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Veganism, the diktyocene and “flexible tightness”
Ephemeral Reviews, Essays and Opinions s°01.ep07 - 2019.06.17
Thanks to the emergence of autonomous vehicles, the automotive industry looks more and more like Games of Thrones, with august “houses” creating alliances in all shapes and sizes to either partner with or fight against the equivalents of white walkers – upstarts that could threaten them.
Only last week: Aurora announced an investment from Hyundai and a partnership with Fiat Chrysler… while Volkswagen is ending its own partnership with Aurora and may join forces with Argo AI, a Ford subsidiary. Link (T)
Veganism is eating the world – and so the world is eating vegan. A profile of Impossible Foods, one of the main contenders in the plant-based “meat” space. Their strategy: not emphasizing their vegan aspect, but rather targeting hard-core carnivores. And they’re already partnering with Burger King – there’s a vegan Whopper now. Link (T)
Veganism is eating the world… So just like when cigarettes were banned in the early 2000’s and people started fantasizing and viewing videos of people smoking, there is a trend now of watching people eating and slurping food on YouTube. It is named after South Korean, mukbang, and it has its superstars. Link (S)
The CEOs of the most “fully distributed companies” share their tips to get the best possible home office to work remotely. Find a second chair and a locking door to start. Link (S)
The Pakistani Minister of Information accidentally switched on the cat ears filter during a Facebook live last week. This is politics in 2019. (S)
What will be left of our digital age? Entering the Diktyocene
Two long reads caught my attention last week. The first one is a nice article by The Guardian about a group of scientists trying to prove if and when human activity impacted our soil so much that it's created a distinct geological stratum. The evidence they strive to gather could end up convincing the highest bodies of geology to officially validate that yes, we’ve entered the Anthropocene epoch. It could well have started in the middle of the 20th century, with radioactive fallout from nuclear tests as a marker.
The second long read was the latest edition of the inevitable “Internet Trends” from Mary Meeker, a famous investment-analyst-turned-investor who’s been presenting them yearly since 1995. The main stat from the 2019 report: we’ve crossed the 50% threshold of the world population connected to the Internet.
Taken together, those 2 rather different pieces of news beg a question: in the same way that the consequences of the Industrial Revolution marked our soil forever, what could be the impact of our digitally-networked age? Could bits of optical fiber, silicon or rare earths make a clear break from previous sedimentary layers?
Beyond geology, what about archaeological remnants? Will someone (fellow human, more capable animal that will have replaced us or alien from far-far-away) one day enter inside a datacenter with the same emotion as an egyptologist discovering a pharaoh’s tomb? Will there be sold-out retrospectives of Dell computers in fancy museums? Will someone say something like “I can’t believe it! Look at this well-preserved iPhone trapped in the ice!!! An Homo instagramensis alpinist must have dropped it while trying to take a selfie!”
And biggest question of all… how will they bloody be able to read the data stored on our devices??? A clay tablet, a statue, a parchment are accessible – even if not always decipherable – without any sort of technical apparatus. I’m afraid our digital-age artifacts may not be as archaeology-friendly…
I’m digressing a little bit, so back to geology => There are often talks of how our world is changing at a pace never seen before. These kinds of well-spread considerations are much rarely backed up by substantial evidence, whether objective or subjective (I’m not sure that our forebears who experienced the advent of electricity, salaried work, long-distance transportation or new kinds of war at the beginning of the 20th century would consider their world as changing less quickly than ours).
But finally we may have found a great yardstick with contemporary geology. The highest bodies of this discipline have yet to agree on the definition of the Anthropocene epoch… and we may have entered a new one already: welcome to the Diktyocene.
(NB: diktyo means “network” in Ancient Greek, even if I’m sure you knew it).
Microsoft is not only leading the Trillion market cap game, it also leads the race for the quantum computer. Their bet on Majorana quasiparticles seems to be the winning option. Link (S)
Meet HobbyKidsTV, the YouTube channel of the 3 brothers HobbyPig (11 years old), HobbyFrog (9) and HobbyBear (6). Can’t quite understand the interest of their videos dealing with “giant surprise eggs” and other mystery hunts – I’m either too old or too sane. Anyway, they already enjoy 3.5m subscribers and “HobbyFrog and HobbyPig both share an ultimate goal: to stay on YouTube as long as possible.” If this is not an alternate reality, I don’t know what that is. Link (T)
The European Union’s planned R&D program for the 2021-2027 period could be worth €94bn (a significant increase over the last one: + €17bn). 5 areas of interest: climate change, cancer, oceans, smart cities and soil & food. Link (T)
Is Tesla too innovative to thrive in its industry? The coolest car brand on earth needs “flexible tightness” just like… Toyota. In other words, scaling up needs the right mix of tightness and looseness and innovation is not enough to succeed. Link (S)
Despite its ups and downs, we have been wondering for years if Bitcoin could replace national currencies. What would happen in a country where the local currency is so low and shaking that cryptocurrencies become better assets? Let’s take a look at Venezuela and how its people use Bitcoin. Link (S)
La Liga (Spain’s top football championship) got fined by the Spanish data protection agency. Why? Because they secretly leveraged their apps to (i) detect if their users were in a bar, (ii) analyze through the microphone if they were watching a Liga game, before (iii) checking if the bars had paid their licence to broadcast it. I’m a bit confused because it’s hilarious, smart and plain illegal at the same time. Link (T)
The Raptors won the NBA finals last week. To me, this sport is the most spectacular and insightful of all. And the great story about the 2019 champion is that it is a first-time victory (thinking about Nadal who won his 12th Roland Garros this year, novelty is more impressive than supremacy theses days) and it is led by a low-key Nigerian executive, Masai Ujiri. Link (S)
A very deep and long read on Uber’s unearned success and its development “using the types of manufactured narratives typically employed in partisan political campaigns. Narrative construction is perhaps Uber’s greatest competitive strength. The company used these techniques to completely divert attention away from the massive subsidies that were the actual drivers of its popularity and growth”. Ouch. Link (S)
Just discovered this wonderful activist innovation created in 2007: the zero-rupee note, “a banknote imitation issued in India as a means of helping to fight systemic political corruption. The notes are "paid" in protest by angry citizens to government functionaries who solicit bribes in return for services which are supposed to be free.” Link (T)
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