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 online dating
Emily Witt explores the history of online dating and writes about her own experiences with it.
London Review of Books: Emily Witt - Diary
I went to a lecture by the novelist Ned Beauman who compared the OK Cupid experience to Carl Sagan pondering the limits of our ability even to imagine non-carbon-based extraterrestrial life, let alone perceive when it was beaming signals to us. We troll on OK Cupid for what we think we want, but what if we are incapable of seeing the signals being sent to us, let alone interpreting them?
On The Scream
Elizabeth Lopatto considers digital art and life through the paintings of Edvard Munch.
The Awl: Elizabeth Lopatto - "The Scream" at MoMA in the Cold Digital Age
What is sobering about the internet is not that it’s isolating per se—I find it attractive precisely because it’s got people on it—but that it feels less satisfying than in-person interactions. This much the critics have right. What they don’t have right is why.
Jason Farago digs into why Art.sy isn't simply an art version of customized music streaming site Pandora, and why selling art online has been so difficult.
The New Republic: Jason Farago - Art.sy And The Myth Of The Online Art Market
There’s simply no possibility of a viral digital success—a "Call Me Maybe" of painting or photography—because a work only becomes successful upon its art world approbation. And that can’t be dismantled, not unless you also feel like dismantling the entire critical apparatus of contemporary art and, while you’re at it, destroying billions of dollars stored in chemicals on stretched pieces of canvas.
Amanda Hess looks at the political memes spinning wildly out of every move on the campaign trail. Similarly, check out Nathan Jurgenson's Speaking in Memes piece at The New Inquiry.
Poynter: Amanda Hess - Binders full of Big Bird: The risk & benefits of reporting on memes
The meme devolved from there. Romney’s critics have since used "binders" to mount vaguely related personal attacks against the candidate, including the suggestion that he’s a horndog. (Of the feminist critiques leveled against Romney, a history of sexual harassment is not one). Other entries are even less substantive. What relevance does the pop song "Call Me Maybe" or a years-old upskirt photo of Britney Spears to this meme? At a certain point, the feeling fueling the meme gave way to Trapper Keeper free-association. Not only does the meme make no sense as a political critique at this point — it isn’t funny anymore, either.
On early gesture interfaces
With the help of GIFs and YouTube, Rhizome dives into the history of experimental, pre-Kinect gestural technology.
Rhizome: Prosthetic Knowledge - Prosthetic Knowledge Picks: Kinect Genealogy - A Brief History of Gestural Interfaces
Perhaps one of the earliest pioneers of this analog computer animation approach was Lee Harrison III. In the early 1960s, he experimented with animating figures using analog circuits and a cathode ray tube. Ahead of his time, he rigged up a body suit with potentiometers and created the first working motion capture rig, animating 3D figures in real-time on his CRT screen.
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.