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 all of these as a Readlist.
On the posthuman
Sally Davies talks to Neil Harbisson, Stelarc, the Grindhouse Wetwares crew, and other humans blurring the boundaries between human and machine.
Nautilus: Sally Davies - Encounters with the Posthuman
"It’s an earthquake sense," Ribas explained. She had been wearing the bracelets constantly for three weeks. A chip in each device read off several Twitter feeds that monitored seismographs around the world. When an earthquake happened, Ribas would feel a vibration in her wrist with an intensity that depended on the magnitude of the quake. This occurred every four or five minutes.
On the Bitcoin Convention
We visited the Bitcoin Convention last month, and Maria Bustillos offers another take on the San Jose event.
The Awl: Maria Bustillos - The Great VC Coin Rush: At The Bitcoin Convention
Then there is a group of seasteading types who are founding a business sea-cubator on a boat twelve miles from Silicon Valley ("outside the jurisdiction of the United States") where they can hire all the cheap, H-1B-visa-less Chinese and Indian engineers they please. (Freedom!) For this purpose, they have already chartered the MS Island Escape.
Mary Roach visits Northeast India to observe the Naga King Chili-Eating Competition where contestants endure some of the world's hottest peppers, the Bhut Jolokia.
Smithsonian Magazine: Mary Roach - The Gut-Wrenching Science Behind the World’s Hottest Peppers
The event itself is surprisingly low-key. The mood is one of stoic grimness. No one is screaming in pain. No one will be scarred by the heat. That’s not how capsaicin works. It only feels hot. The human tongue has pain receptors that respond to a certain intensity of temperature or acid. These nerve fibers send a signal to the brain, which it forwards to your conscious self in the form of a burning sensation.
On floating countries
Atossa Abrahamian took a boat out to Ephemerisle, a temporary artificial floating island off the coast of California.
n+1: Atossa Abrahamian - Seasteading
As I hopped from boat to boat and onto the platform, I noticed many of the men in attendance had sparkly turquoise polish on their grubby toenails. On one of the houseboats, a body-painting session was in full swing, but the hot California sun quickly reduced the painted swirls to an eczemic crust. Within minutes, I overheard an endless stream of conversations about start-ups, incubators, hackerspaces and apps. Naked bodies ambled by. While looking for a bathroom, I walked in on a couple having sex in a houseboat’s aft cabin.
On Dmitry Itskov
David Segal interviews Russian media magnate Dmitry Itskov about his 2045 initiative and its mission to create avatars that humans can upload their brains to.
The New York Times: David Segal - This Man Is Not a Cyborg. Yet.
What Mr. Itskov is striving for makes wearable computers, like Google Glass, seem as about as futuristic as Lincoln Logs. This would be a digital copy of your mind in a nonbiological carrier, a version of a fully sentient person that could live for hundreds or thousands of years. Or longer. Mr. Itskov unabashedly drops the word "immortality" into conversation.
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.