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.
Benjamin Wallace digs into the TED conference and how it spurred the growth of a spinoff industry. Additionally, don't miss the New Yorker's look at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
New York: Benjamin Wallace - Those Fabulous Confabs
And just as Davos is darkly symbolic to those who believe the world is controlled by 300 people, TED is uniquely able to stir up the Internet’s latent intellectual-class resentments. To attendees, or "TEDsters," as they refer to themselves, tweeting from behind the velvet rope is a chance to camouflage pride as wonderment.
On cat videos
Apparently cashing in on YouTube's revenue sharing with cat videos isn't as easy as pointing a camera at cats you borrowed by offering your friends bottles of wine.
The Awl: Sarah Stodola - My Quest To Get Rich From Viral Cat Videos
Called simply "Puppy vs. Cat" (solid SEO!), this historic footage captures a cat confronting an entire litter of puppies. "Confronting" in this case is perhaps too generous a word, since nothing happens in the video. The puppies are adorable, and the cat is wary of them. The nonevent has attracted almost 13 million views. That’s as many viewers as for a typical episode of "Two and a Half Men," a show for which 30-second commercials bring in a quarter-million bucks.
The Economist profiles Jeff Bezos and his willingness to play the long game, whether it's investing in space travel or Amazon's Web Services.
The Economist: Taking the long view
Moreover, Amazon can use cross-subsidies from the sale of digital content to keep the price of the Fire down, something that rival tablet-makers who do not sell content cannot do. Once again, Mr Bezos is playing a long-term game in the hope of establishing the Fire as the main rival to the iPad.
Alice Rawsthorn looks at the history of the pocket calculator.
The New York Times: Alice Rawsthorn - Farewell, Pocket Calculator?
A pocket calculator was the closest that most 1970s consumers came to owning anything with computational power, even if all it could do was basic math. Those tiny gizmos seemed enticing because they offered rare glimpses into the enigmatic world of technology, and the Sinclair Executive also had the élan of being the first one.
William Higinbotham invented the first video game, Tennis for Two, in 1958 as a side project for the Brookhaven National Laboratory's annual Visitor's Day event.
The Daily: David Egan - The History Page: Before Pong came along
Instead, hundreds of people lined up, waiting for hours to devote a few minutes to staring at a 5-inch green phosphor monochrome screen, where they could control the trajectory of a dot of light bouncing back and forth
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.