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.
In light of the Knight Capital debacle several weeks ago, don't miss Jerry Adler's dive into the world of high-frequency trading, where Wall Street is racing to shave milliseconds off data transmission times.
Wired: Jerry Adler - Raging Bulls: How Wall Street Got Addicted to Light-Speed Trading
This movement has been gaining momentum for more than a decade. Human beings who make investment decisions based on their assessment of the economy and on the prospects for individual companies are retreating. Computers—acting on computer-generated market trend data and even newsfeeds, communicating only with one another—have taken up the slack.
On white noise
Choire Sicha reviews a surprisingly broad range of white noise recordings.
The Awl: Choire Sicha - Reviews of White Noise Recordings
The dystopic title is correct. This is a very cold, unfeeling white noise. It has terrific bassy, rhythmic undertones however. It's not one you'd want in your regular rotation but it's nice on planes.
On American manufacturing
In the midst of endless debate about the viability moving gadget manufacturing back to the States, the New York Times looks back nearly three decades and explores Nissan's success in moving some of its auto assembly to Tennessee.
The New York Times: Bill Vlasic, Hiroko Tabuchi, and Charles Duhigg - In Pursuit of Nissan, a Jobs Lesson for the Tech Industry?
But consumer electronics are different. Though some jobs have moved to Asia, many were never here to begin with. And the biggest technology importers — like Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Microsoft — are American companies. Today, many consumers do not know or care where their smartphones are made.
"Where it was built, what it means for politics, how it affects the economy," said Raymond Stata, a founder of Analog Devices, one of the largest semiconductor manufacturers, "that’s not something people think about when they buy."
Adrien Chen interviews the prolific person behind @SheboyganScan, a curious Twitter account that keeps track of local Wisconsin police scanner activity.
The New Inquiry: Adrien Chen - Tweeting the Beat
I got my first scanner for Christmas in 2004. I took it out of the box, put in batteries, turned it on, and heard a plane crash! I didn’t listen to it too much, but I noticed that a lot of interesting things never showed up in our local paper, which is woefully inadequate.
On being hacked
Several days after his "digital life was destroyed," Mat Honan expands on how a group of hackers got into his accounts through weak defenses in Apple and Amazon's security.
Wired: Mat Honan - How Apple and Amazon Security Flaws Led to My Epic Hacking
But what happened to me exposes vital security flaws in several customer service systems, most notably Apple’s and Amazon’s. Apple tech support gave the hackers access to my iCloud account. Amazon tech support gave them the ability to see a piece of information — a partial credit card number — that Apple used to release information. In short, the very four digits that Amazon considers unimportant enough to display in the clear on the web are precisely the same ones that Apple considers secure enough to perform identity verification. The disconnect exposes flaws in data management policies endemic to the entire technology industry, and points to a looming nightmare as we enter the era of cloud computing and connected devices.
On robotic telepresence
Rachel Emma Silverman lives a glitchy set of weeks as an Anybot, telepresence robot.
The Wall Street Journal: Rachel Emma Silverman - My Life as a Telecommuting Robot
Wherever I went, I needed a constant handler and guide, and the spotty wireless signal often left me stranded—the video window on my laptop in Texas frozen as the Robot Rachel in New York went dead.
When a co-worker attempted to roll me into an area with better connectivity, the robot would thrash around, emitting an alarming, guttural noise that startled all in its vicinity.
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.