Recommended Reading highlights the best long-form writing on technology in print and on the web. Some weeks, you'll also find short reviews of books dealing with the subject of technology that we think are worth your time. We hope you enjoy the read.

I spent a month living in a Romanian sexcam studio (3,434 words)
by Jack Davies, VICE

Pocket

When it comes to sexy cam shows, Romania is pretty much the undisputed capital of the world, with an estimated 2,000 studios. VICE's Jack Davies spent a month inside one such complex on a backstreet in Bucharest, where up to 11 "models" can stream themselves simultaneously to lonely viewers around the globe (but mostly in the US). While there is certainly some stigma still attached to the idea of taking your clothes off for money in America, in this Eastern European nation it's widely accepted. In fact, one of the two owners of this particular studio claims this is as an opportunity to better himself as a person, not just make a boat-load of money.

Epic Fail: The Rise and Fall of Demand Media
(1,691 words)
by Andrew Wallenstein and Todd Spangler, Variety

At the height of the second dot-com boom, the web was flooded with so-called content farms -- companies whose sole purpose was to churn out articles carefully crafted to rise to the top of search engine results. One of the largest, Demand Media, is splitting up and may be headed for a fire sale.

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The Mystery of the Creepiest Television Hack
(6,241 words)
by Chris Knittel, Motherboard

In 1987 Chicago TV watchers were interrupted not once, but twice by a mysterious hacker mimicking the pop culture sensation Max Headroom. A local news broadcast and an episode of Dr. Who were hijacked by chaotic and downright creepy clips. Who was behind the incidents, however, remains a mystery.

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Why We Can't Let American Tech Take Over the World (1,428 words)
by Sean Madden, Wired

The design of products inherently has a cultural bias. Basically the iPad is exporting American ideals, as much as its spreading Apple's ecosystem. But Sean Madden argues that's not necessarily a good thing, and future designers will have to learn to identify and weed out their own biases. That is, if we want to uphold the ideals of technology improving freedom and simply staying "out of the way."

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Reverse-Engineering a Genius (Has a Vermeer Mystery Been Solved?) (2,762 words)
by Kurt Andersen, Vanity Fair

How Dutch painter Vermeer achieved his photo-realistic effects in the mid-1600s has long been a mystery. Some have speculated that he could have used a room-sized camera obscura, but there's been no experimental evidence to back it up. That is until Texas inventor Tim Jenison decided to take a stab at recreating the theoretical set up, and began painting photo-realistic scenes without an ounce of training.

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