A love letter to developers making weird things on the internet

To all the unnamed developers building bots, extensions and odd little tools: We adore you.

Letter with "my beloved developers" on front

All of us here at Protocol spend more time than is healthy on Twitter, but we are rewarded by your rare, unexpected and strikingly funny bots.

Illustration: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol

To all the unnamed developers making the internet a better place,

Today I feel a little bit like Andrew Lincoln in "Love Actually," scrawling my words of adoration for you across giant sheets of cardstock and slipping them onto the internet between my usual articles about tech unions, Tesla and the Facebook Papers.

Dear developers, you remind us of the delight that can be found online if you know where to look. All of us here at Protocol spend more time than is healthy on Twitter, but we are rewarded by your rare, unexpected and strikingly funny bots. This week, for me, it’s the “red (taylor’s version) bot” spouting random lyrics unexpectedly onto my feed, jamming “this is the golden age of something good and right and real” onto my timeline between a columnist’s tweet about Virginia Governor-elect Youngkin’s tax cuts and a Danish child-bride impeachment case. For a lot of our staff, it’s the "Moby Dick" bot, telling us this morning that, “even then, Ahab, in his hidden self, raved on.” Also, shoutout to the Magic Realism Bot, No Context Succession and SparkNotes (which, while not a bot, is the only corporate account to achieve venerable bot-like status in our estimation).

And in praising the bots that do us good in the world, we would also be remiss not to share equal love for some of the people behind the shield protecting us against bots malignant and ill-intentioned: Bot Sentinel. Bot Sentinel is the definition of a miracle of an extension, tracking malicious actors across Twitter and identifying problematic accounts ranging from foreign tweet factory farms to toxic trolls. Shoutout to all who work on this project, battling an infinite wave of horrible internet behavior with a limited budget and no personal gain whatsoever (speaking of, Bot Sentinel is fundraising, if you’re looking for a place to donate some of those shiny, newly exercised stock options this holiday season).

During your day job, you might be that engineer at Google building the somewhat questionable large-language model that has drawn quite a bit of negative press, but you might also be the person using their 20% time to rebuild the beloved “Matrix” that powers detailed, useful flight-search software. And whoever it was at Google who decided typing “” into the browser would open a new, blank document with ease: We rely on your little shortcut every single day.

Browser extensions have a nasty history of mostly scamming you into accepting yet another person hoovering up your internet data and selling it off to some mystery planet in another galaxy. But there are so many that exist just to make your life literally a little bit easier, sometimes by helping us avoid the myriad ways very large tech companies try to extract profits from the internet. The Video Speed Controller just makes it easier to slow down what you’re watching. The PC Weenies Mechanical Keyboard Simulator speaks for itself. RECAP has made every journalist and aspiring lawyer come close to tears of joy at least once by saving us from paying PACER a bananas sum of money on thousands of pages of legal documents (speaking of another nonprofit looking for a bit of holiday financial help). In the theme of developers helping developers, the React DevTools open-source extension has been saving tons of angst by helping people debug in their browsers with ease.

And last, but certainly not least, we love the websites and apps that do exactly one thing extremely well, usually by circumnavigating onerous rules and policies designed without much thought about the end-user experience. Amplosion — an app that takes away the much-reviled Google AMP link so users can instead head directly to the website of their choice with a clean URL — briefly became the No. 1 utilities app on the App Store in October, despite it being a random weekend project for one developer. TweetDelete is also pretty self-explanatory; I’ve been using it to auto-delete my tweets since 2018.

Seriously, anonymous people behind the Twitter bots, the browser extensions, the keyboard shortcuts in Google Drive — we love you. We don’t know most of your names, but your little tools and open-source contributions make the often grim job of a tech reporter a bit more joyful. All of you who are thinking about the little things in life that would make the internet a slightly better place, often sacrificing your personal time and rarely seeking profit to make it happen: You are so appreciated, and I finally found the time to say it because you’ve automated so much of my work away. Thanks for making my editors feel like they can assign me even more.


Supreme Court takes a sledgehammer to greenhouse gas regulations

The court ruled 6-3 that the EPA cannot use the Clean Air Act to regulate power plant greenhouse gas emissions. That leaves a patchwork of policies from states, utilities and, increasingly, tech companies to pick up the slack.

The Supreme Court struck a major blow to the federal government's ability to regulate greenhouse gases.

Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Striking down the right to abortion may be the Supreme Court's highest-profile decision this term. But on Wednesday, the court handed down an equally massive verdict on the federal government's ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. In the case of West Virginia v. EPA, the court decided that the agency has no ability to regulate greenhouse gas pollution under the Clean Air Act. Weakening the federal government's powers leaves a patchwork of states, utilities and, increasingly, tech companies to pick up the slack in reducing carbon pollution.

Keep Reading Show less
Brian Kahn

Brian ( @blkahn) is Protocol's climate editor. Previously, he was the managing editor and founding senior writer at Earther, Gizmodo's climate site, where he covered everything from the weather to Big Oil's influence on politics. He also reported for Climate Central and the Wall Street Journal. In the even more distant past, he led sleigh rides to visit a herd of 7,000 elk and boat tours on the deepest lake in the U.S.

Every day, millions of us press the “order” button on our favorite coffee store's mobile application: Our chosen brew will be on the counter when we arrive. It’s a personalized, seamless experience that we have all come to expect. What we don’t know is what’s happening behind the scenes. The mobile application is sourcing data from a database that stores information about each customer and what their favorite coffee drinks are. It is also leveraging event-streaming data in real time to ensure the ingredients for your personal coffee are in supply at your local store.

Applications like this power our daily lives, and if they can’t access massive amounts of data stored in a database as well as stream data “in motion” instantaneously, you — and millions of customers — won’t have these in-the-moment experiences.

Keep Reading Show less
Jennifer Goforth Gregory
Jennifer Goforth Gregory has worked in the B2B technology industry for over 20 years. As a freelance writer she writes for top technology brands, including IBM, HPE, Adobe, AT&T, Verizon, Epson, Oracle, Intel and Square. She specializes in a wide range of technology, such as AI, IoT, cloud, cybersecurity, and CX. Jennifer also wrote a bestselling book The Freelance Content Marketing Writer to help other writers launch a high earning freelance business.

Can crypto regulate itself? The Lummis-Gillibrand bill hopes so.

Creating the equivalent of the stock markets’ FINRA for crypto is the ideal, but experts doubt that it will be easy.

The idea of creating a government-sanctioned private regulatory association has been drawing more attention in the debate over how to rein in a fast-growing industry whose technological quirks have baffled policymakers.

Illustration: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol

Regulating crypto is complicated. That’s why Sens. Cynthia Lummis and Kirsten Gillibrand want to explore the creation of a private sector group to help federal regulators do their job.

The bipartisan bill introduced by Lummis and Gillibrand would require the CFTC and the SEC to work with the crypto industry to look into setting up a self-regulatory organization to “facilitate innovative, efficient and orderly markets for digital assets.”

Keep Reading Show less
Benjamin Pimentel

Benjamin Pimentel ( @benpimentel) covers crypto and fintech from San Francisco. He has reported on many of the biggest tech stories over the past 20 years for the San Francisco Chronicle, Dow Jones MarketWatch and Business Insider, from the dot-com crash, the rise of cloud computing, social networking and AI to the impact of the Great Recession and the COVID crisis on Silicon Valley and beyond. He can be reached at or via Google Voice at (925) 307-9342.


Alperovitch: Cybersecurity defenders can’t be on high alert every day

With the continued threat of Russian cyber escalation, cybersecurity and geopolitics expert Dmitri Alperovitch says it’s not ideal for the U.S. to oscillate between moments of high alert and lesser states of cyber readiness.

Dmitri Alperovitch (the co-founder and former CTO of CrowdStrike) speaks at RSA Conference 2022.

Photo: RSA Conference

When it comes to cybersecurity vigilance, Dmitri Alperovitch wants to see more focus on resiliency of IT systems — and less on doing "surges" around particular dates or events.

For instance, whatever Russia is doing at the moment.

Keep Reading Show less
Kyle Alspach

Kyle Alspach ( @KyleAlspach) is a senior reporter at Protocol, focused on cybersecurity. He has covered the tech industry since 2010 for outlets including VentureBeat, CRN and the Boston Globe. He lives in Portland, Oregon, and can be reached at


How the internet got privatized and how the government could fix it

Author Ben Tarnoff discusses municipal broadband, Web3 and why closing the “digital divide” isn’t enough.

The Biden administration’s Internet for All initiative, which kicked off in May, will roll out grant programs to expand and improve broadband infrastructure, teach digital skills and improve internet access for “everyone in America by the end of the decade.”

Decisions about who is eligible for these grants will be made based on the Federal Communications Commission’s broken, outdated and incorrect broadband maps — maps the FCC plans to update only after funding has been allocated. Inaccurate broadband maps are just one of many barriers to getting everyone in the country successfully online. Internet service providers that use government funds to connect rural and low-income areas have historically provided those regions with slow speeds and poor service, forcing community residents to find reliable internet outside of their homes.

Keep Reading Show less
Aditi Mukund
Aditi Mukund is Protocol’s Data Analyst. Prior to joining Protocol, she was an analyst at The Daily Beast and NPR where she wrangled data into actionable insights for editorial, audience, commerce, subscription, and product teams. She holds a B.S in Cognitive Science, Human Computer Interaction from The University of California, San Diego.
Latest Stories