Friday five: bacon, clocks and comments

We live in a weird, wondrous world that never ceases to surprise me…

So, dating just got weirder – via TechCrunch

The impact of the Internet on dating is fascinating. I wrote about it here, and I’m realizing that I barely scratched the surface. With the news that Oscar Mayer is launching a dating app for bacon-lovers (called Sizzl, really), I’m not sure if it’s getting silly, or deep. Maybe a bit of both. Will other brands take note? If so, which would you consider using?

image via TechCrunch

image via TechCrunch

I wonder why Nespresso hasn’t thought of this… A Nutella dating site would probably do quite well, too…

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The sharing economy is dead – from Fast Company

An excellent article about good intentions and resistance to change. The sharing economy was going to make us all more efficient and empathetic, sharing our goods and our time and receiving like in return. And the connections would make us feel more in touch with our environment and our community…

Most of the sharing economy businesses born in the flurry of the mid-2000s are now closed, largely because of what the author calls “a discomforting incongruity between enthusiasm for the concept and actual use”. Is it really worth sacrificing a chunk of our day to go and pick up and then return a drill that we rent for $15, when we can get a cheap one at the department store or on Amazon for $30?

Personally I think that yes, there are many who would. And maybe the drill renter lives across the hallway. I think that the barriers of hassle and time are an important factor, but not quite as much as the mental barrier of changing our ways. Improved usability will help – more than 3 clicks and it’s easier to turn to Amazon. But mainly, it will take some time for the idea of sharing and relying on others to sink in. It’s a big leap, not to be underestimated. But I think that it will happen. The first flurry of sharing economy startups were probably too soon. More will follow, and will most likely do better. Especially if they stop using the term “sharing economy”.

“But the real sharing economy is dead.

It was a beautiful idea that struck hard, but when it died, nobody seemed to notice… And nobody seemed to ask the question of how an idea that everybody loved so much, an idea that made so much sense on a practical and social level, morphed into the pure capitalism that it is today.”

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#IstandwithAhmed – via Wired

I confess that when I first saw this story yesterday, I thought it sounded a bit like a hoax. Because, well, um…. I still find it baffling.

image vs Wired

image vs Wired

Wired’s spin on the tale, including tweets of support from tech dignitaries, is quite charming. What a way to reach celebrity. And what a way to raise awareness for the coolness that is robotics.

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To comment or not to comment? – from Nieman Lab

This article is a long read, but it turned me around on an issue, which is why I want to share it with you.

I read a lot of media on the web. News, creative journalism, research, opinion pieces… and the comments. I often find myself learning as much from the comments as from the original piece. While reading a beautifully crafted opinion piece that I totally agree with, the comments show me other aspects of the situation, new arguments that give depth to whatever understanding I might think I have.

So it was with dismay that I noticed that many of my favourite sites were turning off the comments section. I thought it was a bad idea, that it would reduce overall engagement, that readers would spend less time on the site. But then I read this article in Nieman Lab.

I’m still not convinced it was the right thing to do, but at least I see the strong arguments in favour now. I get the need to broaden engagement on other social platforms. I understand the drain on resources posed by trolls and idiots non-sensible commenters. But the “we need to go where the readers are”? We’re on your site! Yes, Twitter has a broader reach. But it is feasible to cultivate both the commenters and the tweeters. Sometimes they’re the same person. It’s possible to comment on an article, and then tweet about the comment. A couple of strategically placed buttons would make that even easier.

Sure, moving comments threads to dedicated forums or even Facebook pages will increase activity in those groups. But if I read an article and have an idea I’d like to share, I’m not going to go somewhere else to do so. If it isn’t super-easy and intuitive, I’m not going to bother.

But, the explanations given by The Verge, Popular Science,  do make sense. Mobile audiences, the need to focus on social media, anonymous comment abuse, lack of resources for moderation… I do hope this trend doesn’t extend to all online media, though… I would miss the debate.

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To Uber or not to Uber? – by Enrique Dans

Yes!! Innovation: 1, Entrenched interests: 0. Uber is illegal in my city of Madrid, Spain, although the European Court of Justice is reviewing the case. And I hope that the European Courts lean the same way as the New York courts that Enrique Dans talks about in this article.

“Any expectation that the medallion would function as a shield against the rapid technological advances of the modern world would not have been reasonable.”

I understand the plight of the licensed taxi drivers, faced with reduced return on the outrageous investment required for a license. In return for the additional tax income the government would get with a broader use of alternative taxi services (Uber’s price point is in between taxis and public transport), perhaps they could find a way to reduce the financial burden on taxi drivers?

“Quite simply, the financial interests of some do not take precedence over the right of consumers to choose how they wish to be transported. The public cannot be denied a service they have clearly shown a preference for and that manifestly lacks any pernicious effect over other alternatives, just because a few people’s investment might depreciate as a result. The fact that some sectors in society do not want things to change doesn’t mean that things won’t change or shouldn’t change.”

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Things ain’t what they seem – via The Atlantic

Noooooo! It can’t be!!! My life has been a lie!!! My beloved London underground map…

image via The Atlantic

image via The Atlantic

…in reality looks like this:

image via The Atlantic

image via The Atlantic

This is too much for me to take. I need to go and lie down.

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Have a great weekend, everybody! Oh, and by the way, I’ve started writing about bitcoin over at fintechblue… It’s early still, so don’t check it out yet, but… well, soon, okay? And I will keep on writing here as well!

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