Weekly Selection 10 January 2020

Evan Osnos, The Future of America’s Contest with China

(The New Yorker, January 13, 2020)

This is an in-depth essay about the defining economic and geopolitical issue of our time. It is much longer than our usual selection (reads in more than 30 min) but worth your time. Washington is in an intensifying standoff with Beijing, but, according to Osnos, it is China that will shape the twenty-first century. Its government will decide which features of the global status quo to preserve and which to reject, not only in business, culture, and politics but also in such basic values as human rights, free speech, and privacy.

André Spicer, Finland is considering a four-day week. Is this the secret of happiness?

(The Guardian, January 6, 2020)

The new 34-y old Finnish PM has floated the proposal of reduced working hours to boost productivity and cut carbon emissions. This article presents the evidence behind the idea. In a nutshell: it works! Different recent studies conducted around the world show that working less enhances productivity and naturally reduce our carbon footprint. The question is: how much less and how to resolve the organizational complexity of working less (reads in 3-4 min).

Steve Case, A Weeklong Series: 10 Tech Trends From the Decade That Was … and What Will Be

(Revolution, January 6, 2020)

The founder of AOL turned start-up/tech investor offers his prognosis about trends in tech. For him, wellness (that “begins at the end of our forks”) is becoming a theme of paramount importance. He anticipates a rising backlash against Big Tech, the convergence between the tech, media and communications industries, the growing relevance of climate-focused start-ups and the continued rise of e-commerce (reads in 8-10 min).

Craig Silverman and Jane Lytvynenko, Disinformation For Hire: How A New Breed Of PR Firms Is Selling Lies Online

(BuzzFeed, January 6, 2020)

This article makes it clear that “the professionalization of deception” is becoming a growing threat. There is now a worldwide industry of PR and marketing firms ready to deploy fake accounts, false narratives, and pseudo news websites for the right price. Their clients purchase an end-to-end online manipulation system, which can influence people on a massive scale — resulting in votes cast, products sold, and perceptions changed (reads in 9-10 min).

Kate Murphy, Talk Less. Listen More. Here’s How

(The New York Times, January 9, 2020)

We rarely listen carefully and purposefully to other people, and yet, listening can be more valuable than speaking: it is fundamental to any successful relationship, whether personal or professional. The author of “You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters” provides a few tips on how to listen more, and better. Listening is a skill, and a lot of it has to do with how we respond, the degree to which we facilitate the clear expression of another person’s thoughts and, in the process, crystallize our own (reads in 7-9 min).