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The internet’s history, and its future

The internet’s history, and its future

Good morning, and happy Pi Day! This Sunday, here's your five-minute guide to the best of Protocol (and the internet) from the week that was, from Big Tech's fight against terrorism and misinformation to the human stock market.

Also, we're a week into our send-the-newsletter-later experiment, and I'd love to know what you think! Do you read it more? Less? The same? Didn't even notice anything changed? Tell me all your thoughts! You can reply to this email, or send a note to Thanks as always!

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Best of Protocol

Tech spent years fighting foreign terrorists. Then came the Capitol riot, by Issie Lapowsky

  • There are a lot of great bits in this story, but the part that's still stuck in my brain is how much of solving problems of misinformation and extremism comes down to definitions. "ISIS" is a thing. "QAnon" is a thing. But so much of what happens online comes from these undefinable, ever-changing groups with ever-changing plans and ideologies. Trying to take them on is like trying to hold water in your hands.

The internet is splitting apart. The Internet Archive wants to save it all forever, by Anna Kramer

  • History is an overlooked feature of the internet. Everything's happening, everything's available, and then everything's … gone? The Internet Archive is trying to preserve our digital world, but its job is harder than ever as that digital world moves into walled gardens and private spaces.

How Dapper Labs scored NBA crypto millions, by Tomio Geron

  • Beeple might have scored the biggest sale, but Dapper and Top Shot are the biggest thing going in NFTs. The company behind it has been in the game longer than you might think, and has built a system it thinks can last.

Roblox CBO Craig Donato on his company's IPO, Lil Nas X and the future of work in the metaverse, by Janko Roettgers

  • Come for Donato's explanation of what Roblox is trying to be and why the company sees itself as much more than a video game for kids. Stay for the way that Lil Nas X helped convince Roblox that it was time to go public.

How Amazon's S3 jumpstarted the cloud revolution, by Tom Krazit

  • S3 has been around so long Amazon didn't even call it "the cloud" when it launched 15 years ago. But the Simple Storage Service changed the game for startups and big companies alike, and helped turn Amazon into an unstoppable force of internet infrastructure. Though, as Tom writes, it didn't happen overnight and it wasn't easy.

Sonos is betting big on a post-pandemic future, and tougher antitrust policies to boot, by Janko Roettgers

  • Alternate title: "Why it's not crazy to release a Bluetooth speaker when everyone's been stuck at home for a year." Sonos is in the middle of a lot of tech's biggest stories, from audio-based AR to Big Tech's antitrust fight. And CEO Patrick Spence made clear that he's ready for all of it.



Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is the most-discussed and least-understood law governing the modern internet. This event will delve into the future of Section 230 and how to change the law without compromising the internet as we know it. Join Protocol's Emily Birnbaum and Issie Lapowsky in conversation with Senator Mark Warner. This event is presented by Internet Association.

RSVP for this event.

Best of Everything Else

Interview: Patrick Collison, co-founder and CEO of Stripe — Noahpinion

  • It's dense, covers a lot of ground and you'll have to read about 1,400 books to understand all the references. But inside this interview is a treatise about what the next decade might look like, for the tech industry and the world in general. I suspect Collison's going to be right about a lot of it.

For creators, everything is for sale — The New York Times

  • The closest thing you'll read this week to (dystopian?) science fiction: A story about "human stock markets," and what it looks like when creators make every part of their lives monetizable and available for public consumption. I can't tell if this is fun or horrifying.

How to put out democracy's dumpster fire — The Atlantic

  • It starts with de Tocqueville and ends with the internet, and in between it's a question of what it means to live in and preserve a democracy. In a world increasingly run by a handful of for-profit companies, a world that bends toward anger and division, is democracy even possible?

How Facebook got addicted to spreading misinformation — MIT Technology Review

  • The tech industry is long overdue for a debate over what "responsible AI" means and how important it really is. Within Facebook, this story finds, it wasn't important enough; that the company's good people and good intentions were no match for its unrelenting drive for growth.
  • You should also read Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer's response via Platformer.

America's battery-powered car hopes ride on lithium. One producer paves the way. — The Wall Street Journal

  • Countries around the world are working to become more self-sufficient in their tech needs. One way to do that: producing and refining their own lithium to make the batteries that will power, uh, everything. In the U.S., that means drilling in North Carolina, and that means Piedmont Lithium is a company you're going to want to know.

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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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