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The best tech writing of the week, July 29

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The best tech writing of the week.

long reads
long reads

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.

On Yahoo

David Carr asks the perennial question that Marissa Mayer needs to answer as she takes the reins: what is Yahoo?

The New York Times: David Carr - Yahoo’s Big Question - What Is It?

So Ms. Mayer may be taking over a stagnating company, but it is not a collapsing one. Yahoo has what all media companies want, which is a large audience. The company just doesn’t know what to do with it.

When Ms. Mayer starts poking around under the hood of the news operation, she will find a home page that has the kind of traffic that can melt servers when it points to another site.

On nerds

In the wake of the Aurora shooting, Max Read questions why the "nerd" label has become a catch-all description for mass killers.

Gawker: Max Read - Is James Holmes a Nerd?

Focusing on the perceived nerdiness of the killers helps categorize and demystify them. It explains the anger they’re supposed to have felt. It also provides people with a bit of rhetorical revenge: he may have killed dozens, but he’s still just a nerd.

On work

Alexis Madrigal picks apart the constant blame heaped on gadgets and instead looks at the culture that encourages expectations of 24/7 work.

The Atlantic: Alexis Madrigal - Are We Addicted to Gadgets or Indentured to Work?

Imagine if 19th-century factory workers blamed the clock for the length of their work days. The answer to the horrible working conditions of the late 19th century was not to smash the clocks or the steam engines! The solution was to organize and fight for your right to a 40-hour week and paid vacations.

On iCloud

Following Mountain Lion's release this week, iA's Oliver Reichenstein explores how Apple seeks to create a more accessible file system (don't miss our interview from this week).

Information Architects: Oliver Reichenstein - Mountain Lion’s New File System

The folder system paradigm is a geeky concept. Geeks built it because geeks need it. Geeks organize files all day long. Geeks don’t know and don’t really care how much their systems suck for other people. Geeks do not realize that for most people organizing documents within an operating system next to System files and applications feels like a complicated and maybe even dangerous business. Remember that autoexec.bat file?

On Steve Jobs

What's the legacy of Steve Jobs in the modern workplace, and should businesses really be reading his life as gospel?

Wired: Ben Austen - The Story of Steve Jobs: An Inspiration or a Cautionary Tale?

In one camp are what you might call the acolytes. They’re businesspeople who have taken the life of Steve Jobs as license to become more aggressive as visionaries, as competitors, and above all as bosses. They’re giving themselves over to the thrill of being a general—and, at times, a dictator. Work was already the center of their lives, but Jobs’ story has made them resolve to double down on that choice.

On Mountain Lion

John Siracusa's back with his 26,000 word review of Mountain Lion.

ars technica: John Siracusa - OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion: the Ars Technica review

But hang on a second. For a desktop OS in the year 2012, which direction is "forward," anyway? The obvious answer is "toward iOS," but Lion proved that it's not quite that simple. And really, there has to be more to it than compulsive imitation, otherwise why continue development of the Mac platform at all?

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.