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Your five-minute guide to the best of Protocol (and the internet) from the week that was, from the big tech hearing to a 1991 computer in your 2020 computer.

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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, or you can just reply to this email. Thanks! On to the good stuff.

Best of Protocol

All of our Tech Hearing coverage

Microsoft and Sony head into Round 4 of the console battle. Who will win this time? by Seth Schiesel

  • The gaming market is so often framed as a head-to-head thing that it's easy to forget that Sony is absolutely dominating Microsoft. And it's done so largely by sticking to games, while Microsoft has invented lots of neat extra features gamers don't care about. Now, Microsoft's inventing lots of neat extra features gamers do care about, and the race feels like it's back on.

How tech is packing empty stadiums with (fake) raucous crowds, by Janko Roettgers

  • Personally, I'm a big fan of the way the NBA has used Microsoft Teams' funky Together mode to put digital fans into otherwise empty arenas. Even though it looks super weird. Janko's deep dive into the complex, advanced tech required to pull off these feats — which blur the lines even further between real sports and video games — is a fun weekend read.

We're in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis. Big tech is already preparing for the next one, by Issie Lapowsky

  • It's only slightly ironic that Issie wrote this story and then promptly got appendicitis. (Get better soon, Issie!) It's an eye-opening tale: It's increasingly clear that we were not ready for COVID-19 and didn't handle it well when it appeared. It'll take a huge, collaborative effort to get us out of this pandemic, and one just as big to make sure we're ready for the next one.

To make a difference, 5G has to be everywhere. One company is designing it to be invisible, by Mike Murphy

  • You know Corning as the company that makes the glass on your phone. But it's also in the midst of a project just as important: making cell phone towers that don't look like giant things at the top of mountains, but that blend into everyday society. It's a surprisingly difficult design brief!



Qualtrics' Work Different free virtual event, on Aug. 12th, will explore how successful organizations like Atlassian, Microsoft, the NBA, and many others are listening to and taking action on the feedback from their customers and employees to create a "new better" for their business. Register now at

Best of Everything Else

The Panopticon Is Already Here — The Atlantic

  • This is now officially the article I send anyone who asks me, "What's actually going on in China?" What's going on in China is a remarkably high-tech campaign to capture and maintain power, and the system being built by Xi Jinping's government is also in high demand around the world. It's also good, broad context for understanding the conversation around TikTok.

The Cold War Bunker That Became Home to a Dark-Web Empire — The New Yorker

  • Some rich people buy old underground bunkers to use as their own post-apocalyptic bug-out shelters. One guy, for a few hundred thousand euros, bought one to turn into a web-hosting business that eventually turned into a company known as CyberBunker, which eventually turned into something like an activist collective. Because on the internet, everything — even your web host — is politics.

Do We Really Need The Office? — Harvard Business Review

  • I am obsessed with trying to figure out what the future of work looks like. After months of excitement that people can actually get their work done from their living room, the true pros and cons of that approach are becoming much more obvious. But even when we go back, the open office might be dead forever. And wait: What if we all leave cities before the office reopens?

GPT-3 Examples

  • What would you do with the world's most advanced predictive-text system? No, seriously, I'm asking. GPT-3 is one of those things that's easy to use to make hilarious jokes and harder to fit into your life and work. This site is full of good examples (and hilarious jokes) and should keep your side-project queue full for a while. If that's not enough? Here's some more.


  • It's a 1991-era Macintosh inside an app on your 2020-era PC. And it's amazing. It has a bunch of games installed (Oregon Trail!) and actually works like a full-fledged computer. Or at least, what "full-fledged" meant during the first Bush administration. If nothing else, it's a hilarious trip down memory lane. And it's even easier to set up than a Windows 95 PC inside Minecraft.

One Person's Opinion

Josh Raab, head of Instagram at National Geographic

Josh Raab has more Instagram followers than you. Well, OK, his account only has 3,306 followers, but as National Geographic's director of Instagram, he oversees five accounts with roughly 200 million followers between them. Which means he sees everything on the platform: how its tools and features work, how companies and people can use it, what it's doing to people who spend their time on the platform. And he's trying to use Nat Geo's power to make all of it better.

For my conversation with Josh, check out this week's Source Code Podcast. As always, he also provided a list of a few things he's into right now.

  • MasterClass courses. "On things I would never normally be interested in, like Ron Finley teaching gardening or Simone Biles on gymnastics fundamentals."
  • Robinhood Snacks. "A short form podcast with tech/investing news. I listen to this every day."
  • Portable Solar. "I recently bought a 1,000-watt power bank and foldable solar panels that fit in my car so I have power everywhere."
  • Slowly chipping away at biking in every state.
  • The Dopey Podcast. "A somewhat comedic podcast where the hosts recount their stories of drug addiction. I won't give it away, but it takes a tragic turn midway through that changes the entire listening experience."



Qualtrics' Work Different free virtual event, on Aug. 12th, will explore how successful organizations like Atlassian, Microsoft, the NBA, and many others are listening to and taking action on the feedback from their customers and employees to create a "new better" for their business. Register now at

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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