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.
Nathan Grayson critiques E3's hyper-violent-without-any-context keynote presentations.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun: Nathan Grayson - E3 Day Zero: When Game Violence Becomes Vile
This was the blaring exclamation point on the end of a day of gleefully grotesque neck-shanking, leg-severing, and – of course – man-shooting. I can honestly think of maybe five games – in four multiple-hour press conferences – that didn’t feature some sort of lovingly rendered death-dealing mechanic. And oh how show-goers cheered.
On the Newton
On the eve of this year's WWDC, take a look at Harry McCracken's eBay-aided reassessment of the twenty-year-old Apple Newton PDA. And here's a full history of the Newton from Tom Hormby.
Techland: Harry McCracken - Newton, Reconsidered
There was certainly some Newton in the Pilot. And there’s an awful lot of Pilot in the iPhone 4S, the iPad and every Android device–starting wtth the home screen’s grid of icons and the way apps run in full-screen mode. Had Apple followed Palm’s path–smaller, simpler, cheaper–it might have made all the difference. Read more here
John Herrman breaks down his typical daily online interactions and finds the balance radically weighed towards input, not output.
FWD: John Herrman - How Tech Is Turning Us All Into Neurotics
I’m never not looking sideways at what I’m doing, never not pulled to look at something else, never not reacting to whatever I’ve paused on.
On Ray Bradbury
Author Ray Bradbury died last Tuesday, and many writers discussed his influence on their work. Here's a sampling: don't miss Neil Gaiman or Junot Diaz's remembrances, and Wired rounded up notes from Ursula K. Le Guin, Lev Grossman, Greg Bear, and many more. Also worth a read is The Paris Review's Art of Fiction interview with Bradbury:
Everything went into ferment that one year, 1932, when I was twelve. There was Poe, Carter, Burroughs, the comics. I listened to a lot of imaginative radio shows, especially one called Chandu the Magician. I’m sure it was quite junky, but not to me. Every night when the show went off the air I sat down and, from memory, wrote out the whole script. I couldn’t help myself. Chandu was against all the villains of the world and so was I. He responded to a psychic summons and so did I.
Film critic Glenn Kenny looks back three decades and recalls his first viewing of Alien.
Some Came Running: Glenn Kenny - A 19-year-old asshole sees "Alien" for the first time.
The evolution of home video was one of the factors that turned Alien into an enduring classic rather than a sleeper hit. The respect it was accorded by subsequent acquaintances who clearly knew better than I did was also influential. For instance, Michael Weldon in the Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film: "Of course it's an expensive B-movie, but it's also fascinating, well-made, and the scariest science-fiction film in ages."
Catch Prometheus this weekend? Dig into (warning: spoilers) T3's interview with Ridley Scott and Damon Lindeloff, another from Movies.com, and a creative analysis of the film's symbolism from Adrian Bott. While you're at it, hop in the forums (spoilers, of course) and talk Space Jockeys.
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.