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🎨 The internet’s insane art project, explained

The Hustle

As Twitter’s newly minted top shareholder, Elon Musk posed an interesting (probably hypothetical) question to his followers this weekend: “Convert Twitter SF HQ to homeless shelter since no one shows up anyway” — yes or no? Of the ~1.8m responses, 91% were in favor.

In today’s email:

  • r/place: The craziest art project in internet history?
  • Uh-oh: A dire climate report has companies making new pledges.
  • Digits: Lambos, taxes, bad dates, and more by the numbers.
  • Around the web: Food hoaxes, to-do list tools, dog songs, and more cool internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s quick podcast to hear Jacob discuss our $761B obsession with returning items after buying them, free taxes, sunken Lambos, 10m-person internet art projects, and more.

The big idea
various art

The craziest art project in internet history

The premise is simple: simultaneously give everyone on the internet access to the same white canvas on which each user can color a single pixel every 5 minutes.

“Individually you can create something, but together you can create something more,” reads a description for r/place, the April Fools’ Day social experiment Reddit first ran in 2017.

That year, 1m+ redditors placed ~16m tiles. Chaotic, a sh*t show, some may even call it, but beautifully mesmerizing all the same.

Last week, they did it again. And wow.

Engagement on the project was, well, high. Over 4 days:

  • 10.4m+ people placed a tile
  • 160m+ tiles were placed
  • 4B minutes were spent in the group

People from 236 countries and territories participated, with the US, Turkey, and France having the most users placing tiles.

How did it work?

As you can imagine, give millions of people the creative freedom to paint a canvas and some interesting things will happen.

Strategies developed. Rival factions formed. Territorial battles were won and lost. Check out this recap to see how things unfolded.

One notable event: The so-called Spanish-French War of r/place, which saw a Spanish streamer promise fans of K-pop boy band BTS that he would help the “Butter” music video hit 1B views if they helped him overrun the French flag.

Other interesting tidbits included Canada’s struggle to maintain its maple leaf, a Rembrandt, and hidden “Among Us” figures.

What happens now?

Reddit concluded the project by restricting everyone to white tiles, effectively having users erase the canvas.

Afterward, a timelapse of the canvas was released, and the community built an interactive atlas detailing even the smallest features.

The project could well be the most collaborative artwork in history, and represents the internet’s power to bridge millions of people from all corners of the web.

Of course, crazy busy art would be pointless without Waldo. Go find him.

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SNIPPETS

CNBC explores how Amazon deals with all its returns, including resale, donation, and “energy recovery” — when an item that can’t be resold is burned for energy. #ecommerce-retail

Blockstream, Block, and Tesla are building a solar- and battery-powered bitcoin mine in Texas to prove that bitcoin mining can be done sustainably. #clean-energy

Axiom Space’s 4-person crew reached the ISS, the 1st all-private team of astronauts to do so. They brought 24 science experiments to conduct over a week. #emerging-tech

A lawsuit claims LVMH collected facial scans without consent when customers used an online tool to try on glasses. #privacy

Apple’s next Worldwide Developers Conference is set for June 6. The virtual event is expected to showcase new Macs and software updates for iOS, watchOS, and more. #big-tech

Mission Emissions
windmills

(Federico Gambarini / picture alliance via Getty Images)

Pinterest, Ford among companies responding to grim climate report

A new climate report that expounds on how screwed we are dropped last Monday.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) report warns that unless countries significantly reduce emissions immediately, it’ll be impossible to cap global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius — and avoid some of the worst impacts of a heating planet.

Some companies are using the moment to underscore their progress on reducing emissions and make new pledges. A few highlights:

Walmart

On Wednesday, Walmart said it’s more than halfway toward its 2017 initiative of cutting its supply chain emissions by a gigaton by 2030.

Walmart’s ambitious climate goals include:

  • Reaching zero emissions by 2040
  • Using renewable energy to fuel 50% of global operations by 2025 and 100% by 2035

Pinterest

Pinterest announced that it’s banning ads and posts that feature climate misinformation. This includes content that denies climate change is happening, or that humans are causing it.

Ford

Last week, Ford said it’s ready to ship the 1st of its all-electric E-Transit cargo vans to the European market. Ford is targeting zero emissions for all European vehicle sales and carbon neutrality in its European supply chain by 2035.

Though firms are making progress…

… it’s happening way too slowly. Governments and companies are spending ~$600B per year to spur clean energy investment and emissions reductions, but last week’s report found that we need to be investing 3x-6x more.

On the bright side, the report notes that we have the tech and tools to draw down emissions — we just need to actually put them to work.

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Free Resource

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By The Numbers
sunken Lambo

Must’ve taken a wrong turn. (Bobbi Wu / Unsplash)

Digits: Sunken lambos, taxes, bad dates, and more

1) Remember The Felicity Ace, that big boat carrying a bunch of fancy cars that sank a little while ago? Well, now we know exactly which cars were on board, among them 21 Lamborghinis, 25 Bentleys, 150 Audis, and a single Kia Soul — the subject of the greatest car commercial in history.

2) By law, most Americans making less than $73k a year should be able to file taxes for free, but, in 2019, only 2.4% of those eligible did so. In context, that means 14m+ people ended up paying tax software companies ~$1B they didn’t have to. The FTC is now working to remedy this problem. How kind.

3) A new Pew report found 63% of single Americans find it harder to date today than pre-pandemic. The odd part is that 3% of respondents said dating today is easier. To the 3%, who are you, and what do you know?

4) WhatsApp now says users send 7B voice messages daily. For reference, as of 2020, WhatsApp users were sending ~100B text messages daily. Now the team is rolling out new features, like Out of Chat Playback and Waveform Visualization.

5) If you stacked every iPhone ever sold — approximately 2.8B phones — from end to end, you’ll find yourself with a stack of iPhones 243.1k miles long, further away than the moon. Thankfully, if you ever need to come back, stacking every iPad ever sold will get you ⅓ the way there.

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AROUND THE WEB

🥊 On this day: In 1921, KDKA in Pittsburgh broadcasted a boxing match between Johnny Ray and Johnny Dundee, the 1st sporting event to air live on the radio.

🍝 Haha: Spaghetti trees, bull testicle beer, and other food hoaxes that people actually believed.

🦙 Useful: Llama Life is a tool for powering through your to-do list.

💫 That’s cool: Lightyear.fm lets you hear how far various songs have traveled into space.

🐕 Aww: Songfinch is a platform where you can buy custom songs from musicians. Here’s a playlist about people’s dogs.

Pic of the day
r/place final canvas

The final, filled canvas from r/place in all its glory. (Via Reddit)

How did you like today’s email?
Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen, Juliet Bennett Rylah, and Rob Litterst.
Editing by: Jennifer “Internet artist” Wang.

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