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 sudden riches
Simon Parkin writes about the internal struggle and guilt that's hit some wildly successful indie game developers.
The New Yorker: Simon Parkin - The guilt of video-game millionaires
"My first thought that day was that while I was asleep I’d made more money than she had all year. And I’d done it with a mobile-phone game about shooting fish with a machine gun."
On the 10th anniversary of Gmail's April Fool's Day launch, Harry McCracken revisits the creation of the Google's radical new email client.
Time: Harry McCracken - How Gmail Happened: The Inside Story of Its Launch 10 Years Ago
In the end, Gmail ended up running on three hundred old Pentium III computers nobody else at Google wanted. That was sufficient for the limited beta rollout the company planned, which involved giving accounts to a thousand outsiders, allowing them to invite a couple of friends apiece, and growing slowly from there.
On Lonely Planet
Charles Bethsea reports on travel guidebook company Lonely Planet and young CEO Daniel Houghton tapped to lead the company.
Outside: Charles Bethsea - The 25-Year-Old at the Helm of Lonely Planet
Today the CEO is wearing a denim jacket, skinny khakis, desert boots, Burberry glasses, a $4,200 Bell and Ross watch ("a gift to myself"), and enough hair gel to spike his Lincoln-esque frame to six foot five. He recently gave up on growing a beard. Houghton's desk is huge, made out of hundred-year-old French wood, and empty save for his computer and an odd adornment: a brass nozzle. "That's a fire-hose nozzle that Brad gave me," he says. "It's sort of an inside joke between us. Doing this work is like trying to drink from a fire hose. Business is moving all day, every day, in different time zones."
On the Walkman
Part of the Microsoft Xbox team, designer Andrew Kim explores the design and history of the legendary Walkman TPS-L2.
Minimally Minimal: Andrew Kim - Sony Walkman TPS-L2
Sony decided to brand the device as “Soundabout” with the exception of the UK and Sweden, which received the brand names “Stowaway” and “Freestyle” respectively. After realizing that the Walkman name was sticking better with consumers, Sony made a swift change to pushing the Walkman name globally.
The AP reports on how the United States government secretly built a "Cuban twitter" to undermine local political power and harass Castro.
AP: Desmond Butler, Jack Gillum, and Alberto Arce - US secretly created 'Cuban Twitter' to stir unrest
Documents show the U.S. government planned to build a subscriber base through "non-controversial content": news messages on soccer, music and hurricane updates. Later when the network reached a critical mass of subscribers, perhaps hundreds of thousands, operators would introduce political content aimed at inspiring Cubans to organize "smart mobs" — mass gatherings called at a moment's notice that might trigger a Cuban Spring, or, as one USAID document put it, "renegotiate the balance of power between the state and society."
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.