50 | 2017

Another week of 2017 is finished. Two left.  Ten things I found interesting in the last seven days. Get a coffee. Enjoy the read.

“I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works”

These are the words of Chamath Palihapitiya, one of the first growth engineers at Facebook and now superstar investor (literally as he is also one of the owners of the Oakland Warriors), during a talk at the Stanford Graduate School.  It seems as if Silicon Valley got a bit self reflective in these days before Christmas. There was a story in WIRED "Techies Still Think They're the Good Guys", the New York Times ran a story on it "Silicon Valley Is Not Your Friend", a while ago Axios got some statements from Sean Parker on how Facebook exploits humans psychology. Facebook got even so nervous that they published a blog post by their Director of Research David Ginsberg, trying to slow down the negative PR: "Hard Questions: Is Spending Time on Social Media Bad for Us?"  I guess it is time, to talk a bit more about the ethics side of things.

The Mental Accounting Barrier to Micropayments 

An essay and paper by Nick Szabo from years ago about the challenges of micropayments. Very interesting stuff for pricing  strategies of the future. With the entry of digital currencies the potential of micropayment will get to a complete new level. Nick is also one of the smartes minds in the blockchain field. His blog is highly recommended.

The Bitcoin Paradox 

Why cryptocurrency will always be political, an essay by Carnegie Mellon professor Simon DeDeo. 

While blockchains are excellent at forming common knowledge according to a set of rules, those rules are set by hand at the very beginning. Blockchains in place to date do not include a process for amending their constitutions. That means participants are trapped in the logic set by their founders. As systems grow, this constraint leads exactly where you would expect: to disagreement, divergence, and, finally, revolution."

"It’s easy to become enchanted with the dizzying profits being made with BitCoin, and with the elegance of the mathematics beneath it. But it’s dangerous to forget that the point of these systems is to bring the political power of common knowledge into the Internet age, together with all of its potential for disruption and conflict."

Why design systems fail

I love to build design systems, and I am a fan of the Atomic Design System thinking / metaphor that  Brad Frost was bringing up a few years ago. All that said, we are not talking enough about the challenges that such a system brings with it. This article by Una Kravets was a good reminder.

The Don of the Dirtbags

Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, calls himself a reluctant business man. On the topic of branding and longterm business thinking one of the most inspiring people out there. He is a hero of mine. And this is a great interview.

Dawn of the New Everything - Jaron Lanier

The new book by the father of the term "virtual reality". Part biography, part his current view on virtual reality and its impact on our world. While his previous books offered a more critical view of social media and other manifestations of technology, in this book he argues that virtual reality can actually make our lives richer and fuller.

Descript - Text based audio editor

Imagine the potential if content in text form could exist as text on screen and as audio, in realtime, editable and in great audio (reading voice) quality. Everything just a matter of pressing a button. Editing possible in both directions. Dictate a text, read and edit it in a text editor, listen to an audio version seconds later.  Currently having a book as ebook and audio book still means huge production costs. The computer voices in MacOs or Windows that read texts are still not good enough. The new startup by Andrew Mason (Groupon founder)  Descript is taking on this challenge.

Planet Money goes to space.

It turns out its easier to send things into space than ever before. A great multi part episode by NPR's Planet Money on sending "it's own" satellite into space. 

Marco Grassi - Painter

These works by Marco Grassi shout "FAKE" so loudly that you might skip over them immediately, if you see them in your social media stream. Consider my mind blown. The close up photos of these "hyperrealistic" paintings are unreal.

Richard Feynman - Tiny Machines

He is the man. By accident I found this talk this week, one of his later ones. Enjoyed it a lot. If anyone asks me, who is an inspiring teacher and educator, he is on top of my list.

That’s it for today. Have a great week. Stay as you are. Sleep well.


And yes, as always: If you found anything here interesting, feel free to share it with some friends. ✌🏼

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