The Monday Kickoff

Start your week with nine curated reads, served fresh each Monday

Welcome to this week's edition of the Monday Kickoff, a collection of what I've found interesting, informative, and insightful on the web over the last seven days.

Even though we're in what some people are calling a new normal, things are still pretty weird around the world. And scary. And frustrating. And demoralizing. To take your mind off that, I've got some good reads for you this week.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Online Life

A Better Internet Is Waiting For Us, wherein Annalee Newitz ponders an online world without social media, or a social media over which you have more control, and discovers that world could be a better place than today's internet.

The Death of the Good Internet Was an Inside Job, wherein Jason Linkins laments an internet killed by algorithms and social media (but one that's not actually dead).

The Internet of Beefs, wherein Venkatesh Rao takes us on a journey into the depths of what the internet has become (and, really, always has been), showing us what a zero-sum cesspool the online world can be.

Writing

Why Grammar Nerds Keep Getting So Furious With the Associated Press, wherein we discover how easy it is to get under the skin of certain pedants, ones who could choose not to use the AP style guide rather than venting their anger.

The Year in Pivoting to Video, wherein David Roth recounts his experiences at online media companies that invested heavily in video content but discovered that, as it turned out, people did not really watch very much video.

Telling Stories In Order to Live: On Writing and Money, wherein Sarah Menkedick shares the realities (a few of them quite harsh) that she learned since becoming a full-time freelance writer in 2008.

Ideas

The Deadly Consequences of Rounding Errors, wherein we learn that choosing the wrong method for rounding numbers can have deep, and sometimes disasterous, consequences in a number of areas of our lives.

From the pyramids to Apollo 11 – can AI ever rival human creativity?, wherein the authors argue that while artificial intelligence can aid humans in creating and innovating, AI can't replace the human imagination and what that imagination can wrought.

The Symbolic Seashell, wherein we discover how the humble beauty of the seashell has had a huge influence on humans over the ages.

And that's it for this Monday. Come back in seven days for another set of links to start off your week.

Scott Nesbitt

Welcome to this week's edition of the Monday Kickoff, a collection of what I've found interesting, informative, and insightful on the web over the last seven days.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Crime

The Mysterious Lawyer X, wherein we learn how a talented and driven Australian lawyer made her name defending heavy-duty criminals, while at the same time informing on them to the police, and learn about the personal and professional prices she paid for that.

The Doctor, the Dentist, and the Killer, wherein we learn how the breakup of a relationship led to obsession and a murder-for-hire plot.

Bank of the Underworld, wherein we learn about the rise and rapid fall of Liberty Reserve, a digital currency and online money transfer service that was widely used by criminal enterprises of all sizes.

The Dark Side of Technology

Technology Sabotaged Public Safety, wherein Ian Bogost explains how technology companies have created so many so-called innovations in what's essentially a vacuum, but without any regard for what the actual impact of those innovations might be.

The Captured City, wherein Jathan Sadowski argues that the technologies and systems that make up the so-called smart city are the next step in the high tech militarization of society.

Your online activity is now effectively a social credit score, wherein we learn how companies are using records of online activity to restrict and, regularly, terminate peoples' services even if they're not doing anything harmful or illegal.

Business and Economics

Why so many of the world’s oldest companies are in Japan, wherein we discover the reasons, many of them unique to Japan, that enable firms of all sizes to endure for 100 years or more. Often more.

Welcome to the Bullshit Economy, wherein David Dayen argues that many modern tech firms have messed up the economy and the rot that those firms have caused has seeped into politics as well.

In the Shadow of Big Blue, wherein Ellyn Gaydos looks at IBM's legacy of damage to health and to the environment in American towns in which the tech giant once had factories.

And that's it for this Monday. Come back in seven days for another set of links to start off your week.

Scott Nesbitt

Welcome to this week's edition of the Monday Kickoff, a collection of what I've found interesting, informative, and insightful on the web over the last seven days.

It's seems like the news is nothing except stories about COVID-19. That volume of stories is enough to wear you down, to deflate your spirits, to numb you to the seriousness of the situation. But don't worry. Here are a few somethings else to read, to take your mind off the current craziness. At least for a few moments.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Technology

On Reading Issues of Wired from 1993 to 1995, wherein Anna Wiener wistfully looks back at the early days of the digital lifestyle magazine and hints at how the vision of the future put forward in its pages both became a reality and fizzled out.

Meet the pirate queen making academic papers free online, wherein we learn about Alexandra Elbakyan's efforts to make academic research freely available, and discover something about the struggle between open access publishing and more traditional academic and scientific pubishing.

Early cloud computing was like borrowing a book from the library, wherein we dip into the what's new is old again files and revisit the days of computer time sharing which has a remarkable similarity to what we call cloud computing today.

Ideas

Is travel the secret to a long life?, wherein Paul Theroux ponders, as he travels through Mexico in his eighth decade, the rejuventating effect that travel (and not tourism) can have on us as we grow older.

Freedom of thought is under attack – here's how to save your mind, wherein Simon McCarthy-Jones argues that tech companies and modern media are trying to hijack our thinking, and that we must use something akin to international human rights law to protect our freedom of thought from Big Tech's onslaught.

A uniquely Japanese take on nostalgia, wherein we learn about the power of the Japanese word natsukashii and how it can evoke happiness in the minds of the people who say, think, or hear the word.

Environment

Seeing Carbon Through Silicon, wherein Anne Pasek argues that to fight climate change quickly and effectively, renewable energy must follow the same developmental template and path as computing technology.

'Collapsologie': Constructing an Idea of How Things Fall Apart, wherein we learn what the so-called collapsologue are about, and why we might want to take their warnings about our planet seriously.

If Only 19th-Century America Had Listened to a Woman Scientist, wherein we're introduced to the work of Eunice Foote, who did some pioneering work into what we now call climate science, and how that work was, until very recently, lost.

And that's it for this Monday. Come back in seven days for another set of links to start off your week.

Scott Nesbitt

Welcome to this week's edition of the Monday Kickoff, a collection of what I've found interesting, informative, and insightful on the web over the last seven days.

Another week under COVID-19 lockdown begins. It hasn't been easy for anyone, but the alternative is a lot worse. Here's my attempt to help you weather the isolation and to feed your brain with something a bit different. Enjoy!

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Crime

A Brutal Murder, a Wearable Witness, and an Unlikely Suspect, wherein we learn how data from a FitBit was a key in charging an elderly man with the murder of his step daughter, and discover how unreliable that information can actually be.

I spent years scalping tickets and evading police. My journey to hell and back, wherein we hear the tale of how, as a young Mormon questioning his faith, the author got involved in illegally selling event tickets around the globe, and what made him abandon that life.

The Bicycle Thief, wherein we learn how an Olympic track cycling hopeful lost his way and and embarked on a four year spree of robbing banks, using his bicycle as a getaway vehicle.

History

Classics for the people, wherein Edith Hall shows us how working class people in Victorian England and later were able to gain elements of a classical education thanks to free elementary education and museums, cheap printing, and a desire for self improvement.

How New York’s Bagel Union Fought — and Beat — a Mafia Takeover, wherein we learn how a group of scrappy, unionized bagel makers in New York in the 1960s managed to stave off the advances of the local mob, but which later folded under the pressures of automation and modernization.

The ghostly radio station that no one claims to run, wherein we enter the shadowy, and sometimes creepy, world of numbers stations, discover how they came about, and that they're still being used today.

Odds and Ends

Feeling Lucky? A Brief History of Gambling with Dice, wherein mathematician Ian Stewart looks at one of the most popular and enduring ways people try, and have tried, to cheat and beat the gods of probability.

Living with ADHD: how I learned to make distraction work for me, wherein Sarah Stein Lubrano reasons that gamifying education (and other tasks) that require long periods of focus can help people with ADHD, and others, to become better learners and more productive.

The man who made Wolfenstein, wherein we learn the story of forgotten computer game pioneer Silas Warner, his groundbreaking work, and how he never reaped the financial rewards or accolades he deserved.

And that's it for this Monday. Come back in seven days for another set of links to start off your week.

Scott Nesbitt

Welcome to this week's edition of the Monday Kickoff, a collection of what I've found interesting, informative, and insightful on the web over the last seven days.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Arts and Literature

Why Angry Librarians Are Going to War With Publishers Over E-Books, wherein we're taken on a journey into the byzantine, restrictive world of ebook licensing to libraries, and how some libraries are trying to fight back against one particularly recalcitrant publisher.

Why Newspaper “Scoops” Don’t Work in Narrative Nonfiction, wherein Steve Luxenberg explains that while journalism and narrative non fiction are similar, they have slightly different goals and that while a bombshell revelation is often prized in the former, it can ruin the flow of the story in the latter.

The Art of War is Actually a Manual on How to Avoid It, wherein Michael Nylan discusses the insights he gained from translating Sun Tzu's classic treatise and how the book contains lessons for the modern age.

Science

The Dark Side of Light, wherein we get a peek at some cutting-edge research into light pollution and its wide-ranging effects on our environment.

In the beginning, wherein we see how a revolutionary cosmological discovery actually wasn't, and learn about the effect that had not just on the world of cosmology, but on the wider scientific community.

Galactic Settlement and the Fermi Paradox, wherein astronomer Jason Wright looks at why there may be other civilizations that have settled the galaxy, but not in the way we usually think about settlement.

Business

The American Corporation is in Crisis—Let's Rethink It, wherein Lenore Palladino argues that the concept of the primacy of shareholders is essentially flawed and that it's hindering corporations, and offers ideas about how to change the situation.

The Bankrupt American Brands Still Thriving in Japan, wherein Laura Bliss explains why and how former retail giants that collapsed in their home country have found a second life in the Asian island nation.

Inside Documents Show How Amazon Chose Speed Over Safety in Building Its Delivery Network, wherein we learn of the (sometimes deadly) consequences of treating people like machines, and of pushing a flawed system into the world without proper ramp up or testing.

And that's it for this Monday. Come back in seven days for another set of links to start off your week.

Scott Nesbitt

Welcome to this week's edition of the Monday Kickoff, a collection of what I've found interesting, informative, and insightful on the web over the last seven days.

Instead of me trying (and failing) to come up with something witty, wise or inspiring, let's get this Monday started with these links:

Space

What You Didn’t Know About the Apollo 11 Mission, wherein we discover more than a few facts about the first moon landing, including its (lack of) popularity among citizens and politicians, and about some of the motivations for America's moonshots.

Here Is the Soviet Union's Secret Space Cannon, wherein we get a peek at the repurposed weapon that was added to one of the USSR's Almaz military orbiting stations in the 1970s for protection (and maybe other purposes, too).

Humans will ruin outer space just like they’ve ruined everything else, wherein Monica Vidaurri argues that as human activity in space increases, that activity will mirror previous eras of expansion, colonization, exploitation, and imperialism.

The Dark Side of Technology

How ‘dark patterns’ influence travel bookings, wherein we learn how ecommerce websites use verbal and visual nudges to try to influence who, what, and when we buy something, and why those nudges are misleading.

The Fantasy of Opting Out, wherein we learn that it's almost impossible not to be under watch by powers greater than ourselves, and that obfuscation might be a better strategy than trying (unsuccessfully) to completely opt out.

The Hacker Who Took Down a Country, wherein we learn about Daniel Kaye, who created a massive botnet that took down Liberia's telecommunications infrastructure, a botnet which then got out of control.

Odds and Ends

Prescription for Journalists: Less Time Studying Twitter, More Time Studying Math, wherein John P. Wihbey argues that journalists need to shift their focus from the superficial and what's easy to digest, and focus on being able to interpret and communicate data.

The Secret to Shopping in Used Bookstores, wherein we learn that a visit to a used bookstore can be more than a chance to score a cheap read; it's an opportunity to expand our reading horizons.

Where Am I?, wherein Heather Sellers tells us how she learned her inability to orient and locate herself wasn't something unique, and how she developed strategies to deal with it.

And that's it for this Monday. Come back in seven days for another set of links to start off your week.

Scott Nesbitt

Welcome to this week's edition of the Monday Kickoff, a collection of what I've found interesting, informative, and insightful on the web over the last seven days.

Something you're not going to find in this space is one or more links to a certain virus that's stomping on the world at the moment. There's so much information, good and bad, out there about this situation that me linking to any of doesn't do much good. Just remember not to panic and to take steps to protect yourself and those around you folks.

I know you have it in you to be sensible. Don't let me down.

With that out of the way, let's get this Monday started with these links:

Technology

AIM was the killer app of 1997. It’s still shaping the internet today, wherein we discover how the once-ubiquitous messaging tool became the template for not just the other instant messaging apps that followed, but also for how software developers and designers approached user experience.

Thanks for inspiring a generation of pointless gadgets, Keurig, wherein the creator of the coffee maker is taken to task for inspiring a whack of wasteful devices that require even more products to make it functional.

How The Invention Of Spreadsheet Software Unleashed Wall Street On The World, wherein we discover how a tool that was intended to save time and effort turned into an unstable and unreliable financial weapon.

Environment

It’s Time To Talk About Solar Geoengineering, wherein we're introduced to the concept of solar geoengineering, and learn why in some circles it's considered one of the keys to fighting climate change.

Forest for the Trees, wherein Rosa Boshier explains that the idea of nature is a multi-faceted one, and that no matter where we are or what we think, we're often within nature.

To decarbonize we must decomputerize: why we need a Luddite revolution, wherein Ben Tarnoff looks at how the world's hunger for data is helping to warm the planet (in a bad way) and argues that not all spheres of life should be rendered into data and computed upon.

Odds and Ends

My fancy smartphone could never give me what the landline gave my grandmother, wherein Manavi Kapur recalls how a landline telephone gave her grandmother and her grandmother's sisters a strong familial bond, despite the physical distances between them.

Recorded for Quality Assurance, wherein Camilla Cannon explains that the monitoring of customer service calls has as much to do with surveillance as it does with improving customer service.

The Day I Found Out My Father Was a Spy, wherein Steve Healey recounts the effects of that revelation on his family, and how he used writing poetry to make some sense of it.

And that's it for this Monday. Come back in seven days for another set of links to start off your week.

Scott Nesbitt

Welcome to this week's edition of the Monday Kickoff, a collection of what I've found interesting, informative, and insightful on the web over the last seven days.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Business

The uncertain future of your neighborhood dry cleaner, wherein we discover how startups have been trying to disrupt the drycleaning industry in New York City, and how those efforts are harming that industry as a whole.

Prime Mover: How Amazon Wove Itself Into the Life of an American City, wherein we take a deep dive into what Amazon and its business practices are doing to other business, and to workers, in Baltimore.

Indie booksellers persevere despite Amazon, rising costs, wherein we discover that in spite of a variety of challenges, small independent bookstores in the U.S. continue to survive and, in some cases, thrive.

The Dark Side of Technology

Cryptoqueen: How this woman scammed the world, then vanished, wherein we hear the tale of OneCoin, a highly-touted cryptocurrency that gained a massive amount of investment, and learn about what happened when OneCoin's founder disappeared with all that money.

Waze Hijacked L.A. in the Name of Convenience. Can Anyone Put the Genie Back in the Bottle?, wherein we learn how the direction and mapping company, fuelled by the work of unpaid “editors” who have no experience or training in traffic management, is causing congestion and havoc on the streets of Los Angeles.

As a Facebook moderator I saw the worst of humanity. We need to be valued, wherein we get a brief glimpse into the world of the poorly-paid, highly-stressed, overworked, and underappreciated content moderators at the social media giant. And what we get to see isn't pretty.

Productivity

How busyness leads to bad decisions, wherein we're reminded that having too much on your plate means nothing gets done. And if it does get done, it won't be to the quality it deserves.

A Guide to Managing Your Time When You’re Always Behind, wherein Leo Babauta shares a simple way to do just that, with solid advice on how to overcome obstacles that are in your way or which you put in your way.

How to conquer work paralysis like Ernest Hemingway, wherein we learn about the writer's technique of useful interruption, how it can help us reach done, and how researchers are looking at how it applies to fields other than writing.

And that's it for this Monday. Come back in seven days for another set of links to start off your week.

Scott Nesbitt

Welcome to this week's edition of the Monday Kickoff, a collection of what I've found interesting, informative, and insightful on the web over the last seven days.

Welcome to March. We're supposed to be heading into autumn in the southern hemisphere, but it still feels like summer. Shades of 2012, it seems. I'm not going to complain.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

History

Adriano Olivetti, Industrialist, Typewriter King… Antifascist?, wherein we discover how the Italian industrialist collaborated with the Office of Strategic Services to undermine Mussolini and his crew during World War II.

The Untold Story of the Secret Mission to Seize Nazi Map Data, wherein we're told the tale of the work of an U.S. army intelligence unit whose mission was to collect information that promised not only to hasten the end of the war but also to shape the world order for decades to come.

Picturing a Voice: Margaret Watts-Hughes and the Eidophone, wherein we learn how a nineteenth century Welsh singer created a device to measure her voice, and how that device morphed into a tool to explore visual forms created by human voices.

Ideas

Idleness, wherein Charlie Tyson ponders what idleness is, why we're against it, and whether or not idleness can be something positive.

Jonathan Ledgard Believes Imagination Could Save the World, wherein we learn about some of the work of journalist and novelist Jonathan Ledgard, who believes that wild ideas, sometimes the wilder the better, are the key to making the Earth a better place.

Pico Iyer on the Infinite Silences of Japan, wherein the essayist and novelist explains how silences are a key component of the Japanese language and of the Japanese countenance.

Odds and Ends

How to repopulate rural Spain? Sell its villages, wherein we learn about a woman who is selling abandoned villages in Galicia in an attempt to save them.](

Inside the secret world of America's top eavesdropping spies, wherein we get a brief glimpse at the Special Collections Service, a shadowy U.S. intelligence unit that uses technology and sometimes, sheer chutzpah, to collect information about America's enemies and allies.

The gore, guts and horror of an NFL fumble pile, wherein several retired American football players recount some scary tales about one vicious aspect of their sport, an aspect that some players embraced.

And that's it for this Monday. Come back in seven days for another set of links to start off your week.

Scott Nesbitt

Welcome to this week's edition of the Monday Kickoff, a collection of what I've found interesting, informative, and insightful on the web over the last seven days.

It's hard to believe that February is coming to an end. Sure, it's the shortest month but no one said it has to fly by the fastest.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Science

The future that graphene built, wherein we're (re)introduced to the miracle material graphene, to the similar materials it spawned, and the uses of those materials now and in the future.

What we get wrong about time, wherein we learn that our minds experience and interpret time differently than what physics tells us about time, and that no matter what the way in which time warps in certain situations will continue to surprise and unsettle us.

Mind the Gap Between Science and Religion, wherein Sabine Hossenfelder argues that some of her fellow scientists need to remember not to confuse postulates with conclusions and mathematics with reality.

Technology

The Crypto Family Farm, wherein we learn about an American family that makes its way by trading cryptocurrency, and at the same time learn a bit more about the history and volatility of those currencies.

The Perfect User, wherein we're introduced to the humane tech movement and learn that if left to its own devices, that movement could result ina relatively small group of Silicon Valley tech entrepreneurs, developers, and designers are reforming humanity according to a privileged set of values and ideals

The rise and fall of the PlayStation supercomputers, wherein Mary Beth Griggs looks back at a time not so long ago when intrepid researchers strung together tens of the gaming consoles to create cheap and fast supercomputers.

Writing

George Orwell on Writing and the Four Questions Great Writers Must Ask Themselves, wherein Maria Popova takes a closer look at the writing advice doled out by the English novelist/journalist/essayist, and show us that advice is relevant today. Perhaps more so than in Orwell's time.

What Your Draft (and Its Problems) Says About You, wherein Helen Betya Rubinstein examines common problems writers of fiction run into, the reasons for those problem, and offers ways around them.

Seven Tips From Ernest Hemingway on How to Write Fiction, wherein we get some excellent advice for writing not just fiction but anything.

And that's it for this Monday. Come back in seven days for another set of links to start off your week.

Scott Nesbitt

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