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 whole list as a Readlist.
Alexis Madrigal digs into murky chain of events that led to the misidentification of Sunil Tripathi as one of the Boston Marathon bombers.
The Atlantic: Alexis Madrigal - It Wasn't Sunil Tripathi: The Anatomy of a Misinformation Disaster
This is the story, as best as I can puzzle it out, about how such bad information about this case became widely shared and accepted within the space of a couple of hours before NBC's Pete Williams' sources began telling the real story about the alleged bombers' identities.
On the Tsarnaevs
David Remnick writes about the brothers Tsarnaev and their family.
The New Yorker: David Remnick - The Culprits
Dzhokhar’s Twitter feed—@J_tsar—is a bewildering combination of banality and disaffection. (He seems to have been tweeting even after the explosions at the finish line last Monday.) As you scan it, you encounter a young man’s thoughts: his jokes, his resentments, his prejudices, his faith, his desires.
In this month's Wired 20th anniversary issue, Paul Ford meditates on the humble beginnings of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol, and how it has "led to the weirdest flowering of creativity in history."
Wired: Paul Ford - Meet the Web’s Operating System: HTTP
In its wonderful vagueness, HTTP encoded a profoundly upbeat idea about our ability to come together, to fill in the blanks. And that crazy optimism has proven to be correct. Over the past two decades HTTP has forced us, almost accidentally, to clarify what sorts of information are worth defending.
Sam Thielman looks at Lego's lucrative success in navigating the minefield of brand licensing with companies like Lucasfilm, Marvel, and DC Comics. For more on the Denmark-based block company's history and market research, check out Brad Wieners' piece in Businessweek from a couple years ago.
Adweek: Sam Thielman - How Lego became the most valuable toy company in the world
Essentially, brands have to prove to Lego that they’re worth the time and effort the toy maker must commit, laying out not just a product’s appeal to kids but also its appeal across borders. "It has to have global clout, which is very different from other partners in the industry," explains Manuel Torres, svp of global toys for Nickelodeon. "[Others] will have a strategy for what they do domestically and another for what they do overseas. For Lego, you have to show that you have interest in Europe, that you have interest in the Americas—and then they’ll pursue a partnership."
Burkhard Bilger documents the entirety of the Curiosity mission, from inception to a successful Mars landing, and beyond.
The New Yorker: Burkhard Bilger - The Martian Chroniclers
Space exploration is science; landings are theatre. Steltzner’s team would monitor every second of the descent, but this was far from a live event. Curiosity’s signals would need fourteen minutes to travel the hundred and fifty-five million miles to Earth. By the time they reached the control room, the rover would already be on the ground—intact or in pieces.
On Shane Carruth
Grantland's Zach Baron grabs a couple drinks on a random Thursday night in New York with filmmmaker Shane Carruth.
Grantland: Zach Baron - Shane Carruth Will Have Another
These days Carruth has a kind of secretive, Salinger-of-cinema reputation — the nine silent years between Primer and Upstream Color have become part of his legend. But after Primer, Carruth wasn't exactly wandering the vast white space of his own mind or riding a motorcycle across the desert in Utah. He was in Hollywood. He went to Los Angeles, Carruth says, took every meeting he could get, made a kind of halfhearted effort to find his Batman.
frog's Jan Chipchase essay on Google Glass considers how it could upset social dynamics in both private and public spaces.
Future Perfect: Jan Chipchase - You Lookin’ At Me? Reflections on Google Glass
Not having a persistent record allows us to present a nuanced identity to different people, or groups of people, provides with the space to experiment with what we could be. The risk that what we say will be broadcast, narrowcasted to people we don’t know, or may underpin someone’s future business fundamentally changes what we want to talk about. The challenge for Glass is that the costs of ownership falls on people in proximity of the wearer, and that its benefits have yet to be proven out.
Finally, Longform.org this week reprinted Josh Quittner's classic Wired piece on early internet publisher Suck.com.
Longform.org / Wired: Josh Quittner - Web Dreams
You've probably heard of Suck (www.suck.com). It's one of the more successful sites on the World Wide Web. Suck's minimalist design and amusing, smarty-pants tone has generated plenty of buzz on and off the Net. And Carl, 26, gets at least half the credit. He codesigned the Web site with his partner, the 25-year-old venal and flagrant know-it-all Joey Anuff. At first Suck was little more than a clean white page streaked down the middle by a narrow column of text. The two of them wrote Suck's daily barb every night - typically, a pomo, decon essay criticizing some loser's ghastly foray onto the Web. They filled each piece with hypertext refs from their own private collection and illustrated it with art ripped off from whatever site they happened to be vilifying. And each morning, they'd publish their neojournalism on their Web site.
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.