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Welcome to issue #211 of meshedsociety weekly.

A few weeks ago I did something I knew I would regret: I bought a video game. Something I haven't done for ages. I saw a significant risk that the game in question, the city building simulator "Cities: Skylines" released in 2015, would capture an unreasonably large chunk of my attention. And so it did.

One particular highlight of the game is the focus on roads and traffic management. This already fascinated me as a child. Now I'm finding myself spending hours over hours of constructing sophisticated freeway systems and optimizing traffic (the screenshot is not from me, though).



On the upside, maybe one day this'll get me a job as a city/traffic planner (although I won't be able to compete with some of the insane experts at this game who proudly show off their expansive creations and skills on YouTube).

The good news: Since I radically cut down on social media use, I got some free time, and so my reading isn't suffering too much from this new competitor over my attention. So even this week, I'll have some good reads for you!


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).
  • Technological aging
    (lemire.me, 3 minutes)
    I can just guess that what’s described here as “technological aging” is what many of you are afraid of to experience (and so am I): “The idea that with chronological age, people tend to fail to adopt new technologies up until the point where it becomes too hard for them to catch up”. With this weekly list, I’ll try to do my part in helping us to protect us from this phenomenon :)
     
  • Measuring the Value of Digital Goods and Services
    (medium.com, 4 minutes)
    The gross domestic product (GDP) fails to measure intangibles (such as free online services), and how they relate to consumer well-being. Now researchers propose an interesting way to measure their impact and perceived economic value to consumers: Asking them how much money it would take to relinquish the products for a period of time. “In Europe, digital maps on phones are valued at 59 euros (currently about $67) per month. And the free messaging tool WhatsApp, is worth fully 536 euros ($611) per month, the survey indicates”.
     
  • It’s Ecosystems, Not Inventions that Truly Change the World
    (inc.com, 5 minutes)
    A smart way to look at the structure of large-scale (technological) changes: It’s not one great event or invention that tips the scale and changes everything, but (initially) hardly noticeable connections that complete a network/ecosystem. My take: This also applies to societal/global changes and could help to understand why predicting the future is so hard for humans to get right: One has to notice a lot of seemingly non-related and often subtle, non-obvious dots and connect them in a multi-dimensional way. This requires system’s thinking, which is not exactly a human strength. What humans are “good” at instead is connecting a few seemingly related but in reality arbitrary dots and come up with a big story for them. A story that usually is wrong.
     
  • The Amish, and Strategic Norms around Technology
    (lesswrong.com, 4 minutes)
    Fascinating insight: The Amish relationship to technology is not “stick to technology from the 1800s”, but rather “carefully think about how technology will affect your culture, and only include technology that does what you want.” In the end, it’s mostly about adding friction to transportation and communication.
     
  • Scientists Like Me Are Studying Your Tweets—Are You OK With That?
    (howwegettonext.com, 9 minutes)
    What you post “publicly” on a social media app or on a dating profile could very likely end up being part of some researcher’s work or used to train an artificial intelligence. That brings up ethical questions such as to what extend a public tweet is “public”.
     
  • 10 years of Grindr: A rocky relationship
    (bbc.com, 5 minutes)
    Years before Tinder launched and changed (casual) dating for the masses, the dating app for gay men Grindr already was available on the iPhone.
     
  • How Spotify and Discover Weekly Earns Me $400 / Month
    (stevebenjamins.com, 5 minutes)
    Very informative insights from an indie musician who manages to make a few bucks by ending up in people’s personalized Discover Weekly playlists on Spotify. As an artist he prefers Spotify over Apple Music, because Spotify offers indies more ways to reach listeners.
     
  • Expanding Our Horizons – Efficiently
    (edgeperspectives.typepad.com, 7 minutes)
    On the superiority of a “scalable learning model” over a “scalable efficiency model” in a rapidly changing world.
     
  • Microsoft leads the way in banning April Fools’ Day pranks
    (theverge.com, 2 minutes)
    Please, can all other companies follow suit?!
     
  • The danger of ‘I already pay for Apple News+’
    (techcrunch.com, 7 minutes)
    Josh Constine really, really – really – doesn’t like the philosophy behind Apple’s new subscription service for magazines and newspaper content.
     
  • Many options – none good. Why Apple may not have 5G before 2021
    (digitstodollars.com, 6 minutes)
    Apple is facing a challenge when it comes to bringing 5G support to the iPhone, which has to do with the fact that the current manufacturer of modems for the iPhone, Intel, most likely won’t have a 5G modem available until next year. The options available to Apple to work around this are all not ideal, as described in this informative piece.
     
  • The Sometimes Catastrophic, but Mostly Just Embarrassing Consequences of Screen Sharing at Work
    (nytimes.com, 6 minutes)
    A downside of using the same device for professional and personal matters.
     
  • William Grant & Sons released ‘world’s first’ blockchain whisky to monitor consumer habits
    (thedrinksbusiness.com, 3 minutes)
    A Scotch whisky which can be traced from source-to-bottle on a blockchain. Here is the general dilemma with news like this: It’s hard to evaluate from the outside whether the use of blockchain actually makes business sense for the specific scenario or is just the result of someone wanting to look tech savvy and get some easy media attention.
     
  • So Much For ICOs Taking Over VC
    (news.crunchbase.com, 2 minutes)
    ICOs are effectively dead.
     
  • How to Deliver Constructive Feedback in Difficult Situations
    (medium.dave-bailey.com, 10 minutes)
    A very useful introduction and guide to Marshall B. Rosenberg’s extremely intriguing (but challenging) “Nonviolent Communication” (NVC) framework, with a focus on professional situations. But NVC is as helpful in private matters (too bad I only learned about it very recently).
     
  • The Startup Empathy Dilemma: As Power Grows, Empathy Often Diminishes
    (leowid.com, 9 minutes)
    Evolutionarily, it is a very new phenomenon that 1 person can hold power over hundreds of thousands of people like Jeff Bezos or Tim Cook or even millions of people like politicians do. That this literal power imbalance has brought about many unforeseen effects, not least directly impacting our brains.
     
  • 7 principles for utopian communities
    (kristoffer.substack.com, 2 minutes, scroll a bit to get to the list)
    This is a compelling list for ways to allow a startup/product/idea to transform into some type of small-scale utopia.
     
  • American consumers spent more on Airbnb than on Hilton last year
    (recode.net, 3 minutes)
    Meanwhile, Airbnb itself is increasingly branching out into the hotel space, as stressed by the recent acquisition of hotel booking service HotelTonight.
     
  • What We Can Learn From the World’s Centenarians
    (medium.com, 5 minutes)
    How to live like the people in the so called “blue zones”, places where people have the longest life expectancy and healthiest lives.

Quotation of the week:

  • “Culturally the iconic white AirPods and jewel-like Apple Watch embody the spirit of the iPod.
    Horace Dediu in “Airpods(asymco.com, 3 minutes)
Last issue's top 3 most clicked articles: +++

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Martin
martin@meshedsociety.com

P.S. another weekly newsletter that I create: Swedish Tech Weekly.
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