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The best writing of the week, October 13

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Your Sunday reading

read lead 1020
read lead 1020

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 Jeff Bezos

Excerpted from his upcoming book, Brad Stone profiles Jeff Bezos and details the confrontational culture inside Amazon that's helped lead to its success.

Businessweek: Brad Stone - The Secrets of Bezos: How Amazon Became the Everything Store

When Amazon employees get a Bezos question mark e-mail, they react as though they’ve discovered a ticking bomb. They’ve typically got a few hours to solve whatever issue the CEO has flagged and prepare a thorough explanation for how it occurred, a response that will be reviewed by a succession of managers before the answer is presented to Bezos himself. Such escalations, as these e-mails are known, are Bezos’s way of ensuring that the customer’s voice is constantly heard inside the company.

On Twitter

Also adapted from an upcoming book on Twitter, Nick Bilton teases out the stories behind the myth of Twitter's founding and tells the story of Jack Dorsey's ruthless ride at the company.

The New York Times Magazine: Nick Bilton - All is Fair in Love and Twitter

One summer afternoon, Williams asked Dorsey to meet him in the upper-floor conference room that the Twitter gang referred to as Odeo Heights. They opened the door to the small room, pulled back the chairs across from each other and sat, hands clasped as they had dozens of times before. "You can either be a dressmaker or the C.E.O. of Twitter," Williams said to Dorsey. "But you can’t be both."

On certainty and brevity

Rumaan Alam's wrangles with the unending sense of certainty and confidence displayed on Twitter and developing (and forgetting) his own personal taste in an essay at The Awl.

The Awl: Rumaan Alam - The Firehose Of Certainty

Increasingly, everyone seems so confident and clear about their likes and dislikes. Enthusiasms and disdain pile up on one another in my Twitter timeline. People click that little thumbs up on Facebook (responsible, perhaps, for changing the very meaning of "like" to something more like "acknowledge") whenever they encounter anything—to register that they see it, they like it, they agree, they have taste, they are participating, they feel something, they matter.

On the new $100 bill

Chris Jones tells the story behind the design and creation of the new $100 bill introduced into circulation this week.

Esquire: Chris Jones - A hundred bucks says you won't read this story

At its essence, the new hundred-dollar bill is a tiny, complex machine fueled by light. Transmitted light reveals the Franklin water-mark and the thin, embedded security thread. Ultraviolet and infrared lights reveal features used by banks and vending machines. Reflected light trips some mysterious trigger that tells most photo-copiers not to print — try it sometime — and highlights the raised printing and color-shifting ink. Light also reveals the most striking component of the new bill: the bright-blue security ribbon that dominates its face.

On @tofu_product

Betsy Morais talks to Joe Toscano, the programmer behind the @tofu_product Twitter bot that responds to your messages with nonsense based on your own history of tweets.

The New Yorker: Betsy Morais - A Twitter account after one's own tweets

When Tofu responds to you, Toscano said, "you’re basically talking to yourself. You’re trying to get some insight into yourself to get a sense of what you sound like." He went on, "Because Tofu is completely random, it usually doesn’t follow a solid thread, but sometimes there will be one. When there’s some continuity that’s the best. It’s an illusion, of course, because they’re not real conversations."

For more great longreads, visit our friends at Longreads.

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.