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 stories as a Readlist.
On 'GTA V'
Tom Bissell struggles through relationship to GTA V with a letter to the game's Niko Bellic.
Grantland: Tom Bissell - A letter to Niko Bellic about Grand Theft Auto V
Almost everyone I know who loves video games — myself included — is broken in some fundamental way. With their ceaseless activity and risk-reward compulsion loops, games also soothe broken people. This is not a criticism. Fanatical readers tend to be broken people. The type of person who goes to see four movies a week alone is a broken person. Any medium that allows someone to spend monastic amounts of time by him- or herself, wandering the gloaming of imagination and reality, is doomed to be adored by lost, lonely people.
On organ donation
Daniela Lamas writes about how public campaigns for organ donations on the web are affecting established organ allocation systems.
The New Yorker: Daniela Lamas - To donate your kidney, click here
“The obvious potential problem is that someone who’s smart or connected can make the system work for them in ways that other people without those advantages can’t,” Dan O’Connor, a Johns Hopkins researcher who studies the ethics of the exchange of medical information in online social networks, told me. “Whenever you’re using platforms like Facebook, the question is, what kind of person, what demographic profile has the time and energy and communication skills to make this work?”
On Alfonso Cuarón
With Gravity hitting theaters next week, Dan P. Lee profiles director Alfonso Cuarón and takes a look back at his work since 1991's Soló con Tu Pareja.
New York: Dan P. Lee - The Camera's Cusp: Alfonso Cuarón Takes Filmmaking to a New Extreme With Gravity
So many technical troubles and issues could have been alleviated by setting the film in the future. “It would have been so easy to set it 100 years from now, with super-cool astronaut suits and spaceships and stuff,” he told me. But this was contrary to Cuarón’s intent. “We wanted to surrender to the reality of the technologies that exist. We went further: We wanted it to be a journey in which people recognize the world that we’re talking about. We wanted it to almost have the experience of an Imax documentary gone wrong.” Even the use of the space shuttle, which is no longer in commission, was purposeful—they wanted viewers to recognize “the iconography that they know.”
On internet horses
Choire Sicha writes about the @Horse_ebooks debacle.
Kottke.org: Choire Sicha - Horse
Once upon a time there was a horse, free and proud. He lived in Russia. Then when he was old enough to want more than his simple life he poked his head up and found he had admirers, people who liked listening to him. You are who your last dozen tweets say you are, he knew. Some of those admirers wanted to pay for his thoughts. He had an invitation from a sponsor who paid him to move to New York City.a
On the bus
Returning to the oft-discussed buses of Silicon Valley, Kitty Morgan talks about living and working in California and feeling left out of the tech boom.
San Francisco magazine: Kitty Morgan - Stop That Bus (I Want to Get On)
And then there’s the whole celestial rapture language. Investors are angels. Walking into an Apple Store, with its soft pure daylight and white surfaces, is like stepping onto a Hollywood movie set of heaven. The June cover of Wired—still improbably printed on dead trees—is an image of an otherworldly pastel sky. “Awake,” the headline reads. “When the objects around us can talk to one another, the elements of our physical universe will converge and spring to life.” And lo, on the seventh day, Silicon Valley rested.
On Ramona Pierson
Ashlee Vance tells the powerful story of Declara co-founder Ramona Pierson and her recovery from an 18-month coma and 11 years of blindness after being hit by a drunk driver while running.
Businessweek: Ashlee Vance - Declara Co-Founder Ramona Pierson's Comeback Odyssey
The blindness was terrifying. But it also forced Pierson to expand her ability to solve puzzles in her mind. As she listened to her doctors and other people, she began to “see” them as what she calls “glow globs,” patterns of light with different properties. Then she recognized patterns within descriptions others gave her—such as how items were arranged in a grocery store or how the figures on a spreadsheet interconnected. “I learned to create a cognitive map of the world, sort of like The Matrix,” she says. “I see the world in my head.”
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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.