Brace yourself. There aren’t too many happy stories this week. I’m not sure there have been many happy stories lately, but the nature of looking deeply at the state of technology doesn’t have many good answers right now. Tech is at quite the crossroads culturally.

I keep coming back to the idea that ‘engagement’ will become known as one of the most evil words of our time. The drive by business forces to manipulate our attention, and use our data against us to escalate how we can be manipulated, in the name of profits.

Thankfully the first story is about how good things can be when none of that is the reason a service exists. More of that, please!

Let's Start Somewhere Happy!

Pl@ntNet is the world's best social network

A great story that points to digital networks at their best. When there isn’t an underlying drive to spin a profit or retain eyeballs or otherwise manipulate the way a user is engaging with a service, wonderful things can happen.

qz.com  •  Share

Now For Some Hacking

In Baltimore and Beyond, A Stolen NSA Tool Wreaks Havoc

Not that long ago Apple was being asked to build in backdoors for the FBI because they would totally keep those keys safe from bad guys. In completely unrelated news, here’s how things go when the NSA lots a totally secret hacking tool.

www.nytimes.com  •  Share

Art Auction For A Laptop Full Of Malware Closes At $1.3 Million

A laptop with six of the most malicious pieces of software of all time, collectively costing the world tens of BILLIONS of dollars. Interesting that it’s not just defined as ‘art’ because, well, art is what you make it. It’s also because it’s illegal to sell hacking tools.

Will every hacker claim their latest sale of a tool was merely the exchange of artistic code?

www.engadget.com  •  Share

Gaming Disorder:

World Health Organization Makes 'Gaming Disorder' A Recognised Illness

As of 2022, there will be a WHO classification for a gaming disorder. I try to encourage every worried parent to genuinely reflect on building a healthy relationship with games in their family. Games are amazing. But, yes, some people under some extreme conditions can have a very bad relationship with games. But does that constitute a disorder

www.gamesindustry.biz  •  Share

Esports: Boom or Bubble?

As Esports Grow, So Do Their Homes

A great look at some of the new stadiums under construction that focus on the esports experience. The technical requirements for esports are far beyond that of the most technical sport or music experiences out there.

Naturally, I expect none of the big new stadium upgrades happening in NSW will give the slightest thought to building in appropriate network infrastructure to help esports find a home here.

www.nytimes.com  •  Share

Shady Numbers And Bad Business: Inside The Esports Bubble

Counterpoint. A lot of people from in and around the esports industry think trouble is lurking. Most of the big organisations with big paper valuations are still losing money. And big franchise leagues are demanding tens of millions to get a license to play, but are these leagues really delivering value or just the promise of value to come? And do some of the stats that get thrown around really stack up?

Esports as a concept is amazing, fans love it, the experience is incredible, and I want to see better grassroots opportunities for teens to participate and get the opportunity to be part of traditional sports values in their favourite digital environment. I also feel like it doesn’t have to fudge numbers to sell what it has to offer.

www.kotaku.com.au  •  Share

Digital Dilemmas

YouTubers and record labels are fighting, and record labels keep winning

Right now it is too easy for someone to claim a video is in breach of copyright and put strikes against a YouTube account. And laborious for an account to prove Fair Use. Add this to the list of “things that are wrong with YouTube”…

www.theverge.com  •  Share

Uber is now kicking low-rated passengers out of its cars

Things that can lower your rating: being rude, leaving trash, drinking beer and vomiting. All makes sense. But bad scores can also come from asking a driver to take you to a suburb they don’t like driving through… which points to socio-economic problems with the scoring system.

[Insert yet another Black Mirror reference here.]

www.cnet.com  •  Share

Hardware Worth Singing About

Great New Laptop Design Concept

This laptop is conceived as something for hardcore gaming. There’s a second screen at the hinge and the screen is elevated far above the usual height for a better eye-level.

I just want to see this new hinge concept appear in ALL laptops! Give us this ergonomic all the time, not just for gamers!

www.theverge.com  •  Share

The Unlikely Origins Of USB, The Port That Changed Everything

A great piece talking to some of the team at Intel that devised USB back in the 1990s. Some great stories about where it came from and how it made so much interdevice connectivity far easier than ever before.

www.fastcompany.com  •  Share

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