Welcome to issue #234 of meshedsociety, today sent to 740 subscribers.
I hope this new, lighter and more random frequency is fine for you. I do enjoy this new freedom :)
Let's get into this week's reads!
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:
- How do new emojis happen? A look inside the mysterious group that approves them
(bostonglobe.com, 10 minutes)
A great, really insightful read about the handful of people who make up the emoji committee, their process to decide about new emojis to be introduced, and the issues (but also advantages) of their gatekeeping.
- Why we can’t stop using the “face with tears of joy” emoji
(qz.com, 3 minutes)
While we are at the topic: Introduced in 2010, the “face with tears of joy” pictograph is commonly used to underscore a joke, acknowledge a funny comment, or soften a sarcastic remark. It's apparently the most used emoji.
- Cities and Ambition
(paulgraham.com, 14 minutes)
From 2008 but like so many old essays from Paul Graham, even this one feels not outdated at all. Fascinating thoughts about the messages that cities send to its people – and why this message matters. The text is fairly US focused but it's great inspiration to ponder about cities elsewhere.
- The Audio Revolution
(alexdanco.com, 22 minutes))
Thought-provoking perspective: Headphones, and the audio they hiss into our ears, change our perception of the world, and therefore everything.
- Bundling and Unbundling
(reallifemag.com, 9 minutes)
A critical inspection of the trend towards unbundling, seen from the perspective of the sometimes subtle, hard to assess value of the bundle. Pointed quote from the piece: "The Silicon Valley disruption narrative implies that bundles are suboptimal and thus bad, but as it turns out, it is only someone else’s bundles that are bad".
- Why Companies and Government Do “Innovation Theater” Instead of Actual Innovation
(steveblank.com, 5 minutes)
"Companies and government agencies typically adopt innovation activities (hackathons, design thinking classes, innovation workshops, et al.) that result in innovation theater. While these activities shape, and build culture, they don’t win wars, and they rarely deliver shippable/deployable product".
- The Lines of Code That Changed Everything
(slate.com, 30 minutes)
Fun, informative compilation. Including Telnet, the JPEG, Geocities, Wikipedia and much more IT/internet nostalgia.
- Why U.S. Tech Inventors Are So Highly Clustered
(citylab.com, 5 minutes)
New research finds that high-tech inventors are significantly more productive when they work in large clusters.
- Tech Workers Backing Candidates Looking to Break Up Their Employers
(bloomberg.com, 3 minutes)
It's an interested phenomenon: People working for companies that they apparently wouldn't mind to be broken up or at least being regulated more strictly. It maybe proves what one already had to assume: That people working in tech do have a conscience, too. Although the underlying motives might vary widely.
- Reasons not to be used by Facebook
(stallman.org, 20 - 30 minutes)
The kind of exhaustive list that many would find useful to link to or to cite at one point or another, but that probably much fewer would spend more than few seconds on.
- Remember QR Codes? They're More Powerful Than You Think
(a16z.com, 8 minutes)
16 examples for how China is using QR codes. This list is worth reading from beginning to end.
- Apple TV, Apple TV, Apple TV, and Apple TV+
(dcurt.is, 2 minutes)
What is Apple TV? It's not the most straight-forward brand to explain.
- Cut Your Own Vinyl Records With This $1,100 Machine
(wired.com, 3 minutes
The Phonocut is an at-home vinyl lathe, allowing anyone with a digital audio file and a dream to make a 10-inch record.
- How to Say "No": Five Templates to Turn Down Opportunities Gracefully
(calacanis.com, 4 minutes)
The templates angel investor Jason Calacanis uses to say "no" to inquiries without coming across as rude. There might be some take-aways or inspiration in this piece even for people in other type of roles which receive regular inbound-inquiries.
- A Piece of Advice I Wish I'd Included in My Book
(calnewport.com, 3 minutes)
The phone foyer method: Putting your phone at a dedicated spot in your home (for example near the entrance) and when you need to use it, you go there. I'm linking to this because I find it kind of creative, but not as an endorsement of the approach. By turning off all push messages and quitting most of social media (and accepting the initial withdrawal effects), I personally managed to eliminate most of the sources of frustration about my own smartphone use. So now I'm just appreciative of all the benefits of this little marvelous gadget.
- The Drone Wars Are Already Here
(bloomberg.com, 9 minutes)
"Syria’s skies may be saturated with drones from at least seven countries and innumerable armed groups, but nowhere is the use of armed UAVs more ubiquitous than in Libya."
- Can you make AI fairer than a judge? Play our courtroom algorithm game
(technologyreview.com, 24 minutes)
There are different definitions for fairness and they are mutually excusive. So in one way, a fair AI is pretty much impossible.
- Societies change their minds faster than people do
(economist.com, 2 minutes)
Generally, more change happens due to older generations dying than due to people changing their minds.
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P.S. another newsletter that I create: Swedish Tech Weekly.
meshedsociety - made in Stockholm (or somewhere else).