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Railroads, Chattanooga, Google Earth, More: Tuesday Morning Buzz, June 30th, 2015

NEW RESOURCES

The state of Pennsylvania is developing a new database of chemicals used by fracking companies. “Pennsylvania will require shale gas companies to disclose electronically the chemicals they use in hydraulic fracturing in a new state-run database by next summer.”

Chattanooga, Tennesee now has an online archive of historical film footage. “More than 400 reels of film depicting snippets of life in Chattanooga during the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s were donated to the Chattanooga History Center in 2009. Many of those films are finally available for viewing as a part of the center’s online digital archive. The collection originated from the Continental Film Co. of Chattanooga and primarily features industrial film, advertisements, tourism ads and documentary films from a variety of companies.”

The government of India has launched an new digital library for school books. “Now, under Digital India initiative, the Government has launched a platform that extends may help Indian school students tremendously. Aptly called eBasta (Basta means school bag in Hindi), this new platform was unveiled today by the Government that will provide digital and eBook versions of school books and other study material to school students through-out India…. The school or teachers can log on to the portal and search for eBooks and other digital content. They can then logically organize it by creating eBasta for their own students. It’s exactly like you create a bag full of schools books that are related to each standard or course.”

The Harry Ransom Center at UT-Austin has initiated an open access policy and started a new project. “In conjunction with the release of the policy, the Ransom Center launches Project REVEAL (Read and View English and American Literature), a year-long initiative to digitize and make available 25 of its manuscript collections of some of the best-known names from American and British literature of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Among the authors represented in Project REVEAL are Joseph Conrad, Hart Crane, Thomas Hardy, Vachel Lindsay, Jack London, Katherine Mansfield, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Sara Teasdale.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Google will integrate the GIS data of the Federal Railroad Administration into Google Maps. “Google has agreed to integrate FRA’s GIS data, which pinpoints the location of the nation’s approximately 250,000 public and private railroad crossings, into its mapping services.”

The Digital Library of Georgia is teaming up with the Columbia Theological Seminary and launched three new digital collections. “The three new digital collections that have just been made available from Columbia Theological Seminary include: Charles Colcock Jones papers, 1831-1856 This collection includes manuscript sermons, 1831-1856, preached by Charles Colcock Jones, Presbyterian minister and educator at First Presbyterian Church (Savannah, Ga.) and other Georgia locations…James Woodrow papers, 1808, 1836-1916 [bulk 1850-1867] This collection contains correspondence by and to Presbyterian minister, educator, and editor James Woodrow and his family and associates… John Newton papers, 1783-1797 This collection consists primarily of sermon notes and sermons (1783-1797) delivered by John Newton, Presbyterian minister and founder of the Beth-Salem Presbyterian Church in Lexington, Georgia.”

Google Earth is ten years old and has some new features. My favorite is Voyager. “The world is a big place, and it can be hard to know where to begin your virtual journey. Now you can jump straight to the newest and most interesting imagery around the globe with a new layer, Voyager, available in desktop versions of Google Earth.”

USEFUL STUFF

The Next Web has a roundup of 10 interesting Twitter chats. They seem to be mostly social media oriented. Which reminds me, as long as I’m complaining about things it’s hard to search for, let’s talk live Google Hangouts. Does anyone know of a good directory/calendar of live Google Hangouts? I know Google has a list of what’s live now, but I’m thinking about something where I can say, “Oh, I have a little time Friday, let’s see what’s going on.” I know I spend most of my time under this desk, but occasionally interacting with other humans has its appeal.

From the always-awesome Mary Ellen Bates, a couple of super searcher tricks. One of the tricks she mentions is restricting search to .gov sites only. If you want to search just government sites but want to search a slightly larger data pool than just .gov, check out this Google custom search engine I put together that restricts results to government Web sites (but it uses .gov and .us, so it’s got more resources to search. You can also narrow your results by city or county if the mood takes you.)

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

Make sure you have your Flash patched up, there are some exploit kits floating around. “French researcher Kafeine said on Sunday that a sample he encountered was dropping two instances of Cryptowall ransomware against a Windows 7 computer running Internet Explorer 11. Cryptowall is a strain of ransomware that encrypts files on a victim’s computer and demands a ransom, generally paid in Bitcoin.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Okay, this just got extra-real: Uber has acquired part of Bing’s mapping assets. “Uber will acquire assets from Microsoft Bing, including roughly 100 employees focused on the product’s image collection activities. In short, Uber is absorbing data-collection engineers from Microsoft to bolster its own mapping work.”

More Bing: it will start powering the search at AOL. “The 10-year deal with AOL is the latest to validate the exceptional quality of our search results and marketplace. No longer just a destination search engine, Bing is becoming an integral part of many popular third party devices and services, and Microsoft experiences including Windows, Cortana and Office.”

A campaign is underway to preserve the reel-to-reel recordings of Owsley “Bear” Stanley. This is going to be a huge endeavor as there are over 1300 reels and they’re kind of racing against time at this point before the reels degrade. “Although our campaign opens with a goal of $10,000, that’s just the start. The cost of digitally preserving these recordings is estimated to be US $300,000 to US $400,000 to fund two to four years of professional sound engineers’ studio time. Much of the work is a labor of love, but there is simply too much to do and not enough time for just unpaid volunteers.”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

Research: Could Facebook be useful for online learning? “In a first-of-its-kind study, Michigan State University’s Christine Greenhow found that high school and college students engaged in vigorous, intelligent debate about scientific issues in a voluntary Facebook forum….[Christine] Greenhow, recognized as one of the most social media savvy professors in America, analyzed the students’ activity on the Facebook app and found their discussion on various science issues to be largely on-topic, civil and sophisticated.”

Oooh. A study claims that Google is delivering “degraded” search results by ranking its own content higher than other, competing content. “In a study sponsored by Yelp – one of the companies listed as a complainant in the EU antitrust case against Google, former FTC advisor Tim Wu from Columbia Law School and Harvard Business School’s Michael Luca found, when given the option, users were more likely to click on results ranked by relevancy versus results that gave preference to Google’s self promoted content.” 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!

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About ResearchBuzz (3235 Articles)
News and resources covering social media, search engines, databases, archives, and other such online information collections. Since 1998.

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