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 these all as a Readlist.
Elizabeth Kolbert writes about the science and mystery behind sleep and sleeplessness.
The New Yorker: Elizabeth Kolbert - Up All Night
In one of Kleitman’s first experiments, he kept half a dozen young men awake for days at a stretch, then ran them through a battery of physical and psychological tests. Frequently, he used himself as a subject. As a participant in the sleep-deprivation experiment, Kleitman stayed awake longer than anyone else—a hundred and fifteen hours straight. At one point, exhausted and apparently hallucinating, he declared, apropos of nothing in particular, "It is because they are against the system." (Asked what he meant, he said he’d been under the impression that he was "having a heated argument with the observer on the subject of labor unions.")
On algorithmic spam
Tim Maly's latest essay explores Solid Gold Bomb's "KEEP CALM AND RAPE A LOT" t-shirt PR disaster, and the growth of algorithmic spam.
Quiet Babylon: Tim Maly - Algorithmic Rape Jokes in the Library of Babel
Amazon isn’t a store, not really. Not in any sense that we can regularly think about stores. It’s a strange pulsing network of potential goods, global supply chains, and alien associative algorithms with the skin of a store stretched over it, so we don’t lose our minds.
On fusion centers
Mario Quadracci spends some time with the Milwaukee Police Department's high-tech fusion center.
Milwaukee Mag: Mario Quadracci - The Watchmen
After 22 years as a cop, with many of those spent as a homicide detective, it takes more than everyday street crime to break the reflective cool that dominates Smith’s disposition. But this, the message revealed, would be anything but a run-of-the-mill Sunday. "Oak Creek has a mass shooting," said the email from Fusion’s watch desk, "multiple victims, possibly two shooters, area of Howell and Rawson, more as it becomes available." Like a pinch at the onset of a pleasant dream, Smith was reminded of the world of threats in which he operates. And soon, his head was shifting into a keener, more efficient frame of mind – crisis mode.
On the acquistion
Devin Leonard has the inside story on Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm.
Businessweek: Devin Leonard - How Disney Bought Lucasfilm—and Its Plans for 'Star Wars'
Even so, he’s attended story meetings for the new film, adjudicating the physical laws and attributes of the Star Wars universe. "I mostly say, ‘You can’t do this. You can do that,’ " Lucas says. "You know, ‘The cars don’t have wheels. They fly with antigravity.’ There’s a million little pieces. Or I can say, ‘He doesn’t have the power to do that, or he has to do this.’ I know all that stuff."
On the second screen
Noel Murray reports on the state of second screen apps after spending a month with offerings from CBS, Fox, USA, and more.
Grantland: Noel Murray - The 'Second Screen': Is This App Really Necessary
The second-screen phenomenon, though — and specifically the networks’ recent aggressive involvement with it — is more a case of established organizations trying to co-opt or cash-in on something that originally happened outside their purview. It could be more useful someday. Right now, however, the majority of the second-screen apps aren’t solving a problem, or even providing a new kind of entertainment that didn’t exist before. Instead, they’re mainly just taking what Twitter and Wikipedia already do just fine and slapping their own logo on it.
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.