The Thinking Mechanism is a series of weekly posts, published on Fridays, covering the ideas The Mechanism is thinking and talking about with our peers and clients.
In the U.S. this weekend is Memorial Day weekend, the official start of summer. Many people travel to visit family and friends or just to take their first trip to the beach. In the spirit of the holiday weekend we are going to do something different. Instead of sharing the items we’ve been talking about we are going to introduce you to two services we love and share items that you could enjoy while commuting to your destination or while taking some deserved time off.
Once you discover Instapaper you wonder how did you manage without it. Created by Marco Arment, co-founder of Tumblr and coffee aficionado, Instapaper is a simple tool to save web pages to read later. The text is stripped out of any web page and becomes available, via apps on most mobile devices, for you to read when you have the time. It is also available online through the Instapaper website. Instapaper is time-shifting for text, TiVo for words.
Longreads is the perfect compliment to Instapaper. Founded by Mark Armstrong, Longreads posts links to new stories every day — they include long-form journalism, magazine stories from your favorite publications (The New Yorker, Esquire, The Atlantic), short stories, interview transcripts, and even historical documents. The site has a brilliant search feature that allows you to filter articles based on length, so you can find the perfect article to read in the amount of time you have available.
In the age of Twitter and Facebook status updates, these two services encourage long-form reading. Here are some of the articles we’ll be reading this weekend, as discovered through Longreads:
Error Message: Google Research Director Peter Norvig on Being Wrong
(Kathryn Schulz, Slate, Aug. 3, 2010)
Time to read: 16 minutes (4,050 words)
Norvig explains what happens when a company (in this case Google) takes an engineering-centric approach to its products and business. First, it means that errors are actually a good thing.
Apple & Design: The Man Who Makes Your iPhone
(Frederik Balfour and Tim Culpan, Businessweek, Sept. 9, 2010)
Time to read: 21 minutes (5,204 words)
Foxconn founder Terry Gou might be regarded as Henry Ford reincarnated if only a dozen of his workers hadn’t killed themselves. An exclusive look inside a postmodern industrial empire.
Later: What Does Procrastination Tell Us About Ourselves?
(James Surowiecki, The New Yorker, Oct. 11, 2010)
Time to read: 14 minutes (3,574 words)
Take comfort in this exploration of the “basic human impulse” of putting work off.
Master of Play: Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo’s Man Behind Mario
(Nick Paumgarten, The New Yorker, Dec. 13, 2010)
Time to read: 37 minutes (9366 words)
Jamin Brophy-Warren, who publishes a video-game arts and culture magazine called Kill Screen, told me that there is something in the amplitude and dynamic of Mario’s jumps—just enough supernatural lift yet also just enough gravitational resistance—that makes the act of performing that jump, over and over, deeply satisfying. He also cited the archetypal quality of Mario’s task, that vague feeling of longing and disappointment which undergirds his desperate and recurring quest for the girl. “It’s a story of desire,” Brophy-Warren said.
Twitter Was Act One
(David Kirkpatrick, Vanity Fair, March 3, 2011)
Time to read: 18 minutes (4,543 words)
“The Facebook Effect” author David Kirkpatrick on another Silicon Valley superstar—Twitter and Square founder Jack Dorsey. In submitting to his first in-depth profile, we learn about the events the led to him stepping down as CEO [since then he has returned to Twitter as CEO], his long-term goal (to become mayor of New York City), and his earliest career experiences.
(Merlin Mann, 43 Folders, April 22, 2011)
Time to read: 12 minutes (3,068 words)
A disappearing dad with a looming book deadline examines his priorities, and promises changes.