A screenshot of Facebook’s Connect 2021 keynote featuring Mark Zuckerberg.
Image: Meta

Making sense of the metaverse

Source Code

Your five-minute guide to the best of Protocol (and the internet) from the week that was, from the many questions about the metaverse to the many ways lobbyists and lawmakers get stuff done.

The best of Protocol

Everything you need to know about the metaverse, by Janko Roettgers

  • The metaverse is a nice comfy chair. The metaverse is a long walk on a rainy evening. The metaverse is that feeling when you make a really great pot of coffee. The metaverse is everything, and nothing. The metaverse is whatever you want it to be, apparently. But here's a good breakdown of what it really is — and what it should be.

'Sincerely, Elizabeth Warren': How lawmakers use letters to get their way, by Ben Brody

  • Does it ever feel like all Congress does is send angry, official-sounding letters to tech officials? Turns out it's more than just the D.C. version of dunking on people's tweets; it's one of the few ways lawmakers have to signal what they care about and give cover to agencies to actually get things done. And sometimes to dunk on people.

'Twitter is our superpower': The crypto lobby mounts a D.C. offensive, by Ben Pimentel

  • Regulators are trying to figure out what to do with crypto, and the crypto community is learning how to flex its muscle to help decide what the future looks like. The Blockchain Association's Kristin Smith explains what crypto wants, and how a global community is working together to get it.

Behind China's great crypto exodus to Singapore, by Shen Lu

  • Not very long ago, crypto was a huge business in China. As China has sought to shut that down, many of the miners, exchanges, wallet apps, data analysts and investors are heading to Singapore. And Singapore is embracing its newfound status as a crypto capital, complicated side effects and all.

Facebook told employees to avoid the words 'discrimination' and 'bias,' by Issie Lapowsky

  • The first rule of talking about bias at Facebook: You don't talk about bias at Facebook. One of the most revealing things about the Facebook Papers has been how much scandal has changed the life of employees, including how they work and how they talk.
  • Also, here's a good roundup of everything we're finding in the Facebook Papers. There's new stuff all the time.

The M1 Macs are the new software engineer status symbol, by Anna Kramer

  • We're including this for one specific reason: So you can send this story to your boss or IT admin as a not-so-subtle reminder that the cool way to take care of your employees is to buy them sweet, sweet new MacBooks. Turns out you can put a price on happiness, and that price is around $2,000.

On the schedule

A holiday shopping season like no other

The 2021 holiday shopping season is shaping up to be a bumpy ride due to supply chain disruptions and chipset shortages. Join us at 11 a.m. PT on Nov. 29 for a discussion on how these issues affect holiday shopping on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and beyond, and where the industry goes from here.

China's fintech future

How will China shape the future of fintech in the medium and long term — and what does that mean for the existing financial system? Join us Dec. 2 for a discussion about Beijing's latest moves to test the CBDC, what we know already about how the CBDC does (and doesn't) work and in-country fintech innovations we should adopt globally.


Rochelle is one of many experts working on privacy at Facebook—to give you more control over your information.

Hear from Rochelle on why Facebook supports updating regulations on the internet's most pressing challenges, including federal privacy legislation.

Learn more

The best of everything else

The code that controls your money — WealthSimple

  • There's a story like this one buried in more industries than you'd think, but this is a pretty eye-opening example: What do you when an incredibly high-stakes business runs on code that is decades old, hardly anybody understands anymore and seems like it's been on its last legs for an awfully long time?

How NFTs create value — Harvard Business Review

  • This is probably the most rational case you'll ever see for why NFTs are important and valuable, beyond whatever market craziness we're in right now. It's about ownership, ecosystems, governance, connection and community, and yes, a little bit about Bored Ape Yacht Club.
  • A good related read, from Wired: The 10,000 faces that launched an NFT revolution.

Notes on Web3 — Robin Sloan

  • Some sobering, simple thoughts on the state of all things Web3. You won't agree with all of them, but they're good conversation starters. If nothing else, you'll definitely get the phrase "a universe of wallets" stuck in your head every time you talk about this stuff going forward.

The incredible tale of the greatest toy man you've never known — Inc.

  • You may not know Al Kahn's name, but you definitely know his work: Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh, Cabbage Patch Kids, Quiz Wiz and way more. He's had an eye for a good idea that has lasted him decades. And now Kahn, like so many others, is banking on a big future in NFTs. (This weekend wasn't intended to be all about NFTs, but evidently this is the world we live in right now.)

'I'm overdue for a discussion about my role in inspiring 'edgelord' shit': a conversation with Steve Albini — Mel

  • A reformed troll and troublemaker reckons with the offline world he helped create, and the one he never really understood in the first place. This is a good, occasionally mind-blowing conversation about the sometimes very real consequences of "harmless fun."

The CIA is trying to recruit Gen Z — and doesn't care if they're all over social media — Washingtonian

  • Have you ever wondered what will happen when people start to run for president or other offices whose entire lives, back to childhood or birth or even before, are available for public perusal thanks to the internet? The CIA is already grappling with it. And it turns out, being Extremely Online might be a plus.


Rochelle is one of many experts working on privacy at Facebook—to give you more control over your information.

Hear from Rochelle on why Facebook supports updating regulations on the internet's most pressing challenges, including federal privacy legislation.

Learn more

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.

Recent Issues

The best of Protocol

The confessions of SBF

Your holiday book list

A tale of two FTXs