Art, Water, Science, More: HUGE Wednesday Buzz, June 24th, 2015


Missouri Southern State University has created a database of its African art holdings which should be available to the public “soon.” “The result of that work, which was completed a few weeks ago, is an online database that is set to be made public at Viewers will be able to see photographs of all the items along with information about each piece, such as its dimensions, its materials and any history related to it, said Eric Rasheed, collections care manager.” (That URL 404s at this writing.)

The American Membrane Technology Association (AMTA) has launched a new digital library. “The American Membrane Technology Association (AMTA) is committed to preserving the technical contributions and personal narratives of professionals in our industry and making that information available to the water treatment community now and in the future. The landmark Chats with the Pioneers interviews began that legacy and now AMTA is proud to announce the launch of the comprehensive new Digital Library. Accessed exclusively through the AMTA website at, the Digital Library contains almost 1,000 papers and presentations authored by the industry’s most respected and experienced professionals.” You do have to be member to view the digital library, but individual memberships are available and memberships for students are free. (You must submit a student ID and you must be a full-time student.)

FamilySearch has started a huge project to index four million
Freedmen’s Bureau historical records.
“The Freedmen’s Bureau was organized near the end of the American Civil War to assist newly freed slaves in 15 states and the District of Columbia. From 1865 to 1872, the Bureau opened schools, managed hospitals, rationed food and clothing and even solemnized marriages. In the process it gathered priceless handwritten, personal information including marriage and family information, military service, banking, school, hospital and property records on potentially 4 million African Americans.” FamilySearch is looking for crowdsourced help with this project.

The National Trust in the UK is asking the British public to send them the sounds of the seaside. “The National Trust is asking the public to record the sounds of the seaside for a digital archive. Bosses at the organisation want thousands of recordings to be uploaded onto a digital map, which will be curated by the British Library.” I actually heard about this on BBC World News yesterday and Dan Damon made me laugh; he was very indignant about the repeated mentions of seagulls. “They steal your chips!”

The US Department of Health and Human Services has launched a new tool that maps out community residents who are dependent on electricity for assistance or lifesaving devices – ventilators, wheelchairs, etc. The maps can be overlaid with radar/alert information to quickly identify citizens at risk from severe weather. “The HHS emPOWER Map shows the monthly total number of Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries’ claims for electricity-dependent equipment at the national, state, territory, county, and zip code levels. The tool incorporates these data with real-time severe weather tracking services from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in a Geographic Information System (GIS).” When I first read about this I was worried that it might be a privacy issue, but the information does not descend to residence-level (that information is extant, of course, but not available to the general public.)

The Smithsonian Science Education Center has launched a new animated Web series for science teachers. “‘Good Thinking!’ features short, animated videos that explore subjects like energy, cells and gravity, as well as cognitive research findings on topics such as student motivation or the myth of left- and right-brained people. Led by teacher Isabella Reyes, each episode centers on interactions with her students in class. But Reyes also encounters a cast of recurring characters who spring to life from classroom objects and guide her through fine points of teaching. These characters include a talking orchid (who is an expert on life sciences), a talking Bunsen burner (a physical sciences guide) and Gummerson, a gruff but wise wad of gum who’s ‘stuck around’ the school for a long time.” The first three episodes of the series are available on YouTube.

Google Play Music now has a free, ad-supported version. “At any moment in your day, Google Play Music has whatever you need music for—from working, to working out, to working it on the dance floor—and gives you curated radio stations to make whatever you’re doing better. Our team of music experts, including the folks who created Songza, crafts each station song by song so you don’t have to. If you’re looking for something specific, you can browse our curated stations by genre, mood, decade or activity, or you can search for your favorite artist, album or song to instantly create a station of similar music.”

Now available: a database of LGBTQ movies from Canada. I don’t have a complete count of database entries but it looks like several hundred.

The Archivo Histórico General del Estado de Sinaloa has joined the Flickr Commons. “Founded in 1999, the Archivo Histórico de Sinaloa hosts one of the largest digital libraries in Mexico. Its staff is working to digitize the entire collection of images with the goal of making it available to anyone interested. They want to help spread the history of the state of Sinaloa and put its documents to good use, whether for academic or personal purposes.”

The Digital Library of Georgia has released a new collection of Savannah photographs. “The City of Savannah, Research Library and Municipal Archives has recently made a new collection available through its online Digital Image Catalog: Public Information Office–Photographs, 1948-2000. This collection contains digitized photographs, slides, negatives, and manuscript material maintained by the city of Savannah’s Public Information Office, and document city-sponsored services, programs, and significant city events. There are also photographs of politicians and employees of city bureaus.” It’s a small collection – just over 150 photographs – but I’m including it here just because of how much in encompasses. The 1996 Olympics Torch Run, a movie set (Glory, 1989), stained glass, a funeral, dancing police officers – this collection is all over the place.


Hey! Picasa Web Albums is back. I’m glad to see this; I really liked Picasa.

Alrighty then: Google Street View is getting vertical with rock wall climbs. “Today we’re launching our first-ever vertical Street View collection, giving you the opportunity to climb 3,000 feet up the world’s most famous rock wall: Yosemite’s El Capitan. To bring you this new imagery, we partnered with legendary climbers Lynn Hill, Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell. Read more about the project from Tommy Caldwell, who completed the world’s hardest climb in Yosemite in January of 2015.” When you read this blog post make sure you are firmly planted in your chair or at your standing desk – the images can do strange things to your stomach.


From SmallBizTrends: 4 Greatest Online Collaboration and Project Management Tools. I had heard of two of these.


Four senators have introduced the Just Google It Act in a bid to get rid of the NTIS. “The NTIS, which was established in 1950, compiles federal reports and sells copies of these documents to other agencies and the public upon request. The original purpose of the NTIS – to increase government transparency and make documents available to federal agencies and the public – has been largely displaced by the Internet. A 2014 GAO study found that three-quarters of the documents added to the NTIS collection over the last two decades were available elsewhere, of which 95 percent could be found for free online through a search on Google or another search engine.”


Happy 20th birthday to genealogy site Cyndi’s List! Cyndi has a blog post about how it all began. “It’s all Nancy Peterson’s fault. She was the editor of the TPCGS quarterly. She came right up to me at the meeting and asked if I could turn my one-page list into an article for the quarterly. Maybe five or six pages long. I said I could, but I would have to categorize the bookmarks. That’s when that started. I scoured the Internet for all-things genealogy. I found topics and ethnic groups and locations that I knew nothing about, but I figured others would find them useful. The article was published in the late fall of 1995. I need to find a copy of that article for my archives. I didn’t keep a copy that I can find. And I had no way of knowing what it would become.”

Wow: DuckDuckGo is now getting 10 million queries per day. A drop in the bucket compared to Google, but it shows that users do think privacy is important.

From Harvard Business Review: How Bots Took Over Twitter. “Buffer offers ‘suggestions’; HootSuite, ‘suggested content.’ suggests the tweets that can thank and engage your most loyal followers. All these apps — and many more — are saving us from the problem of keeping up with social media by stripping away what was once the entire point of social media: actually using your own voice. The result is a Twitter that is authored by predictions and algorithms, rather than by humans. For many users, that means Twitter offers a far less satisfying experience than it did just two or three years ago, when sharing a link often provoked follow-up comments and questions from people who’d actually read whatever you’d shared, or when tweeting a question could instantly elicit offers of help or insight. In on- and offline conversations with friends and colleagues, I frequently hear from folks like Michele Perras, a San Francisco-based design and product entrepreneur. ‘Twitter has become too much noise and not enough signal,’ she says. ‘It used to be more like a hallway conversation, and now that’s harder to find that amongst the robotweeting and marketing.'” I am happy to say that I never used that suggested content stuff, because it does feel too “noisy”. 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!

2 thoughts on “Art, Water, Science, More: HUGE Wednesday Buzz, June 24th, 2015

  1. Love the firehose!

    Thanks so much for the tip about Picasa Web. I always liked it and resented it so much when Google tried to force you to Google + after it bought Picasa.

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