Hangouts, HHS, Outrage, More: Friday Buzz, July 17th, 2015

Hell Week has become Heck Weekend so I’m sneaking off to work on ResearchBuzz.

NEW RESOURCES

The US Department of Health and Human Services has launched an online compendium of resources for mitigating the health impacts of emergencies. “The compendium offers an easy-to-navigate, comprehensive, web-based repository of HHS products, services and capabilities available to state, state, tribal, territorial, and local agencies before, during, and after public health and medical incidents. The information spans 24 categories, and each category showcases the relevant disaster resources available from HHS and partner agencies, a brief description of each resource and information on accessing each one.” Categories include Patient Movement, Mass Care, Vector Control, and Blood Products and Services.

Inscriptions from cultural heritage sites in Iraq are are being saved into an online database. “Between 1997 and 2014, [Amir] Harrak made several trips to cultural heritage sites throughout Iraq, cleaning and recording engraved inscriptions that date between the seventh and 20th centuries. During a trip to Mosul in 2014, he recorded inscriptions and art at the monastery of Mar Behnam. Islamic State fighters captured the city and monastery in June 2014, but Harrak managed to leave before they arrived. Since then, the militant grouphas destroyed the monastery along with many sites in Mosul and other parts of Iraq…. Because of this destruction, the photographs he took during these trips (about 700 in total) have become scientifically irreplaceable. He’s now working with the Canadian Centre for Epigraphic Documents (CCED) to create an online database of all the inscriptions, which will allow new research on them and, despite the destruction, allow more people to see them than ever before.”

Annette Demers has created a new Google Custom search for open access law journals. The blog post with the announcement notes a few other CSEs she’s created which you might find useful. Use the second link to try the CSE – the first one at the top of the blog post apparently leads to the wrong place.

USEFUL STUFF

Interesting blog post from Dartmouth: Live Office Hours With Google Hangouts on Air: A Recipe. Two professors wanted to do live office hours with Google Hangouts, and present a “recipe” of equipment and timing to make the most of the office hours. “DartmouthX has recently offered Live Office Hours with students in an Introduction to Environmental Science (ENVX) with Google Hangouts on Air. Instructors Prof. Andy Friedland and Mike Goudzwaard along with the course team hosted four sessions over two offerings of the course. In each session we tried something slightly different based on feedback from that last session. This ‘recipe’ is based on what we learned from the experience. Like any recipe, feel free to use, improvise, simplify, or spice it up.” At the end of the blog post there are YouTube links to completed hangouts.

From The Next Web: How to take better photos for Instagram.

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Google is doing more with Safe Browsing. “We want to be really clear that Google Safe Browsing’s mandate remains unchanged: we’re exclusively focused on protecting users from malware, phishing, unwanted software, and similar harm. You won’t see Safe Browsing warnings for any other reasons. Unwanted software is being distributed on web sites via a variety of sources, including ad injectors as well as ad networks lacking strict quality guidelines. In many cases, Safe Browsing within your browser is your last line of defense.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Google is indexing a LOT more tweets, but it’s still nowhere near the number being produced. “From February to June, Stone Temple found a 466% increase in Tweets indexed within the first seven days. In February, just 0.6% of Tweets were indexed and last month that number shot to 3.4%. While these increases are promising, there is still more than 96% of Tweets that aren’t indexed.”

More Google: one of its self-driving cars was in its first injury accident. It was rear-ended. “The three Google employees on board complained of minor whiplash, were checked out at a hospital and cleared to go back to work following the July 1 collision, Google said. The driver of the other car also complained of neck and back pain.”

Catching up… is Facebook about to get into music streaming? “The social network has been making a concerted effort to push video content, recently citing billions of video views, and now a report from music industry site Music Ally suggest it is seeking deals with labels, first for a music video streaming service and later a straight audio service too.”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

Language use is so important, and the way you use language online can be incredibly unique! Check out this article on forensic linguistics. “Experts claim a regular anonymous internet user may be tracked through linguistic clues they unwittingly leave behind in their writing. According to Dr Tim Grant in an article for The Conversation, ‘everything from the way someone uses capitalization or personal pronouns, to the words someone typically omits or includes, to a breakdown of average word or sentence length, can help identify the writer of even a short text like a Tweet or text message.’ ”

MIT did a huge study of MOOCs. “The study, one of the largest ever undertaken on the topic of MOOCs, examined 68 courses offered through the edX platform, encompassing 1.7 million participants, 10 million participant-hours, and 1.1 billion logged events—or clicks, recorded by the edX servers. edX is an online, non-profit learning platform founded by MIT and Harvard in 2012.”

In a conclusion that should surprise absolutely nobody, CMU researchers that Twitter outrage does not lead to real-world action. “Conducted by CMU assistant research professor Juergen Pfeffer with graduate students Hemank Lamba and Momin M. Malik, the paper studied 80 firestorm events between January 2011 and September 2014 to see if Twitter outrage eventually turned to grassroots activism. Whether ire was sparked by a hashtag demanding cancellation of the Stephen Colbert show or one attempting to drum up support for the New York Police Department, the study found the social media anger overwhelmingly did not result in new Twitter groups or long-term initiatives designed to address the issue online.” Hemank Lamba also did some interesting research on the accuracy of tweets after the Boston Marathon bombing. 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!

SMS, OPM, WWI, More: Short Saturday Buzz, July 11th, 2015

NEW RESOURCES

A huge amount of information on World War I Merchant Seamen is now online. “The stories of 750,000 First World War merchant seamen and 39,000 voyages can be read online for the first time following the completion of a four-year-long project. Organised by The National Maritime Museum and The National Archives as part of their First World War commemorations, the 1915 Crew List Project has transcribed the entire crew lists of the Merchant Navy from 1915.”

The North Carolina Archives have put the Charles A. Farrell Photo Collection on Flickr. “The bulk of the photographs in the collection were taken by Charles A. Farrell between 1925 and 1940 in association with his work as a commercial photographer in Greensboro where he owned and operated the Art Shop for many years. Farrell also took a significant number of photographs of coastal North Carolina in the late 1930s.” As a North Carolinian, I am probably slightly biased, but these pictures are beautiful. He
even manages to make group shots look interesting. You know, those class or organization shots where people line up in three rows and stare at the camera.

USEFUL STUFF

Absolutely useful: How to send SMS messages from any PC or Mac. “Why type out text messages at your smartphone when you’re at a laptop or desktop PC with a full-size keyboards? These tricks allow you to send text messages directly from your PC. Even if you don’t have access to cellular service you can use some of these tools to send SMS messages directly to a phone number. You don’t even need a mobile phone on your end.” Read the comments for a few more suggestions past the article.

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Facebook, now with “floating” video. “The option is accessible via an icon in the lower-right hand portion of a video (accessible on mouse-over while the video plays). When you click the icon, the video becomes movable — though you can’t pull it out of the browser window. The feature only works on desktop for the time being, not on Facebook’s mobile app; clicking a video in the News Feed on your phone will immediately open it in full-screen mode.”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

Chrome has started blocking major torrent sites. “Over the past few hours the browser has started to block access to several of the most popular torrent sites including KickassTorrents, Torrentz, ExtraTorrent and RARBG. Instead of a page filled with the latest torrents, visitors are presented with an ominous red warning banner.”

The US Office of Personnel Management is launching an information site after the recent hacking of over 21 million social security numbers and other data. “Today, OPM launched a new, online incident resource center at https://www.opm.gov/cybersecurity to offer information regarding the OPM incidents as well as direct individuals to materials, training, and useful information on best practices to secure data, protect against identity theft, and stay safe online. This resource site will be regularly updated with the most recent information about both the personnel records and background investigation incidents, responses to frequently asked questions, and tools that can help guard against emerging cyber threats, officials said. A call center will follow in the weeks to come, they added.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Is Twitter going to end the tradition of the “spin room”? “…with new capabilities to upload video directly to Twitter and the live-stream app Periscope, the candidates can post their own post-debate analysis instantly. That means that instead of flooding the debate press room with paper statements about the opponents’ flubs or speaking into a bouquet of microphones in the corner of the debate hall, the candidate can just promote their views in a tweet targeted to the audience that is most closely watching the debate.”

Interim CEO of Reddit, Ellen Pao, has resigned. “Pao, 45, announced her decision to step down in a post published to Reddit on Friday afternoon. She blamed her departure on a disagreement with the site’s board of directors, not the mounting criticism she’d faced from users and moderators…. But the ouster was seen as a swift and sweeping victory for the close-knit community of Redditors, who quickly took to the online community to express their glee at forcing such a big decision at the San Francisco company.” So here’s the question: is there every going to be a CEO that those Redditors can agree on? One who will both be able to run Reddit as a sustainable business and align with those editors’ philosophy? My guess would be no.

Is Facebook going to get into music videos? This is a straight shot at YouTube. “YouTube pays the labels for showing getting to show their music videos, which often run after pre-roll ads. Still, some record executives think YouTube should pay them more because not only is it getting to earn money from showing the videos, it’s a free music streaming option that might convince some listeners they don’t need to pay for services like Spotify or Apple Music. So to seduce the labels, The New York Times says Facebook is offering better payouts in exchange for music videos.” 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!

Uganda, New Jersey, Chicago, More: Friday Buzz, July 10th, 2015

NEW RESOURCES

The government of Uganda has started a gender-based violence database. “NGBVD is an online management information system that is designed to collect, store and analyze Gender Based Violence (GBV) data in both humanitarian and non-humanitarian settings. The web based software, according the Ministry for Gender, Labour and Social Development will also make GBV incident reporting and response services more evidence based.”

The state of New Jersey is going to publish a database of teacher ratings, but not ratings for specific teachers. “The data, which will be released next week, will allow parents to see how many teachers in a school received each of the four possible ratings. It will not include performance ratings for specific teachers, the state said.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Google has announced improvements to its mail spam filter. “Since the beginning, machine learning has helped make the Gmail spam filter more awesome. When you click the ‘Report spam’ and ‘Not spam’ buttons, you’re not only improving your Gmail experience right then and there, you’re also training Gmail’s filters to identify spam vs. wanted mail in the future. Now, we are bringing the same intelligence developed for Google Search and Google Now to make the spam filter smarter in a number of ways.”

USEFUL STUFF

Nice list from Medium: The 37 Best Websites to Learn Something New. Not much in the line of annotation, but lots of explore.

This is pretty cool: apparently the Chicago Tribune is upgrading its archives, and while it’s doing that access is free. There doesn’t appear to be any end time for the free access, so I’d check it out now if I were you.

I’m going to share this with you, and then with my husband, because phone spam drives him bonkers: How to Block Numbers that Haven’t Called or Texted You First.

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

Amazon is being taken to court over its search results. “Just like how Google has faced criticisms for the way it displays its search results, it seems that this is an issue that Amazon has run into as well, so much so that they’re being taken to court over the way the company displays its search results for products. The company taking Amazon to court is MTM, a watchmaker known for their ‘Military’ watches.” I had wondered about that, like sometimes when you search for certain authors, you’ll get book results that are not that author at all, aren’t anywhere close to the author’s name, etc.

Eeesh. There’s a new Flash zero-day out there — please make sure you’re all patched up! “Hacking Team specializes in surveillance software which it resells to various governments around the world, and in particular to some oppressive regimes, a major issue that has activists outraged. The data stolen from the firm contains several gigabytes worth of exploits, malware and other very sensitive information. Among them, a new Flash Player zero day affecting Flash Player up to version 18.0.0.194 was found and is making headlines.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Less trippy, but potentially more useful: Google’s Deep Learning Machine is learning to synthesize images. “Give Google’s DeepStereo algorithm two images of a scene and it will synthesize a third image from a different point of view.”

But speaking of trippy. I have kind of nerd crush on Deep Dreaming. I find the images and videos mostly fascinating, occasionally disturbing. There’s just something about them that’s so otherworldly and yet, so… familiar. Right? (Or does nobody else feel that way and I have just admitted to being a huge weirdo?) Anyway, many efforts are underway to gather these images up and share them.

The LA Times has hired a reporter to cover Black Twitter – that is to say, the culture of people of color and how that culture uses Twitter. “Dexter Thomas joins us today to cover Black Twitter (which really is so much more complicated than that). He will work closely with the newsroom and #EmergingUS to find communities online (Black Medium to Latino Tumblr to Line in Japan) and both create stories with and pull stories from those worlds. Dexter is from San Bernardino and is a doctoral candidate in East Asian studies at Cornell University. He has taught media studies and Japanese and is writing a book about Japanese hip-hop.”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

A group of universities are working with Google to develop a platform for the Internet of Things (IoT). “Carnegie Mellon researchers will work with colleagues at Cornell, Stanford, Illinois and Google to create GIoTTO, a new platform to support IoT applications. Initial plans for GIoTTO include sensors that are inexpensive and easy to deploy, new middleware to facilitate app development and manage privacy and security, and new tools that enable end users to develop their own IoT experiences.” 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!

Globes, Glass, Google, More: Thursday Buzz, July 9th, 2015

NEW RESOURCE

A Tokyo company is going to digitize a collection of historic globes from France and put them online. “Dai Nippon Printing Co. will digitally copy 55 of the historic terrestrial and celestial globes in the National Library of France’s collection so that people can view them on screen. The globes were handcrafted in Europe and the Middle East from the 11th to the 19th centuries, are extremely valuable, and include a 15th-century copy of the world’s oldest terrestrial globe.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Hey! IFTTT now has a Pinterest channel. Triggers are either liking a Pin or adding a Pin to your board; its action is adding a Pin to your board. Tons of interesting stuff here. I like tracking Pins on a Google Spreadsheet, or cataloging Pin information to a Dropbox text file.

WordPress 4.3 Beta 2 is now available.

What a great idea: Google is now offering a wired adapter for its Chromecast. The bad news: it’s already sold out. “The powered accessory plugs into the USB port on your Chromecast. From there, you just need to run an Ethernet cable from your router to the power supply. It’s that simple.”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

A Japanese court has ordered Google to remove search results relating to a man’s arrest. “…the Saitama District Court has ordered the company to scrub the records of a man’s arrest from three years ago. The man in question was arrested for molesting a girl under 18 and was subsequently fined 500,000 yen.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

The Wall Street Journal has an early review of Google’s Project Fi. They seem pretty meh about it. “Dead simple to set up and use, its rates start at $30 a month. It could save you some money if you accept some big limitations. It only works with one phone, for starters. The Nexus 6, built by Motorola in collaboration with Google, is a speedy smartphone with a gorgeous display and the best, most unaltered version of Android you can find. But it has a middling camera and its 6-inch display makes it massive to hold. If Project Fi’s SIM cards worked in phones from Samsung, HTC—dare I say, Apple?—it’d be easier to recommend.”

It looks like the next iteration of Google Glass will be focused on the enterprise. “We told you yesterday about a new device that passed through the FCC—codenamed GG1—and many have speculated that it’s the next generation of the Google Glass hardware. While it’s often suggested that the device is soon going to get some iterative Explorer Edition overhaul and see its first official consumer launch, it’s much more probable that Google is first going to push this hardware toward the one place it has seen success: the enterprise market.” Google Glass for vertical markets is what I’ve been saying the whole time. Personally I would love to get my mittens on one of these for some of the work I do in the warehouse.

RESEARCH AND OPINION

Interesting article from MIT Technology Review: Live Streaming: Social Control from Afar.
“…there is something about the dynamics of a remote audience that seems to inspire otherwise reasonable people to cause trouble. This was one of the lessons we learned from an experiment we conducted at the MIT Media Lab in 2001. The setup was that an actor equipped with a camera mounted on her forehead and a backpack full of electronics would do whatever the audience (the “directors,” connected via the Internet) collectively decided she should do. Directors could suggest and vote on actions; every few minutes the highest-rated one would be sent to the actor to carry out. She ended up dancing on the table and eating from other people’s plates. Suggesting something transgressive was irresistible.”

More studies on the use of Twitter, this time from the University of Kansas. “A University of Kansas professor has co-authored research examining the reasons Latinos and whites use the social media platforms Facebook and Twitter, finding the former use them significantly more for advocacy and identity exploration than their counterparts. Mike Radlick, content creator at Come Recommended, a public relations firm in Maryland, and Joseph Erba, assistant professor of journalism at KU, surveyed 140 white and 115 Latino Facebook and Twitter users to determine why and how they use the platforms and the gratifications they take from them.”

Terrifying research from the University of Southern California. The article is called The Social-Network Illusion That Tricks Your Mind. It’s about how human and social networks can be mislead into thinking something is common and popular when it’s not. “That’s interesting work that immediately explains a number of interesting phenomena. For a start, it shows how some content can spread globally while other similar content does not—the key is to start with a small number of well-connected early adopters fooling the rest of the network into thinking it is common.” What’s so terrifying about that? The issue is that Facebook distributes posts among friends based at least partially on early reactions to it. They may be applying a skewed amount of weight – and giving an untoward amount of power – to a small subset of users. This research could explain why viewpoints that are truly minority, or overtly antisocial, may get more visibility than they might otherwise. Now, add to that notion the research from Pew (pew pew pew!) that millenials use Facebook as their top source of political news – and you can come up with any number of nightmare scenarios about what information/data millenials are using to make their voting decisions.

Is Google’s ad-targeting discriminatory? “Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and the International Computer Science Institute built a tool called AdFisher to probe the targeting of ads served up by Google on third-party websites. They found that fake Web users believed by Google to be male job seekers were much more likely than equivalent female job seekers to be shown a pair of ads for high-paying executive jobs when they later visited a news website.” Advertisers CAN limit their ads to show only to males or females, but I can’t imagine why you’d do that with employment ads. Besides just being a stupid idea, can you imagine a corporation being busted for just showing executive ads to just men (or just women, for that matter)? They’d get sued into oblivion.

Fascinating to me and hopefully of use to you, you fabulous reader, an article from Duke University Libraries: The Elastic Ruler: Measuring Scholarly Use of Digital Collections “Regardless of how much value we assign to different kinds of uses, determining the impact of our work is a hard problem to solve. There are no simple instruments to measure our outcomes, and the measurements we do take can at times feel uncertain, as if taken of a moving object with a wildly elastic ruler. Some helpful resources are out there, of both theoretical and practical varieties, but focusing on what matters most remains a challenge. Back to our mission: how much are our collections actually used for the scholarly purposes we trumpet–teaching, learning, and research–versus other more casual uses?” There is some analysis done here but the author is still looking for methods and answers. A lot to think about! 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!