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The best writing of the week, November 10

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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 HealthCare.gov

Amy Goldstein and Juliet Eilperin report on the failed rollout and development of HealthCare.gov.

The Washington Post: Amy Goldstein and Juliet Eilperin - HealthCare.gov: How political fear was pitted against technical needs

"They were running the biggest start-up in the world, and they didn’t have anyone who had run a start-up, or even run a business," said David Cutler, a Harvard professor and health adviser to Obama’s 2008 campaign, who was not the individual who provided the memo to The Washington Post but confirmed he was the author. "It’s very hard to think of a situation where the people best at getting legislation passed are best at implementing it. They are a different set of skills."

On the Zombie Age

Andy Greenwald writes about the rush of safe sequels and predictable shows that cable and broadcast networks are ramping up after a decade of great TV.

Grantland: Andy Greenwald - TV Eats Itself

Once 'Jaws' hit and then 'Star Wars' exploded, an age of experimentation quickly gave way to the age of blockbusters. Rather than use the newfound profits as a rising tide to lift all boats, studios treated these movies as a tsunami to wash all of the grit and interesting grease from their slates. In Hollywood, then and now, success doesn’t beget success so much as it instills a deep and profound terror of failure.

On Twitter's appeal

Book critic Kathryn Schulz captures the terror and delight of Twitter.

New York: Kathryn Schulz - That Goddamned Blue Bird and Me: How Twitter Hijacked My Mind

But Twitter, man. The medium I mocked most. The one I joined last, and was sure I’d quit first. The hardest to initially understand, and the most seemingly inane. The one so easily vilified from afar as antithetical to nuance, substance, elegance, depth. The one most at odds with my own country-mile prose. Also: the one I adore. The one to which I am addicted. And the one that, over the course of the past three years, in tiny nibbles exactly the size of this sentence, has proceeded to eat me alive.

On James Bond

Filmmaker Steven Soderbergh revisits On Her Majesty's Secret Service one of his favorite James Bond films.

Extension 765: Steven Soderbergh - A rambling discourse

For me there’s no question that cinematically ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE is the best Bond film and the only one worth watching repeatedly for reasons other than pure entertainment (certainly it’s the only Bond film I look at and think: I’m stealing that shit). Shot to shot, this movie is beautiful in a way none of the other Bond films are—the anamorphic compositions are relentlessly arresting—and the editing patterns of the action sequences are totally bananas; it’s like Peter Hunt (who cut the first five Bond films) took all the ideas of the French new wave and blended them with Eisenstein in a Cuisinart to create a grammar that still tops today’s how fast can you cut aesthetic...

On Twitter's guts

Paul Ford cleverly analysis of the inside of a tweet reveals far more than 140 characters.

Businessweek: Paul Ford - The Hidden Technology That Makes Twitter Huge

Once born, they’re alone and must find their own way to the world, like a just-hatched sea turtle crawling to the surf. Luckily they have all of the information they need in order to make it: A tweet knows the identity of its creator, whether bot or human, as well as the location from which it originated, the date and time it went out, and dozens of other little things—so that wherever it finds itself, the tweet can be reconstituted. Millennia from now an intelligence coming across a single tweet could, like an archaeologist pondering a chunk of ancient skull, deduce an entire culture.

On production

Director of Photography Alex Buono explains how his team created the Wes Anderson spoof on last week's SNL.

Alex Buono: Alex Buono - How we did it: SNL - "The Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders"

But that is not where this story ends, for as soon as I finished the lecture, I got a call that we had more to shoot! Alec Baldwin was already appearing in the Opening Monologue and he agreed to do the voiceover for our spot so he was added to the "character tableau" sequence, appearing in the recording booth for, "…and Alec Baldwin as the Narrator…". Love it! How perfect – the voice of "Tenenbaums" would be the perfect way to tie this all together. So it was back to 30 Rock with yet another crew – this time, just my 1st AC, Nick Demas – and a very simple shoot in a recording booth with the same Alexa/Hawk camera package.

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.

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