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The election cometh

Image: Element 5 Digital
Voting

Good morning! Hope you're having a great weekend. Here's your five-minute guide to the best of Protocol (and the internet) from the week that was, from one of cloud computing's most important figures to Bradley Tusk's favorite new donut. And only a little election talk. OK, quite a bit of election talk.

Also, you may have gotten an extra email from us on Friday — sorry about that! It was an accidental list-selection error on our part, and it won't happen again. (Also, subscribe to Index. And all our other newsletters. They're great.)

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As always, let me know what you think, and what you'd like to see more of in our weekend edition. I'm david@protocol.com, or you can just reply to this email. Thanks! Onto the good stuff.

Best of Protocol

From McDonald's to Google: How Kelsey Hightower became one of the most respected people in cloud computing, by Tom Krazit

  • If you don't know Kelsey Hightower's name, you should. He's made an impressive rise to the top of the cloud world, from epically efficient McDonald's shift manager to principal engineer at Google Cloud, and is now trying to help others do the same. And I love the way he thinks of his technical chops as his "Superman suit."

Ping-Pong and catered lunches are back — for the few SF tech startups willing to reopen, by Biz Carson

  • San Francisco's allowing companies to go back to the office, but only in small doses and only under certain circumstances. Not many tech companies have done it yet, but the ones that have told Biz they're glad to be back together. Even if everything feels a little weird.

Reddit worries it's going to be crushed in the fight against Big Tech, by Emily Birnbaum

  • This week's hearing was mostly a waste of time (except if you're part of Sen. Ted Cruz's social team, apparently). But Protocol still had some great coverage of the important moments. And this interview, with Reddit general counsel Benjamin Lee, does a great job of explaining what the 230 fight is actually about, and who actually stands to win and lose if the rules change.

Facebook tries to reposition itself as a gaming platform with its big bet on cloud gaming, by Seth Schiesel

  • Give this to Facebook: It is very good at sensing movements and figuring out how to tackle them The Facebook Way. Cloud gaming is going to be a big deal, and Facebook figured out that nobody's paying attention to the casual, simple games that just happen to be Facebook's bread and butter. (Not to mention the fact that they'll be easier to stream than your average AAA.)

How Discord (somewhat accidentally) invented the future of the internet, by me, David Pierce

  • I've spent years waiting for one chat app to emerge from the rest, so I can stop using Zoom/Meet/WhatsApp/iMessage/Instagram/Signal/Slack/email/who-knows-what-else and talk to my friends and co-workers in one place. I don't think Discord's there yet — it's still dealing with questions over privacy, misinformation and its business-model — but it's figured something out about the internet that nobody else has.

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Energy companies have a tricky problem to solve. They need to defend interconnected infrastructure from cyberattacks that can cause real-world damage. Learn more about energy sector's readiness to address this growing spectrum of cyberattacks.

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Best of Everything Else

The Instagram aesthetic that made QAnon mainstream — Vox

  • This week's winner of the Headlines That Would Have Made No Sense 10 Years Ago award is a story about how conspiracy theories get laundered into the mainstream, how truly powerful Instagram influencers are in modern society, and how calming pastel colors can make just about anything seem legit.

Twitter's Jack Dorsey: A hands-off CEO in a time of turmoil — The Wall Street Journal

  • Odd week for Jack: He was the star of the 230 hearing, which is a distinction nobody would ask for, then reported big revenue numbers for Twitter but saw the company's stock drop bigtime as people panicked about slowing user growth. This is a good look at one of the most important (and unusual) people in tech, running one of the companies most important to the election.

Is Twitter going full resistance? Here's the woman driving the change. — POLITICO

  • Speaking of Twitter: Everybody gives Jack a lot of credit (and crap), but Vijaya Gadde is one of the most important people in the company's fight against misinformation. And she knows how hard it is. "I don't really see an easy solution for how you moderate content at scale around the world," she said. "There's going to be errors, and there's going to be corrections, and there's going to be inconsistencies."

Inside the wild stock market for politics where traders bet on our next president — Marker

  • And you thought Robinhood was bonkers! The world inside PredictIt is messy, probably problematic and in a lot of ways representative of the whole gamified, complicated, nobody-knows-anything-but-let's-double-down-anyway state of the internet right now.

Why so many esports pros come from South Korea — Wired

  • Gaming is culture, culture is gaming, and more of it than just BTS is coming from South Korea. This is a clever look into how a national culture has shaped a new industry. (And yes, it's an industry.)

Meet the man who could lead the GOP's war on platform moderation — The Verge

  • In case you thought the fight over Section 230, conservative bias and who gets to do what on the internet was going away, think again. Brendan Carr, who may be next in line to run the FCC, is ready to take on the White House's fight against big tech companies.

One Person's Opinion

Bradley Tusk, CEO of Tusk Ventures

Very few people sit at the center of politics and tech like Bradley Tusk. He's a VC, and was deputy governor of Illinois; he was an early advisor to Uber, and ran Mike Bloomberg's mayoral campaign in 2009. From antitrust reform to mobile voting to privacy legislation to self-driving regulation, politics is suddenly everywhere in the tech industry, and nobody knows how to navigate it better.

On this week's Source Code Podcast, Tusk gave us a last-minute rundown on what to expect from the election, what could happen in the next weeks and months, and why stability is what he's looking for above all else. Here, as always, he told us a few of the things on his mind right now.

  • "Missionaries," by Phil Klay. "It's a debut novel and it's extremely good (Klay also wrote a great book of short stories about his time in Iraq). Along the same lines, there's a piece in Wired by Elliott Ackerman about Shield.ai that was excellent (everything Ackerman writes is good) and Tim Alberta's funny feeling columns in POLITICO about the election have been therapeutic for me."
  • Writing fiction. "I finished writing a first draft of a novel this week. It's about a campaign to legalize flying cars in New York, Los Angeles and Austin. I think it's pretty good and pretty funny but, at this point, I have no clue if anyone else will too. We'll see."
  • Spicy ghost pepper donuts. "There aren't a lot of places to go these days but I'm always looking for activities to do with my 14-year-old daughter that she won't find annoying. We both really like hot sauce and I saw that Dunkin' Donuts had a spicy ghost pepper donut. It was a successful outing and the donut was pretty good too."
  • Costume shopping. "I was really surprised by what you can buy on Amazon. My son wanted to be Wolverine for Halloween (not that there's trick-or-treating or anywhere to wear the costume, but nonetheless). I was, as usual, doing too many things at once so I ordered him claws on Amazon. When they showed up, rather than being the plastic kids claws for a costume that I assumed I had ordered, these were serious knives welded together. For each hand. You could probably fight Wolverine with these and win. Even my son understood when I said we couldn't keep them (and I made sure that I then got the plastic claws order right)."
  • Eric Gonzalez, the District Attorney of Brooklyn. "He's someone to watch. I just had a socially distanced coffee with Eric, it was the first time we met, and I was really impressed. He has exactly the right mix of empathy, compassion, street smarts and a belief in justice that allows his office to prosecute the bad guys but also distinguish between crimes that hurt people (anything violent) and crimes that don't (most drug-related cases). Keep an eye on him."

Today's Source Code was written by David Pierce. Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to david@protocol.com, or our tips line, tips@protocol.com. Enjoy your day, see you tomorrow.

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