WordPress, Oregon, ProQuest, More: Wednesday Buzz, August 12th, 2015

NEW RESOURCES

The Georgia State University Library has released a WordPress plugin as open source. “As part of its commitment to the free culture movement, Georgia State University Library is pleased to announce the initial release of the AfterEM plugin. AfterEM extends the Events Manager WordPress plugin to provide follow-up emails after an event has occurred. This additional functionality allows event organizers to gather feedback, request follow-up actions, and encourage participation in future events.”

Been covering a lot of architecture lately: a new database of Oregon historic building photos. “The mobile-friendly, map-based website is one more way that history is coming alive in the burgeoning digital landscape. Users can see historic structures that are still present, such as the 1925 Hayward Field East Grandstand, or those that exist only in photograph and memory, such as the 1938 Civic Stadium.” There are over 22,000 photos in this collection.

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Hey! There’s a new Firefox in town. “Most notably, Version 40 adds support for Windows 10 devices. A reduced UI gives more space for viewing Web pages and larger, different color icons keep the browser in line with the new Microsoft design scheme.”

ProQuest scholarly content can now be discovered in Google Scholar (PRESS RELEASE). “The collaboration between Google and ProQuest enables authenticated ProQuest users to be recognized at the ProQuest platform after they search using Google Scholar and connects them to full-text scholarly content in their libraries’ collections. Users who are not recognized are sent to a landing page with the abstract or an image of the first page, protecting all rights holders. To read full text, the users authenticate themselves using their library credentials. There is nothing for libraries to set up – the linking is seamless and automatic.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Is Google Play going to get an affiliate program? How very 2002. “If a new report is to be believed Google is working on an affiliate program for Google Play that’s not unlike the one that Apple has for its online content store, the affiliate program is said to be in early stages of development at this point in time and the possibility exists that it might either be shelved completely or changed significantly between now and the time it goes public.”

Apparently Facebook is working on this breaking news/Twitter-type thing. “Facebook is working on a stand-alone mobile news application that seems to be part of its Facebook for Business initiative. This product, which sounds similar to Twitter, seems to be different from Facebook for Work, an initiative that was announced late last year.” Actually it sounds similar to any mobile news app I can think of. And if it’s going to contain the kind of news that Facebook seems to consider oh-so-important, I’m keeping it far away from my phone. (The David Beckham thing with his daughter and the pacifier was about the limit.)

From The Atlantic: The Covert World of People Trying to Edit Wikipedia—for Pay. “In 2006, Jimmy Wales, Wikimedia’s most public-facing board member, reportedly said that undisclosed paid editing—trying to alter the content of Wikipedia without revealing a financial conflict of interest—is ‘antithetical’ to the site’s aims. The practice continued at a low hum over the rest of the decade, but a few years ago Wikimedia started hearing from its volunteer editorial corps that weeding out undisclosed paid edits was distracting from more substantive work. ‘They were spending a tremendous amount of their time patrolling articles, particularly articles about celebrities or individuals or companies for PR-type editing,’ says Katherine Maher, a spokesperson for Wikimedia. The issue took on a sense of urgency in the fall of 2013, when a firm called Wiki-PR was banned from the site for using hundreds of dummy accounts to fabricate widespread support for pages that flattered its clientele. To combat activity like this, Wikimedia amended its terms of use last summer to ban any undisclosed paid editing that might carry a conflict of interest.”

Twitter and the NFL have teamed up. “The NFL and Twitter have signed a multi-year agreement to provide ‘uniquely packaged NFL video and other types of content to fans daily, year-round,’ according to a press release. ‘NFL and Twitter will offer brands the opportunity to present official NFL content created specifically for the Twitter platform, on PCs, tablets, and mobile devices.’ In other words: lots of brands awkwardly bolting trendy phrases to NFL photos and video.”

MIT Technology Review takes a look at the new Google / Alphabet thing. “Those twin desires—to do new things regardless of how weird and unrelated they seem to Google’s core search and advertising business, and yet still find a way to manage them to fruition—explain Page’s surprise announcement Monday that he was creating a holding company called Alphabet. It will separate Google’s lucrative ad-related businesses, including Android mobile software and the video site YouTube, from the company’s wide-ranging efforts on self-driving cars, human longevity, Internet access balloons, the Nest connected-home devices, and more, each of which will probably become discrete subsidiaries.”

Speaking of Alphabet, some of the other businesses named Alphabet are not thrilled by this name change. “BMW is not the only loser in the Alphabet stakes. Erwin Wagenhofer’s groundbreaking documentary Alphabet, a damning indictment of modern education, has also been vanquished from the front pages of search results.”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

Twitter is expanding its transparency report. “Since 2012, we’ve published a biannual transparency report covering government requests and copyright notices. Now, for the first time, we’re expanding the scope of the report to include two new sections: trademark notices and email privacy practices. In addition to the two new sections and updated data, we’ve rolled out a site-wide redesign, including an updated homepage, more mobile-friendly layouts, and easier access to individual country reports.”

Oh how shocking: More Flash updates. “Adobe’s latest patch for Flash (it has issued more than a dozen this year alone) fixes at least 34 separate security vulnerabilities in Flash and Adobe AIR. Mercifully, Adobe said this time around it is not aware of malicious hackers actively exploiting any of the flaws addressed in this release.” Good morning, Internet…

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Ladino, Africa, Laughter, More: Short Monday Buzz, August 10th, 2015

NEW RESOURCES

Under development: a digital library of Ladino materials. “The Ladino collection is among the nation’s largest, second to the one housed at Yeshiva University in New York. Among the finds is a rare book of ethics published in Istanbul in the 1740s and a 1916 book of advice to immigrants to the U.S., which among weightier matters carries a useful explanation of how to eat ice-cream cones. (Ice cream, Sephardic Jews had seen before. Ice cream cones, not so much.)” I had to look up Ladino. Wikipedia describes it as “…a Romance language derived from Old Spanish. Originally spoken in the former territories of the Ottoman Empire (the Balkans, Turkey, the Middle East, and North Africa) as well as in France, Italy, Netherlands, Morocco, and the UK, today it is spoken mainly by Sephardic minorities in more than 30 countries, most of the speakers residing in Israel. Although it has no official status in any country, it has been acknowledged as a minority language in Israel, Turkey and France.”

New-to-me: the vernacular architecture of Africa has an online database. “In 2014, [Jon] Sojkowski created the first online database of African vernacular architecture, using photos he’d taken during his research trips to Zambia, Malawi, and Swaziland, as well as photos from Flickr and photographer submissions. So far, his database includes photos for 48 countries.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Snapchat now has a “travel mode”. “Snapchat is courting teenagers around the world who want to save their data plans with a new travel mode. When enabled, Snaps, Stories and Discovery content will only load if users tap them, rather than loading automatically when they open the app.”

USEFUL STUFF

From Ubergizmo: How to delete Google’s search history.

From Scholastic: 20 opportunities for students to participate in crowd-sourced science.

Nice! How to annotate videos through Vibby. (Three-minute video)

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Is Dick Costolo going to leave Twitter’s board? “Dick Costolo, the former chief executive of Twitter, plans to leave the company’s board of directors by the end of the year or when a new chief executive is appointed, according to two people familiar Mr. Costolo’s plans.”

Apparently Google is indexing images from PDF files? Interesting.

RESEARCH AND OPINION

Facebook has done some research on how we express laughter on the social network. “It transpires that 15 percent of people expressed some form of written laughter in a comment or original post during the last week of May. And while your specific friend-demographics will dictate what you see most often, Facebook’s numbers reveal that ‘haha’ is, on average, the most common expression of mirth, by a majority of 51.4 percent. ”

Google Glass, Medical: using Google Glass for toxicology consults. “In the study, emergency medicine residents at UMass Memorial Medical Center performed 18 toxicology consults with Google Glass. ER physicians wearing Google Glass evaluated the patients at bedside while a secure video feed was sent to the toxicology supervising consultant. The supervising consultant then guided the resident through text messages displayed on the Glass. Consultants also obtained static photos of medication bottles, electrocardiograms (EKG) and other pertinent information at the discretion of the supervisor. This was done in addition to the standard verbal consult available to residents. Consulting toxicologists reported being more confident in diagnosing poisonings using Google Glass. Additional data collected showed that the use of Google Glass also changed management of patient care in more than half of the cases seen. Specifically, six of those patients received antidotes they otherwise would not have. Overall, 89 percent of the cases seen with Glass were considered successful by the consulting toxicologist.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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India, Lynx, Android, More: Sunday Buzz, August 9th, 2015

NEW RESOURCES

A long-running study of A-bomb survivors is being turned into a digital archive. “In 1949, four years after the atomic bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, American geneticist William Jack Schull travelled to Japan to join a study examining the effects of ionizing radiation on A-bomb survivors. Little did he expect that 68 years later, he would still be associated with the same study. He is now working to share his memories by collating a digital archive based on his time in Japan.”

India is getting a database of flora. “The Botanical Survey of India (BSI) has developed the first open-access online database of India’s floral diversity to document over 18,000 flowering plant species in an effort at boosting digitisation and conservation of endangered ones.” It’s currently in a test release.

Microsoft has a new translator app. “Released Thursday, Microsoft Translator is a new app designed by the software giant for iOS and Android users. The app supports phones and tablets as well as the Apple Watch and smartwatches that run Android Wear, Google’s adaptation of its mobile software for wearables. You can type or speak the word or phrase you want translated. In response, the app shows you the translated text on the screen and then speaks it for you.” 50 different languages are currently supported.

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Yahoo is working on its e-mail search functionality. “When you start typing the name of a person or company in the search box, Yahoo will now automatically suggest what or whom you might be looking for and offer to create a search term. So if you’re looking for a ticket you bought from American Airlines, for example, you can limit the results to messages from the carrier and exclude other messages that simply contain the words American and airline.”

USEFUL STUFF

How to use Evernote to Research and Write Amazing Blogs. Solid article, though very Google-centric.

Do you remember Lynx? It was a text-only Web browser from way back in the day. Amit’s got a line on a cloud-based text browser. (Lynx is still available too.)

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Google has patented a Glass screen that attaches to your hat. “The technology consists of a mount, which attaches to the hat, and the display part of Glass. The display part attaches to the mount magnetically and can move into different positions.”

Is Twitter going to shuffle its board? “The board may expand or be shuffled to include directors from different backgrounds, such as minorities and those with experience in adjacent industries, including advertising and e-commerce, the people said. Any changes may also address the fact that the current board includes three former CEOs — Jack Dorsey, Ev Williams and Costolo — an issue that would make it difficult for any new CEO to run the company.”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

Another day, another Android vulnerability. Maybe it is as bad as Flash. “Dubbed Certifi-gate, the researchers say that vulnerabilities in the OEM (manufacturers of Android devices like Samsung, LG and Sony) implementation of Remote Support allows a third party app’s plugins to access a device’s screens and actions using an OEMs own signed certificates. That means a nefarious individual could see what you’re doing and control your phone or tablet. And according to the researchers, there’s no reasonable way to revoke the certificates as an end user.”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

Do Facebook likes predict the impact of scientific research? “Due to the increasing amount of scientific work and the typical delays in publication, promptly assessing the impact of scholarly work is a huge challenge. To meet this challenge, one solution may be to create and discover innovative indicators. The goal of this paper is to investigate whether Facebook likes for unpublished manuscripts that are uploaded to the Internet could be used as an early indicator of the future impact of the scientific work. To address our research question, we compared Facebook likes for manuscripts uploaded to the Harvard Business School website (Study 1) and the bioRxiv website (Study 2) with traditional impact indicators (journal article citations, Impact Factor, Immediacy Index) for those manuscripts that have been published as a journal article.” The whole paper is available here.

Do Internet search engines influence elections? Holy cow, this just gets scarier and scarier. “In a third experiment, the team tested its hypothesis in a real, ongoing election: the 2014 general election in India. After recruiting a sample of 2150 undecided Indian voters, the researchers repeated the original experiment, replacing the Australian candidates with the three Indian politicians who were actually running at the time. The results of the real world trial were slightly less dramatic—an outcome that researchers attribute to voters’ higher familiarity with the candidates. But merely changing which candidate appeared higher in the results still increased the number of undecided Indian voters who would vote for that candidate by 12% or more compared with controls. And once again, awareness of the manipulation enhanced the effect.” You do not want to hear my rant on ballot access. But man oh man, do I have a rant on ballot access and non-transparent search and social media algorithms.

OTHER THINGS I THINK ARE COOL

I’ve seen all kinds of museums, libraries, and so forth with Instagram and Tumblr accounts, but the University of Iowa Special Collections & University Archives has a Vine. Mostly acquisition unboxings. Good morning, Internet…

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FDA, EFF, SFPD, More: Saturday Buzz, August 8th, 2015

NEW RESOURCES

The FDA has launched a new search tool for its guidance documents. “Guidance documents represent FDA’s current thinking on a particular subject. Currently, there are about 3,100 of them – and the list is growing. FDA’s Web & Digital Media team and the Office of Information Management and Technology have created a dynamic search list on one site so you can go to just one page and find the guidance documents you need, no matter where they are on FDA.gov. This search tool is powerful and easy to use. Now you can go to just one search box to find what you need in moments, instead of the 10 different pages on FDA’s website where guidance documents are posted.”

The EFF has officially released its Privacy Badger extension. “Privacy Badger 1.0 works in tandem with the new Do Not Track (DNT) policy, announced earlier this week by EFF and a coalition of Internet companies. Users can set the DNT flag—in their browser settings or by installing Privacy Badger—to signal that they want to opt-out of online tracking. Privacy Badger won’t block third-party services that promise to honor all DNT requests.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

LibreOffice 5.0 has been released. “LibreOffice 5.0 sports a significantly improved user interface, with a better management of the screen space and a cleaner look. In addition, it offers better interoperability with office suites such as Microsoft Office and Apple iWork, thanks to new and improved filters to handle non standard formats. Other improvements have been added to every module of the suite, and Windows 64bit builds (Vista and later) have been added.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Nostalgia from Gizmodo: How Lycos Almost Won the Search Engine Wars. It’s a book excerpt, and the take-home is that text ads ate the lunch of the banner ads. Thing is, if you had two eyes, were actually trying to use the Internet, and saw how horribly greedy search engines became about stuffing banner ads everywhere (AltaVista was the absolute worst) this became self evident. I wrote an article about it in 2002.

Instagram is getting important to the art market. “Anyone in the art market who was not already paying attention to the social media platform Instagram had to sit up and take notice in late April after the actor Pierce Brosnan visited the showroom of Phillips auction house in London. Mr. Brosnan snapped a selfie in front of a work he admired: the ‘Lockheed Lounge’ a space-age aluminum chaise longue by the industrial designer Marc Newson. Then he added the words ‘let the bidding commence,’ and posted it to the 164,000 followers of his Instagram feed. And commence it did. Later that week, Phillips broke the world auction record for a design object, selling ‘Lockheed Lounge’ for £2.4 million, or about $3.7 million.”

Facebook is apparently working on a virtual assistant. “Known internally as ‘Moneypenny,’ after the assistant to James Bond’s boss, the virtual helper would work inside the company’s Messenger app and connect users to real people who could help them order products, or book services.”

Bloomberg takes a deepish look at Reddit. If you were ever wondering about how the company has evolved in the last ten years, this is a great primer. ”

Speaking of Reddit, it will now “quarantine” offensive content. “The policy update introduces a new concept, ‘quarantining,’ that will make some offensive content viewable only to those who explicitly opt in. In an AMA with Reddit users last month, Huffman defined this type of content as ‘you know it when you see it. [It] violates a common sense of decency.'”

Microsoft has increased payouts on its bug bounty program. “Let’s say an exploit has been discovered in the wild, and Microsoft has mitigated (or patched) that exploit. If you can get around that mitigation, you have a submission for the company’s Mitigation Bypass program, which could net you up to $100,000. Ideas for defending against further hacking efforts are eligible for the Bounty for Defense program, which has its own $100,000 maximum payout. Submissions that offer both a mitigation bypass and a defensive idea would receive both bounties. These bounties are only good for attacks on the latest version of Windows, so those of you interested in submitting your brilliant ideas need to cover Windows 10.”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

A nasty Firefox exploit has been found. Update! “Yesterday morning, August 5, a Firefox user informed us that an advertisement on a news site in Russia was serving a Firefox exploit that searched for sensitive files and uploaded them to a server that appears to be in Ukraine. This morning Mozilla released security updates that fix the vulnerability. All Firefox users are urged to update to Firefox 39.0.3. The fix has also been shipped in Firefox ESR 38.1.1.”

The San Francisco Police Department has an Instagram officer. And it’s apparently useful. “The Instagram photos showed the minor, who was already on probation and prohibited from possessing any type of firearm, with a gun tucked into the waistband of his pants. Based on the Instagram photographs that showed the two suspects brandishing firearms, the officers decided to perform a probation search, where the suspects were detained — still wearing the same clothes they had been wearing in the Instagram photographs that Ochoa had seen earlier that evening.”

Samsung and Google will release Android security patches every month. “Alongside the new frequent security updates, Google has finally released a patch for Stagefright for its own Nexus line of phones, which it sells directly to customers. The company argues that the majority of users weren’t at risk, however, with application sandboxing limiting the amount of damage an attacker could do.” 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!