When bitcoin hit $19,300 in 2017, journalist Maria Bustillos was chipping away at another use for cryptocurrency. The blockchain technology that bitcoin uses promised the ability to produce incorruptible records that didn’t rely on the whims of advertisers or corporations. In her career as a writer for The New Yorker and other venerable publications, she watched colleagues’ articles disappear from Google as ad-based models took hold. She experienced “link rot,” as digital servers moved...


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