Welcome to issue #230 of meshedsociety weekly.
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This issue is a bit late, sorry for that. But as I am planning to take a one-week break from this newsletter, at least the gap will now be a bit shorter :) I hope you find something interesting in this week's issue.
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:
- Don’t Fear The Simulators
(slatestarcodex.com, 3 minutes)
sophisticated response to a New York Times piece which takes a stance against trying to find out whether we live in a simulation due to the dangers associated with what we might find out. Alexander’s message: “ ‘sStop worrying that your actions are going to offend superintelligences” – because if they exist, they already know about the simulation theory and likely even monitor what’s being written in the New York Times.
- The Mirage of Cloud Gaming
(redef.com, 24 minutes)
An in-depth look at the potential of cloud streaming of video games, starting with the rise of arcade gaming in the 1970s.
- Starbucks, monetary superpower
(jpkoning.blogspot.com, 8 minutes)
Lots of people are paying their coffees with the Starbucks Card, on which they load a larger sum upfront. Turns out, this provides Starbucks with a free loan of currently around $1.6 billion. Even better for the chain, some of the balance is never used. And there are even more advantages of this solution for the coffee chain giant.
- Tech billionaires haven’t killed Burning Man’s anti-capitalist spirit—but influencers might
(fastcompany.com, 14 minutes)
“In the era of spon-con and affiliate links, when every photograph is a potential product endorsement and every person is a brand just waiting for a collab, Burning Man’s desert ecosystem is increasingly endangered.”
- The Hoot-n-Holler
(medium.com, 5 minutes)
Learnings for collaboration inspired by a device called the “Turret phone”, which is being (or has been) used by people on financial trading floors. It features an “intimidating series of buttons with nearly illegible writing denoting who each one calls. One, or two, or three speakers that might all be screaming at you at once. A microphone. Often accompanied by both a handheld, curly-corded phone as well as a headset.”
- For $21 A Month, This Startup Will Offset Your Carbon Footprint
(forbes.com, 4 minutes)
Could be the no-brainer of the year, from a business model idea perspective: A subscription service for carbon offsetting called Wren.
- The Lonely Work of Moderating Hacker News
(newyorker.com, 26 minutes)
Some insightful background in here on the 2 full time moderators of Y Combinator-run tech news site Hacker News, which is one of my major sources for finding good things to read and recommend.
- The last mile
(euansemple.com, 1 minute)
A brief truck driver perspective on the anticipated automation of the trucking business: The last mile (finding, entering and exiting sites) will be way too challenging for any AI powering autonomous trucks.
- The world’s most-surveilled cities
(comparitech.com, 5 minutes)
Eight out of the top 10 most-surveilled cities (based on the number of public CCTV—cameras used by the government per 1,000 people) are in China. The other 2 are London and Atlanta.
- Algorithms as Editors
(ide.mit.edu, 4 minutes)
The results and insights from a comparison of human and algorithmic curation tested by an (unnamed) German news organization which receives more than 20 million unique visitors to its website each month. One of the learnings: “The algorithm outperforms the human editor when it has access to sufficient data though in the early stages, the human is better at predicting the average taste of readers”. However, as 10+ years of mainstream social media clearly have demonstrated, people clicking on a lot of things doesn’t automatically mean they are more satisfied and happy with their information diet, nor better informed. So in the end, what the algorithm is better at than the human is figuring out the exact emotional triggers of a user.
- Misinformation Has Created a New World Disorder
(scientificamerican.com, 12 minutes)
The emotional triggers I just mentioned before are part of the explanation for the emergence of a new dimension of systematic misinformation.
- As summer camps turn on facial recognition, parents demand: More smiles, please
(washingpost.com, 11 minutes)
In North America, a growing number of summer camps uses facial-recognition services to automatically send notifications and photos to parents about what their offspring is up to. 🤔
- The WeWork IPO
(stratechery.com, 12 minutes)
A very nuanced analysis of the upcoming WeWork IPO by Ben Thompson. He makes the point that “WeWork is perhaps best understood as a clear beneficiary of a world of seemingly unlimited capital”. VC Fred Wilson picks up on that point and wonders whether "unlimited capital” will still be available to WeWork once it has gone public.
- Why Are There So Many Weird Tech Patents?
(slate.com, 12 minutes)
Patents can be weapons and signals. They can spur innovation, as well as crush it.
- Airbnb Beat Expedia in Booked Room Nights
(skift.com, 5 minutes)
Airbnb has solidified its position as a fourth major player in online travel globally.
- People with unusually high IQs, why are you still unsuccessful?
(quora.com, 4 minutes)
Quite fascinating answer to this question. One point made: “High IQ people have hard time on finding anyone who is even moderately like them and who is interested in the same things.” Also interesting related to this topic: “A leader must be more intelligent than their subordinates, but not too intelligent. Otherwise the leader-follower relation will not form and will break up”. The first person that comes to mind for me is Elon Musk, who likely has an unusual high IQ. Reportedly, the turnover of executives reporting directly to him is “dramatically higher” than at other companies. Still in the end, Musk clearly did find ways to turn his unusual intelligence into exceptional success.
- There are 3 different versions of the IoT
(staceyoniot.com, 6 minutes)
There’s consumer IoT, enterprise IoT, and industrial IoT.
- Swatting Is a Deadly Problem–Here’s the Solution
(wired.com, 7 minutes)
“Swatting” is an internet-age crime in which bad actors sic the police on a fellow internet user who has angered, offended, or simply annoyed them. A possible solution: An “anti-swatting registry” that lets people who fear being swatted give the police advance warning by adding the concern to a profile associated with their address.
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meshedsociety weekly - made in Stockholm (or somewhere else).