Weekly Digest 13 - NFTs, Facebook Hack, Microdosing, Inside istheshipstillstuck.com and others
Apr 4, 2021
7 minute read

Must Read

NFTs unbundle ownership from enjoyment

NFTs are cryptocurrency tokens that represent the ownership in a digital asset. Like all digital assets, NFTs can be sent across the world immediately and require little to no physical storage. But unlike other digital assets, they are unique, cannot be duplicated, and can only be transferred by their owners. That’s why they’re used to represent ownership of digital assets. It got popularized recently because someone paid $69 million for an NFT, and everyone else is scratching their heads wondering if these people have gone insane, or if it’s something they should pay attention to.

Science & Tech

The Secret of Synchronization

Fascinating insight into how objects synchronize and how this affects everything from metronome, bridge building, to the celestial bodies like our moon.

Weekly Deaths From All Causes By Year in the United States (2014 - 2020)

Great visualization to see how much of an anomaly year 2020 was. Lots of excess death on a stacking line graph.

533 million Facebook users’ phone numbers and personal data have been leaked online

The personal data of over 500 million Facebook users has been posted online. The data includes phone numbers, full names, location, email address, and biographical information.

Women are perceived differently from men — even when they’re robots

Female bots are perceived to have more positive human qualities, such as warmth, experience and emotion, than male bots, and this greater humanness leads consumers to prefer female artificial intelligence, a new study has found.

Loot boxes linked to problem gambling in new research

  • Of the 93% of children who play video games, up to 40% opened loot boxes
  • About 5% of gamers generate half the entire revenue from the boxes
  • Twelve out of 13 studies on the topic have established “unambiguous” connections to problem gambling behaviour
  • Young men are the most likely to use loot boxes - with young age and lower education correlating with increased uses

Microdosing psychedelic drugs associated with increases in conscientiousness and reductions in neuroticism

Microdosing involves taking a low dose of a psychedelic drug to enhance performance, or reduce stress and anxiety. The 24 participants experienced personality changes after a period of microdosing. They found a decrease in neuroticism and an increase in conscientiousness (people who are highly conscientious tend to be diligent, for example). Interestingly, a greater amount of experience with microdosing was associated with lower levels of neuroticism among the 76 participants.

Matthew Walker’s “Why We Sleep” Is Riddled with Scientific and Factual Errors

The author of the article found that the book consistently overstates the problem of lack of sleep, sometimes egregiously so. It misrepresents basic sleep research and contradicts its own sources.

Why you should care about data privacy even if you have “nothing to hide”

It’s pretty much impossible to stop companies from collecting data about you — even if you don’t use their services, they still have their ways. But you can at least limit how algorithms use it against you. There are also more private browsers to limit data collection and prevent sites from linking you to your past visits or data. Or you can just stop using those services entirely.

Jump in cancer diagnoses at 65 implies patients wait for Medicare, according to Stanford study

It seemed that patients were diagnosed with lung cancer at a surprisingly higher rate at 65 years old than, say, at 64 or 66. The researchers found a substantial rise nationwide in new cancer diagnoses at 65 — not only for lung cancer but also for breast, colon and prostate cancer. The four are the most common cancers in the United States.

U.S. Church Membership Falls Below Majority for First Time

  • In 2020, 47% of U.S. adults belonged to a church, synagogue or mosque
  • Down more than 20 points from turn of the century
  • Change primarily due to rise in Americans with no religious preference

Business & Finance

[Instagram Study] 102,700,573 Posts Show How Instagram Engagement Rate Decreases Back to Its Initial Values From 2019

Higher Instagram engagement is mainly brought by carousels, especially for small accounts. Shorter captions, up to 10 words, combined with carousels form the posts to which users prefer to interact with. Carousels are getting more likes than any other media type. People are more open to comment on video posts across all profile sizes.

What Is a Backdoor Roth IRA?

Roth IRA is the best way to take advantage of current low income tax rates and set yourself up for years of tax-free income in retirement. However, people with high incomes are not allowed to contribute to a Roth IRA directly. For them the only way into a Roth is through the back door – with a strategy appropriately known as the backdoor Roth.

The consumer demand recovery and lasting effects of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated digital adoption, especially in grocery shopping and healthcare, and this is expected to continue. Second, the pandemic and lockdowns reversed the long-standing trend of declining money and time spent at home, leading to “home nesting.” We expect this behavior to stick as some portion of high-income households will prefer to work from home to some degree after the pandemic and low-income households retain low-cost at-home alternatives such as digital entertainment.

Money, Money, Money (and Investing)

Most people who are rich chose their parents wisely. Bill Gates might not have ever figured out 1960s-style computer science but he had the foresight to pick a father who is one of the richest, most prominent lawyers in the state of Washington. And before he and Paul Allen made the deal with IBM that gave them a monopoly on the PC operating system, Bill had the foresight to choose a mother who was personally acquainted with John Opel, CEO of IBM Corporation. None of this would have worked if Bill hadn’t been willing to take tremendous personal risks. Should Microsoft have failed, of course, Bill Gates would have had nothing to fall back on but a million dollar trust fund from his mother’s parents (bankers) and the resumption of his degree program at Harvard College.

Inside a viral website

This is an account of running istheshipstillstuck.com. The website received around 50 million views in a 5 day period. That puts it roughly on par with the New York Times. The author tried many fun ways to monetize the traffic but didn’t have much success.

100m Posts Analyzed: What You Need To Write The Best Headlines

A headline isn’t just an article title. It’s a tiny window of opportunity to connect with your audience. Top 5 insights:

  1. Instructional headlines drove the most Facebook engagement.
  2. Curiosity headline phrases – ie. those that hinted, teased or questioned something – tended to fare a lot better on Twitter.
  3. The top headline phrase on Facebook had 590x more average shares than the top headline phrase on Twitter.
  4. The ideal headline length is 11 words and 65 characters, according to the most shared headlines on both Facebook & Twitter.
  5. The top Facebook headlines are no longer published by low-quality entertainment publications, but instead by authoritative news sites.

Software & AI

Improving shell workflows with fzf

The basic functionality of fzf is very simple: it reads a set of lines from stdin, provides a user interface to select one or more lines, and writes the selected lines to stdout. This sounds very basic, but it is in fact very powerful.

ACM Turing Award Honors Innovators Who Shaped the Foundations of Programming Language Compilers and Algorithms

Columbia’s Aho and Stanford’s Ullman Developed Tools and Fundamental Textbooks Used by Millions of Software Programmers around the World. Two of their most widely celebrated books include: The Design and Analysis of Computer Algorithms (1974) and Principles of Compiler Design (1977)

Culture & Fun

Learn Spanish by reading Don Quixote

I have never seen this method of learning foreign language before. Very novel!

Police say they found mafia fugitive on YouTube, posting cooking tutorials

Marc Feren Claude Biart, an alleged member of the ‘Ndrangheta criminal organization based in southern Italy, reportedly hid his face in the cooking videos but failed to hide his tattoos, leading to his identification.