Autism, Medical Images, HathiTrust, More: Saturday Morning Buzz, June 13th, 2015


The Getty Foundation has launched an online grant database. “The new database offers a number of ways to search for grant information, including a sliding timeline so that users can search for grants within a specific date range, a keyword search, and a sorting tool that searches by year, initiative, grantee, region, and country. Grant details include the name of the grantee, the name of the initiative, amount awarded, date of the award, location of the project, and a link to the initiative and project description on the Foundation’s website. The database also offers a running total number of grants, grantees, funds awarded, and reports of grants awarded by year.”

Stanford University has gotten a $9 million dollar grant to establish an open-access autism database. “The platform will enable researchers to ask questions that simultaneously draw on many kinds of data on autism spectrum disorder, including phenotypes, proteomics, metabolomics, genomics, measurements and imaging of brain activity, information on the gut microbiome, blood-based biomarkers, physician narratives, diagnostic test results and treatment protocols. The platform will include a portal to enable data integration, as well as experimental design and validation. The initial repository integrates genetic, phenotypic, genomic and other data on nearly 5,000 individuals affected with autism spectrum disorder.”

Cornell University has developed a browser plug-in that detects political “message framing” and wants some help testing it. “Volunteers in the two-month field study may choose any news site on which to run the FrameCheck plug-in. As volunteer readers peruse each article, FrameCheck runs in the background, analyzing text and identifying words and phrases most related to framing. ‘For instance, an article about health care – framed to emphasize issues of cost – might use language that talks about Medicaid, insurance premiums, costs for patients or tax burdens,’ Baumer explains. ‘In contrast, an article that frames health care in terms of equality might describe economic or racial disparities, gaps between the majority and minorities or differences in the quality of care that different patients receive.'”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has launched a new data visualization tool. “The data visualization tool is accessible at and allows users to view and interact with a wide array of FEMA data. Through an interactive platform, users can view the history of disaster declarations by hazard type or year and the financial support provided to states, tribes and territories, and access public datasets for further research and analysis. On the site, you can see compelling visual representations of federal grant data as it relates to fire, preparedness, mitigation, individual assistance and public assistance.” There’s an introductory article and links to more information here.

Good heavens. Pardon me while I wipe the drool off my chin, but this new dataset from HathiTrust looks absolutely delicious. The basic feature files are over a terabyte, but there are three thematic collections available and a set of sample files. The sample files are about 24 MB in a .tar file.

Medical students/educators/librarians: the Lane Medical Library at Stanford has created a new tool for finding medical/scientific images only: “Bio-Image Search, developed by Lane Medical Library, serves up images and diagrams exclusively from medical and scientific organizations. It groups the results based on the degree to which their republication is restricted. The tool is available to anyone with Internet access. Simply go to the search bar at the top of the Lane Library website and select Bio-Image Search from the drop-down menu to the left of the main search bar. It has access to more than 2 million images, and the librarians are hoping to add more.” I took a little test drive and did a search for epidemic. Results are tab-divided into four groups by reuse rights: maximum, broad, possible, and restricted. Clicking on an entry takes you directly to the source. Well done Lane Medical Library.


The International Business Times has an update on the plant database World Flora Online. “Once complete, field plant biologists will no longer have to scour the Internet for obscure reference material – Thomas says it will all be right there in World Flora Online. The peer-reviewed database should also allow researchers to study the distribution and conservation status of hundreds of thousands of species at once, and layer it against data on climate or soil type.”


Microsoft is going to open souce Windows Live Writer. “The application debuted in 2007 alongside Windows Vista, and was part of Windows Live Essentials, a bundle that included several now-defunct programs, such as Mail, Messenger, Movie Maker, Photo Gallery and SkyDrive. Live Writer was last updated in 2012, shortly after Microsoft retired the Live brand.”


The IRS has released the tax forms of 9 nonprofits in computer-readable format. After much legal churning. “In a precedent that could help pry open a wealth of information about nonprofit activities, the federal government has turned over nine nonprofit tax forms in a format that computers can read — resolving a court battle waged by open-records activist Carl Malamud.” Mr. Malamud is continuing to work to make such releases the rule and not the exception.


This is what happens when you rely too much on scraping and too little on humans with brains. Google had a very .. uh.. interesting answer for the question “What happened to the dinosaurs?”.

The state of North Carolina is going to get a lot more digitized historic newspapers. “North Carolina Historic Newspapers will digitize runs from 28 additional newspaper titles, totaling over 100,000 pages, over the next year and a half…. This phase of newspaper digitization includes such titles as The Fool Killer, the local paper of Boomer, Our Living and Our Dead, an important literary-historical periodical chronicling North Carolina’s role in the Civil War, and Die Suedliche Post, a short lived 19th century German publication out of Goldsboro.”

Apple is creating its own mapping database. Good morning, Internet…

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Princeton Offers New Digitized Collection of Revolutionary Texts

Princeton University has announced a new digitized collection that will go perfectly with your July 4th. Materials from the Sid Lapidus ’59 Collection on Liberty and the American Revolution have been digitized and are now available at The collection contains at this writing 179 items — books, phamplets, etc. There being only 179 items this collection is fairly easy to browse, but a nav on the left allows you to narrow down your browsing by contributor/creator, language (five of the works are in French), subject, genre (including pre-1800 works and “Controversial Literature”), and more.

If you remember history class many of these works are going to look familiar. There’s Thomas Paine’s “The Age of Reason,” and “Common Sense,” Blackstone’s “Commentaries on the laws of England,” and John Adams’ “A defence of the constitutions of government of the United States of America”. (Other notables include John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, and Ben Franklin.) Item pages include information on the date, printing, physical description, and in-library location, but click on “View Item,” to see the item completely digitized.

I don’t know the name of the solution they’ve implemented to show the digitized works but it’s great; You can view thumbnails of the pages, zoom in on individual pages, and flip page and forth. I never had to wait for items to load. There are some items in the collection that are not books (for example, an image of Benjamin Franklin) and those have a slightly different setup, with panning tools and the ability to do serious zooming (these did take a while to load, but the level of zoom was very high) as well as the ability to download entire prints and also super-zoomed areas.

It is worth noting that in addition to information related to the American Revolution, the site also has an extensive collection of anti-slavery materials, including Ottobah Cugoano’s “Thoughts and sentiments on the evil and wicked traffic of the slavery and commerce of the human species : humbly submitted to the inhabitants of Great-Britain,” The Parliment of Great Britain’s “Report from the committee of the whole House … to consider … measures … for the abolition of the slave trade” from 1792, and many items from the Society of Friends.

Google Launches Web Site to Cover US Elections

Google Elections
Google Elections

I don’t know about you, but I’m already up to my elbows in election coverage. But there’s no avoiding it — there’s a presidential election in November and we’re going to be hearing about it until then. So to make it a little easier to keep up, Google has announced a new election hub at (There’s one for Egypt, too, at, but I’ll be covering the US version here.)

The site contains news about the elections in general in the middle, with the Democrat and Republican candidates on the left nav. And let me start my rant here.

I don’t care what your politics are. Truly. I strive to keep ResearchBuzz apolitical, because ideally, an interest in well-crafted information pools, organized data, and groovy pinball machines should cross all political boundaries. Right?

But it bothers me that in these times, when dissatistfaction with politics is so intense, that Google is sticking with providing information on only two political parties. It’s not like Google doesn’t have enough newsprint or space in its magazine. It’s not like there aren’t automated mechanisms for gathering information. Yes, there are eight gazillion political parties and maybe you don’t want to include the Tomato Donut Party that has only three members. But you could make a case for the Green and Libertarian parties, which have appeared regularly on many state ballots. You could make a case for the Constitution Party, which is the other “third party” with over 100,000 registered voters according to Wikipedia. And you could point at the many independent candidates in recent history which have managed to get on state ballots despite, um, interesting ballot access laws (that’s a whole ‘nother indignant post) as an indicator of voter interest in choices.

My point is that you could use standards to define political parties and candidates for inclusion that would reach beyond Democrat and Republican. Would you make everybody happy? Good grief, no, this is politics after all. On the other hand, Google could choose to do what mainstream media has often failed to do: let the American voter know they have other choices besides Democrat and Republican.

Okay, I’m done. It’s 3:30 am and I just finished a political rant. I feel all icky.


Google Elections -- Thin Crust Party

Anyway, candidates on the left. Also on the left: political issues! Yes, you can choose from several issues, including Economy, Heathcare, and Social Issues. (That seems somewhat limited, but remember, you can always run your own search, as I did for “Pizza” above. THIN CRUST PARTY!) Choose one and you’ll get news in the middle. You can choose to look just at news, or just at video. Google puts only a few videos on the site put points you to an entire YouTube channel devoted to politics if you want more.

Google also has trends for the candidates, showing volume of search, news mentions, and YouTube video views. (You can break these down to the day, and theoretically look at individual candidate results, but every time I tried that I got an “unresponsive script” warning.) There’s an “On the Ground” section that maps not only news stories but also YouTube videos (including adorable local car dealership ads.) Iowa is the hot spot right now as you can imagine.

This is a good start, but considering the rise of Facebook and Twitter, it felt a little lacking. When reviewing candidate news I could start here, but I would rapidly branch off in other directions.

Yahoo Launches Site for Midterm Elections

Yahoo has announced a new site to cover the November 2010 midterm elections in the United States. It’s called Ask America and is available right now at

Once the Flash intro loads (zzzz) You’re asked to choose a topic, and then to vote on a question related to that topic. Once you’ve voted, you’re invited to leave a comment. (You have to log in to Yahoo to leave a comment, of course.) I took a look at a few issues and the comments left. The issues that are most at the center of
partisan debate seem to have the most inane comments (“It’s Bush’s fault!” “No, it’s Obama’s fault!”) while the ones that are not currently in the spotlight seems to have somewhat more articulate comments.

(Here’s my standard: “It’s so-and-so’s fault” is an inane comment. “It’s so-and-so’s fault because of these thought-about arguments” is generally not an inane comment. I might not agree with it, but I won’t consider it inane.)

You can choose states instead, though not every state is represented. I chose Virginia and the first voting card read: “Are stories like the Salahi gatecrashers distracting the public from more important issues?” Apparently it wasn’t distracting the public enough because I had no idea what that card was talking about. However underneath that card there were links to top news stories from sources like Yahoo and The New York Times. So now I know who those people are though I don’t feel like much of an informed American because of it.

I like the design — once it loads — and it’s clear a lot of effort has been put into creating sets of relevant questions both for topics and states. The question is, what is the Yahoo community going to do with this lovely design and potential for deep discourse?

Remix Your Politix With Museum of the Moving Image

Here’s the ResearchBuzz part of why I’m doing this writeup: Museum of the Moving Image has a Web site called The Living Room Candidate, available at This site contains over 500 commercials covering every presidential election from 1952 on up. That’s quite an archive. The site also has free downloadable lesson plans and the ability to view the commercials by type (biographical, fear, backfire, etc.) or by issue (civil rights, taxes, war, etc.)

The site has been up for a couple of years. I am covering it now because of the newly-launched AdMaker, an editing tool that will allow you to remix campaign ads or make new ones. The new tool is available at

This page only has a couple of full commercials for remixing (one with John McCain and another with Nixon/Humphrey) but there’s also a feature that allows you to mix your own commercial.

You’re given snippets of media and tools in several different categories, including images, audio, video, transitions, effects, etc. Editing is via a simple click and drag layout; clicking on the end of a snippet and pulling it allows you to edit it down where you want it. (Video is added with audio, but an audio control on the right allows you to control the volume.) You can only add one layer of video at a time but multiple layers of audio are supported.

Don’t see what you like in the available media? AdMaker allows you to easily upload your own and integrate it into your commercial. And that’s how I ended up with video of a bear wandering around the woods with a voiceover of Bill Clinton saying he’d inhale if he had to do over again, all to the background soundtrack of Laurie Anderson’s Sharkey’s Day. And if you registered with The Living Room Candidate, you can save your masterpiece for later perusal.

I had a tremendous amount of fun with this. I hope Museum of the Moving Image expands the number of clips available in AdMaker. I can imagine some talented people making great ads.