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.
Noted earlier this week, The New Yorker's in-depth look at the future of YouTube, TV on the web, and and Google's big investments in professional content is essential reading.
The New Yorker: John Seabrook - Streaming Dreams
"We’re absolutely nothing compared to TV," he said. "And this is why I came to YouTube. I want to take this"—he pointed to YouTube’s screen time—"up, and in a big way, because I think we can. And, if we do, this industry"—TV—"is worth three hundred billion dollars, worldwide, and we hope to see value shifting hands."
The brutal, vitriolic commenting culture continues across the web.
The Believer: Megan Daum - Haterade
But if three years ago the phenomenon felt like a wave that was about to crest and then surely dissipate into a vague memory of some fleeting, anarchic period in the history of the internet ("Remember back in 2008 when only idiots posted comments?" we imagined ourselves chortling one day), it feels today like the disease-ridden aftermath of a flood. Ugly commentary doesn’t just litter the internet, it infects it.
Jason Johnson took a step away from 40 to 80-hour games and dropped into the spontaneous stream of hyperlight gaming in 2011. Similarly, don't miss Tom Ewing's Take Me to the River" at Pitchfork from December.
Kill Screen Daily: Jason Johnson - The Year in ADHD
This is the first year that playing videogames has made me feel like I have ADHD. Nesting in front of the TV for a 40- to 80-hour run through The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim or The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword sounds more like exile than an excursion. The thing is, I no longer want to escape. I want to be fed a steady stream of data through a Wi-Fi antenna that is positioned as close to my brain as possible-which often turns out to be on my phone, a download service, or linked to in a blog.
In response to Paul Ford's The Web Is a Customer Service Medium, Percolate's Noah Brier considers what it means if Facebook and Twitter are just places where millions of people go to just hang out (in contrast to the broadcast model of TV, print, and radio).
Blog @ Percolate: Noah Brier - There's More to it than Customer Service
Those millions of people spending millions of minutes on Facebook a day aren’t really there to find out what’s happening with their friends, they’re just there, in the exact same way they’re just in front of their television (plus clicking, of course). Twitter’s the same. So is Tumblr. People don’t load that up looking for something, they open their iPhone and hit the Twitter icon looking for nothing.
The AP reports on the Mexican cartels' underground networks for bypassing traditional cellular communication.
AP: Michael Weissenstein - Mexico's cartels build own national radio system
"They're doing what any sensible military unit would do," said Robert Killebrew, a retired U.S. Army colonel who has studied the Mexican drug cartels for the Center for a New American Security, a Washington think tank. "They're branching out into as many forms of communications as possible."
On literary tweets
Is following a tweeting author like "looking behind the curtain?"
New York Times: Anne Trubek - Why Authors Tweet
Salman Rushdie told me he enjoys Twitter because "it allows one to be playful, to get a sense of what is on a lot of people’s minds at any given moment." He has written more than a thousand tweets — "OK: Philistinism (destroying bks bec you don’t care abt bks) is not fascism (destroying bks bec. you DO care). But both destroy books" — and more than 150,000 people follow them.
We'll leave you with this. :%I
McSweeney's: Mira Ptacin and Seth Fried - Important New Emoticons.