class
    (economist.com, 5 minutes)
    The Canada-based e-commerce platform Shopify is enjoying quite some momentum.

     
  • Artificial Intelligence Will Hog All the Best Menial Tasks
    (theatlantic.com, 5 minutes)
    Artificial intelligence will transform higher-skill jobs in ways that demand more human judgment rather than less, since it can automate the easier tasks. This means that a human worker might only face tricky issues all day long, instead of being able to mix those with more trivial tasks.

     
  • Monzo has a cunning plan to stop you wasting money on junk food
    (wired.com, 9 minutes)
    A really intriguing and innovative feature idea of UK-based challenger bank Monzo: Letting customers block their cards at certain merchants (for example fast food chains) or merchant categories (such as gambling) – and it takes 24 hours for removal of the blocking to go into effect.

     
  • Sorry, we can’t join your Slack
    (reifyworks.com, 3 minutes)
    On when clients want you to join their Slack channel.

     
  • What Is a Tech Company?
    (stratechery.com, 13 minutes)
    Ben Thompson works out a definition of a tech company in 2019. It comes down to how much of of a company’s business is governed by software’s unique characteristics, and how much is limited by real world factors. In his assessment, WeWork isn’t a tech company, despite its claims to the contrary.

     
  • Some Thoughts On Crypto
    (avc.com, 3 minutes)
    Venture capitalist Fred Wilson, a long-term supporter of crypto, sounds a bit disappointed and disillusioned about the state of the sector and adoption.

     
  • What Happened to the Guys Who Invested Their Life Savings in Cryptocurrency?
    (melmagazine.com, 8 minutes)
    “We all thought we were going to the moon and there would be Lambos lined up on the other side. But turns out most of us ended up with Camrys”.

     
  • Almost Everything About Goodreads Is Broken
    (onezero.medium.com, 9 minutes)
    The Amazon-owned social network for book lovers, Goodreads, leaves a lot of potential unused, and has stagnated for a decade.

     
  • Police in hundreds of U.S. cities gain access to videos from Ring’s door cameras
    (washingtonpost.com, 11 minutes)
    Unlike Goodreads, another Amazon-owned service – smart video doorbells company Ring – shows real ambition: It has forged video-sharing partnerships with more than 400 police forces across the United States, granting them potential access to homeowners’ camera footage and a powerful role in what the company calls the nation’s “new neighborhood watch.”

     
  • Faceswap and regulation
    (vernizzis.it, 3 minutes)
    A glass half full perspective on deepfakes: Their emergence could finally force the big tech platforms to change (or be regulated in regards to) how sharing is done. The author proposes a reputation system for users which will mean that trust has to be earned over time, possibly making it harder for bots and scammers to achieve easy virality.

     
  • Hong Kong Protestors Using Mesh Messaging App China Can’t Block
    (forbes.com, 3 minutes)
    Interesting, but there is still an unanswered question for me: Can peer-to-peer mesh communication appeal in scenarios beyond government blocking or censorship?

     
  • Kiwibots win fans at UC Berkeley as they deliver fast food at slow speeds
    (sfchronicle.com, 5 minutes)
    I was once at a tech event in Medellin standing next to a Kiwibot. They are delivering food on the campus of the University of Berkley in California, but are partly remotely controlled by employees in Colombia. Now, Kiwibots is getting competition from Estonia’s Starship, founded by ex-Skype entrepreneurs Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis.

     
  • Women are beautiful, men rational
    (news.ku.dk, 3 minutes)
    Researchers have used an algorithm to run a sentiment analysis on 3.5 million books in English language published between 1900 and 2008 to learn how men and women are being described in the literature. The result isn’t totally surprising: Men are typically described by words that refer to behavior, while adjectives ascribed to women tend to be associated with physical appearance.

     
  • You Might Not Be Checking In on Foursquare, But Foursquare Is Checking In on You
    (nymag.com, 8 minutes)
    Articles about how Foursquare has quietly thrived despite never having become a location-based network for the masses, are by now its own genre. But rightly so. This company is surely a phenomenon.

     
  • A Basic Version Of Civilization, Running As An Excel Spreadsheet
    (itch.io)
    The title says it all.

Video of the week:

Last issue's top 3 most clicked articles: +++

Thanks for subscribing!

Martin
martin@meshedsociety.com

P.S. another newsletter that I create: Swedish Tech Weekly.
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meshedsociety - made in Stockholm (or somewhere else).
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