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The best writing of the week, September 7th

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Your weekend reads

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 Anonymous

David Kushner investigates the roots of Anonymous.

The New Yorker: David Kushner - The Masked Avengers

He recalls thinking, "I could wield Anonymous against this tiny little city government and they would just be fucking wrecked. Plan was we were finally going to solve this homelessness problem, once and for all."

On 'Ghostbusters'

Stephen Vider writes an ode to Ghostbusters as one of the greatest New York films as it returns to theaters on its 30th birthday.

Avidly: Stephen Vider - Nobody Steps on a Church in My Town!

One of the great twists of the film is to portray its heroes as working class, like firemen or exterminators, right down to their drab gray jumpsuits. When a hotel guest asks them, "What are you supposed to be, some kind of a cosmonaut?", Peter replies, "No, we’re exterminators. Someone saw a cockroach on the twelfth floor."

On curating

Zuynep Tufekci makes a strong case that Twitter shouldn't introduce a new algorithmically curated timeline.

Medium: Zeynep Tufekci - Why Twitter Should Not Algorithmically Curate the Timeline

What else will a curated feed optimize for? It will almost certainly look more like television since there is a reason television looks like television: that’s what advertisers like. There will be more celebrities. There will be more pithy quotes. There will be even more outrage, and even more lovable, fluffy things (both are engaging, and remember, algorithms will optimize for engagement). There will be more sports and television events. There will be less random, weird and otherwise obscure content being surfaced by the collective, networked judgement of the users I choose to follow.

On disconnecting

Grist's David Roberts writes about what he learned on his one-year sabbatical from social media and email.

Outside: David Roberts - Reboot or die trying

There’s only so much any individual can do in the face of these forces. Mindfulness may be a necessary form of self-care, even self-defense, but it is not a solution to digital unease any more than driving a Prius is a solution to climate change. Instead of just treating our anxieties exclusively as a symptom of poorly engineered minds in need of hacking, perhaps we also ought to see them as a collective challenge, to be addressed through social and political action. Hey, we could start a hashtag.

On Shenzhen

MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito visited the Shenzhen's Blade Runner-esque mix of factories and markets.

Joi Ito: Joi Ito - Shenzhen trip report - visiting the world's manufacturing ecosystem

These chips were sold, not individually, but by the pound. Who buys chips by the pound? Small factories that make all of the cellphones that we all buy "new" will often be short on parts and they will run to the market to buy bags of that part so that they can keep the line running. It's very likely that the "new" phone that you just bought from ATT has "recycled" Shenzhen parts somewhere inside.

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.