A Man

NYTimes op-ed promotes maintenance over innovation; tech monopolies increase inequality; and more.

  • “Americans have an impoverished and immature conception of technology, one that fetishizes innovation as a kind of art and demeans upkeep as mere drudgery,” Andrew Russell and Lee Vinsel write in The New York Times. “Once you notice this problem — innovation is exalted, maintenance devalued — you begin to see it everywhere,” Russell and Vinsel write. “The entrepreneur and inventor Elon Musk, for example, announced on Thursday that he had been given “verbal” government approval for an underground transportation system between New York and Washington. He has also proposed a similar project that would revolutionize transportation in Los Angeles by creating an enormous system of underground traffic tunnels.”

    “Apart from the practical problem, in Los Angeles, of creating a tunnel system in a region known for geological instability, Mr. Musk’s idea indulges a fantasy common among Silicon Valley types: that the best path forward is to scrap existing reality and start over from scratch. With urban transport, as with so many other areas of our mature industrial society, a clean slate is rarely a realistic option. We need to figure out better ways of preserving, improving and caring for what we have.”

  • New research by Hollie Russon Gilman, Tiago Peixoto, Jonathan Mellon, and Fredrik M. Sjoberg shows that inequalities in offline civic engagement are replicated in online civic engagement—the researchers looked at petition-making in particular—but the barrier to success might be lower. The researchers’ findings also support the positive impacts of “thin” forms of civic participation, they write in The Washington Post.

  • Cyber-insecurity: Although the federal government has stopped buying software from Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab because of concern about cyber-espionage, local and state government agencies continue to use it, Jack Gillum and Aaron Davis report for The Washington Post.

  • China’s controlling grip on the internet tightens as they crack down on the use of VPNs, a lifeline to banned sites for travelers, expats, and locals alike, according to a new Bloomberg News report.

  • “Despite Apple’s not insignificant efforts, the richest, most influential player in the technology industry isn’t doing enough to protect the workers that provide the fundamental ingredients in its products,” Brian Merchant writes in an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, denouncing a supply chain that includes the use of child labor and in which some miners have an average lifespan of just 40 years.

  • Paula Dwyer reports for Bloomberg Businessweek on how the monopolies held by Amazon, Facebook, and Google are increasing inequality, and decreasing entrepreneurship, job creation, and spending on research and development—and why they should be broken up.

  • Culture wars: “If you know Dave you know him to be a very passionate person who is a lover of people…That passion is clear to anyone who knows him…He is also a MAN…A heterosexual MAN…Yes a MAN…A MAN who from time to time has needs and desires of a woman,” entrepreneur and investor Chris Sweis wrote in a Medium post, part of a swell of backlash against the backlash against sexism in the tech industry, as Jessica Guyunn and Jon Swartz report for USA Today.

  • A New York real estate management company is selling Silicon Valley on the idea of a modern-day Walden, Wendy Lee reports for the San Francisco Chronicle. The undeveloped 15 acre lots in the woods cost approximately $5 million a pop, and owners can build for another $5 million or so, and will have access to a sunrise yoga platform, a nearby golf course, and a pool and fitness center. “Jekogian’s firm first envisioned the 609-acre property as having villa-style homes with access to a golf course,” Lee writes. “Then, at the suggestion of a construction manager, Jekogian camped out on the property. The first couple of nights, he couldn’t muster the courage to sleep outside his truck. But finally he got into a tent.” The development, Lee reports, will be gated.

  • Writing in The New York Times, Teddy Wayne explains how Venmo erodes trust, reciprocity, and generosity in our relationships, both casual and intimate. And, the publicly-accessible social features are plain creepy, and potentially embarrassing. After all, who wants to get a Venmo payment from Mom with the memo: “allowance”?!

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