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 all of these as a Readlist.
Benjamin Wallace covers the three decade history of the e-cigarette and profiles NJOY's attempts to make e-smoking cool.
New York: Benjamin Wallace - Smoke Without Fire
The lesson is that as much as cigarette smokers crave nicotine, they yearn for other things, too: the hand-to-mouth motion, the primordial pleasure of sucking on something, the organoleptic experiences of flavor and mouthfeel and "throat hit," the visual cue of exhaled smoke, the ritual of ignition, the embattled/defiant camaraderie of the smoke break. These vital accoutrements of nicotine addiction were the promise of e-cigarettes, but early models had failed to deliver on it.
Nicola Twilley and Geoff Manaugh interviews Sim City's lead designer on the trouble with parking lots, the legacy of the SimCity series, and building a system that will adapt to the many ways that people play.
Venue: Nicola Twilley - Sim City: An interview with Stone Librande
When I started measuring out our local grocery store, which I don’t think of as being that big, I was blown away by how much more space was parking lot rather than actual store. That was kind of a problem, because we were originally just going to model real cities, but we quickly realized there were way too many parking lots in the real world and that our game was going to be really boring if it was proportional in terms of parking lots.
Ashlee Vance follows around Reed Hastings to get an inside look at the inner workings of Netflix, the company's deep relationship with Amazon, and its efforts at creating original content.
Bloomberg Businessweek: Ashlee Vance - Netflix, Reed Hastings Survive Missteps to Join Silicon Valley's Elite
Hastings tends to exist in one of two emotional states: relaxed and attentive, or relaxed and dismissive. The things he cares about he’ll discuss animatedly; with everything else, he disengages. Architecture? He claims he never looked at the designs for Netflix headquarters, preferring to just walk in and get to work when someone said the facility was ready.
On Daft Punk
Zach Baron meets up with Daft Punk, getting their take on the challenge of sequels, Skrillex, and the long-awaited new album.
GQ: Zach Baron - Daft Punk Is (Finally!) Playing at Our House
Bangalter talks a lot—about art, and technology, and blockbuster movies like Star Wars, which he loves. De Homem-Christo barely talks at all, which is disconcerting at first and then sort of fascinating. Later I'll give the two of them a ride home in my car, and from the backseat, de Homem-Christo will break character to beatbox the hard-hitting percussion break in Montell Jordan's "This Is How We Do It" when it comes on the radio, a sublime and unexpected moment, like watching a goat yell like a man.
On time travelers
Rick Paulas considers the enduring legacy of early 2000 time-traveling legend John Titor.
Pacific Standard: Rick Paulas - The Mystery of John Titor: Hoax or Time Traveler?
And the Titor legend persists, in part, because no one ever claimed to be behind it. Now that we won’t be fooled, we need an answer. It’s the Zeigarnik effect; when something’s not wrapped up, it preoccupies our memory. Our skepticism needs a party responsible, a grand designer that allows it to make sense. When we find out—think the wizard behind the curtain in Oz, or whoever Jacob was supposed to be in that final season of Lost—the mystery ends. No one has claimed Titor, so the story continues.
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.