We know that feeling. You really haven’t had the time to catch up with The Best Tech Writing of the Week on The Verge for the last month or year. As a remedial reading course, start with this compilation of some longreads on technology that are relevant and insightful – it’s a great starting point to follow some of the intellectual heavyweights and publications behind them. Grab all these stories as a readlist.
1. Bruce Sterling, Medium: The Blast Shack
The chances of that ending well are about ten thousand to one. And I don’t doubt Assange knows that. This is the kind of guy who once wrote an encryption program called “Rubberhose,” because he had it figured that the cops would beat his password out of him, and he needed some code-based way to finesse his own human frailty. Hey, neat hack there, pal.
2. Neal Stephenson, Wired: Mother Earth, Motherboard
"The hacker tourist ventures forth across the wide and wondrous meatspace of three continents, chronicling the laying of the longest wire on Earth."
3. Trent Wolbe, The Verge: Escape to Earthship
"For those with the money to spend, it is a breathtaking piece of engineering, the most holistic gadget in existence today: a home that heats, cools, feeds, and treats the sewage of its inhabitants, completely independent of any infrastructure."
4. Zadie Smith – NYbooks – Generation Why?
Lanier asks us to consider, for example, the humble file, or rather, to consider a world without “files.” (The first iteration of the Macintosh, which never shipped, didn’t have files.) I confess this thought experiment stumped me about as much as if I’d been asked to consider persisting in a world without “time.” And then consider further that these designs, so often taken up in a slap-dash, last-minute fashion, become “locked in,” and, because they are software, used by millions, too often become impossible to adapt, or change. MIDI, an inflexible, early-1980s digital music protocol for connecting different musical components, such as a keyboard and a computer, takes no account of, say, the fluid line of a soprano’s coloratura; it is still the basis of most of the tinny music we hear every day—in our phones, in the charts, in elevators—simply because it became, in software terms, too big to fail, too big to change.
5. Sam Biddle, Gizmodo: Beat by Dre – The Inside Story of How Monster Lost The World
"It's the classic David vs Goliath story—with one minor edit: David gets his ass kicked and is laughed out of the arena. This is the inside story of one of the all time worst deals in tech."
6. Evgeny Morozov, The Baffler: The Meme Hustler
"Our language, much like everything these days, has been hacked. Fuzzy, contentious, and complex ideas have been stripped of their subversive connotations and replaced by cleaner, shinier, and emptier alternatives; long-running debates about politics, rights, and freedoms have been recast in the seemingly natural language of economics, innovation, and efficiency. Complexity, as it turns out, is not particularly viral."
7. Bruce Sterling, Eff.org: Bitter Resistance
"Two hundred thousand bacteria could easily lurk under the top half of this semicolon; but for the sake of focussing on a subject that's too often out of sight and out of mind, let's pretend otherwise. Let's pretend that a bacterium is about the size of a railway tank car."
8. Cyrus Farivar and Andrew Cunningham, Arstechnica: The rise and fall of AMD: How an underdog stuck it to Intel
Both Raza and Barton recalled, independently of one another, one of Sanders' mantras: "Real men have fabs." Raza called this comment "simultaneously a sexist remark and the most stupid thing you can say," and he saw the fab decision as one of Sanders' "significant acts of irresponsibility."
9. Bruce Sterling, Medium: The Ecuadorian Library
"Computers were invented as crypto-ware and spy-ware and control-ware. That’s what Alan Turing was all about. That’s where computing came from, that’s the scene’s original sin, and also its poisoned apple."
10. Clive Thompson, Mother Jones: How to Keep the NSA Out of Your Computer
"Sick of government spying, corporate monitoring, and overpriced ISPs? There's a cure for that."
11: Nick Bilton, NYT: All is fair in love and Twitter
"You can either be a dressmaker or the C.E.O. of Twitter,” Williams said to Dorsey. “But you can’t be both.”
12. Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic: Not Even Silicon Valley Escapes History
"The precise center of Silicon Valley when it was the most important manufacturing region on Earth is now home to Super Space Self Storage."
13. Naoki Hiroshima, Medium: How I lost my $50,000 Twitter username
"I had a rare Twitter username, @N. Yep, just one letter. I’ve been offered as much as $50,000 for it. People have tried to steal it. Password reset instructions are a regular sight in my email inbox. As of today, I no longer control @N. I was extorted into giving it up."
14. Paul Tassi – Forbes – ‘Flappy Bird’ Review: Winged Fury
"The punishment isn’t imprisonment or torture, it’s the time the convicted loses by studying something so utterly meaningless, and the unfortunate knowledge they’re forced to retain that never has any practical use in their lives, crowding out information with real value."
15. Tony Haile – Time.com What You Think You Know About the Web Is Wrong
"If you’re an average reader, I’ve got your attention for 15 seconds, so here goes: We are getting a lot wrong about the web these days. We confuse what people have clicked on for what they’ve read. We mistake sharing for reading. We race towards new trends like native advertising without fixing what was wrong with the old ones and make the same mistakes all over again."
16. Evgeny Morozov, New Republic: The Naked and the TED
"Khanna’s contempt for democracy and human rights aside, he is simply an intellectual impostor, emitting such lethal doses of banalities, inanities, and generalizations that his books ought to carry advisory notices."
17. Kurt Eichenwald, Vanity Fair: The Great Smartphone War
"The battle lines were drawn. In the months and years that followed, Apple and Samsung would clash on a scale almost unprecedented in the business world, costing the two companies more than a billion dollars and engendering millions of pages of legal papers, multiple verdicts and rulings, and more hearings."
18. Mat Honan, Wired.com: The Year of the Facebook
These were the days when everyone was still beautiful, and we were all still rich. The things big bubble-pop doomsayers kept predicting hadn’t happened yet, and Facebook was on top of everything else. It was just firing. And firing. And firing. Even the misses–Paper and Home and Poke–seemed like they didn’t matter because its hits were so vital. And with the wind at its back, the fog of war blew away from its eyes and into those of its enemies. It seemed like only Mark could see clearly.
19. Paul Ford, Medium.com The Great Works of Software
So I set myself the task of picking five great works of software. The criteria were simple: How long had it been around? Did people directly interact with it every day? Did people use it to do something meaningful? I came up with the office suite Microsoft Office, the image editor Photoshop, the videogame Pac-Man, the operating system Unix, and the text editor Emacs.
20. Ross Anderson, Aeon Exodus
Elon Musk argues that we must put a million people on Mars if we are to ensure that humanity has a futureLike Memes? Funnies? Epic Longreads? Hit Subscribe! Follow @NextMemedotcom