We all know the feeling. You're sleepless in the sad hours of the night or stumbling around early on a hazy weekend morning in need of something to read, and that pile of unread books just isn't cutting it. Why not take a break from the fire hose of Twitter and RSS and check out our weekly roundup of essential writing from around the web about technology, culture, media, and the future? Sure, it's one more thing you can feel guilty about sitting in your Instapaper queue, but it's better than pulling in vain on your Twitter list again.
On television's interface problem
Tim Carmody explores why Microsoft's Xbox is dominating Apple in the TV space, and where Apple can win.
Wired Epicenter: Tim Carmody - With TVs, Microsoft Is Right and Apple Is Wrong
It’s not really about too many cables and too many remotes, as annoying as that can be. It’s really about having the right kind of user interface for the task at hand. That means pluralism, not minimalism. It means that remote controls and game controllers, with all their ugly buttons, aren’t going away, because they’re actually quite good at what they do.
On the future of the web
The Wall Street Journal and the Economist both interviewed Yale professor David Gelernter about his vision for reorganizing the web around streams. With Facebook starting the rollout of its Timeline feature, this doesn't seem so far-fetched.
Looking like an endless Rolodex, a lifestream would extend from the moment of your birth to the day of your death, containing every document, photo, message or web page you have ever interacted with—all in a single, searchable stream, and held safely online.
Michael Hiltzik traces the rise and fall of Kodak, the great American film company.
Los Angeles Times: Michael Hiltzik - Kodak's long fade to black
Kodak Brownie and Instamatic cameras were once staples of family vacations and holidays — remember the "open me first" Christmas ad campaigns? But it may not be long before a generation of Americans grows up without ever having laid hands on a Kodak product.
On Tony Hawk
Tony Hawk's plastic skateboard peripheral-equipped 'Ride' and 'Skate' games hit the market like a dud, and 1UP digs into the rushed release, shoddy control schemes, and brutal reviews.
1UP: Andrew Hayward - The Fall of Tony Hawk
"There were obviously a lot of problems with Ride, but in my opinion Ride suffered from one fatal flaw: the peripheral for the peripheral-based game didn't work. The controls were too inaccurate and inconsistent. Imagine playing Guitar Hero with a controller that has buttons that only work 50% of the time. That's how I felt playing Ride."
Caleb Crain takes the long view on crime and safety and wonders how a networked society where many members in society have a smartphone will affect social institutions.
The New Yorker: Caleb Crain - iPhones vs. the Police
But things are different nowadays. Smart phones have cameras, and almost everyone has a smart phone. A court is therefore less likely to be ignorant of what actually occurred between the policeman and me. The policeman and I may have videotaped it. Bystanders might have, too.
On the New Twitter
Twitter launched a brand new design across its mobile and web apps this week, and they're a far cry from the elegance of Tweetie or the last version of the Twitter app. Don't miss iA Writer's Oliver Reichenstein's take either.
Daring Fireball: John Gruber - The New Twitter (R.I.P. Tweetie)
But this, today’s new Twitter, is something else. It’s an attempt at a best way to do Twitter that is as consistent as possible across multiple platforms, ranging from the iPhone to Android to the mobile and desktop web. I don’t want an iPhone app that’s constrained by the restrictions of a mobile web app. The whole reason I prefer native apps is that I like experiences that far exceed what can be done in a web app. This is a native app that looks and feels like it was designed and polished according to the norms of web apps, not other native iPhone apps.
On atomic city
Adapted from her memoir The Absolute Elsewhere, Millicent G. Dillon's piece at the Believer remembers living and working at the Oak Ridge, Tennessee nuclear facility in the 1940s.
The Believer: Millicent G. Dillon - In the Atomic City
I had accepted the Oak Ridge job after a single telephone call from an official at NEPA. My name had apparently been plucked from a roster of junior physicists who had worked on defense contracts during the war.
On football robots
The inescapable Fox NFL broadcast robot keeps inexplicably dancing and posing, and has now inspired its own fan fiction.
But look closer at the lights where his eyes should be. Do you see something there? A sense of emptiness? It's not just because his eye-lights have been replaced by energy-saving but less-soulful halogen bulbs. It's because Cleatus is not living the life he wants to lead.