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.
Stephen S. Hall examines the controversy over Zohydro, a new FDA-approved painkiller, and America's prescription-painkiller epidemic.
New York: Stephen S. Hall - How Much Does It Hurt?
In the annals of new-drug rollouts, Zohydro seems to be in a class by itself. It has become a political nightmare for the drug’s manufacturer, Zogenix, Inc., and for the FDA—Massachusetts tried to ban it; the attorneys general of 28 states excoriated the FDA for approving the drug without "tamper-resistant" features, a decision Senator Charles Schumer of New York has called "baffling"; and Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia has introduced legislation to roll back the approval. It has inspired apocalyptic warnings, mostly because Zohydro belongs to a class of drugs that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in 2011 has created a nationwide, doctor-driven epidemic of addiction, death (roughly 16,000 a year), and unquantifiable familial devastation.
Kate Losse writes about the insidious appeal of corporations acting like self-aware, meme-slinging persons on Twitter.
The New Inquiry: Kate Losse - Weird Corporate Twitter
But if the conceit of #weirdtwitter is that any average person in America can remake themselves as a pseudonymous #weirdtwitter comedian, corporations joining the fray have an outsize advantage, because they are neither anonymous nor average nor even a person. When corporations tweet something "weird" and "funny" to us, we pay more attention: The thought of a traditional corporate entity, which has historically had no direct "voice," suddenly distilling itself into an eccentric, devil-may-care character is instantly affecting, precisely because of how uncanny, even creepy, it is.
On Common Core
Lyndsey Layton reports on the Common Core State Standards, the contentious nationwide education standard bankrolled and supported by the Bill Gates and Melinda Bill Foundation.
The Washington Post: Lyndsey Layton - How Bill Gates pulled off the swift Common Core revolution
The pair also argued that a fragmented education system stifled innovation because textbook publishers and software developers were catering to a large number of small markets instead of exploring breakthrough products. That seemed to resonate with the man who led the creation of the world’s dominant computer operating system.
On cleaning memories
Michael Specter's latest piece about the potential to manipulate memory and purge our most traumatic memories is now available online.
The New Yorker: Michael Specter - Partial recall
"I want to disentangle painful emotion from the memory it is associated with," she said. "Then somebody could recall a terrible trauma, like those my father obviously endured, without the terror that makes it so disabling. You would still have the memory, but not the overwhelming fear attached to it. That would be far more exciting than anything that happens in a movie." Before coming to New York, Schiller had heard—incorrectly, as it turned out—that the idea for "Eternal Sunshine" originated in LeDoux’s lab. It seemed like science fiction and, for the most part, it was. As many neuroscientists were aware, though, the plot also contained more than a hint of truth.
In light of Twitter's recent executive shakeups, Mike Isaac analyzes the company's independent Media Division.
Medium: Mike Isaac - Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes: Twitter Plans a Shakeup for its Media Division
This is a major departure for Twitter Media, an independent division long trumpeted as the shining bastion of what Twitter was getting right. These days, you won’t see a major network television ad campaign or TV show without some sort of Twitter branding or hashtag associated with it which, according to numerous sources, helped to introduce new users to the service.
But therein lies the problem. Twitter’s Media team is great at getting new people to use Twitter, but doesn’t worry about whether those people will keep using Twitter. And as I’ve written before, most of those new users indeed have not been sticking around.
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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.