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 San Francisco
Founder and former CEO and editor-and-chief of Salon, David Talbot covers the growth of San Francisco's isolated tech elite that's affecting the city in everything from real estate to local restaurants.
SanFrancisco magazine: David Talbot - How Much Tech Can One City Take?
Is San Francisco’s high-tech workforce too cocooned from the cultural life of the city? Karen Wickre, the editorial director of Twitter, wrestles with this question one recent afternoon, when I visit her at the company’s headquarters. The Twitter offices seem to float in the sky above the squalid urban turf below, where the raw life of the Tenderloin spills onto Market Street. Not only do Twitter employees work in the clouds, high above the rough street bustle below, but some don’t even have to rub elbows with other San Franciscans on Muni. They can avoid the teeming masses by hopping aboard an exclusive shuttle that the Shorenstein Realty Company—owner of the Twitter building—runs between the Caltrain station and their mid-Market destination.
On 'The Jetsons'
The Jetsons celebrate its 50th birthday today, and Matt Novak looks at the show's enduring legacy.
Paleofuture: Matt Novak - 50 Years of the Jetsons: Why The Show Still Matters
If ”The Jetsons” is so important and resonated with so many viewers, then why was the show canceled after just one season? I’ve spoken to a number of different people about this, but I haven’t heard anyone mention what I believe to be the most likely reason that “The Jetsons” wasn’t renewed for a second season: color. Or, more accurately, a lack of color. ”The Jetsons” was produced and broadcast in color, but in 1962 less than 3 percent of American households had a color television set. In fact, it wasn’t until 1972 that 50 percent of American households had a color TV.
Jack Stuef writes about the "human billboards" that sold their skin for dotcom marketing stunts.
FWD: Jack Stuef - Branded For Life
Dot-com “skinvertising” — a term somebody came up with when it was still a thing — was a media sensation in the mid-2000s. In 2003, the first advertising space of this kind was sold on the back of the head of an Illinois man named Jim Nelson. A Web hosting company then known as CI Host paid $7,000 for the space. Nelson signed a contract stating that he would keep the tattoo for at least five years.
Paul Graham Raven traces the evolution of the live action role playing game and its many scenes and styles.
Rhizome: Paul Graham Raven - This Is a Game: A (very) Brief History of Larp Part 1
There's a possible Patient Zero in the imaginary planet of Atzor, an early proto-larp described in a Life article in 1941 which at the time of writing boasted ten 'lands' or countries wherein conflicts were decided with tabletop wargames of vast and involving complexity. But it's Brian Wiese's 'Hobbit War' of 1977 that represents the likely apotheosis of 'boffer' larp, familiar from the pop-cultural stereotype: Ren Fair rejects, running around in the woods with padded weapons.
On the founders
Steven Johnson riffs on the seemingly endless debate on who invented the internet, business or government.
The New York Times: Steven Johnson - The Internet? We Built That
When we talk about change being driven by mass collaboration, it’s often in the form of protest movements: civil rights or marriage equality. That’s a tradition worth celebrating, but it’s only part of the story. The Internet (and all the other achievements of peer networks) is not a story about changing people’s attitudes or widening the range of human tolerance. It’s a story, instead, about a different kind of organization, neither state nor market, that actually builds things, creating new tools that in turn enhance the way states and markets work.
On the internet
In the middle of a long Friday afternoon, David Roth pretty much captured the essence of the internet.
The Classical: David Roth - Here's Your Shaq-Pointing Gif. You Figure It Out.
And because it's a strange place to live: if the internet is like anything besides itself, it's something like that sprawling garbage gyre in the desolate middle of the Pacific Ocean, where garbage becomes entangled with other garbage to form a bright, rotting submerged continent, and where toxic things we made slowly break down and make their way back up the food chain and into our bodies and minds. That's not a good thing, mostly, but on the other hand, if you want to see a Korean commercial in which Robocop comes out of a television and chows down on some fried chicken, the internet is right there.
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.