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.
Twitter alums Biz Stone and Evan Williams this week launched the new Medium publishing platform in private beta as part of their Obvious corporation. It's not quite clear where they see it going — aside from an emphasis on quality instead of digital clutter, and oh that typography — and Nieman Lab's Joshua Benton and The Awl's Choire Sicha have two of the best takes on what it could mean for self publishing and advertising.
Nieman Journalism Lab: Joshua Benton - 13 ways of looking at Medium, the new blogging/sharing/discovery platform from @ev and Obvious
The space Medium, er, mediates is between two poles. On one side you’ve got people who want to hang out a shingle online and own their work in every possible sense. On the other, you’ve got people who are happy in the friendly confines of Facebook and Twitter, places where they can reach their friends effortlessly and not worry about writing elegant prose. Is there an audience between those two poles that’s big enough to build something lasting? Is this Blogger or Twitter, or is it Odeo?
The Awl: Choire Sicha - The Pretty New Web and the Future of "Native" Advertising
The anti-advertising bias—as Dash put it, "page-based sites are cramming every corner and bit of white space on their sites with ads that only ever decrease in effectiveness until they are made even larger and more intrusive every few years" — has a strong chance of resulting in advertising that you’ll wish was crammed into an isolated box.
On "web disorders"
Just a few years ago before Facebook appeared, the internet offered a very different type of community where anonymity and expertise mixed in really interesting ways ("message boards, chat rooms, and nascent blogs"). Bethlehem Shoals considers the shift to an internet where we're constantly exposed to and exposing the "ordinariness of our lives."
The Awl: Bethlehem Shoals - The Condition: Chronic Self-Disclosure
And that was just it: Instead of the internet working against our real lives in provocative ways, it became an extension of them. The looking glass was now a mirror; instead of reinventing us, the web simply provided more of us to the world, and more ways to take advantage of the world around us.
The magazine world didn't fare too well earlier this month in the latest Audit Bureau of Circulations report — circulation is notably down at the newsstand — and David Carr looks at the industry's woes in spite of new digital initiatives.
The New York Times: David Carr - Wondering How Far Magazines Must Fall
I talked to an executive at one of the big Manhattan publishers about the recent collapse at the newsstand and he said, "When the airplane suddenly drops 10,000 feet and it doesn’t crash, you still end up with your heart in your stomach. Those are very, very bad numbers."
Jane Leavy profiles Dr. Ann McKee and her autopsy work that's examined the battered brains of NFL players.
Grantland: Jane Leavy - The Woman Who Would Save Football
he most affecting of McKee's visual aids is a triptych she created documenting the progression of the disease. When she paints, she prefers oils, figurative painting. This digital portrait is deconstructed 21st-century abstract art.
The first panel, a slice of healthy brain tissue, reminds me of one in a series of Sam Francis paintings called "Blue Balls" but rendered in purples and whites. The second panel, a section of John Grimsley's brain, looks like a Jackson Pollock — Shimmering Substance, perhaps. The last panel from the boxer, who was her patient zero, calls to mind Willem de Kooning's Excavation.
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.