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.
On Jimmy Wales
Amy Chozick writes about Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales as he balances his rise from the early days in a Florida strip mall to dining with the Blairs in London.
The New York Times: Amy Chozick - Jimmy Wales Is Not an Internet Billionaire
Wales wore a too-tight black turtleneck under a black overcoat with a well-shorn beard, a look that could either read Steve Jobs superhero or Tekserve flasher. Almost any time you see Wales, 46, he looks like a well-groomed version of a person who has been slumped over a computer drinking Yoo-hoo for hours.
Jeff Goodell reports on the future of Miami, a city in danger of being submerged by the sea even by conservative estimates.
Rolling Stone: Jeff Goodell - Goodbye, Miami
Of course, South Florida is not the only place that will be devastated by sea-level rise. London, Boston, New York and Shanghai are all vulnerable, as are low-lying underdeveloped nations like Bangladesh. But South Florida is uniquely screwed, in part because about 75 percent of the 5.5 million people in South Florida live along the coast. And unlike many cities, where the wealth congregates in the hills, southern Florida's most valuable real estate is right on the water.
On prison soundtracks
David Peisner explores the iTunes and Google Play stores of the prison world, Access Corrections and JPay, which offer music players and songs for prisoners.
Spin: David Peisner - Captive Audience: The Music Business in America's Prisons
The thought of setting up a Spotify-like streaming music service is also a possibility, though the fact that such a service would need to operate wirelessly has made it something of a non-starter for most corrections departments. Besides, in the Internet-free (and therefore bootleg-free) environment of the U.S. prison system, JPay can make a lot more money selling downloads. Levine says that so far the company has sold thousands of players and millions of songs. Their two top-selling artists at the moment are Drake and Kenny Chesney.
John Cassidy considers the political and media response to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The New Yorker: John Cassidy - Demonizing Edward Snowden: which side are you on?
Snowden took classified documents from his employer, which surely broke the law. But his real crime was confirming that the intelligence agencies, despite their strenuous public denials, have been accumulating vast amounts of personal data from the American public. The puzzle is why so many media commentators continue to toe the official line.
On Sid Meier
Jason Schreier profiles game designer Sid Meier and his prototype-centric approach to creating games.
Kotaku: Jason Schreier - The Father of 'Civilization''
"[SimCity] planted the seed in our mind about this kind of building, and that games don't have to be about blowing things up—they can be about creating," Meier said. "And so we kind of took some of the ideas from Railroad Tycoon, and some of the ideas from SimCity, and said you know what's a bigger topic that we can tackle? And we ended up with the idea of Civilization."
Conor Myhrvold fired up his MacBook Pro running Windows 7 and proceeded to click yes on adware results for everything from free games to free wallpaper to see just how safe Google's search results are.
Ars technica: Author - Download me—Saying "yes" to the Web’s most dangerous search terms
Adware today relies on connecting to the biggest social networks to get information about users. Numerous Facebook connection offers arose, but I saw few Twitter and virtually no LinkedIn or Google+ messages. This implies a strategy of hitting the largest services and ignoring the rest. This naturally extends to having as prominent a place as possible on Google’s search results with AdWords purchases and SEO.
For more great longreads, visit our friends at Longreads.com.
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.