What we read this week (21 June)

Iain Banks’ poignant last interview, piecing together scattered information on a drone strike, an argument for viewing cyberutopianism less disparagingly, how much of a bargain Airbnb is, and a profile of quiet software company Palantir.

Quote of the week

The trouble with writing fiction is that it has to make sense, whereas real life doesn’t.

Iain Banks

Articles of the week

  • Iain Banks: the final interview
    A touching interview with acclaimed science fiction author Iain Banks, shortly before his death. He reviews his literary work, discusses politics and his predictions for the near future, and talks openly about dealing with a terminal diagnosis.
  • OB298 — A Preliminary Atlas of Drone Strike Landscapes
    Tim Maly deconstructs a drone strike, piecing together the various nodes in the network – the site of the strike, weapons manufacturers, airbases, testing facilities – that brought it about, and in doing so, demonstrates just how little can be known about attacks carried out in this way.
  • Is Cyberutopianism Really Such a Bad Thing?
    An excerpt from Ethan Zuckerman’s recently published book, Rewire, in which he defends the cyberutopian perspective that society can and should use technology to do good.
  • Airbnb vs Hotels: A Price Comparison
    Priceonomics breaks down the cost difference between Airbnb stays and hotel stays in the USA. A whole apartment on Airbnb is, according to their research, 21.2% cheaper on average than a hotel room.
  • Palantir, the War on Terror’s Secret Weapon
    Silicon Valley software company Palantir, whose software helps unify and make sense of various data points collected on a person, and is used extensively by US intelligence. Though the article is nearly a year and a half old, in the context of recent discussions on PRISM it becomes clear just how eerily powerful this type of software can be.

Author: Igor

Igor likes to connect the dots. As a strategic consultant in an increasingly complex world, he favours broad knowledge over specialisation. In the last five years, he helped shape strategic decisions at large corporations like Deutsche Postbank AG and Deutsche Telekom AG as well as at startups like Amen and refund.me. In his work he is focusing always on finding the appropriate solutions as well as the people who will be executing upon his advice. Beside the consulting work, Igor speaks at international conferences on variety of topics (SXSW, PICNIC, re:publica, etc.).