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 Minority Report
On occasion of the 10th anniversary of the release of Steven Spielberg's 'Minority Report,' Wired gathered some of the participants (including Douglas Coupland, Stewart Brand, Jaron Lanier, and many more) in the "idea summit" that informed the film's look and feel.
Wired: Underwire: Wired Staff - Inside Minority Report‘s ‘Idea Summit,’ Visionaries Saw the Future
McDowell: People from DC were saying that you can’t build anything higher than the Capitol building, and you’ll never be allowed to, even in 50 years’ time. So we moved all of our architecture across the Potomac River and developed a vertical city, although there was a lot of resistance to that from the group.
Garreau: I know you urbanists love to think differently, but dream on. They needed the high-rises for the chase scenes.
Steve Fishman's fascinating account of Hector Monsegur ("Sabu"), who lived in Manhattan's Avenue D housing projects, traces his early days as a hacker, success with Anonymous and LulzSec, time as an FBI informer, and ultimate downfall.
New York: Steve Fishman - "Hello, I Am Sabu ... "
Once he became an informant, the authorities finally accorded Monsegur the respect he felt he deserved, praising his work ethic and his savvy. And Sabu overachieved for the FBI, working diligently "since literally the day he was arrested," an assistant U.S. Attorney said. He was "staying up sometimes all night … helping the government build cases" against friends who the US government later called his "co-conspirators."
Samuel Langhrne Clemens wasn't just a great American writer; aside from his early work as a riverboat pilot, he worked as an inventor, publisher, and more throughout his life. Codex99 describes how he lost a fortune investing in a typesetting machine.
Codex 99: The Paige Compositor
In theory the Compositor was indeed the perfect typesetter. As Thompson wrote in the Inland Printer: "An adept operator could assemble certain syllables and even complete words at the 109-character keyboard. The justifier utilized 11 different sizes of spaces to fill the spacing between words. The distributor, as it returned the dead matter to its proper channels, removed any damaged or bent type." It was also one of the most complicated machines ever built, containing more than 18,000 parts including "800 shaft bearings and cams and springs innumerable."
David Carr reflects on the changing media landscape.
The New York Times: David Carr - Digital Media’s Ever-Swifter Incursion
Traditional ideas about what is opinion and what is news, what is advertising and what is editorial, and the separation between content makers and consumers, are evaporating each day. Those consumers will decide where the line is drawn, not those of us who are vested by belief or self-interest in the old order.
Andrew Rice profiles Justin Kan and the evolution of Justin.tv from lifecasting tool to democratic broadcasting tool to live gaming platform.
Fast Company: Andrew Rice - The Many Pivots Of Justin.tv: How A Livecam Show Became Home To Video Gaming Superstars
"I didn't get the gaming streaming," Kan says. "I wasn't a fan and I didn't understand it." Why on earth would a viewer choose to spend his time watching some Halo player blow away grunt after grunt? But traffic numbers suggested that a substantial number of people were doing just that. "Anytime you say to yourself, 'Really, people want to do blank?' — that means you've discovered something," Graham says.
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.