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Have you ever wondered if someone, somewhere in the world, once went through their playlist and selected the exact same song at the exact same moment you did? If you and a complete stranger, for a few minutes, shared a musical communion without knowing it?

Spotify’s first “Artist in Residence” Kyle McDonald has. To answer these existential questions, the Brooklyn-based digital expert created “Serendipity,” a visualization of people around the world hitting “play” for the same song on Spotify within a tenth of a second. It turns out it happens all the time and that we’re even more in sync than we’d think.

To build Serendipity, McDonald got access to Spotify’s huge database, which constantly gathers information about the 25 to 50 million people listening to the music streaming website at the same time. Between 10,000 and 20,000 songs are started every second.

The map isn’t live, but the tracks shown on it were “recorded over one hour of one day”, the artist explains. In addition to revealing that some Australians are still listening to James Blunt’s “You’re Beautiful” in 2014, it also shows that two people living thousands of miles or just a few streets away from each other can have the same musical tastes, and uncanny synchronicity.

See Serendipity here.

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Coronavirus

Chinese Students' "Absurd" Protest Against COVID Lockdowns: Public Crawling

While street demonstrations have spread in China to protest the strict Zero-COVID regulations, some Chinese university students have taken up public acts of crawling to show what extended harsh lockdowns are doing to their mental state.

​Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling on a soccer pitch

Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling

Shuyue Chen

Since last Friday, the world has watched a wave of street protests have taken place across China as frustration against extended lockdowns reached a boiling point. But even before protesters took to the streets, Chinese university students had begun a public demonstration that challenges and shames the state's zero-COVID rules in a different way: public displays of crawling, as a kind of absurdist expression of their repressed anger under three years of strict pandemic control.

Xin’s heart was beating fast as her knees reached the ground. It was her first time joining the strange scene at the university sports field, so she put on her hat and face mask to cover her identity.

Kneeling down, with her forearms supporting her body from the ground, Xin started crawling with three other girls as a group, within a larger demonstration of other small groups. As they crawled on, she felt the sense of fear and embarrassment start to disappear. It was replaced by a liberating sense of joy, which had been absent in her life as a university student in lockdown for so long.

Yes, crawling in public has become a popular activity among Chinese university students recently. There have been posters and videos of "volunteer crawling" across universities in China. At first, it was for the sake of "fun." Xin, like many who participated, thought it was a "cult-like ritual" in the beginning, but she changed her mind. "You don't care about anything when crawling, not thinking about the reason why, what the consequences are. You just enjoy it."

The reality out there for Chinese university students has been grim. For Xin, her university started daily COVID-19 testing in November, and deliveries, including food, are banned. Apart from the school gate, all exits have been padlock sealed.

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