Shape of things to come

Essential reading on the subject of our future

Four essential reads on the future of the web, business and our planet:

The end of capitalism has begun

The end of capitalism has begun

Paul Mason: New forms of ownership, new forms of lending, new legal contracts: a whole business subculture has emerged over the past 10 years, which the media has dubbed the “sharing economy”. Buzzwords such as the “commons” and “peer-production” are thrown around, but few have bothered to ask what this development means for capitalism itself.

I believe it offers an escape route – but only if these micro-level projects are nurtured, promoted and protected by a fundamental change in what governments do. And this must be driven by a change in our thinking – about technology, ownership and work. So that, when we create the elements of the new system, we can say to ourselves, and to others: “This is no longer simply my survival mechanism, my bolt hole from the neoliberal world; this is a new way of living in the process of formation.”


The Web We Have to Save

Hossein Derakhshan: Six years was a long time to be in jail, but it’s an entire era online. Writing on the internet itself had not changed, but reading — or, at least, getting things read — had altered dramatically. I’d been told how essential social networks had become while I’d been gone, and so I knew one thing: If I wanted to lure people to see my writing, I had to use social media now.

So I tried to post a link to one of my stories on Facebook. Turns out Facebook didn’t care much. It ended up looking like a boring classified ad. No description. No image. Nothing. It got three likes. Three! That was it.

Illustration by Tim McDonagh

The Stream now dominates the way people receive information on the web. Fewer users are directly checking dedicated webpages, instead getting fed by a never-ending flow of information that’s picked for them by complex –and secretive — algorithms.


Is Advertising Morally Justifiable?

Thomas Wells: Advertising is a natural resource extraction industry, like a fishery. Its business is the harvest and sale of human attention. We are the fish and we are not consulted.

Our right to preserve our own attention and to make our own decisions about how we spend it and with whom our personal information is shared must become part of the political agenda. We need a legal and policy response to the market failures of the advertising industry, and we need it soon.


The Freakish Year in Broken Climate Records

Tom Randall: The annual State of the Climate report is out, and it’s ugly. Record heat, record sea levels, more hot days and fewer cool nights, surging cyclones, unprecedented pollution, and rapidly diminishing glaciers.

The Freakish Year in Broken Climate Records

Last year was the hottest in 135 years of modern record keeping

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