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The Crypto Prince and the Ethereum Killer: A Tale of Two Blockchain Billionaires

Hi, welcome to your Weekend! 

In a week that saw the world’s richest man sucking up all the oxygen in the newsroom, it is important now for us all to step away. To take a deep breath, to celebrate Easter or Passover or Ramadan with our families, to watch some NBA playoffs (go Warriors!), to play outside with our kids or animals. Sing it with me, just for the weekend: We don’t talk about Musk-o.  

Of course, that’s easier said than done. As I was sitting down last night to netflix Season 2 of “Bridgerton” with my wife, the mind inevitably flipped back to you-know-who. “Bridgerton,” right, is a Shonda Rhimes take on the Victorian romance genre, filled with gossip and innuendo, backstabbing and betrayal, and countless scenes of lords and ladies alllmost consummating their union before pulling back or—in the case of the Duke in Season 1—pulling out.

In other words, it reminded me of Elon. What is his quest for Twitter, after all, but the tale of a raffish, charming, ego-blinded viscount who wants for nothing, yet yearns for the one thing he can’t possess. (Shonda, call me to workshop S3.)

Ignore him though we try, Elon is living rent-free in our heads right now, which I suspect might be what he’s really after anyway. It’s fine. His pursuit of Twitter is an important story. But it’s not the only one that matters. So, here’s to thinking about some other things for a few days, even if those other things also remind you of...I won’t say it.


the big read

Can Peace Last Between Crypto’s Visionary Rivals?

The competition between Ethereum and Solana has all the makings of the classic, cutthroat battles that defined the internet before Web3. Think Jobs versus Gates or Zuckerberg versus Cook. But there’s one issue: So far, there is little rancor between Solana co-founder Anatoly Yakovenko and Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin. “People in tech would often go escape to Burning Man to feel the sense of what a non-zero-sum world looks and feels like,” the other Solana founder Raj Gokal told Margaux. But in crypto, “everyone feels like there’s plenty of opportunity and plenty of value to be captured.” With billions at stake, however, the good vibes can only last so long. 


social studies

‘The Perfect Slot Machine’: TikTok’s Most Addictive Design Features Are Being Cloned Across the Internet

We know that Big Tech’s been busy copy-catting many TikTok features lately. But what about Playhouse, the TikTok of real estate? Or Snack and Feels, the TikToks of dating? Or even Bullz, the TikTok of crypto? Just as Instagram, YouTube and Spotify have rolled out TikTok-like services, a galaxy of smaller companies are doing their utmost to mimic whatever they think works on the platform. Annie explores what makes these companies, er, Tik. (Hint: is has to less to do with algorithms than with ergonomics.) 


short story long

The Week We All Got BeReal: A Brief History of a Social Media Platform’s Out-of-Nowhere Explosion

If you know what BeReal is, you probably found out about it 10 minutes ago. The social platform—suddenly the 28th most downloaded free app in the App Store—caught fire thanks to a simple premise: Once a day the entire BeReal network simultaneously receives a push notification, telling them it’s “Time to BeReal.” Users then take a photo within the next two minutes and share it with their circle. Which begs the question: Is that it?! To understand the app’s rapid rise, we’ve assembled a rapid, 18-month timeline from launch to out-of-nowhere phenomenon.


Watching: Incredulous cops pull over driverless vehicle
What should have been a simple traffic violation—driving without headlights—turned into a sci-fi plotline. San Francisco police officers were baffled when they pulled over an autonomous Cruise vehicle with no human in the driver’s seat. The video of the interaction, which grows increasingly slapstick when the car drives off mid-stop before pulling over again, shows one of the many friction points of our self-driving future. As a crowd gathers, the cops look at each other in confusion, wondering how to handle a problem that’s new to human experience. 


Reading: High schoolers counseled by mental health robots 
In yet another sign that we’re all living in Spike Jonze’s “Her,” high school students, faced with a shortage of mental health counselors, are turning to a robot therapist, dubbed the “Woebot.” School districts across the country are recommending the chatbot, but as Guardian reporter Mark Keierleber confirms, an AI counselor cannot do certain things a human can, such as recognize body language or tone of voice. Said one researcher succinctly: “It’s not at all like how psychotherapy works.”


Noticing: A data breakdown of Gen Z’s screen habits
While this Los Angles Times story is ostensibly about how Hollywood is trying to appeal to Gen Z, what is really striking here is the research on Gen Z’s media consumption. Some is expected—viewers age 13 to 26 watch an average of 7.2 hours of video a day, a large number, though in line with previous estimates. But they’re not spending all of that time in the same way. TikTok is for mornings, apparently, Netflix is for nights. The data gives a more complete and nuanced picture of how and when Gen Z is streaming.


Makes You Think

Us, contending with all the Elon news this week, just trying to make it to the weekend...


Until next Weekend, thanks for reading!

—Jon

Weekend Editor, The Information


Jon Steinberg is the Weekend Editor at The Information. He is a former editor-in-chief of San Francisco magazine and senior editor at New York magazine, where his work won many National Magazine Awards.
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