The Jolly Teapot

Freshly brewed links, served by Nicolas Magand

My name is Nicolas Magand and I live in Paris, France. I work as a social media and engagement editor at the Global Editors Network, a non-profit aimed at promoting innovation and sustainability in the news industry. Here I blog mostly about tech and media, but many other topics can face my enthusiasm.

Filtering by Tag: city

Tashkent Metro photographs

Amos Chapple – photographer for Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty – visited the Tashkent Metro after the ban on taking pictures of it was lifted a few months ago.

The resulting photographs are incredible. I especially like the blue wall around famous Soviet cosmonauts portraits, where the colours of the ceramic mimic the different layers of the atmosphere.

Each caption reveals a different piece of trivia about the Uzbekistan capital and its glorious subway stations, built by the Soviet Union in the seventies. My favourites:

Photography inside the the heavily policed Metro was forbidden until June 2018 because of the military sensitivity of its second role: as a nuclear bomb shelter.

During the Soviet period, planners required a city’s population to top 1 million before work would begin on a subway. Tashkent’s population reached the milestone in the early 1960s.

Artists were brought in from across the Soviet Union to work on the Tashkent Metro. These 5-meter chandeliers were designed by Latvian artist Haim Rykhsin.

Fascinating. These photographs also reminded me to buy this book from Christopher Herwig, so I can reminisce easier my wonderful visit of the Moscow Metro last year.

How a network of scammers keeps on exploiting Airbnb’s users

Allie Conti was feeling a bit suspicious of her hosts after she had a very bad Airbnb experience. She decided to investigate, and reported back her findings in a brilliant article on VICE.

If you ever booked a flat on Airbnb, you should read the article: this is what happened when she managed to reach someone behind the nationwide scam freshly uncovered:

Approximately 30 minutes after the call, I tried to go back on Abbot Pacific’s website. But I couldn’t. It had disappeared, replaced only five words in all caps: “THIS WEBSITE IS CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE.” I called “Patrick” back to ask what happened. “I think it went down yesterday,” he said. “We’re adding some new stuff to it. New properties and stuff like that.” When I told him that I had just been on the site moments before our initial conversation and found it strange that the website went down right after, he agreed that it was “weird.”

Busted.

As surprising and fascinating as this whole scam operation is, I believe the most shocking part of this story is the lack of proper answer from Airbnb: their flawed verification process, their users getting scammed, they basically did nothing about the issues exposed by Conti.

“We are suspending the listings while we investigate further.”

The best part of the article is this update, added at the end:

The morning after this article was published, the FBI contacted VICE about the claims made above.

I am sure this is not the last time we hear about this.

Moving a whole city a few kilometres away in order to keep it alive

A fascinating story by Chris Michael, on the fate of the northern Swedish city of Kiruna, which is threatened by the collapse of the iron ore mines underneath it. By law, the mining company has to keep the city from being swallowed into the ground, since it is responsible for this unusual situation. In that case, it means moving the city a few kilometres away.

The scale of the project is unprecedented. Several dozen buildings will be moved by a specially assembled team of experts who have become so good at their jobs that Cars claims it’s now usually cheaper to move a home than to demolish and rebuild. The huge wooden church will be hoisted and moved; other buildings, such as the current city hall and the railway station, will be stripped of aesthetic elements, including lampposts and iron railings, to be incorporated into new structures.

Piece of cake.

Video of outer-Shanghai shows an infinity of buildings

Last week I came accross this video posted on Twitter by James O'Malley, showing what the outskirts of Shanghai looked like between two train stations. As O'Malley describes it:

If you've ever wondered how China has room for 1.3bn people… this is how.

You have to watch it to believe it, but is it both fascinating and kind of shocking. Shocking in the sense that I know we are only seeing the tip of an iceberg here, and the scale of this city landscape is just remarkable.