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The Download

The Download: a long covid app, and California’s wind plans

Plus: The Twitter Files didn't deliver on Elon Musk's explosive promises

This is today's edition of The Download, our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what's going on in the world of technology.

A new app aims to help the millions of people living with long covid

The news: A new app could help people with long covid cope with their condition by giving them a clearer understanding of what helps—and hinders—their health. The platform, called Visible, collects data every day to help people understand how their symptoms fluctuate.

How it works: Visible tracks a user’s heart rate variability in order to recommend when someone should take it easy for the next few days to avoid exhausting themselves, checking their heart rate in the morning and getting them to score their symptoms in the evening. 

Why it matters: Millions of people around the world live with long covid. Behind the numbers, there is an enormous amount of individual pain, misery, and frustration, especially regarding medical ignorance about the condition. Visible’s co-founder hopes to not only help individual people better manage long covid, but to provide better data to help researchers gain a better understanding of the condition too. Read the full story.

—Rhiannon Williams

Read more of our reporting on long covid:

+ A battle is raging over long covid in children. While potentially millions of children suffer from this mysterious illness, researchers are still debating how big a problem it is. Read the full story.

+ We’ve only just begun to examine the racial disparities of long covid. It may take years to understand the full impact of the pandemic and its aftermath on Black people in the US. Read the full story.

+ From April 2021: Could covid lead to a lifetime of autoimmune disease? Evidence is growing that in some people covid infections are producing autoantibodies targeting the body’s organs. If true, it could mean years of lingering sickness and misery for many. Read the full story.

California’s coming offshore wind boom faces big engineering hurdles

This week, dozens of companies are expected to compete for the right to lease the first commercial wind power sites off the coast of California in a federal online auction that could kick-start the state’s next clean energy boom.

The state has an ambitious goal: building 25 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2045. That’s equivalent to nearly a third of the state’s total generating capacity today, or enough to power 25 million homes.

But the plans are facing a daunting geological challenge: the continental shelf drops steeply just a few miles off the California coast, alongside enormous engineering and regulatory obstacles. Read the full story.

—James Temple

The must-reads

I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 The Twitter Files weren’t the bombshell Elon Musk billed them as 
His carelessness triggered the harassment of some of Twitter’s content moderators, too. (WP $)
+ The files didn’t violate the First Amendment, either. (The Atlantic $)
+ Hate speech has exploded on the platform since he took over. (NYT $)
+ Journalists are staying on Twitter—for now. (Vox)
+ The company’s advertising revenue isn’t looking very healthy. (NYT $)

2 Russia is trying to freeze Ukrainians by destroying their electricity 
It’s the country’s vulnerable who will suffer the most. (Economist $)
+ How Ukraine could keep the lights on. (MIT Technology Review)

3 Crypto is at a crossroads
Investors, executives, and advocates are unsure what's next. (NYT $)
+ FTX and the Alameda Research trading firm were way too close. (FT $)
+ It’s okay to opt out of the crypto revolution. (MIT Technology Review)

4 Taylor Swift fans are suing Ticketmaster
They’re furious they weren’t able to buy tickets in the botched sale last month. (The Verge)

5 The internet is having a midlife crisis
What is it for? And more importantly, who is it for? (Slate $)
+ Tim Berners-Lee wanted the internet to have an ‘oh, yeah?’ button. (Slate $)

6 We need a global deal to safeguard the natural world
COP15, held this week in Montreal, is our best bet to thrash one out. (Vox)
+ Off-grid living is more viable these days than you may think. (The Verge)

7 What ultra-dim galaxies can teach us about dark matter  
We’re going to need new telescopes to seek more of them out. (Wired $)
+ Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has some big plans for space. (Reuters)
+ A super-bright satellite could hamper our understanding of the cosmos. (Motherboard)
+ Here’s how to watch Mars disappear behind the moon. (New Scientist $)

8 An elite media newsletter wants to cover “power, money, and ego.”
It promises unparalleled access to prolific writers—and their audiences. (New Yorker $)
+ How to sign off an email sensibly. (Economist $) 

9 The metaverse has a passion for fashion 👗
Here’s what its best-dressed residents are wearing. (WSJ $)

10 We’ve been sending text messages for 30 years 💬
Yet we’re still misunderstanding each other. (The Guardian)

Quote of the day

“There is certainly a rising sense of fear, justifiable fear. And I would say almost horror.”

—Pamela Nadell, director of American University’s Jewish Studies program, tells the Washington Post she fears that antisemitism has become normalized in the US, in the light of Kanye West's recent comments praising Hitler.

The big story

The gig workers fighting back against the algorithms

April 2022

In the Bendungan Hilir neighborhood, just a stone’s throw from Jakarta’s glitzy central business district, motorcycle drivers gather in an informal “base camp.” They are drivers with Gojek, Indonesia’s largest ride-hailing firm. They’re also part of the backbone of a growing movement of resistance against the dispatch algorithms that dominate their lives.

Base camps grew out of a tradition that existed before algorithmic ride-hailing services came to Indonesia. They’re the network through which drivers around the city stay in tight communication. This sense of community is now at the heart of what distinguishes Jakarta’s drivers from other gig workers around the world, and could reveal a new playbook for resistance: a way for workers to build collective power, achieve a measure of security, and take care of one another when seemingly no one else will. Read the full story.

—Karen Hao & Nadine Freischlad

We can still have nice things

A place for comfort, fun and distraction in these weird times. (Got any ideas? Drop me a line or tweet 'em at me.)

+ Punk to politician is a pretty cool job trajectory.
+ The cast of the Lord of the Rings reuniting over Zoom is exactly what I need right now.
+ Loving your favorite music runs a lot deeper than simply liking how it sounds.
+ We’re approaching the end of the year, which means it’s the perfect time to dive into a controversial list of the year’s best movies.
+ Happy birthday to Jonathan the tortoise, who, by turning 190 yesterday, officially became the world’s oldest living land animal!

Deep Dive

The Download

The Download: the problem with plug-in hybrids, and China’s AI talent

Plus: Silicon Valley is desperate to snap up top AI talent—before anyone else does

The Download: defining open source AI, and replacing Siri

Plus: the EU has announced a raft of new Big Tech probes

The Download: the mystery of LLMs, and the EU’s Big Tech crackdown

Plus: the trade secret war between China and the US is hotting up

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

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