Selected Longreads

I can’t remember how I discovered but I fell in love.
Then came Instapaper, and, and before long, I started mailing my colleagues the best longreads I came across every few weeks.
I’ll start posting them here too, but let’s catch up first, shall we?

How companies learn your secrets
The power of habits in guiding our behavior—and how companies like Target have used customer data to create new buying habits

Man as machine
The early days of robots. The Age of Enlightenment inspired inventors like Jacques de Vaucanson to create ever more realistic machines that mimicked human behavior

Quentin Rowan, a.k.a. Q. R. Markham, Plagiarism Addict
How Quentin Rowan went from aspiring writer to serial plagiarist—and how everything unraveled after the publication of his spy novel, Assassin of Secrets

The caging of America
Why do we lock up so many people?

The secret life of bees
The world’s leading expert on bee behavior discovers the secrets of decision-making in a swarm

Those fabulous confabs
Smart talk has never been such a valuable commodity. It’s spawned conferences like TED, Davos, and now a slew of upstart competitors.
It has made the eighteen‑minute TED lecture a viral online phenomenon. But are we running out of things to say?

Twitter, the startup that wouldn’t die
Inside CEO Dick Costolo’s efforts to perfect the company’s revenue model and compete with Google and Facebook for ad dollars

The zen of Woody Allen
The three N’s so often used to describe the public Allen are nebbishy, nervous and neurotic. But the contrast between the Woody character and the “real” Allen is never more in focus than when he’s on the set, directing.

How one response to a Reddit query became a big budget flick
James Erwin responded to a Reddit thread wondering what would happen if the U.S. Marines battled the Roman Empire.

Where’s _why?
What happened when one of the world’s most unusual, and beloved, computer programmers disappeared.

The grandmaster experiment 
How did one family produce three of the most successful female chess champions ever?

Lost in space
What really happened to Russia’s missing cosmonauts? An incredible tale of space hacking, espionage and death in the lonely reaches of space.

Six degrees of aggregation
How the Huffington Post ate the internet

Just one more game…
Angry Birds, Farmville And Other Hyperaddictive ‘Stupid Games’

World War 3.0
In the battles of SOPA and PIPA, who should control the Internet?

Future tech stars, step forward
What does it take to get a tech startup funded? Inside the competitive selection process for one incubator in New York.

Paintballing with Hezbollah
Four Western journalists and a former Army Ranger-turned-counterinsurgency expert arrange a paintball game with members of the Shiite militant group, with the hopes of learning more about what motivates them.

How Yahoo killed Flickr and lost the Internet
This is the story of Flickr. And how Yahoo bought it and murdered it and screwed itself out of relevance along the way.

‘I was there’: On Kurt Vonnegut
The incredible life and work of writer Kurt Vonnegut.

Get Rich University
There are no walls between Stanford and Silicon Valley. Should there be?

Can a better vibrator inspire an age of great American sex?
Sex toys have transformed into sophisticated and well-designed gadgets that take their inspiration from Apple not Hustler. But one company has a bigger hope: that a better machine could mean better sex for a repressed nation.

Not nice
Maurice Sendak and the perils of childhood

How Goldman Sachs blew the Facebook IPO
The inside story of the Facebook showdown reveals a lot about the relative status of Wall Street banks in Silicon Valley these days. And it also reveals a lot about Facebook.

An inside look at the surprisingly violent quidditch world cup
The Quidditch World Cup sounds dorky, and make no mistake: it is. But these sorcery-loving Harry Potter fans play pretty rough.

How geniuses think
How do geniuses come up with ideas? What is common to the thinking style that produced “Mona Lisa,” as well as the one that spawned the theory of relativity?

Machine Politics
George Hotz, the man who started the hacker wars. Where did our love go?
The partners behind a one-time “next big thing” go to South by Southwest to win back the adoration of the tech world–and figure out how to make their partnership work.

In Google’s moon race, teams and the X Prize Foundation face a reckoning
The future is way behind schedule.

The Maturation of the Billionaire Boy-Man
Incredibly, Mark Zuckerberg has grown up to become an ace CEO—one whose way of thinking might drive Wall Street nuts.