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 Patricia Lockwood
Jesse Lichtenstein profiles poet Patricia Lockwood, best known for her brilliantly weird tweets.
The New York Times: Jesse Lichtenstein - The Smutty-Metaphor Queen of Lawrence, Kansas
Lockwood, who goes by "Tricia," may be best known for her persona on Twitter, where her steady stream of surreal, sexually explicit and often sexually impossible humor has won her 30,000 followers and a string of admirers in the world of comedy. Andy Richter, the longtime sidekick to Conan O’Brien, considers her a friend, though he has never met her offline: "She’s funny, she’s interesting and she’s a weirdo — which is all I ask for in a person."
Alan Levinovitz writes about the difficulty of training computers to beat humans at the 2,500 year old game of Go.
Wired: Alan Levinovitz - The Mystery of Go, the Ancient Game That Computers Still Can’t Win
"There is chess in the western world, but Go is incomparably more subtle and intellectual," says South Korean Lee Sedol, perhaps the greatest living Go player and one of a handful who make over seven figures a year in prize money. Subtlety, of course, is subjective. But the fact is that of all the world’s deterministic perfect information games — tic-tac-toe, chess, checkers, Othello, xiangqi, shogi — Go is the only one in which computers don’t stand a chance against humans.
Adrian Chen met Lulzsec hacker Hector "Sabu" Monsegur following his sentencing in downtown New York. For more background, check out Steve Fishman's 2012 profile from New York.
The New Yorker Elements: Adrian Chen - Anonymous no more: Sabu walks
Monsegur arrived with his public defenders and sat down without a word. He is a big man, with closely cropped hair, a thin chinstrap beard, and glasses. He wore a black button-down and baggy khaki pants. The hearing took less than an hour and had the valedictory feel of a graduation party, with the judge, prosecution, and defense all extolling how many cyber attacks Monsegur had thwarted, how many vulnerabilities he had helped fix, how many other hackers he helped imprison, all while enduring death threats and physical danger to the point that he and his family needed to be relocated from their apartment, in the East Village’s Jacob Riis projects.
On the waffle taco
Venessa Wong explores Taco Bell's breakfast menu and the pressure to invent products like the Waffle Taco.
Businessweek: Venessa Wong - Taco Bell's Secret Recipe for New Products
"I brought the waffles in Monday morning at 7 a.m. and just started playing with them in the kitchen," she recalls. By taking the frozen waffle, leaving it to thaw at room temperature, folding it, and flash frying it in Taco Bell’s chalupa baskets, she ended up with a crispy waffle in the shape of a taco shell. By 9 a.m. it was stuffed with eggs, sausage, and cheese and being evaluated by executives at Taco Bell’s Irvine (Calif.) headquarters. "As soon as the team started to see it," she says, "there was this instant excitement, this buzz that this is a cool idea, this is a big idea."
On the web
Adapted from a talk given at Beyond Tellerrand, Maciej Ceglowski considers advertising, big data, and the problems of the modern web.
Idlewords: Maciej Ceglowski - The internet with a human face
There's another reason, besides fear, that's driving us to save everything. That reason is hubris.
You've all seen those TV shows where the cops are viewing a scene from space, and someone keeps hitting "ENHANCE", until pretty soon you can count the bacteria on the criminal's license plate.
We all dream of building that 'enhance' button. In the past, we were going to build it with artificial intelligence. Now we believe in "Big Data". Collect enough information, think of a clever enough algorithm, and you can find anything.
This is the classic programmer's delusion, the belief that if you look deep enough, there's a hidden deterministic pattern. Tap the chisel on the right spot and the rock will crack open.
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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.