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.
Tom Simonite looks at Facebook's Cameron Marlow and his Data Science Team, a "Bell Labs for the social-networking age."
Technology Review: Tom Simonite - What Facebook Knows
Recently the Data Science Team has begun to use its unique position to experiment with the way Facebook works, tweaking the site—the way scientists might prod an ant's nest—to see how users react. Eytan Bakshy, who joined Facebook last year after collaborating with Marlow as a PhD student at the University of Michigan, wanted to learn whether our actions on Facebook are mainly influenced by those of our close friends, who are likely to have similar tastes. That would shed light on the theory that our Facebook friends create an "echo chamber" that amplifies news and opinions we have already heard about. So he messed with how Facebook operated for a quarter of a billion users.
On 'Street Fighter'
Simon Parkin profiles Capcom's Yoshinori Ono, best known for helping to revive the Street Fighter franchise with Street Fighter IV.
Eurogamer.net: Simon Parkin - The Rise and Collapse of Yoshinori Ono
In my philosophy, Street Fighter is a game, but really it’s a tool. It’s like playing cards or chess or tennis: it’s really about the people. Once you know the rules it’s up to the players to put themselves in the game, to choose the nuance of how they play and express themselves.
Alex Pappademas and Sean Witzke dive deep into a spoiler-heavy discussion on all things Alien.
Grantland: Alex Pappademas and Sean Witzke - A (Not So) Brief Conversation About the Alien Franchise
Fincher is a massive fan of those guys, too — he's the reason we have the Blade Runner special edition without Ford's voice-over, because he and his producer took a day off on Alien3 to go see a revival of Blade Runner and the studio had accidentally sent the theater a print without the narration, and Fincher made some noise in Hollywood to get it released.
What's Twitter good for? How is it affecting writing? Is it really reviving the aphorism? The n+1 editors weigh in.
n+1: The editors - Please RT
The signed-up user is apt to have more mixed feelings. At its best, Twitter delights and instructs. Somebody, often somebody you wouldn’t expect, condenses the World-Spirit into a great joke, epigram, or aperçu. What oft was thought but ne’er so well expressed, you think, and favorite the tweet. Or: So funny, and you retweet.
On Ray Bradbury
io9: Neil Gaiman - Must Read: Neil Gaiman’s Tribute to Ray Bradbury
I had read the books, I had seen the film, and the burning point of paper was the moment where I knew that I would have to remember this. Because people would have to remember books, if other people burn them or forget them. We will commit them to memory. We will become them. We become authors. We become their books.
Former editor of the Los Angeles Times Book Review Steve Wasserman documents the rise of Amazon and the state of the publishing industry.
The Nation: Steve Wasserman - The Amazon Effect
"Books are incredibly unusual in one respect," Bezos said, "and that is that there are more items in the book category than there are items in any other category by far." A devotee of the Culture of Metrics, Bezos was undaunted. He was sure that the algorithms of computerized search and access would provide the keys to a consumer kingdom whose riches were as yet undiscovered and barely dreamed of, and so he set out to construct a twenty-first-century ordering mechanism that, at least for the short term, would deliver goods the old-fashioned way: by hand, from warehouses via the Postal Service and commercial shippers.
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.