Apple, trust and zombies
Ephemeral Reviews, Essays and Opinions s°02.ep07 - 2020.04.07
A great convergence is at play at Apple: if iPads now have keyboards and Macs can run iOS apps, sporting the same ARM chips, where is the difference? Link (T)
Apple (again) announced for the first time that the iPhone sales figures will no longer be public as services are becoming Apple’s new cash cow. It seems like Apple reached a cap in their business strategy, and transitions to a subscription model. It is the strongest case for a recurring question: is Apple killing innovation? Link (S)
If there's one use case for blockchain that may hold a lot of potential, it's gaming (think about really owning that unique skin in Fortnite). Link (T)
South Korea leads many initiatives to build the most advanced cities of the 21st century. The country is so vanguardish that automated bins, rooftop farms, and underground mushroom-growing help clean up the urban trash to the extent that the thirteen thousand tons of food waste produced daily now fully become compost (30%), animal feed (60%), or biofuel (10%). Link (S)
Ramblings about trust, in a tweetstorm format
1) There is a quiet fight brewing in the tech ecosystem, questioning the nature of trust: trustful vs trustless systems.
2) Bitcoin is the epitome of a trustless system. It is trustless “because the system was designed so that nobody has to trust anybody else in order for the system to function” (from Quora).
3) On the other side, many tech companies are - or at least claim to be - trustful systems. Trusting employees, trusting clients to fuel creativity and innovation.
4) An important precision is needed here: the use of trustless and trustful monikers is a bit misleading, because it really depends on the frame of reference adopted, and we implicitly refer to individuals as such a reference. There is trust in a “trustless” system, it’s just that it’s directed toward the system itself, not toward its individual participants.
5) It would be wrong at this point to jump to a moral conclusion - individualistic libertarians versus idealistic hippies. First because they share the same aim: giving more freedom of action to persons.
6) And because, from a pragmatic standpoint, they’re 2 equally interesting ways to make collective endeavors work. Since it appears that both trust and distrust have pros and cons.
7) Trust frees both the truster and the trustee, in time and money, but is brittle (fraud is probably as old as humanity).
8) Distrust is more robust (why do you think stewards check each other’s door before take-off rather than taking for granted that everyone’s job was done correctly?) but costly and time-consuming (like buying twice as many servers to prevent data loss).
9) Moreover, I think this opposition is highly related to the dual nature trust: it’s both a currency and a catalyzer.
10) (This reminds me of the dual nature of light, particles and waves.)
11) Trust is a currency because it is earned and exchanged. This is the nature favored by trustless systems.
12) Trust is a catalyzer because it enables the exchange of ideas and services. This is the nature favored by trustful systems.
13) So yeah, as you just read, trust can both be the starting point and the means of exchange.
14) Of course, the currency and catalyzer natures of trust are not polar opposites, but can be found together.
15) Digital social networks (yeah, let’s just stop calling them “social networks”, those existed well before their formalization and hyper-visibility in digital services) as mediated by their algorithms make the best example here.
16) You have to earn trust with the quality of your posts (we could speak of “proof of trustworthiness” to parallel the “proof of work” in cryptocurrencies), and the more you’ve earned it, the more you command attention and generate conversations.
17) The example of digital social networks also points to what happens when the currency and catalyzer natures of trust combine: you’ve got a sort of compounded interest. The more currency (e.g. followers), the more catalysis (e.g. engagement with posts), which then generates more currency and so on…
18) This consideration in turn points to a new one: the dual nature of trust is fundamentally sequential: enough currency has to be earned before catalysis starts to kick in.
19) I’d like to conclude with a last interrogation, from the point of view of a single individual: is trust a finite resource (tied to the number of social interactions each of us can sustain), a zero-sum game (especially on digital social networks, the volume of blind trust granted to some sources of information seems directly correlated to the volume of abhorrent distrust professed in direction of others) or a virtuous cycle (the more you’ve learned to trust, the more you can trust in addition)?
20) As you can see, the nature of trust is quite difficult to grasp. But how could it be otherwise? Something at the core of our human system couldn’t be as less complex as what it brings about.
Meme art, Europe, circa april 2020 (S)
Benjamin Franklin quipped there are 2 sure things life: death and taxes. Had he been involved in the tech ecosystem, he would have added a third item: new startups claiming that videoconferencing has finally been nailed. Link (T)
Notion, one collaboration service to rule them all (you can almost do everything with it, onboarding tracks, spreadsheets, visual galleries, wikis, to-do lists…), casually raised $50m at a massive valuation of $2bn. Link (T)
I love arts, partying and fashion, you know that, faithful readers. I have no problem with accepting my frivolity, but I am also convinced they are the best early warning signs for many mega trends, we should now consider how to dress for the surveillance age? Link (S)
Zombie artefacts. Meet the hackers ready to do everything to lengthen their tamagotchis’ life. Link (T)
Zombie artefacts bis. Meet the iPod lovers to refuse to let their icon die: battery, storage, operating system… anything can be replaced! Link (T)
Zombie artefacts ter. Second Life, the only metaverse to be as old as Fabernovel (2003) is still alive and seeing a surge of new users and inquiries from businesses. Link (S)
Any resemblance to existing people and situations… This is a 2016 essay from a Dutch economist, Rutger Bregman, comparing two strikes, trash collectors in New York City in the late 1960s and bankers in Dublin a couple of years later, making the point garbage men should earn more than bankers. (S)
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Edited by Stéphane Distinguin (S), Founder and CEO of Fabernovel, and Tom Morisse (T), Fabernovel alum and Knowledge Manager at Spendesk, Stéréo is a digital-oriented newsletter highlighting the main developments and weak signals affecting the world’s societies and economies.
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