One of the best parts of Spotify on desktop is the feature that shows what one’s friends are listening to. It’s riveting to lurk from account to account, and guess why people are playing artists as varied as Waka Flaka Flame, Nine Inch Nails and Justin Bieber. By sharing their favorite songs, people express their moods, hopes, fears and ideas. Hearing someone’s playlist can feel as intimate as reading their diary.
In Russian, “Sputnik” means “fellow traveler.” The Soviets used the term for their early Cold War satellites, perhaps to give the ships a sense of community, or offer a friendly invitation to extraterrestrial life (if they happened to speak Russian). In the 2020 film of the same name, a Russian spaceship picks up a “fellow traveler,” sometime in the 1980s. Sadly for the cosmonauts, this Sputnik is anything but friendly.