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Flight Simulator, secret iPods and a crash course on antitrust

Flight Simulator, secret iPods and a crash course on antitrust

Good morning! This Sunday, here's your five-minute guide to the best of Protocol (and the internet) from the week that was, from groups fighting for civil rights in tech to epic video game histories.

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

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The Best of Protocol

Seven years of toil: Inside Color of Change's fight to fix Big Tech, by Issie Lapowsky

  • Few organizations have pushed Mark Zuckerberg harder in recent years than Color of Change, and few have made as much noise or caused as many conversations in Silicon Valley, either. Issie's deep dive into how Color of Change works, what it wants, and why it's focused on fixing Silicon Valley's issues with civil rights is an important read for anyone trying to build a more diverse company.

This company wants to be the Google for the 3D world, by Mike Murphy

  • "A search engine for the real world" is one of those things that feels like it'll change everything. It's also one of those things seemingly everyone in tech is working on. But Physna, which Mike describes as "a cross between Google and GitHub for anything with volume," has a really interesting approach: It's starting with 3D models, which means it's also starting with VR and AR and betting that understanding the next phase of the digital world will require a new way of thinking.

Why Microsoft's new Flight Simulator should make Google and Amazon nervous, by Seth Schiesel

  • Have you played the new Flight Simulator yet? (If you have, drop me a line and tell me what you think.) The game's getting excellent reviews and spawning hilarious memes, but Seth's story gets into why Flight Simulator is such a technical achievement and what it shows us about the future of gaming. Here's a hint: It's good news for gamers who love open worlds. And cloud companies who want to host them.

'Were your grandparents slaves?' by Emily Birnbaum

  • This story is full of details and moments you won't soon forget, as Black CEOs and founders shared their stories of encountering racism and discrimination while trying to raise money. Also in here: Why warm introductions are a problem, and why "friends and family" rounds don't help everyone equally.

TestFlight forever: Developers are building a better world outside the App Store, by me, David Pierce

  • It seems hard to believe the App Store won't change in some way in the coming months. But I enjoyed chatting with people who are already finding a new way, by taking Apple's beta-testing system and turning it into a blissfully small, quiet community for cool apps. Also, there's nothing cooler than having a bunch of dope TestFlights on your phone. Tell all your friends.

Join us Wednesday


Join us Wednesday at noon ET for the second event in our National Political Conventions series 'Building the Future'. This event series is hosted in partnership with ITI.

RSVP here.

The Best of Everything Else

'High Score' — Netflix

  • The most fun thing you'll watch this weekend, I promise. These six episodes go deep into the history of gaming, from D&D to Pac-Man to John Madden, and there's definitely something here for everyone. Fair warning, though: Watching these episodes caused me to go looking for every game, console, emulator and controller I could find.

The case of the top secret iPod — TidBITS

  • What if your boss came into your office one day and told you that you had a new project: that you're going to build a special version of your product for the U.S. government, and you can't tell anyone about it? That's what happened to David Shayer. The company? Apple. The product? An iPod, which turned out to be far more powerful than you think. I won't spoil it, but it's a great story, and Tony Fadell himself said it's true.

Inside the Boogaloo: America's extremely online terrorists — The New York Times

  • This week's scariest online saga is all about QAnon (and I know I mentioned this the other day, but you should really read this Atlantic story about the movement). But if you want to understand how a crazy idea based on nothing manages to travel through the internet and into the mainstream, the Boogaloo story is the one you need to know. It happens so much more easily, and so much more often, than you might think.


  • Easily the most interesting new messaging app in a long time, and one every social company should be watching. Rather than chat bubbles on opposite sides of the screen, Muze imagines each chat as an infinite, open canvas on which you can draw, add pictures, goof around, and so much more. It feels free-rein like Snapchat, but starting with text rather than a camera. Even the teaser website is great.

The Samuel Johnson of Emoji — The New Yorker

Crash course

Get caught up on antitrust, fast

Welcome to a new weekend section! Every so often, we're going to poll some experts and try to compile a one-weekend crash course — all the stuff you should read, watch, look at, memorize, dance to, whatever — on an important subject in tech. This week, for obvious reasons: antitrust!

We polled a few of our favorite antitrust experts, and with their help, we put together everything you need to get up to speed. Here goes:

  • "Fair Fight in the Marketplace," a documentary made by the American Antitrust Institute. John Newman, a law professor at the University of Miami, called this "a little cheesy, but a really solid overview of antitrust in general."
  • The International Competition Network's training videos. These are the industry-history videos you watch when you get into this world professionally, and George Washington University Law School professor William Kovacic told me they're also a good overview of the space.
  • CNBC also made a video on the evolution of U.S. antitrust law, which hits a lot of the basics in about 12 minutes.
  • "The Informant: A True Story," by Kurt Eichenwald. Kovacic called this "one of the very best books on cartels," and a great way to understand how these monopoly systems work. (He said you can skip the Matt Damon movie, but he did recommend a series of YouTube videos showing exactly how the Lysine cartel operated.)
  • "The Deal of the Century: The Breakup of AT&T," by Steve Coll. A deep, engaging book on exactly what happened to Ma Bell, and how the breakup went down on both sides of the fight. Replace the proper nouns with Google or Amazon, and it reads like a 2020 story.
  • "Antitrust in the New Economy," Richard Posner's influential essay on digital antitrust.
  • Antitrust for VCs, a panel and talk with Stanford Law professor Doug Melamed. "My talk was intended to explain antitrust law to nonlawyers in about 20 minutes," Melamed told me. He also sent the eight slides that go along with it.
  • "The Truth, The Whole Truth, and Nothing But The Truth." This monster of a Wired article is as fun and readable a telling of Microsoft's 1990s antitrust battles as you'll find. (And prominently features Richard Posner.)

Join us Wednesday


Join us Wednesday at noon ET for the second event in our National Political Conventions series 'Building the Future'. This event series is hosted in partnership with ITI.

RSVP here.

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

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