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.
LA animator Christian Brown laments Minority Report and its terrible, flashy, enduring influence on interface developers.
The Awl: Christian Brown - How 'Minority Report' Trapped Us In A World Of Bad Interfaces
Human hands and fingers are good at feeling texture and detail, and good at gripping things—neither of which touch interfaces take advantage of. The real future of interfaces will take advantage of our natural abilities to tell the difference between textures, to use our hands to do things without looking at them—they’ll involve haptic feedback and interfaces that don’t even exist, so your phone shows you information you might want without you even needing to unlock and interact with it. But these ideas are elegant, understated, and impossible to understand when shown on camera.
Ann Friedman writes about straight hookup app Blender (from the developers of Grindr), and the difficulties of dating with mobile dating apps that are overwhelmingly founded and run by men.
The New Yorker: Ann Friedman - Overwhelmed and creeped out
And not just among men. But you wouldn’t know it by looking at the founders of every major dating start-up. From the Web-based heavy hitters like OkCupid, eHarmony, and Plenty of Fish on down to newer apps like Skout, How About We, and MeetMoi, they’re all developed by men. This might not seem like a big deal, until you consider one read on why Grindr has been so successful: the app has a "for us by us" appeal to gay men. But when it comes to heterosexual-dating technology, all-male co-founders represent the wants and needs of only half of their target audience. Sure, they can try to focus-group their way out of the problem, but if an app for "straight" people is to get anywhere close to Grindr’s level of success, women have to not just join out of curiosity. They have to actually use it.
On our future
Ross Andersen explores the possible futures of humanity — and potential extinction risks — with a visit to Oxford's Future of Humanity Institute.
aeon: Ross Andersen - Omens
If humans set out for other galaxies, the expansion of the universe will come into play. Some of the starry spirals we target will recede out of range before we can reach them. We recently built a new kind of crystal ball to deal with this problem. Our supercomputers can now host miniature universes, cosmological simulations that we can fast forward, to see how dense the universe will be in the deep future. We can model the structure and speed of colonisation waves within these simulations, by plugging in different assumptions about how fast our future probes will travel.
On consumer research
Graeme Wood profiles management consulting firm ReD and its Heidegger-touting founder Christian Madsbjerg, revealing how its qualitative studies and anthropologic approaches are changing decades of analysis in how consumers purchase, use, and interact with products.
The Atlantic: Graeme Wood - Anthropology Inc.
The Korean electronics giant Samsung had a major conceptual breakthrough when it realized that its televisions are best thought of not as large electronic appliances, measurable by screen size and resolution, but as home furniture. It matters less how thoroughly a speaker system rattles the bones and eardrums of its listeners than how these big screens occupy the physical space alongside one’s tables, chairs, and sofas. The company’s project engineers reframed their products accordingly, paying more attention to how they fit into living spaces, rather than how they perform on their technical spec sheets.
On Cory Arcangel
And The New Yorker lifted the paywall on Andrea K. Scott's profile of artist Cory Arcangel.
The New Yorker: Author - Futurism
One evening, as we walked through Boerum Hill, he suddenly stopped and said, "Take a few steps back and look at that guy!" Framed in a parlor-floor window, an obese man in headphones and an undershirt sat before a screen, absorbed in a game, his back to the warm April night. I found the image depressing. "You’re seeing it too superficially," Arcangel said. "It’s a hopeful scene. He seems really happy. He’s entertaining himself. He probably has a lot of friends in that world."
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.