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.
Craig Mod documents his obsessions with a Fitbit and the quantified life.
The Morning News: Craig Mod - Paris and the Data Mind
I think of our check-ins, our food photos, our tagged friends. I think of our steps, our Fuel Points. I think of the myriad and nearly endless streams of data—data now actively collected but becoming increasingly passive. I think of all this and I can’t help but see a hologram projected somewhere off in the distance. A reconstitution of something, someone, miles away, years out.
Adrian Chen digs into the darker side of Reddit, and reveals the identity of the man behind the controversial "creepshots" and "jailbait" subreddits.
Gawker: Adrian Chen - Unmasking Reddit’s Violentacrez, The Biggest Troll on the Web
Last Wednesday afternoon I called Michael Brutsch. He was at the office of the Texas financial services company where he works as a programmer and he was having a bad day. I had just told him, on Gchat, that I had uncovered his identity as the notorious internet troll Violentacrez (pronounced Violent-Acres).
"It's amazing how much you can sweat in a 60 degree office," he said with a nervous laugh.
On mug shots
Cord Jefferson writes about the growing "cottage industry" of mug shot websites, which take police photos that are on public record and plug them into the internet.
Gizmodo: Cord Jefferson - How People Profit from Your Online Mug Shot and Ruin Your Life Forever
The early 21st century will be remembered by many images: Twitter avatars, Instagram pictures, and gifs are a few that quickly come to mind. But the mug shot is fast becoming one of the most relevant graphics of modern culture. Thanks to lenient public-records laws, a vengeful justice system, people's innate desire to laugh at others' misfortunes, and, most importantly, the internet, the nearly 200-year-old mug shot is having a major renaissance. And what that renaissance says about society is not good.
On a search
Separated from his hometown in rural India at a young age, Saroo Munshi Khan used Google Earth to trace his way back 20 years later.
Vanity Fair: David Kushner - A Home at the End of Google Earth
But there were still dozens of twisting tracks to follow, and Saroo began spending hours a night on the trail. He’d fly over India on Google Earth for as much as six hours at a time, sometimes until three or four a.m. He hadn’t yet told his girlfriend or parents what he was doing, partly because he had no idea what, if anything, he might find.
On Jason Kilar
Nicole Laporte profiles Hulu CEO Jason Kilar and the streaming service's bumpy history.
Fast Company: Nicole Laporte - Hulu Struggles To Survive The Influence Of Its Parent Companies
"This morning we had a 45-minute debate on the amount of gradient on the sticky header!" Kilar boasts, standing in a cluttered warren of darkened offices from which members of the design team periodically emerge, blinking like moles. Kilar's obsession with user experience--one source says it borders on "maniacal"--is a large part of why Hulu has created a service that customers have deemed "brain-spray awesome."
Ben Affleck's Argo hits theaters this weekend, and the screenplay is based on Joshuah Bearman's 2007 Wired article that tells the story of the CIA's rescue of U.S. diplomats during the Iran hostage crisis.
Wired: Joshuah Bearman - How the CIA Used a Fake Sci-Fi Flick to Rescue Americans From Tehran
In just four days, Mendez, Chambers, and Sidell created a fake Hollywood production company. They designed business cards and concocted identities for the six members of the location-scouting party, including all their former credits. The production company’s offices would be set up in a suite at Sunset Gower Studios on what was formerly the Columbia lot, in a space vacated by Michael Douglas after he finished The China Syndrome.
Have any favorites that you'd like to see included in next week's edition? Send them along to @thomashouston or share in the comments below.