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.
John Herrman digs into the @Horse_ebooks Twitter account, a Verge favorite, to find out what it is, why it's so delightfully weird, and how it's attracted fans like the Mountain Goats's John Darnelle.
Splitsider: John Herrman - The Ballad of @Horse_ebooks
We know there are bots, see 'em all the time, but all of them are visibly trying to sell us something with every tweet — GIFT CARD CLICK HERE — whereas the e_books accounts, while their idea is to get you to someplace where you might buy a book?? or maybe just to get ad revenue from the site they link you to, they sort of behave like androids in Blade Runner: they do a decent job of appearing dumbly sentient. Which can be hilarious.
Significantly more affordable than its DVD and Laserdisc brethren and more convenient and with a bigger content market than VHS, VCD took off in Asian markets in the '90s. David Bordwell tells the format's tale.
Observations on film art: David Bordwell - Pandora’s digital box: From the periphery to the center, or the one of many centers
Debuting in 1993, the VCD was the answer to a film pirate’s prayers. VHS bootlegs degraded with each generation of copying, but digital video enabled every copy to be identical to the source disc. The pressing plants that manufactured music CDs could pump out VCDs en masse. By 1998 China had over 500 VCD companies and produced twenty million players per year. By 2000, players were in about a third of urban households. It became identified with low-end, Asia-centered piracy.
On Dangerous Minds
Sahsa Frere-Jones talks to Richard Metzger, founder of the "pop detritus" site Dangerous Minds, about his online "curating and spelunking."
The New Yorker Culture Desk: Sasha Frere-Jones - The Minds Behind Dangerous Minds
It occurred to me when YouTube launched that it would be possible to launch a television "network" on the Web, with almost zero start-up costs, by simply curating it. You aren’t obliged to license anything: you can just link to it.
In the Plex writer Steven Levy looks at the controversial launch of Google's unfortunately named social search feature 'Search, plus your World' which is unbalanced in favor of the Plus.
Steven Levy: Steven Levy - Is Too Much Plus a Minus for Google?
No matter what the reasons, the unbalanced delivery of social content in SPYW is unsatisfying. It’s like a music service starting up with a license with just one label, or a map service going live with under half the terrain depicted. If I’m searching for social content, I don’t want to have to figure out which company is naughty or nice. I just want to find the pictures shared with me, whether they were posted to Facebook or Google+.
Grace Bello interviews The Nerdist's Chris Hardwick and talks the history of nerddom, Reddit, comedy, and hosting MTV's 'Singled Out.'
The Awl: Grace Bello - Talking To The Nerdist's Chris Hardwick
Also, when I was growing up, nerds weren't billionaires yet. So the popular kids now have sort of glommed on to the nerds because now nerds are powerful. There was no money for nerds then, which meant that there was no political gain, which meant that there was no manipulation of the nerds.
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.