Facebook, Twitter, Google, More: Wednesday Buzz, July 29th, 2015

NEW RESOURCES

Under development a digital database of early Mormon polygamous marriages. “[Kathleen] Flake, Richard Lyman Bushman Professor of Mormon Studies, is concentrating her research on the small town of Nauvoo, Illinois from 1842 to 1852, a decade that included some of Mormonism’s first plural marriages. At the time, both the public at large and many within the church itself were opposed to the practice, which the church officially banned in 1890. Working with U.Va.’s Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, where she is a 2014-16 faculty fellow, Flake has begun cataloguing every plural marriage undertaken in that period, using genealogies kept by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Early Mormon Marriage database will include basic identifying information about each participant and as much relational information as possible, to shed light on how each member of the community was connected and what motivated their unions.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Facebook is apparently testing profile tags ala LinkedIn. If enacted this will give my friend Dan Lyke and I many more opportunities for silliness. “And like LinkedIn, you can assign tags to yourself, or your friends can assign them at your approval. And being Facebook, you can create whatever tag you want — you won’t have to pick from a set list. You can even use emoji — and that will likely be the kicker.”

Google is expanding the visual capabilities of its translate app. “The Google Translate app already lets you instantly visually translate printed text in seven languages. Just open the app, click on the camera, and point it at the text you need to translate—a street sign, ingredient list, instruction manual, dials on a washing machine. You’ll see the text transform live on your screen into the other language. No Internet connection or cell phone data needed. Today, we’re updating the Google Translate app again—expanding instant visual translation to 20 more languages (for a total of 27!), and making real-time voice translations a lot faster and smoother—so even more people can experience the world in their language.”

USEFUL STUFF

The always-brilliant Amit Agarwal shows how easy it is to fake embedded tweets. “Now CSS does help you control the tweet’s appearance but you may be surprised to know that it is also possible to change the other elements of an embedded tweet. For instance, you may modify the actual text of the tweet. The favorite & retweet counts can be altered as well. Let me illustrate that with an example:”

Google Operating System takes a look at Google Photos’ search filters. “Google+ Photos has a few search filters that are pretty useful. You can find them if you click the small arrow from the search box: Auto Backup, Hangouts, Google Drive, Posts, Auto Awesome, Videos and more. The nice thing is that most of them are also available in Google Photos.”

If you’re like me (and I know I am), then your interest in the Superbowl is mainly in the commercials. In that case you’ll like the news that CBS will livestream the Superbowl commercials next year. “The internet has changed the way we watch the Super Bowl, and media is following suit. Variety reports that CBS, in a game-changing move, will live stream every national ad during next year’s big game in near-real time. It’s an incredible decision that will change how advertisers spend money on the event, and helps turn Super Bowl 50 into a much bigger spectacle.” It also means that a 30-second ad slot will run almost 5 million smackers — and that using a Superbowl ad as the linchpin of an advertising campaign will be a huge, dangerous gamble. Cough RADIO SHACK cough

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Facebook is sharing its diversity training course with everybody. “Facebook on Tuesday launched a new page called ‘Managing Unconscious Bias,’ which features a training course and several informational videos aimed at improving diversity in the workplace. The training course, which was developed by Facebook, educates would-be employers and job-seekers on the realities of bias in the hiring process. The training was previously provided to Facebook employees.”

Google is using Street View cars to map air pollution. “In the first pilot, three Street View cars collected 150 million air quality data points over a month of driving around Denver, Colorado. They measured for chemicals that are hazardous to breathe, like nitrogen dioxide, nitric oxide, ozone, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, methane, black carbon, particulate matter, and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).”

Yahoo has paid out over a million dollars in bug bounties. “A major improvement to our Bug Bounty program has been the implementation of a reputation system. This process is designed to award points to researchers after reporting a verifiable security bug. The number of points is also affected by the amount of the bounty the reporter is paid. The reputation system has made our list of top vulnerability reporters more meaningful by illustrating not only the number of reports they have submit, but the severity value we assigned to each. The reputation system also gives researchers a quantifiable way to compare their skills with the rest of the participants in the program.”

Twitter is reconsidering how it displays tweets. If it starts going algo-only it’s going to be a lot less useful. “Tweets typically appear in reverse chronological order, but that seems to be up for grabs as the company looks for ways to make its service more intuitive and attract more users in the face of stubbornly sluggish growth.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

The White House has announced some changes about the way it will respond to petitions. “For the most part, we’ve been pretty good about responding — before today, the Obama Administration had responded to 255 petitions that had collectively gathered more than 11 million signatures. That’s more than 91 percent of the petitions that have met our threshold requiring a response. Some responses have taken a little longer than others. But now, I’m happy to say, we have caught up.”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

If you’re really, really worried about privacy online, you can get a browser plugin that randomizes the way your keyed input appears to Web sites. “Security researchers have refined a long-theoretical profiling technique into a highly practical attack that poses a threat to Tor users and anyone else who wants to shield their identity online. The technique collects user keystrokes as an individual enters usernames, passwords, and other data into a website. After a training session that typically takes less than 10 minutes, the website—or any other site connected to the website—can then determine with a high degree of certainty when the same individual is conducting subsequent online sessions…. The prospect of widely available databases that identify users based on subtle differences in their typing was unsettling enough to researchers Per Thorsheim and Paul Moore that they have created a Chrome browser plugin that’s designed to blunt the threat. The plugin caches the input keystrokes and after a brief delay relays them to the website in at a pseudo-random rate.” Good morning, Internet…

I love your comments, I love your site suggestions, and I love you. Feel free to comment on the blog, or @ResearchBuzz on Twitter. Thanks!

ALL KINDSA STUFF: Tuesday Buzz, July 28th, 2015

NEW RESOURCES

The Southern Voice Newspaper collection is now available in the Digital Library of Georgia. “We are excited to announce the availability the Southern Voice newspaper collection, 1988-1995 thanks to our partners at Kennesaw State University (KSU) Archives. The Southern Voice newspaper, also known as SOVO, was an alternative news source for lesbians and gay men in the greater Atlanta area and Southeast for over 20 years.”

Now available: an online archive of vintage Madagascar photographs. “The website went live on July 27, 2015, and offers a glimpse of everyday lives in Madagascar from 1850 to 1960. The collections is organized in four major periods: Pre-colonial Period, Colonial Period, Major Constructions, Everyday Life and Independence.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

This should be fun! IFTTT now has a Spotify channel.

USEFUL STUFF

From the always-interesting Preston Gralla: 5 great free apps for powering up Google Drive.

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Twitter is asserting copyright to delete stolen jokes. Um… “Let’s face it: coming up with a grade-A tweet isn’t easy. That’s why some people just copy good tweets from other people and act like they came up with the 140-character witticism on their own. This has been going on since the beginning of Twitter. It now appears Twitter is using its legal authority to crack down on these tweet-stealers. A number of tweets have been deleted on copyright grounds for apparently stealing a bad joke.” Because Twitter has no other issues with content and user interaction that it should consider a higher priority. Nope nope nope.

The amount of stuff being uploaded to YouTube is getting scarier and scarier. It’s up to 400 hours a minute. You heard me. “YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki dropped a big data bomb at VidCon. On July 23, 2015 at her closing keynote speech for the annual online video event’s industry track, Wojcicki revealed Google’s online video site now claims over 400 hours of content uploaded every single minute. It was only in December 2014 when YouTube claimed 300 hours of content uploaded every minute, as per a report from ReelSEO. The publication noted those 300 hours per minute were the equivalent of about 49 years’ worth of content per day. Based on the most recent stats, 400 hours of content comes out to 24,000 days’ worth of content uploaded to YouTube every minute and 65.7 years’ worth of content uploaded every day.”

Science fiction fans raised almost $2000 to help digitize the Hevelin collection at the University of Iowa archives. “Rusty Hevelin was a science fiction fan, pulp collector, fanzine creator, huckster (a dealer at conventions), and voracious reader for most of his 89 years. He was also involved with the Iowa Science Fiction conventions ICON and Demicon from the time of their founding. After his death in 2011, his collections came to the University of Iowa Special Collections where a recent unprecedented initiative to digitize around 10,000 of the earliest fanzines from roughly 1930s-1950s has begun.”

The Smithsonian’s foray into Kickstarter is going really well. “That Kickstarter, dubbed ‘Reboot the Suit’ paid off, hitting its goal in 5 days. While large philanthropic organizations ask for thousands in private donations, the majority of backers donated $100 or less to this project.”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

Ewww. There is a really nasty Android bug out there. “It’s like something from a bad movie: eager to learn the details of the bad guy’s dastardly plot, the good guys hack his phone armed with little more than knowledge of his phone number. No physical access to the phone, no tricking him into opening some shady application; just a quick message sent to his phone, and bam — they’re in. Alas, that’s essentially how a new Android hack works, according to researchers… and the vast majority of Android devices are vulnerable.”

Facebook has been ordered by a German privacy watchdog to allow pseudonyms. “Facebook may not unilaterally change such accounts to the real names of users and may not block them, Johannes Caspar, Hamburg’s data regulator, said in an e-mailed statement. The company, whose European headquarters are in Ireland, can’t argue it’s only subject to that country’s law, he said.”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

Does Facebook lead young women to dangerous diets? “The study included 128 college-aged women who completed an online survey about their eating habits and their emotional connection to Facebook — such as how much time they spent on the social networking site and number of Facebook friends — and whether they compared their bodies to friends’ bodies in online photos.” Good afternoon, Internet…

I love your comments, I love your site suggestions, and I love you. Feel free to comment on the blog, or @ResearchBuzz on Twitter. Thanks!

Oklahoma, Mongolia, Patents, More: Monday Afternoon Buzz, July 27th, 2015

NEW RESOURCES

Historic maps of Oklahoma are now available for viewing online. “The collection includes more than 15,000 maps from 1820 to the present, including the 1,900 now online. It features Oklahoma streets and highways, counties and towns, waterways, railways, American Indian populations, cemeteries, telecommunication lines, trails, borderlines and boundaries, including U.S. government agency maps, [Chad] Williams said.”

Google Street View went to Mongolia and oh, wow. “Last fall we strapped a Street View camera onto a four-wheel drive pickup truck to begin capturing 360-imagery from rugged Mongolian roads. Since then we’ve also gone off-road to capture images of the country’s most beautiful places with Ariuntuul, our Mongolian Trekker operator, who carried the 18-kg Street View Trekker into the wild expanses of Mongolia’s diverse countryside.”

Coming this summer: a nationwide map of school attendance zones. I guess I should have assumed that any collection of arbitrarily-drawn boundaries could be gerrymandered, but I never thought about it. “Understanding who goes to which area school and why may soon become a lot easier for education officials and community members alike. The U.S. Department of Education plans to release the first nationwide map of school attendance boundaries this summer. Starting in November, school districts will be able to use an online tool to draw or upload their own maps and download or tweak existing maps. In the process, districts will create the most detailed picture yet of how American schools define their communities.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

WordPress has gotten a new security update. “WordPress versions 4.2.2 and earlier are affected by a cross-site scripting vulnerability, which could allow users with the Contributor or Author role to compromise a site. This was initially reported by Jon Cave and fixed by Robert Chapin, both of the WordPress security team, and later reported by Jouko Pynnönen.”

Bing has set up a revenge porn removal form. “Detailing the move in a blog post yesterday, Microsoft’s chief online safety officer, Jacqueline Beauchere, said it will also be cutting off access to revenge porn when it is shared via its OneDrive cloud storage service or the Xbox Live games service, as well as searched for via Bing.”

Yahoo is going to start offering a daily streaming news program. “Starting today, the Yahoo News team – led by Yahoo’s Global News Anchor Katie Couric – will get you up to speed on the top headlines of the day and take you on a deep dive into the most talked about story of the day with live interviews, reporting and analysis. From the Iran nuclear deal to the latest on the 2016 campaign trail, Yahoo News Live will provide perspective on the stories that are trending around the nation, and often the world. Yahoo News Live will stream every weekday (M-F) at 1:00pm ET on Yahoo: yahoo.com/katiecouric.”

Google is continuing to back away from Google+, which is great. “…in the coming months, a Google Account will be all you’ll need to share content, communicate with contacts, create a YouTube channel and more, all across Google. YouTube will be one of the first products to make this change, and you can learn more on their blog. As always, your underlying Google Account won’t be searchable or followable, unlike public Google+ profiles. And for people who already created Google+ profiles but don’t plan to use Google+ itself, we’ll offer better options for managing and removing those public profiles.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Stephen Hawking is going to host a Reddit AMA.

Google wants to giave away patents to startups. “Back in April, Google launched a pop-up, temporary marketplace for companies to sell patents, with Google being the sole buyer. Today, the search and mobile giant is expanding that marketplace in the other direction: Google has started a program for startups to give away up to two non-organic patent families off Google, as well as potentially make offers to buy patents from it in the future. It’s tying up the offer with a requirement to join the LOT Network, a cross-company licensing push (others in the group include Dropbox, SAP and Canon) aimed at driving down the number of patent-trolling suits.”

Google is going to shut down “unverified” Google My Business listings tomorrow. And considering what an unholy mess Google Local business listings have been since they were brought under the aegis of Google+, I’m not looking forward to having to fix the problems that are no doubt going to crop up tomorrow. Good afternoon, Internet…

I love your comments, I love your site suggestions, and I love you. Feel free to comment on the blog, or @ResearchBuzz on Twitter. Thanks!

Typography, Twitter, Slack, More: Monday Morning Buzz, July 27th, 2015

NEW RESOURCES

A new crowdfunded investigative journalism site is being launched in Scotland. “Called the Ferret, the web-based project said it plans to draw on successful investigative journalism collectives, including De Correspondent in the Netherlands and the Belfast-based outfit The Detail, to produce independent investigations and also stories it can sell on to mainstream outlets such as the Scottish and national press, Channel 4 News or the BBC.”

The Ogden Museum is gathering memories of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita for a digital archive. “From Aug. 1 through 31, people can record their memories at computer stations throughout the Circle Gallery in the museum at 925 Camp St. Those recollections will become part of the Hurricane Digital Memory Bank, which is operating the program with the museum.”

New-to-Me: a Duggal blog post tipped me to a huge archive of Vernacular Typography. From the Web site: “One vanishing art that can still be studied in the interstices of the assault of global retail is vernacular typography. All over the world, there are cities and towns that retain their rich traditions of vernacular signage. Unfortunately, the fate of these typographic havens is being threatened by the uniformity of corporate advertising, which ignores and subverts local history and tradition. This website seeks to collect and document examples of these vanishing symbols of art and culture.”

I’m not sure why you’d want this, maybe to do some of the most offbeat text analysis ever, but almost every Reddit comment is available in a huge download. Just the compressed dataset is about 5GB. There are over 1.6 billion comments here.

Do you want to “Deep Dream,” or trippify your own photos? There’s an app for that.

The AP has put a million minutes of history on YouTube. “Associated Press, in company with British Movietone, has released a million minutes of historic world news on to two YouTube channels. The collection of more than 550,000 digitised video stories dates from 1895 to the present day and it is claimed to be the largest upload of historical news content on the video-sharing platform.” Entirely free to access as far as I can tell.

USEFUL STUFF

Fun stuff from Dylan Burns: Curating a Twitter Presence as a Library Student. “I have to admit that I didn’t ‘get’ ‘twitter’ ‘before’ I was in library school. I may not ‘get’ it. I had an account before I applied and it has maybe 2 followers, none of which were librarians. One of my first steps toward the library world was to get connected with the twitter librarians. This is how I did it, with Simpsons’ memes.”

Ever wondered exactly what subtweeting is? The Guardian snarksplains. (Well, not really; it’s a good article. But there are plenty of people who aren’t familiar with Twitter who weren’t born in 1880.) “Subtweeting: it’s the internet equivalent of talking about someone behind their back – or at least that’s how people usually explain it. But in truth, the art of subtweeting consists of many different strokes. It’s not something that can be so succinctly defined. Subtweeting can be brilliant, it can be cruel, it can be rude, it can be annoying as hell.”

What a great article from PC Magazine! How the NY Public Library Crowdsources Digital Innovation. It’s a quick read but inspiring.

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Slack has integrated with Google Calendar. “After linking a Google account to Slack, you can choose any calendar and instruct it to post to certain Slack channels. For example, you could have events from your company’s development deadline calendar post reminders to the #dev channel two days before a product deadline.”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

This article from The Next Web has the best URL ever, but that’s not why I’m linking to it. I’m linking to it because it it points out that movie studios are so lazy about vetting their takedown requests to Google that they’re asking Google to take down stuff from their own computers.

Google did a study comparing the security practices of security experts and non-expert users. “The study, based on the responses of 231 security experts and 294 non-experts, shows that there is a big discrepancy in the security practices each of these categories follow. For example, security experts have named software updates as the top online safety practice. In contrast, regular users don’t consider software updates a priority when it comes to online safety. Non-experts don’t clearly understand how effective updates are, and some users even believe they are risky because they could contain bugs or hide malicious software.”

Speaking of Google … from Mazin Ahmed: Bypassing Google Password Alert With One Line of Code. The blog post includes a demonstration video. Google Password Alert, if you don’t remember, is a Chrome extension to protect you from fake Google login sites.

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

LinkedIn wants to make you wait to download your contacts list. “Previously, the social networking site provided a way for users to instantly export their contacts. It was a useful feature for people looking to manage their contacts elsewhere. Under a change made Thursday, users now must make a request to download their account data. In a page describing the new process, LinkedIn says users will receive an email within 72 hours with a link to download the archive when it is ready.” LAME.

Egyptians are using Facebook to highlight the sad state of public facilities. “Egyptian doctors posted hundreds of pictures on a Facebook page showing poor conditions at medical facilities around the country: bandaged patients sleeping in halls, animals traipsing through wards, splotches of blood left to coagulate on floors. Their effort inspired a series of similar pages illustrating the miserable state of other public facilities, including the nation’s universities, courts and government offices, as well as streets and slums.” Good morning, Internet…

I love your comments, I love your site suggestions, and I love you. Feel free to comment on the blog, or @ResearchBuzz on Twitter. Thanks!

Faulkner, Delicious, Video Games, More: Friday Buzz, June 24th, 2015

NEW RESOURCES

William Faulkner is getting a new online database. “More than 50 years after William Faulkner’s last book, educators are creating an online database of his books and short stories, featuring maps, characters and other information that can be accessed online by scholars and the public.”

Want to explore video games? Two USC students made some cool tools. “In a UC-Santa Cruz research lab dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of computer games, two graduate students have combined linguistics and computational theory to create a new multidimensional library of 12,000 computer games. The web-based tools, GameNet and GameSage, offer novel ways to discover similar types of games.” And different types of games; if you use GameNet you can enter the name of a computer game and get the 50 most related games and the 50 most unrelated games. The 1991 game Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is apparently completely unrelated to Dance Dance Revolution. And then there’s GameSage. “GameSage is a tool that takes free-text input describing an idea for a videogame and lists the existing games that are most related to that idea. This tool utilizes the notion in LSA of folding in, whereby a new document that was not used during model training is fitted with a representation in the semantic space derived by the model. By treating the user’s input text (which specifies her game idea) as a corpus document (on par with the videogame Wikipedia articles we used to train our LSA model) and folding it in, we are able to derive an LSA vector for the idea.”

Now available: an online database of financial aid programs. “While a college education is more important than ever, students face unprecedented challenges in financing the cost. Policymakers across the country are working to design financial aid programs that foster postsecondary degree access and completion… Today, the Education Commission of the States announces the availability of a comprehensive 50-state database detailing 100 of the largest state financial aid programs across the country. This unique resource is intended to inform discussions surrounding current program design, innovative models already in practice in the states, and assist states in identifying peer programs from which to learn.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Google has created a Drive plugin for Microsoft Office. “Google today launched a new plug-in for Microsoft Office that gives you access to all of your Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents in Google Drive right from Microsoft’s desktop apps. The plug-in also lets you save files directly to Google Drive, so you can then edit them in Google’s online apps, too.” This would have been great nine years ago. I’m pretty much a LibreOffice gal at this point…

Hey! Delicious has launched some new features, including Dmail, a very interesting Google addon. “Dmail, is a chrome extension available to all users, that allows you to send private, self destructing email from your Gmail account. Enhancing the old with something newer and better is what we’re all about. The idea for Dmail came from our own personal experience sending and trying to protect sensitive information via email. Our core belief is that the sender should own the content of their email, and more specifically, access to it. The recipient should currently be able to view the content of the email in the browser without having to install the chrome extension. The Dmail extension is only necessary if you want to send a Dmail.”

YouTube has a new mobile app. In addition to new browsing and nav features, apparently there are new video creation/editing tools (I haven’t tried it yet.)

Google has launched new transcription for Google Voice, thereby removing one of my main sources of workday entertainment. Nobody could be as weird on purpose as my Google Voice transcriptions. “…we asked users if they would kindly share some of their voicemails for research and system improvements. Thanks to those who participated, we are happy to announce an improved voicemail system in Google Voice and Project Fi that delivers more accurate transcriptions. Using a (deep breath) long short-term memory deep recurrent neural network (whew!), we cut our transcription errors by 49%.”

The JustWatch search engine now has a mobile app. “JustWatch, a startup that launched earlier this year offering a search engine that helps cord cutters figure out where to watch their favorite programs and movies, is now expanding to mobile. The company has released both iOS and Android applications that help you find where to watch movies and shows, as well as discover new and popular content across a variety of services, including Netflix, Amazon, HBO NOW, Showtime, Hulu, iTunes and many others.”

PRIVACY AND SECURITY ISSUES

Apparently Adobe Flash is on its last legs, which I think is great.

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Creative Commons has launched a Kickstarter campaign. “Our plan is to spend the next year collaboratively researching and writing a book about business models that involve Creative Commons licensing. Even our funding strategy for this project is public-facing and collaborative. Last week we launched our first-ever Kickstarter to raise money for the project, and we hope you’ll become a part of it all by making a pledge at any amount. Crowdfunding this project is a way to kick off the project in an open and visible way, and to gather support and excitement for our work.” With 20 days to go at this writing, CC is halfway to its goal.

If you’re interested in Google Fiber, you may be interested in this: Testimony of Michael Slinger, Director of Google Fiber City Teams, Google Inc. Before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology Hearing on “Promoting Broadband Infrastructure Investment”. The testimony was on July 22, and the document is PDF (sorry).

OTHER THINGS I THINK ARE COOL

From Smithsonian Science News: Digitized, Searchable Archives Help Revive ‘Sleeping’ Languages. “Like other kids at summer camp, a group of youngsters in the cities of Miami, Okla. and Fort Wayne, Ind. play games, work on crafts and spend lots of time outside. But for this particular collection of campers, there’s a twist: Much of their time is spent learning or speaking in Myaamia, the language of the Native American Miami Tribe of Oklahoma.” Good morning, Internet…

I love your comments, I love your site suggestions, and I love you. Feel free to comment on the blog, or @ResearchBuzz on Twitter. Thanks!