November 28, 2014

9 articles that I enjoyed reading this week

Some reading tips for the weekend. If you do not want to miss future posts, subscribe via FacebookRSS or E-Mail.

» An economist explains what the heck is happening to the global economy
An interesting take on how some of today’s major global issues and conflicts are connected to each other.

» The Astonishing Rise of Angela Merkel
A fantastic, very insightful and analytical piece that really makes one understand how Merkels works, thinks, and how she pulled of to become the most powerful woman in global politics.

» How Starbucks Could Take Wireless Charging Mainstream
I hope this catches on.

» Should digital monopolies be broken up?
As the conflict between the European Union (including lobbyists such as major publishing companies from Germany) and Google is heating up, The Economist looks into the issue how to deal with digital monopolies.

» Why the EU’s “right to be de-linked” should not go global
The European Union wants to export its controversial “right to be forgotten” to search portals outside Europe. But would Brussels be fine if China requires Western search engines to block results for the Tiananmen Incident? Hardly.

» How to Get Away with Uber
Uber has many fans (who usually and understandably are dissatisfied with the service and quality level of taxis) but also many critics. This is a comprehensive collection and analysis of reasons why one should be critical about the company and how it does business.

» Morality is the key to personal identity
An article that leads to interesting, non-conventional reflections about the self.

» The Shazam Effect
The times when mainstream music was produced mainly by guessing what the audience might like are over – access to rich and vast data about listener’s preferences leads to increased data-driven music production.

» Advice from a digital nomad: bootstrapping in Southeast Asia
I love Southeast Asia and I fully agree with this post: If you want to create a company or project without taking in lots of external money, doing it from Thailand, Vietnam or Indonesia might be a very economical (and pleasant) way.

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November 26, 2014

14 reasons why there is no need to breakup Google

The European Parliament is promoting the idea of having to breakup Google in order to ensure fair competition. While there does not seem to be any agreement over these plans – that partially are being pushed by lobbyists of German media companies – this might be a topic of ongoing debate for the near future.

With a search market share of more than 90 percent in Germany and other European markets as well as lots of other strong services, Google for sure looks quite dominating in many areas of the digital industry. And yet, looking closer, one realizes that the number of challenges for the Internet giant has never been greater. By focusing on the bigger picture, radical regulatory moves appear rather unnecessary. At least in this specific case, the market might fix the issue.

> The Internet is going mobile, PCs are – at best – being turned into second screens. The smartphone is the place where the action happens. And there, people mainly use apps, not websites. Also search behaviour changes. Many specific searches increasingly happen inside apps such as Facebook, Instagram, Spotify or Netflix – not through Google. Furthermore, on small screens, there is less space to show ads. Traditionally Google generates most of its revenue with ads next to its search engine and on other websites. This shift weakens Google and strengthens others, such as Facebook

> Related to these changes, native ads are how many social media platforms and media companies generate revenue. As Ben Thompson explains, this is a segment where Google has hardly anything to offer.

> Smartphone messengers are the big thing within the social media sphere. WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, WeChat, Line – none of the major global players belongs to Google. Here again, Google missed the boat.

> Firefox, still one of the leading browsers, changes its default search engine from Google to Yahoo.

> Since the Snowden revelations, more people are trying to use online services that protect their privacy and data. The alternative search engine DuckDuckGo benefits from that and beats Google at its weakest point

> Google Glass is not developing so well.

> Google+ neither (compared to its ambitions).

> Android One, the Android version for developing countries, does not catch on as planned.

> Google’s self driving cars might never really happen as mass market product, and flying could be the better option anyway. Another potential money-waster for Google (that, to be fair, has a lot of money to waste)

> Google probably will be kicked out of iOS as default search by next year.

> For private communication, especially among younger generations, email is losing all its previous importance, as a representative German survey showed. No good news for Gmail.

> When Google Maps was kicked out of iOS, it lost millions of users. Meanwhile, OpenStreetMap is turning into a serious contender.

> Under its new CEO, Microsoft is back and has made some interesting moves lately, such as buying Mojang/Minecraft, releasing free Office for iOS, getting cozy with Dropbox. Hard to say if the company really will manage a comeback among end consumers, but it definitely will try. This means new competition for Google. And lets not forget Apple, Amazon and Facebook, that all invest heavily to enter new markets.

> On a private movie screening event with Hollywood celebrities and Silicon Valley leaders Google co-founder Sergey Brin wore Crocs.

So really. It does not seem as if there is a risk of Google not being challenged properly in its core markets.

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November 21, 2014

9 articles that I enjoyed reading this week

Some reading tips for the weekend. If you do not want to miss future posts, subscribe via FacebookRSS or E-Mail.

» Steve Albini on the surprisingly sturdy state of the music industry
This might be the best text about the state of the music industry in the digital age that I have ever read. I won’t spoil it here since I really want you to read it – even though it is quite long.

» The Mac’s Second Act: From Obscurity to Ubiquity
About the remarkable long-term increase of the Mac computer’s popularity.

» Writer as Coder: The Iterative Way to Write a Book
This sounds like a pretty intelligent and unusual way of writing a book (and collecting early feedback on it so you don’t write stuff that nobody wants to read).

» Here’s some remarkable new data on the power of chat apps like WhatsApp for sharing news stories
First there was SMS. Then people started to share stuff on Social Networks. Now we are getting back to private communication.

» How to live for a month in virtual reality
This experiment will be fascinating to follow.

» Why Do People Believe in Conspiracy Theories?
Conspiracy Theories are a problem in the digital age, since it is so easy to find websites that seemingly confirm whatever people’s brain tries to sell them. So it might be useful to have an understanding about the underlying processes.

» Welcome to the Experience Economy
According to this article, we might soon pay a fee just to get into a mall – provided that this mall manages to deliver an outstanding experience apart from the pure shopping aspect.

» A quick history of why Asians wear surgical masks in public
When I traveled to Japan for the first time, my jetlag in combination with people wearing surgical masks created quite some strange atmosphere. This article provides some interesting background.

» The Merry Pranksters Who Hacked the Afghan War
About some folks who went to Afghanistan to help providing people with Internet connectivity and other utilities – in very creative and improvised ways. Role models.

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November 14, 2014

There is not only one truth

If you pay attention, many of the major political, social and economical debates of our time seem to devide people into at least two different groups. Groups who see themselves as being right and who see the other group to be wrong. And both groups have an arsenal of facts, statistics and explanations handy that sometimes actually sound quite convincing. Until the other group responds with their facts, statistics and explanations, that to an outsider might sound convincing, too.

Now, sometimes, groups make up their facts, fueled by extreme, dogmatic ideologies, long-term brainwashing and hurt feelings.

But sometimes, they don’t. So how is that possible?

Maybe because sometimes there might be different truths that can exist side by side.

Does today’s capitalism create inequality? Likely. But it also has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and is still doing so (while causing trouble elsewhere). Did the U.S. harm world peace with some of its past wars? Likely. But it also likely defended world peace in other ways (it’s comparable to the police that is hated when using excessive force and demanded when a crime takes place). Does Social Media give a platform to narcissists who do not care about anything else than how many likes they get for their duckface selfie? Obviously. But it also lets billions of people connect, share knowledge and do good in ways that never existed before. Does music streaming revenue look disappointing for artists compared to what they made with selling CDs in the past? Yes. But it also solves the problem of piracy for the first time. Is Internet surveillance needed in order to fight terrorism? Probably. But it also erodes basic human rights and puts, in the long-term, democracy at stake.

I could go on.

Obviously, based on our own experiences, world view and political ideas, we usually favor one standpoint over the other. Ideally that would be the one that objectively is superior in regards to the availability of convincing data.

Usually though, we don’t have access to nor capacity to process this data (except maybe if you are Thomas Piketty and analyze so much data that your book becomes 600 pages long – and even his facts and conclusions were questioned!). Sometimes a superior, “right” point of view does not even exist.

Which is why I think humans in todays interconnected, polarized world need to get better at acknowledging the fact that there can be different coexisting truths which explains why people might take so different positions in regards to the same issue.

Of course one should try to defend one’s own standpoint. But every time somebody seems to believe that their view or facts are the only “right” ones and that there is only one possible way to look at a still not fully solved issue (unlike the negative effects of smoking on health, where no doubt is left), part of the truth might be lost.

12 articles that I enjoyed reading this week

Some reading tips for the weekend. If you do not want to miss future posts, subscribe via FacebookRSS or E-Mail.

» A need to walk
About the magic of walks. I’m a big fan of long walks, to clear my head, to find inspiration, to listen to podcasts. Thus I enjoyed reading this a lot.

» I used Apple’s AirDrop to troll strangers with photos of space sloths
I guess after this article, the number of pranks making use AirDrop will increase.

» Doing Business in Japan
The title sound dry and boring, but believe me, this is a long but highly interesting, insightful and even quite entertaining description of how Japanese work and business culture works. Hint: It is completely and utterly different from anything that you probably can imagine. If you are not completely uninterested in Japan, you should read it.

» The Benjamin Franklin Effect: The Surprising Psychology of How to Handle Haters
The world as we see it is not really the world how it actually is. That has consequences also about how we interact with other people.

» Germany tops USA as world’s favourite country
Considering Germany’s recent history, this top ranking is quite astonishing. Cars, success in sports and Oktoberfest can get you very far.

» Berlin’s digital exiles: where tech activists go to escape the NSA
The German capital, a place that has seen its fair share of excessive surveillance in the past, is becoming the new hot spot for those who fight today’s global surveillance.

» Typewriters are back, and we have Edward Snowden to thank
I do not believe in a bigger comeback of typewriters and I would not like it either. Typewriters are from a time when knowledge was hardly shared between people. We should not go back there. Of course if the goal is to avoid surveillance, it might be a useful tool.

» 10 million „e-Estonians“ by 2025!
This idea is so creative and unconventional: Estonia will open up its sophisticated and powerful E-Government infrastructure for foreigners, who can apply for a so called “E-Residency”, starting from December.

» The Founder’s Guide To Selling Your Company
If Internet and startup economics are your thing, then you should read this piece – no matter whether you ever will end up selling your company. But it helps in understanding some of the “games” that are going on behind the curtain when those acquisition rumors are showing up on tech blogs.

» The Spotify CEO Daniel Ek’s response to Taylor Swift
I think Ek makes a couple of really good points and reminds everybody of why music streaming services appeared in the first place: Because music piracy was killing revenue for artists and could not be stopped – until streaming startups came.

» Stockholm is the ‘most prolific’ billion-dollar startup hub behind Silicon Valley
That is pretty remarkable.

» Running a South Pole data center
Some tasks and jobs are really extraordinary (tough).

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November 9, 2014

November 9th 1989 – best day of my life

I am not a very emotional person, rather I am very pragmatic. But every time I watch coverage from the events taking place on November 9th 1989 in Berlin I get highly emotional. Tears in my eyes and an actual urge to express my emotions through crying.

Again, this is very untypical for me. And thus, the other day when watching a new German TV movie about the GDR border guard who was the first to let people from East (where I was born) go to the West at border checkpoint Bornholmer Strasse, while again experiencing these emotions, I realized how much my subconscious still, 25 years later, is thankful for the fall of the wall. And how terrified it is by the idea of being locked in within a dictatorship, in a country and political sphere where I would not have had any chance of expressing myself the way I can do today – the way I need to in order to be happy and in order to reach my full potential.

I always appreciated freedom. But the other day when watching the movie I realized how much I actual value freedom. How much I think it is the key to a fulfilled life for everybody. Whether they are aware of it or not.

November 9th 1989 was the best day of my life. And fighting for free societies where people can live the way they feel is right for them (without harming others) instead of being ordered how to live is a worthy undertaking. I know it. Because I had the chance to experience freedom for 25 years.

November 8, 2014

9 articles that I enjoyed reading this week

Some reading tips for the weekend. If you do not want to miss future posts, subscribe via FacebookRSS or E-Mail.

» How Universal Basic Income Will Save Us From the Robot Uprising
When the upcoming new wave of automation will kill millions of jobs, a basic income can make sure that social peace and order are ensured. It might be the only real solution.

» The Art of Not Working at Work
This is a fantastic text shedding a light on the widespread phenomenon of people not doing lots of work while at work.

» Beyond gaming, the VR boom is everywhere—from classrooms to therapy couches
Let’s say that VR won’t again turn out to be mostly hype and little substance, then humanity really can expect a lot from this technology, as described in this article.

» The Three Breakthroughs That Have Finally Unleashed AI on the World
Artificial Intelligence is coming…

» Artificial Intelligence as a Threat
…and we need to be careful about it.

» Our Smartphones Have Surpassed Their Role as Computers In Our Pockets
The former “mini computers” in our pockets are becoming the real computers, and our home PCs are being turned into extensions that we use for very specific use cases only.

» If you use a Mac or Android, e-commerce sites may be charging you more
Personalized pricing is a big topic for the upcoming years. Depending on who we are, we’ll get a “unique” price for a product or service. This can be good or bad.

» Capitalism Has Gone Off the Rails
Capitalism has for sure seen more optimistic days.

» Should Airplanes Be Flying Themselves?
Extensive account of how the crash of Air France Flight 447 in 2009 came to be, raising the question of whether humans should completely stay away from the controls of a plane.

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October 31, 2014

11 articles that I enjoyed reading this week

Some reading tips for the weekend. If you do not want to miss future posts, subscribe via FacebookRSS or E-Mail.

» Emerging and Developing Economies Much More Optimistic than Rich Countries about the Future
Highly inspiring and eye-opening statistics gathered by PEW reasearch on how people in different countries see the economical future, about their values and ideologies. Judging from this, Vietnam is about to become a major force.

» The Laborers Who Keep Dick Pics and Beheadings Out of Your Facebook Feed
Thousands of workers in offshore locations make sure that our social media experience stays clean and tidy. That’s definitely not a dream job.

» The case for cases: why it doesn’t matter what your phone looks like
Great point: Smartphone design does not matter anymore, because most people use cases. If you want to make money, start to create neat cases.

» Why Google wants to replace Gmail
Traditionally, email is a rather “dumb” technology that does not offer much monetizing and enhancenment potential for Internet giants like Google. That’s why they try to find ways to introduce new ways of using email.

» Gut instincts: The secrets of your second brain
Some of the body’s features are especially fascinating.

» Assange: Google Is Not What It Seems
Julian Assange explains how he met Google chairman Eric Schmidt and subsequently learned how close the US government and Google work together towards implementing American ideas on a global scale.

» I’m Terrified of My New TV
The rise of smart TVs means TVs are aware of what people are doing at their homes, and they might send this data to third parties.

» The future of the book
The Economist gives a good summary about the past, current identity change and future of the book.

» Why is it so easy to dehumanise a victim of violence?
Often when groups of people fight or even kill other groups of people, they use the tactic of dehumanizing their victims first, e.g. by calling them “cockroaches” like in Rwanda in the 90s. That’s an important aspect behind the psychology of people who participate in genocides.

» Porsche: The Hedge Fund that Also Made Cars
Very interesting piece about how Porsche tried to take over Volkswagen with a financial scheme that at first appeared to be extremely smart, but did backfire in the end: Eventually it was Volkswagen that took over Porsche.

» Aboard a Cargo Colossus
Your chance to learn something about a quite important industry that does not get so much reported on.

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October 25, 2014

12 articles that I enjoyed reading this week

Some reading tips for the weekend. If you do not want to miss future posts, subscribe via FacebookRSS or E-Mail.

» Amazon is doing the world a favor by crushing book publishers
Great piece explaining why one should not easily buy publishers’ complaints about Amazon’s power in the (e-)book market. Money quote: “Amazon’s view is that since “printing” an extra copy of an e-book is really cheap, e-books should be really cheap. Publishers’ view is that since “printing” an extra copy of an e-book is really cheap, e-books should offer enormous profit margins to book publishers”

» The End Of Apps As We Know Them
The time in which we interact with mobile apps mainly by directly accessing them from the home screen (or search) might soon be over.

» Apply Pay Overview: How To Set Up and Shop
For customers of certain US banks, Apple has launched its much anticipated mobile payment service Apple Pay. This post explains how it works (and who can use it).

» Twitter’s Audacious Plan to Infiltrate All Your Apps
This sounds like Twitter’s biggest strategy shift so far.

» The autonomous Google car may never happen
It’s possible that some people and much of the tech media is too optimistic about when self driving cars will hit the market.

» In Facebook’s Deals for WhatsApp and Oculus, Lessons on Stock vs. Cash
When tech companies like Facebook buy startups for billions, they often pay in shares instead of cash. That leads to overpaying and other potential side effects.

» The Western Model Is Broken
I find it tempting to agree with this extensive analysis about the political and ideological state of the world in 2014.

» How America lost the Middle East
Related to the previous link, highlighting one specific aspect of the diminishing influence of the West (in that case, specifically of the U.S.).

» What the Ebola Crisis Reveals About Culture
Intriguing article about the unpleasant psychology effects of Ebola on people in Western cultures; cultures that have distanced themselves from death as far as possible

» America is Becoming Less Religious
Something one might not guess when listening to US-politicians.

» The Kitchen Network: America’s underground Chinese restaurant workers
From the department of “How things work that many people use but never think about much”.

» Mark Zuckerberg Speaks Mandarin, Blows Everyone’s Mind
If that’s not inspiring and motivating, what is?!

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October 17, 2014

13 articles that I enjoyed reading this week

Some reading tips for the weekend. If you do not want to miss future posts, subscribe via FacebookRSS or E-Mail.

» Here’s Why Public Wifi is a Public Health Hazard
I constantly witness people connecting to public Wifi networks without any safety concerns or protection. Fortunately, now there is a good post explaining the risks (full protection might be tough to achieve, but using a VPN should be rule number one).

» The SIM card is about to die
This can be good (less hassle) or bad (less portability of mobile carriers) depending on how it is being done.

» ‘Back-up husbands,’ ‘emotional affairs’ and the rise of digital infidelity
A study showed that many Facebook users in relationships have “back-burners” in case they end up being single again.

» Yes, even your child: New study shows sexting is the new first base. But don’t panic yet
Among teens, sexting is the new foreplay before the foreplay.

» Steve Ballmer and the guy from the time machine
Predicting who rules the technology world in 10 years is damn hard, as this post illustrates.

» Note To Struggling Bands And Singers: Sorry But Most Of Your Fans Don’t Care
This might be hard to swallow for some but I think it is the reality.

» How Much Does It Cost to Visit Every Country in the World?
For an estimated $150,000 you could go to all 193 countries of the world. Not at a bad deal.

» Turks but not Berliners?
Germans are bad at excepting people that do not look German as Geman, as this text correctly points out.

» Why Learn “Useless” Things?
Humans are bad at imagining the usefulness of new knowledge.

» Average number of languages spoken by the EU population
Interesting map.

» How compact cities help curb climate change
An often overlooked fact of compact cities: They might be better for the environment because of major efficiency gains.

» Venture capital and the great big Silicon Valley asshole game
In the Silicon Valley technology industry, loud-mouthesd jerks get the big money, not nice guys.

» The Three Letter Word Driving a Gender Revolution
About the Swedish gender-neutral pronoun “hen” (which by the way is not meant to hide the gender of a person whose gender is known but to be used in situations when the gender is unkown).

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