September 28, 2014

8 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.

Since I am currently traveling, this week’s link list will be uncommented.

» Facebook Messenger is actually a monster hit

» Podcasts are back — and making money

» Top 20 Reasons Why Startups Fail

» The definitive case for paternity leave

» The iPhone 6 Plus is the pocket computer I’ve been waiting for

» Thoughts On Alibaba

» Peter Thiel: ‘We attribute too much to luck. Luck is an atheistic word for God’

» Why The Islamic State Is Not Really Islamic – The Intercept

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September 20, 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.

» Who is Jack Ma, the man behind the largest ever tech IPO?
The Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is finally talk of the town even outside China. Time to learn about the person who created and runs the company.

» Silicon Valley’s Contract-Worker Problem
Lots of fast growing startups offering delivery and services on demand, often almost instantly. But that comes at a cost – for the people performing the tasks. It’s a serious issue.

» Apple Watch: Initial Thoughts and Observations
The best analysis about the Apple Watch that I have read.

» Understanding what Minecraft really means to Microsoft
Microsoft bougth the Swedish company Mojang for $2.5 billion. Mojang is better known for its legendary video game Minecraft, which excites children and some grown-ups alike.

» Praise feels good, but negativity is stronger
Humans are hardwired to give negative thoughts more attention, as this interesting article explains. Interestingly, the Dutch seem to be an exception.

» Why Germans pay cash for almost everything
Every time I visit my home country, the cash culture and lack of acceptance of international credit cards annoys me.

» CD-Loving Japan Resists Move to Online Music
The stereotype of Japan as the country of high-tech is only true in regards to the usage of machines and robots. On an end consumer level, people are quite conservative. Many still buy CDs (and as a recent visit to Tokyo taught me, feature phones are still quite common in generations older than 30).

» The Weird World of Airline Crew Crashpads
I didn’t know that such thing even existed.

» The Paparazzi Business
About the evolution of the Paparazzi business and how the rise of Social Media has changed it.

» Living Simply in a Dumpster
That’s a bold experiment in minimalist living: A professor in Austin is living in an upgraded Dumpster.

» Why so many Koreans are called Kim
I just spent a week in Seoul, and conveniently that explainer showed up on my radar.

» France is ditching the ‘Islamic State’ name — and replacing it with a label the group hates
This is a tiny change, but an important one. If people stop calling this group “Islamic State”, it will lose a lot of weight in the public debate. What remains is a barbaric terror organization that does no good to anyone.

» Does dopamine create religious experience?
This piece explains how dopamine influences religious experiences, and it gives one explanation to why some people respond well to extremist ideas. They brain simply is rewarding them with Dopamine.

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September 12, 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 Andreessen Horowitz Is Disrupting Silicon Valley
Despite being fairly young, Andreessen Horowitz is one of the most successful venture capital firms in the Silicon Valley. This article explains one major factor for its rise. Definitely worth reading if you are somehow interested in the Internet economy.

» The World of Competitive Rock Paper Scissors
Apart from the apparent silliness of professional rock paper scissor playing, some serious strategies and think-processes are going on.

» Frank Sinatra’s views on organized religion were decades ahead of his time
Sinatra nailed it.

» A Conversation Between Two Atheists From Muslim Backgrounds (Part 3)
And while we are at the topic of religion: I found this exchange highly insightful and informative.

» How to see in to the future
Interesting piece about the business of economical and political forecasting and how to get it right.

» Apple Insider Spills Secrets: ‘This Isn’t PR. This Is Something Else
About how Apple does what usually is called PR – but here not really deserves the name.

» 10 Space Myths We Need to Stop Believing 

» How to Be Alone: An Antidote to One of the Central Anxieties and Greatest Paradoxes of Our Time
I’m the biggest fan of being alone, but many people are not. I can very much relate to this.

» There’s A Fly In My Urinal
I have noticed the fly a couple of times, but never wondered about it (which I now find very odd). So to me reading this was an eye-opener.

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September 5, 2014

10 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.

» Twitch CEO Sees Game Tournaments Vying With Major Leagues
I see Twitch, newly acquired by Amazon, as the future of live TV. This piece explains how Twitch could take over e-sports and make it really big. Imagine 100 million people simultaneously watching a soccer video game. I believe that will happen.

» The problem with “takes” is the business model of mass media
An essential piece containing a couple of not necessarily new, but to the point recommendations and advises about the future of online journalism and media in only a few paragraphs.

» 3 mutations that created the Ice Bucket Virus
Semi-scientific analysis on the viral characteristics of the Ice Bucket challenge. Makes a lot of sense.

» Henry Kissinger on the Assembly of a New World Order
The political world order is changing, and Henry Kissinger describes that pretty well.

» Dutch Woman Uses Facebook to Deceive Family and Friends She Is on Trip to South-East Asia without Even Leaving Amsterdam
What this woman did seems to be a bit funny, an interesting experiment and a huge waste of time.

» How St. Louis County, Missouri Profits from Poverty
A quite depressing piece describing a system where people who already have little are being criminalized in order to pay the fines that the local administration needs in order to finance its law enforcement activities. Helps to understand the frustration that the local community of St. Louis must feel.

» Why haven’t China’s cities learned from America’s mistakes?
For long, China failed to built cities that are planned with the challenges of the future in mind. Instead it copied some failed concepts from elsewhere, like putting the car in the center of mobility needs.

» Made In Kenya, Assembled In America: This Amazing Internet-Anywhere Router Company Is Innovating From Africa
Innovation made in Africa. While startups and tech companies from the wealthy countries focus on convenience and entertainment products, the developing world produces actual problem-solvers.

» Robots With Their Heads in the Clouds
Future robots will be smart because they will be connected to the cloud, being able to access other robots knowledge and “experience”.

» The secret of Minecraft
What started as a seemingly meaningless video game has become quite a fascinating success story, and one that stimulates the fantasy.

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August 29, 2014

9 articles that I really 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.

» Why US-based Tech Companies Are Winning over Europe
Closely related to my post from yesterday about Europe’s problematic language variety, but more elaborate.

» Pew: Social media makes people even less likely to share unpopular opinions
Humans have quite a mob mentality, and even more on the Internet.

» Why Android desperately needs a billion dollar success story: The best new apps are all going iPhone-first
Cool apps never launch on Android first, despite it having by far the largest market share.

» Connecting the world
This post manages to properly describe the massive impact that mobile devices will have on everything. The PC era was comparatively small in its scope and impact.

» The Startup That’s Spawning a New Generation of Startups
Palantir, a name one should be familiar with.

» Could this be the end for troubled Malaysia Airlines?
Interesting news article offering some insights into the struggles of Malaysia Airlines following the 2 major incidents earlier this year.

» Infographic Shows The Differences Between The Diseases We Donate To, And The Diseases That Kill Us
In the lights of the viral hit Ice Bucket Challenge, this deserves some attention.

» Hong Kong Has Solved The Most Annoying Thing About Going To The Airport
This is something other cities should adopt: Checking in and getting rid of luggage before boarding the train to the airport.

» Inside the world of legalised prostitution in Germany
Quite a read.

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August 28, 2014

Europe’s big weakness: the language fragmentation

This week I wrote two stories for netzwertig.com in German that I was inspired to based on news I found in the Swedish media, in Swedish language (about how a Swedish taxi company innovates to compete with Uber and about how Klarna’s CEO and founder suggests that Sweden should offer tax-funded Internet to all citizen free of charge to gain a competitive advantage in the global economy).

I know Swedish because I have my official base in Sweden and decided early on to learn the language. But the number of Swedish speakers living in other countries of Europe, following Swedish media and writing/blogging about it in another language than Swedish is rather small. So if I would not have written about those two things, it might have taken long time until somebody else would have. Or it would have never happened. And obviously I excluded many other Europeans by writing in German.

Now I am not saying that the topics I am referring to are of any importance (I leave that to others to decide). But the situation illustrates one of the major weaknesses of Europe: The fragmentation caused by lots of different languages.

This fragmentation leads to a lack of passive sharing of learnings, ideas and experiences. Because whatever is being debated in some circles in Spain, Italy, France, Slovenia, Greece, Poland etc is not immediately visible to Europeans who do not speak the local language or follow this country’s media.

In consequence, everything depends on the few journalists who cover local debates for other markets and languages, or some institutionalized systems and projects for knowledge sharing. That is good, but it is not the best outcome.

There is nothing that can be done to solve this issue in the short term. But I am convinced the language fragmentation of Europe is preventing the continent from reaching its full potential, and it probably is one of the reasons why Europeans can’t find the unity that would be needed in order to successfully compete with other major global economies.

There is a huge risk that European countries keep reinventing the wheel, make the same mistakes or miss out on innovative approaches that happen somewhere in Europe, because people in every day situations speak different languages.

Call me a pessimist in this regard but I do not think that Europe will be able to gain any significant power and strength unless it has introduced one official, widely accepted commercial language.

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August 23, 2014

Charlie Chaplin’s great speech from 1940, still applicable today

I recently discovered this fantastic track by Animal Trainer titled “Charly”  (you might like it if you are into electronic music) and was wondering about where the powerful speech that is included in the tune originates from. I learned that it is from Charlie Chaplin’s movie “The Great Dictator“.

Already while listening and even more now while reading it I realize: This speech is timeless. Apart from a couple of minor points, it basically applies even today, even if it was created under a very different time with a different kind of conflict (2nd world war).

Human progress is a hard fight.

Here you can read it.

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11 articles that I really 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.

» Our Common Humanity: We Still Have a Lot to Build on the Internet
I loved reading this 5 paragraph blog post highlighting the cause of many of human conflicts: We fail seeing each other as human beings who share a lot of similarities. Instead, focus is often on differences.

» The best places to live
With 2 exceptions (Vienna, Helsinki), European and U.S. cities are completely absent from the list of the world’s 10 best cities to live in. I see that as reason for concern. Canada on the other hand is all over the ranking.

» Man Builds Working Hard Drive Inside Minecraft
I’m waiting for the first person to create a complex game simulation inside a complex game simulation.

» Soylent Survivor: one month living on lab-made liquid nourishment
A personal experience report describing how it is to only eat the hyped food-replacement Soylent for a month.

» What the Jihadists Who Bought ‘Islam For Dummies’ on Amazon Tell Us About Radicalisation
This is an excellent piece pointing out that many of these young radical troublemakers might actually be less deeply religious than they present themselves. Instead, these are “bored, under­employed, overqualified and underwhelmed” young men looking for a purpose. Societies failed to help them to find purpose.

» Mental Health, Trauma, and Startup Founders
There might be a connection between people who start companies and bad experiences and traumas in their childhood. While this article is based on personal accounts and observations, this is a theory that should be investigated further.

» Of course eBay has to spin off PayPal. Here’s why it hasn’t done so…. yet
I agree with the message of this post: eBay-owned PayPal will probably play an even bigger role in the future as a or the major player within digital finance and commerce.

» Most smartphone users download zero apps per month
In the U.S., 65.5 % of smartphone users download zero apps per month. Hard to believe but if true, that means that the companies behind the leading smartphone OS have done a bad job helping people discovering apps that might enrich their digital life.

» Uber’s Most Important Innovation Is a Pricing Algorithm
A look on the concept of dynamic pricing based on demand and supply. While Uber’s implementation (“surge pricing”) has caused controversy, the truth is that dynamic pricing has been the default in many industries for many years.

» The History of Civilization
I never played the legendary strategy game Civilization but I was completely addicted to Colonization, one of the many successors. Interesting to read how the original game came to be.

» Darwin’s theory of evolution challenged
I have no idea if this is credible, but apparently research showed that sperm and eggs appear to carry genetic memories of events well before conception. That would mean that not everybody would start into life with the same prerequisites.

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August 19, 2014

Humans do not need to apply

Excellent 15 minute video explaining the massive changes brought to our economy by the large scale automation of human work.

Related to that, PewResearch has done a large survey among experts about the consequences that the rise of robots and artifical intelligence will cause to our society and work life. It’s extensive but well worth a look.

Meanwhile, in Germany a crowdfunding project plans to launch a real-world experiment with an unconditional base income. Why? Because unlike in the past, robots and computers will be able to do all our jobs, and that requires that we rewrite the social welfare system.

So far, two base incomes (limited for a year) have been successfully funded.

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August 15, 2014

8 articles that I really 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.

» Edward Snowden: The Untold Story
I have not had time yet to read this extensive piece, but everybody says it’s great.

» Email Is Still the Best Thing on the Internet
Word!

» The Most Fascinating Profile You’ll Ever Read About a Guy and His Boring Startup
This is quite a success story: While creating an (unsuccessful) game app, Stewart Butterfield built a simple chat tool for teams and enterprises that looks like a big winner.

» Here’s why celebrities are taking the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’
The power of the Internet at work.

» Why It’s So Hard to Catch Your Own Typos
Great explainer. Now it makes more sense to me why I spot typos in a text as soon as I switch between notebook and iPad, for example.

» Stop being a tourist
A critical look at the mainstream tourist mentality. Signed.

» It’s time to consider restricting human breeding
Controversial ideas but worth debating about, and there are a couple of interesting angles to consider, among others millions of kids who grow up without parents and millions of kids who grow up with parents who obviously are unsuitable for parenting.

» The New Habit Challenge: Wear The Same Clothes Every Day
That specific approach seems a bit boring to me, but one cannot argue about the overall philosophy: reducing unimportant decisions to make more room for important ones. Because decision power is a limited resource.

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