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.
Grab the entire list as a Readlist.
On Edward Snowden
In a wide-ranging interview conducted over 14 hours in Russia, The Washington Post's Barton Gellman talks to Edward Snowden.
The Washington Post: Barton Gellman - Edward Snowden, after months of NSA revelations, says his mission’s accomplished
“For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission’s already accomplished,” he said. “I already won. As soon as the journalists were able to work, everything that I had been trying to do was validated. Because, remember, I didn’t want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself.”
Hutner Oatman-Stanford writes about Miles Lightwood, the founder of an online archive and upcoming film about the devices' original designers at Panasonic, JVC, Sharp, and other companies.
Collectors Weekly: Hunter Oatman-Stanford - How Boomboxes Got So Badass
Compared to today’s sleek micro-gadgets, boomboxes are like electronic dinosaurs, dated as much by their ludicrous size as their outmoded technology. Beginning in the late 1970s, companies recognized that buyers wanted their radios louder and more dynamic, so they made sure each model could project a solid mix of treble, midrange, and bass, while offering options for recording and editing, too. This was what made the analog boxes so big, requiring huge speakers, cassette decks, a radio receiver, and up to 10 D-sized batteries, all wrapped in heavy-duty casing.
On a typeface
The Economist tells the story of the destruction and loss of the Doves typeface for nearly a century.
The Economist: The fight over the Doves
On dark evenings in late 1916, a frail 76-year-old man could often be seen shuffling furtively between The Dove, a pub in west London, and the green and gold turrets of Hammersmith Bridge. Passers-by paid no attention, for there was nothing about Thomas Cobden-Sanderson’s nightly walks to suggest that he was undertaking a peculiar and criminal act of destruction.
On the web
John Herrman looks back on how the web changed in 2013, and how the Facebooks, Googles, and Twitters of the world dominate our online experiences.
FWD: John Herrman - The Year Megaplatforms Ruled The Internet
2013 was a year in which tech’s largest, most visible companies became incumbents — it was the year that the new guard became slightly old. It was not, despite a thousand press releases to the contrary, a year for “disruption” — it was the year that the biggest companies on the internet became bigger, went public, and digested smaller competitors. It was the year that the internet’s mega-platforms became both its center and its central authority. It was a year for “building,” sure, but only on borrowed property.
Caleb Garling profiles CEO Alan Schaaf who created the image hosting service imgur.
SFGate: Caleb Garling - All in fun - Alan Schaaf, Imgur's hacker CEO
Instagram, Flickr and Photobucket are services where people primarily post photos. Imgur users post images: digital artwork, altered photos, snapshots from movies, graphics, cartoons, GIFs and all the bizarre pictures covered in rhetorical block letters we've come to recognize as memes. It's the blood flowing through the veins of online entertainment - Imgur now receives about 4.5 billion page views a month.
The site - developed while Schaaf was at Ohio University four years ago - became so essential to the vitality of the Web a bit by accident. "There was no grand plan," Schaaf says in a sun-drenched conference room in Imgur's downtown San Francisco offices. He speaks with the clarity of an executive but maintains the playfulness of a hacker.
Sharon Shetty considers the radical design and typography of the '90s, seen in everything from Ray Gun magazine to artwork for Silent Hill and Fight Club.
The Awl: Sharan Shetty - The Rise And Fall Of Grunge Typography
The rise of grunge typography coincided with the burgeoning popularity of the Macintosh, which, introduced in 1984, permanently altered the landscape of graphic design and typography. The art of designing by hand—a painful craft of precision and consistency—was no longer the only option. Designers were liberated; the screen and their imagination were the only constraints. In many ways, the modifier "grunge" denotes for typography what it does for music: unfettered, unrestrained, a cry against convention. The experimental typographer is almost always the young typographer, and young typographers in the 90s, armed with new software and ideas, rejected the rule-based fonts of their forebears.
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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.