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.
Ross Andersen tells the story of the James Webb Space Telescope as a civilization-spanning quest to expand the human eye's powers.
Los Angeles Review of Books: Ross Andersen - Golden Eye
The search for life among the stars will hang suspended in the imagination, an impotent question posed to the sky. Science asks a mythic task of America: that she coil the strength of her economy and sling a golden mirror into cold space.
Following news earlier this month that state funding for libraries in California had been eliminated, an active thread popped up over at MetaFilter where user codacorolla penned an eye-opening, personal tale of the digital divide.
MetaFilter: codacorolla - California Dreamin'
If you can take yourself out of your first world techie social media smart-shoes for a second then imagine this: you're 53 years old, you've been in prison from 20 to 26, you didn't finish high school, and you have a grandson who you're now supporting because your daughter is in jail.
Tim Parks considers print's resiliency when ebooks may offer a reading experience, unburdened by "fetishistic gratification," that brings us closer to "the essence of the literary experience." If only it were easier to annotate text on a Kindle!
The New York Review of Books: Tim Parks - eBooks Can't Burn
But in fact we all know that once the sequence of words is over and the book closed what actually remains in our possession is very difficult, wonderfully difficult to pin down, a richness (or sometimes irritation) that has nothing to do with the heavy block of paper on our shelves.
On an arcades project
Mark O'Connel's review of Martin Amis's Invasion of the Space Invaders (complete with an introduction from none other than Steven Spielberg) kept us entertained all week.
The Millions: Mark O'Connel - The Arcades Project: Martin Amis’ Guide to Classic Video Games
His advice is to concentrate stolidly on the central business of dot-munching, and not to get distracted by the shallow glamor of the fruits: "Do I take risks in order to gobble up the fruit symbol in the middle of the screen? I do not, and neither should you."
And what better way to wrap up the week than a heartfelt Valentine's Day blog post to all your favorite tech bloggers?
Gizmodo: Mat Honan - Happy Valentine's Day, Tech Bloggers
There's been so much hate and self-righteous indignation in tech blog circles lately. Name calling. Ugly accusations. Petty bickering. It's even divided good friends, brother against brother. Can't we all just get along?
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.