This article appears as part of the Unspun: Scottish Politics newsletter.

Probably my favourite news story of the year so far is the ill-fated Portal between Dublin and New York.

These “technology art sculptures” were the creation of Lithuanian artist Benediktas Gylys, and acted like a big public Zoom meeting with the microphone on mute.

Dubliners watched New Yorkers and New Yorkers watched Dubliners.

It was, the creator said, the start of a “bridge to a united planet”.

The promoters claimed it would “redefine the boundaries of artistic expression and connectivity”.

It was supposed to be unfiltered and live 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and last until the autumn.

It lasted six days.

There were lots of lovely stories. Kids playing paper, stones, scissors; family members reconnecting; even a marriage proposal.

Celebs loved them. “What an amazing concept,” said Margot Robbie. “This is so cool,” tweeted musician Grimes.

But, as you might expect from something unfiltered, there was no filter.

OnlyFans model Ava Louise went to the screen outside the Flatiron building and hitched up her top.

In Dublin, some people held up pictures of swastikas and images of planes crashing into the World Trade Center burning on 9/11.

As clips of these incidents went viral, the Portal was taken offline.

Instead of a live stream, watchers saw the message “Portal is asleep, back up soon.”

Gylys told The Guardian his artwork was “a representation of our current state of humanity”.

The Herald:
“We see a lot of love, light, smiles, a marriage proposal was made a couple of days ago, but we also have some darkness, attention-seeking, people who are only thinking about themselves, trying to jump on the narrative to get more views and followers.”

“It’s all part of the portal journey.”

The most surprising thing about all this is that people are shocked. It’s almost like the artist and the promoters and the city fathers who allowed this to go ahead haven’t met any people before.

If the internet has taught us anything over the last three decades, it’s that when a webcam is switched on someone somewhere will at some point flash.

Over the weekend, the Portal was switched back on, but it won’t be 24/7. It will be on 6am to 4pm New York time and 11am to 9pm Dublin time.

They’ve brought in security and installed fencing around the site.

A new feature will automatically blur both screens if someone steps on the platform and obstructs the camera.

This is not the first Portal – another linked Vilnius, Lithuania, to Lublin, Poland.

There were, however, no “negative incidents” there, according to Portals.Org.

The plan is to eventually have portals all over the world. The next location is supposed to be somewhere in Brazil in July, with the screens flicking between cities.

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Maybe we’ll get one in Scotland. Let the people of Dundee connect with the people of Lagos, maybe try and repair the city’s reputation after Dundee United's disastrous tour of West Africa in 1972 which led to the club’s name becoming local slang for idiot (see Liam Kirkcaldy's excellent investigative work for more detail).

But perhaps we should start smaller, and set up a portal between Edinburgh and Oban or Edinburgh and Aberdeen or Inverness or Lewis or Peebles.

We could put the capital’s portal at the bottom of the Royal Mile, near one of the pools outside the parliament. 

Maybe if our MSPs could see Highlanders or the North East or just anyone outside the central belt it might help them a bit when policy making.

Though given that the New York-Dublin one cost “a few hundred thousand dollars” according to the New York Times, and relied on the deep pockets of a billionaire philanthropist, this might be a bit ambitious. 

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Especially if they’re also going to have to pay for G4S type guards and fencing.

It was supposed to be a new front in “smart tourism” the Lord Mayor of Dublin Daithí De Róiste said.

But writing in the Irish Times, the journalist Fintan O’Toole pointed out that Portal gave New Yorkers not a chance to see Dubliners, but for Dubliners to fulfil that Burns-ian hankering of being able to “see oursels as others see us”.

It wasn't all that pretty but maybe that’s worth the price tag.