Sneak through 'Cat Burglar,' learn about early Pornhub and find work-life balance with 'Severance'

Don't know what to do this weekend? We've got you covered.

Sneak through 'Cat Burglar,' learn about early Pornhub and find work-life balance with 'Severance'
Image: HBO Max; Netflix; Pornhub

This week we’re playing a new Netflix interactive cartoon from the makers of “Black Mirror” that’s violent, silly and lots of fun; we’re diving into the early days of Pornhub, written by a former content moderator who admittedly wasn’t very good at the job; and we’re getting creeped out by the very extreme answer to work-life balance in Apple TV+’s latest sci-fi flick, “Severance.”

Inside the early days of Pornhub

A former content moderator, whose job also involved tweeting dirty jokes, talks about the early days of the porn empire in this piece from The Verge. A nuanced and necessary look at a company that’s dominated online porn for more than a decade.

‘Cat Burglar’ is a game, a show and lots of fun

From the people who brought you “Black Mirror” comes a goofy interactive cartoon in the style of “Tom & Jerry” that is as nonsensical as it is violent. Most of the multiple-choice questions in “Cat Burglar” have no rhyme or reason to them, but it’s still fun to play through the story and see whether you can help the unlucky cat burglar steal the treasure. But is it a game? Or a show? Turns out there’s no wrong answer for that one.

‘Severance’ takes the concept of ‘work-life’ balance to the extreme

Ever felt like you’re turning into a different person when your workday begins? That’s very much true for the protagonists of “Severance,” a new Apple TV+ sci-fi drama in which people are undergoing a procedure to permanently sever their work selves from their personal lives. Creepy, weird and utterly fascinating.

‘Inhabiting the Negative Space’ is a quick lesson in how to do less

I was a big fan of Jenny Odell’s 2019 book “How to do nothing: Resisting the attention economy.” This 2021 followup is the transcript of her 2020 commencement speech for Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. In many ways, it also serves as a kind of CliffsNotes version of “How to do nothing,” updated with a few thoughts on the pandemic that forced us all to do a whole lot less.

Falling in love with ‘Namoo’

Erick Oh’s beautiful animated short film “Namoo” previously debuted in VR, and a 2D version found its way to HBO Max at the end of January. The film tells the story of a man’s journey through life, visualized through a tree, and reminds us to pay attention to what’s important in these uncertain times.

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Google is wooing a coalition of civil rights allies. It’s working.

The tech giant is adept at winning friends even when it’s not trying to immediately influence people.

A map display of Washington lines the floor next to the elevators at the Google office in Washington, D.C.

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

As Google has faced intensifying pressure from policymakers in recent years, it’s founded trade associations, hired a roster of former top government officials and sometimes spent more than $20 million annually on federal lobbying.

But the company has also become famous in Washington for nurturing less clearly mercenary ties. It has long funded the work of laissez-faire economists who now defend it against antitrust charges, for instance. It’s making inroads with traditional business associations that once pummeled it on policy, and also supports think tanks and advocacy groups.

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Ben Brody

Ben Brody (@ BenBrodyDC) is a senior reporter at Protocol focusing on how Congress, courts and agencies affect the online world we live in. He formerly covered tech policy and lobbying (including antitrust, Section 230 and privacy) at Bloomberg News, where he previously reported on the influence industry, government ethics and the 2016 presidential election. Before that, Ben covered business news at CNNMoney and AdAge, and all manner of stories in and around New York. He still loves appearing on the New York news radio he grew up with.

Sustainability. It can be a charged word in the context of blockchain and crypto – whether from outsiders with a limited view of the technology or from insiders using it for competitive advantage. But as a CEO in the industry, I don’t think either of those approaches helps us move forward. We should all be able to agree that using less energy to get a task done is a good thing and that there is room for improvement in the amount of energy that is consumed to power different blockchain technologies.

So, what if we put the enormous industry talent and minds that have created and developed blockchain to the task of building in a more energy-efficient manner? Can we not just solve the issues but also set the standard for other industries to develop technology in a future-proof way?

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Denelle Dixon, CEO of SDF

Denelle Dixon is CEO and Executive Director of the Stellar Development Foundation, a non-profit using blockchain to unlock economic potential by making money more fluid, markets more open, and people more empowered. Previously, Dixon served as COO of Mozilla. Leading the business, revenue and policy teams, she fought for Net Neutrality and consumer privacy protections and was responsible for commercial partnerships. Denelle also served as general counsel and legal advisor in private equity and technology.


Everything you need to know about tech layoffs and hiring slowdowns

Will tech companies and startups continue to have layoffs?

It’s not just early-stage startups that are feeling the burn.

Photo: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Images via Getty Images

What goes up must come down.

High-flying startups with record valuations, huge hiring goals and ambitious expansion plans are now announcing hiring slowdowns, freezes and in some cases widespread layoffs. It’s the dot-com bust all over again — this time, without the cute sock puppet and in the midst of a global pandemic we just can’t seem to shake.

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Nat Rubio-Licht

Nat Rubio-Licht is a Los Angeles-based news writer at Protocol. They graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in newspaper and online journalism in May 2020. Prior to joining the team, they worked at the Los Angeles Business Journal as a technology and aerospace reporter.


Sink into ‘Love, Death & Robots’ and more weekend recs

Don’t know what to do this weekend? We’ve got you covered.

Our favorite picks for your weekend pleasure.

Image: A24; 11 bit studios; Getty Images

We could all use a bit of a break. This weekend we’re diving into Netflix’s beautifully animated sci-fi “Love, Death & Robots,” losing ourselves in surreal “Men” and loving Zelda-like Moonlighter.

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Nick Statt

Nick Statt is Protocol's video game reporter. Prior to joining Protocol, he was news editor at The Verge covering the gaming industry, mobile apps and antitrust out of San Francisco, in addition to managing coverage of Silicon Valley tech giants and startups. He now resides in Rochester, New York, home of the garbage plate and, completely coincidentally, the World Video Game Hall of Fame. He can be reached at nstatt@protocol.com.


This machine would like to interview you for a job

Companies are embracing automated video interviews to filter through floods of job applicants. But interviews with a computer screen raise big ethical questions and might scare off candidates.

Although automated interview companies claim to reduce bias in hiring, the researchers and advocates who study AI bias are these companies’ most frequent critics.

Photo: Johner Images via Getty Images

Applying for a job these days is starting to feel a lot like online dating. Job-seekers send their resume into portal after portal and a silent abyss waits on the other side.

That abyss is silent for a reason and it has little to do with the still-tight job market or the quality of your particular resume. On the other side of the portal, hiring managers watch the hundreds and even thousands of resumes pile up. It’s an infinite mountain of digital profiles, most of them from people completely unqualified. Going through them all would be a virtually fruitless task.

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Anna Kramer

Anna Kramer is a reporter at Protocol (Twitter: @ anna_c_kramer, email: akramer@protocol.com), where she writes about labor and workplace issues. Prior to joining the team, she covered tech and small business for the San Francisco Chronicle and privacy for Bloomberg Law. She is a recent graduate of Brown University, where she studied International Relations and Arabic and wrote her senior thesis about surveillance tools and technological development in the Middle East.

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