NPR: Idled Thai Taxis Go Green With Mini-Gardens On Car Roofs
In an effort to utilize idled taxis due to the coronavirus crisis, two taxi cooperatives in Thailand assembled miniature gardens this week using black plastic garbage bags stretched across bamboo frames that serve as small vegetable plots.

“The result looks more like an eye-grabbing art installation than a car park, and that’s partly the point: to draw attention to the plight of taxi drivers and operators who have been badly hit by coronavirus lockdown measures. ‘The vegetable garden is both an act of protest and a way to feed my staff during this tough time,’ said Thapakorn.”

Wired: Portrait of Spot the Robot Dog Descending a Staircase
In her new exhibit, Renaissance 2.0, classical portrait painter Agnieska Pilat brings out the “essence” of Boston Dynamics’ robots within the context of classic Italian Renaissance paintings. This exhibit, she said, was in an effort to bring the soul of these newer technologies to the canvas, that we view as superficial and lifeless.

“[Pilat] loves the paradoxes underlying her subject matter: machines are typically noisy, and painting quiet and slow; a piece of art is always slightly different, machines are perfectly replicated. ‘Art is all about the artist who does it, and originality, uniqueness. Machines are mass produced, there is no authorship, so nothing is really original and one of a kind,’ she says.”

Wired: Drake, Kanye, Lil Nas X, and the Art of Online Self-Creation
Social media allows each of us to play whatever role we want — celebrities in particular are able to play up these fantasies to their fanbase in order to elevate aspects of their personality. Artists like Drake, Kanye West, and Lil Nas X have used these personas to their advantage, exaggerating certain personality traits online as part of their performance — leaving their followers loving their riveting show.

“Nas came of age running a stan account on Twitter, a point he shied away from early on, but it has made him a deceptively and electrifying canny pop artist. With total saturation of the market — across all of social media — he has outsmarted, out-marketed, and adapted better than every one of his peers. Nas was born online and seemingly emerged with his persona fully formed. This is, perhaps, why he can often seem so bulletproof, but also immutable — that persona isn’t a mask.”

Vox: What would a healthy social media platform even look like?
Facebook is under fire for a report that into Facebook that the platform makes people angry and depressed, and that Instagram makes teenage girls in particular feel significantly worse about themselves. Facebook has come out making claims that along with many other industries, we must take the good with the bad — cars, for example, cause many accidents, but they also transport people to and from their obligations. Ultimately, the author argues, the issue isn’t just misinformation on one channel itself — it’s that these channels go unmoderated, unchecked, and grow larger and larger as if they are just another American industry — but their unwieldy influence makes them anything but.

“Anyone who spends a decent amount of time online knows what happens when you shove a bunch of strangers into the same place. We replicate existing power dynamics, we form groups, we troll, we project our biases, we yell until only the most extreme voices are the ones that get heard. We expect the companies that own these platforms to fix it, but nobody can agree on how. The problem is that if social media companies are meant to operate in the way most companies in America are encouraged to — by growing as large as they can at the expense of everything else — then the bad parts of the internet aren’t a bug, they’re a feature. A growth-at-all-costs system is bad for basically everyone aside from people like Mark Zuckerberg and his shareholders, and yet we permit it because Americans seem to be perfectly fine with policing every human behavior except greed.”

Axios: Airbnb co-founders double Afghan refugee program to 40,000
Airbnb recently mobilized its unprecedented network of 4 million hosts to provide temporary housing for Afghan refugees worldwide. Over the last 10 years, Airbnb has housed nearly 100,000 people displaced by disasters.

“In an interview for “Axios Today,” Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said: “We’ve always wanted to figure out how we can use our platform as a force for good, beyond our core business.”

The housing typically lasts several weeks, and Airbnb and Airbnb.org provide subsidies to hosts. Hosts and donors also help pay. Co Founder Joe Gebbia said that since last month’s initial announcement, Airbnb has seen a groundswell of people offering homes and donations.

Gebbia said part of giving back is “simply asking the question when things like this happen in the world: How can we help?”

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