New York, Open Licensing, Pinterest, More: Friday Buzz, February 27th, 2015


The city of New York now has a database of building problems and complaints. “The site, officially released Thursday by rental listings site Apartable, aggregates data from city agencies detailing years of complaints, violations and building permits, as well as tax histories going back to 2009, for all of New York’s roughly 900,000 buildings. It combines this information with tenant reviews of buildings, landlords and management companies.”

The Department of State has announced the digitization of 20 volumes from the Foreign Relations of the United States series. “These volumes cover events that took place between 1948 and 1951 and were originally published in print between 1973 and 1998…”


The American Alliance of Museums is having a Google Hangout about open licensing on March 5th. “Interested in how you can open up your collections for the public good? In this one-hour roundtable discussion via Google+ Hangout, a panel of experts will explore the variety of ways that cultural institutions such as galleries, libraries, archives, and museums (GLAMs) can apply open licensing to their collections, as well as how this type of licensing benefits both institutions and their audiences.” It’s free for both members and non-members, but you are asked to pre-register.


Facebook is going to let you customize your gender.

Twitter is going to start tracking phone numbers to prevent abuse. “Under the changes, users who receive temporary bans may have to verify an email address or a phone number to resume using Twitter. (Other users can be banned permanently.) Email addresses are relatively easy to obtain, but phone numbers are harder — and by checking phone numbers against a list of banned users, Twitter could be able to keep more abusers and harassers from creating accounts.”

Google is working on a “reading mode” for Chrome. “Reader Mode is designed to make on-screen text easier to absorb, by removing unnecessary pictures, boxes, buttons and ads.”


Is Google going to invest in Jawbone?

Google will start ranking mobile-friendly sites higher in search results.

Rumor has it that Google will launch Android Pay in May. “Android Pay would allow single-tap pay transactions both inside of apps, as well as at physical stores, per the report. It would rely on Google’s Host Card Emulation, which should make it easier for third-party apps to utilize near-field communication (NFC), the technology that powers many mobile payments.”

It’s not just for images! From Mashable: How to share music on Pinterest.


At Ars Technia, Bruce Schneier looks at how Facebook or Google could maniuplate elections. “A truly sinister social networking platform could manipulate public opinion even more effectively. By amplifying the voices of people it agrees with, and dampening those of people it disagrees with, it could profoundly distort public discourse. China does this with its 50 Cent Party: people hired by the government to post comments on social networking sites supporting, and challenge comments opposing, party positions. Samsung has done much the same thing.” I believe when corporations do this it’s called astroturfing; I wonder what it’s called when governments do it?

Some data: When’s the best time to post to Instagram? 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!

Digg, Speech Therapy, Yo, More: Thursday Afternoon Buzz, February 26th, 2015


From the Global Investigative Journalism Network: Drilling Down: A Quick Guide to Free and Inexpensive Data Tools. A lightly-annotated link list; lots to explore here.

Digg now has a TV mode. I do not use Digg for anything but Digg Reader (which is fantastic), but this sounds interesting. “Digg TV (currently in beta) is a full-screen video viewing experience that lets you sit, relax and peruse the site’s curated videos. If watching only the top videos on the site isn’t enough for you, you can choose from a plethora of categories including Food, Art, Technology, News, Originals, Booze and more. So many more.”

University of North Carolina Archaeologists and Librarians have created an online catalog of (mostly) North Carolina artifacts. “Search the North Carolina Archaeological Collection is the result of a collaboration between the Labs and UNC’s University Library. Librarians working with the RLA converted previously internal records into a fully searchable online guide. Each record includes information about the object in question—what it is, where and when it was found, and where RLA staff should look to retrieve it.”


Google Play Music is increasing its free personal cloud storage to 50,000 songs. Yow.

Facebook is updating its suicide prevention/intervention tools. “Working with Forefront and other mental health experts, Facebook enhanced its suite of tools to support suicidal people and tell those who see and report suicidal posts on Facebook how they can help. When someone sees a post that suggests its author might be considering suicide, they can click on a dropdown menu and report the post to Facebook.”

Apparently Yo is turning into an update aggregator. “But today Yo launches what Arbel says was the plan all along, a way to subscribe to photos and links but no words from sources you might not care enough about to download a whole separate app. The Yo Store is free, and offers alerts from 150 services including BuzzFeed, NBA, Coinbase, TechCrunch, MTV, and weird-looking cat Lil Bub.” Somebody do something like this for university libraries…


Google is planning new headquarters in Mountain View, CA, but there are concerns.

Apparently YouTube made $4 billion dollars last year and exactly $0 in profit. “To put that into perspective, Facebook – a company that continues to work its way into the video market – generated over $12 billion in revenue last year. Its 1.3 billion users helped turn a profit of almost $3 billion.”


Pinterest is expected to have 50 million users by next year. I still don’t get Pinterest.

Wow! Using crowdsourcing to help with speech therapy. “Listeners were asked to rate recordings of 100 words containing the ‘r’ sound, collected from children with trouble pronouncing the sound and working to correct it in speech therapy. Twenty-five experienced listeners and 153 AMT [Amazon Mechanical Turk] listeners scored the ‘r’ sounds as correct or incorrect. Data from experienced listeners were collected over a period of three months, while data gathering using AMT took a mere 23 hours. The researchers found that when responses were aggregated, there was a very high level of overall agreement. When items were classified as correct or incorrect based on the majority vote across all listeners in a group, the AMT group and the experienced listener group were in agreement on all but seven of 100 items.” 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!

Singapore, Common Core, Google Soars, More: Thursday Morning Buzz, February 26th, 2015

I am trying an experiment with how I divide out the blog posts. Also later today – if the power holds out – I’ll have an post asking you for your opinion on a few more logos. I hope the new layout is useful.


The state of Tennessee has created a new site that maps the history of African-American soldiers during the Civil War. “This fully functional (and free) geographic information system application shows 150 wartime sites—refugee camps, early freedmen schools and churches, and recruitment sites for the more than 20,000 black Union soldiers who enlisted from Tennessee. In addition to narrative information, the sites are linked to scans of original primary sources that document historic events. These sources include maps, newspapers, and manuscript items from the collections of the Tennessee State Library and Archives and the Tennessee State Museum.”

Singapore has a new online database of flora and fauna. “Called Animals and Plants of Singapore, it is managed by Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum and went live on the museum’s website this month. Users can click on an animal and find links to information on the plants or animals it feeds on – though work on the site is ongoing and not all species have links in place yet. The database provides a name and a photograph of each species.” There is an English version available.

A study of the #commoncore hashtag on Twitter turned into a Web site that allows users to explore the research: “The #commoncore project lets viewers see how actors form informal networks on Twitter, and how those networks create and amplify narratives. By dissecting these networks, the researchers tell the story of how ordinary citizens and social media advocacy groups can amass greater influence than so-called authority figures who would have dominated this conversation even a decade ago. When they analyzed the language in the tweets, the researchers found that in many ways the Common Core debate has become a proxy war for broader disagreements about education policy and the very direction of the country. Some of the key people in this fight, they learn, don’t necessarily make the most provocative statements, but retweet information—some of it factual, some not—to a large and diverse collection of followers.”

More Google: it has launched Google Flights. “Regardless of which day you sit down to plan your trip, you can use the calendar in Google Flights to scroll through months and see the lowest fare highlighted for each day. If you’re planning even further out, use the lowest fares graph beneath the calendar to see how prices may fluctuate based on the season, holidays or other events. You can also set preferences (such as direct flights only) and our calendar will adjust to show you just those flights and fares that fit the bill. Finally, if you can save more by using a nearby airport or flying on a different day, we’ll show you a tip at the top of your results.”

In development: an online archive of black activist radio stations from the 60s and 70s. “[Seth] Kotch has collected over 150 audio reels from radio stations across the United States. He received a $28,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to fund the process of digitizing the reels to create an online archive.”


GMail now supports Myanmar (Burmese).

Firefox 36 has been released. I’m linking to the release notes.

Look like businesses listed on Google are going to get a chat box.

Twitter has released its first WordPress plugin.


Google Webmaster Tool is apparently sending warnings about outdated WordPress plugins. Good, the more of that the better.


Dan Gillmor — whom I’ve been reading for ages and greatly resepect — explains why he’s moving away from Google, Apple, and Microsoft. I’m not asking you to agree with everything he’s written here, but I think it’s important both to think about and talk about. “Control is moving back to the center, where powerful companies and governments are creating choke points. They are using those choke points to destroy our privacy, limit our freedom of expression, and lock down culture and commerce. Too often, we give them our permission—trading liberty for convenience—but a lot of this is being done without our knowledge, much less permission.”

Interesting: Google has built an AI that can learn and master video games. “While this is an amazing announcement for so many reasons, the most impressive part might be that the AI not only matched wits with human players in most cases, but actually went above and beyond the best scores of expert meat-based players in 29 of the 49 games it learned, and bested existing computer based players in a whopping 43.”

Wow: Google now displays “rich answers” for almost 20% of queries. “Rich answers” are the bits of information that Google provides at the top of search results which provide information without having to leave the Google search engine. 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!

Twitter, Web Archiving, NYC Art, More: Tuesday Afternoon Buzz, February 24th, 2015

Google is taking additional steps to protect users from malicious extensions. ” In the case that malicious software has managed to hijack your settings, we’ve added a “reset browser settings” button, so you can get things back to normal. But since the bad guys continue to come up with new ways to cause our users headaches, we are always taking additional measures. We previously announced that we’re making it more difficult for malware to secretly install unwanted Chrome extensions. Starting today, we’ll start enforcing this policy…. From now on, to protect Windows users from this kind of attack, extensions can be installed only if they’re hosted on the Chrome Web Store. With this change, extensions that were previously installed may be automatically disabled and cannot be re-enabled or re-installed until they’re hosted in the Chrome Web Store.”

Twitter has come out in favor of the FCC’s Net Neutrality plan. “Twitter‘s endorsement of the plan, which would prevent ISPs from speeding up some websites at the expense of others, is significant given the company’s role as a major media company, and its historical advocacy of free speech. In its blog post, Twitter pointed out a familiar refrain of net neutrality advocates: that emerging companies depend on access to the internet platforms that will carry their products and ideas.”

There now exists what I would describe as a federal Web archiving task group. “A function of government is to provide information to its citizens through publishing and to preserve some selected portion of these publications. Clearly some (if not most) .gov web sites are “government publications” and the U.S. federal government puts out information on .mil, .com, and other domains as well. What government agencies are archiving federal government sites for future research on a regular basis? And why? To what extent? In part inspired by discussions at last year’s Leviathan conference, and in part fulfilling earlier conversations, managers and staff of three federal agencies that each do selective harvesting of federal web sites decided to start meeting and talking on a regular basis – the Government Publishing Office, the National Archives and Records Administration and the Library of Congress. Managers and staff involved in web archiving from these three agencies have now met five times and have plans to continue meeting on a monthly basis during the remainder of 2015.”

Apparently social media around the Oscars was better for Facebook than Twitter. “Nielsen figures showed there were a total of 5.9 million Oscar-related tweets. That’s down about 65% from last year’s 17.1 million, though the latter figure was global while the 5.9 million referred to the U.S. In 2013, there were 8.9 million tweets about the show. That figure is also global…. Facebook, meanwhile, reported that 21 million people had 58 million interactions related to the Oscars Sunday night. That’s way up from 11.1 million users having 25.4 million interactions last year.”

An archive of contemporary art in New York City is underway: “The Roy Lichtenstein Foundation has awarded $75,000 to Artstor in support of the James Dee Archives project. The Archives are composed of approximately 250,000 slides, transparencies, negatives, and photographs documenting contemporary art in New York City over the last four decades, and Artstor is digitizing and maintaining the archive for use in research and education. The gift will support the processing of the collection, developing crowdsourcing software for collaborative cataloging, and the outreach to galleries and individuals who would be helpful in interpreting the images.”

This should be interesting: Apple will release its first iOS public beta. Considering some of the bugs that have come up after iOS releases, this is a good idea. “It’s unclear if iOS 8’s public betas will receive the same updates as the ones for developers, but 9to5Mac does report that iOS 9 will be available for public preview after it’s unveiled at WWDC in June. Public betas for iOS will reportedly be limited to 100,000 users, who, like developers, will be able to report bugs to Apple via a dedicated app.”

Did you know that searching for health information online can lead to privacy issues? “Marketers care very much about what diseases and conditions people are searching for online. Tim Libert, a doctoral student at the Annenberg School For Communication at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of the paper says that over 90% of the 80,000 health-related pages he looked at on the Internet exposed user information to third parties. These pages included health information from commercial, nonprofit, educational, and government websites.”

It’s not you being fumble-fingered: Gmail is suggesting incorrect autocomplete e-mail addresses. 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!