Japan, Wisconsin, France, More: Saturday Buzz, August 1st, 2015


A new tool helps archivists handle e-mail archives. “Springboarding off Muse, a team at Stanford Libraries developed an open-source software program to manage email archives. After feedback from colleagues at other institutions, they released the free package, called ePADD, this month. The software can search emails with queries ranging from a single word to an entire manuscript. It can point out connections and networks among correspondents.”

The USGS has released a new tool to track water quality in rivers and streams. “A new USGS online tool provides graphical summaries of nutrients and sediment levels in rivers and streams across the Nation. The online tool can be used to compare recent water-quality conditions to long-term conditions (1993-2014), download water-quality datasets (streamflow, concentrations, and loads), and evaluate nutrient loading to coastal areas and large tributaries throughout the Mississippi River Basin.”

A digital archive for the Fukushima nuclear disaster has been launched. “A Tokyo-based nonprofit organization has launched a digital archive of public documents on the 2011 nuclear catastrophe at the Fukushima No. 1 plant, so people can examine whether administrative bodies have pursued appropriate policies since the disaster started. There are currently over 3,000 documents organized by Access-Info Clearinghouse Japan on file, totaling some 60,000 pages obtained from central government offices and local-level authorities through freedom-of-information requests or from the home pages of each administrative body.” These documents are free to access but currently available only in Japanese.

The state of Wisconsin now has an online parcel database. “As announced this morning by Mike Friis, Program Manager of the Wisconsin Land Information Program at the DOA, this release provides the community with a web-based mapping interface for browsing the statewide parcel layer. The application, built using ArcGIS Online, enables users to pan and zoom, search by parcel attribute information, and query parcels on screen.”


The Walters Art Museum has gone Creative Commons Zero. “By releasing their metadata and images under a CC0 license, the Walters has made an unprecedented move in the United States GLAM world. The Walters is a museum that celebrates its collection as being a part of the public trust – a collection that is made as accessible as possible to the public. Their collection was donated to the City of Baltimore and is practically ‘owned’ by the people.”

Google Glass is getting enterprise-focused, as it should have been all along. “It seems that Google hasn’t given up on Google Glass — it’s just taken it to a practical direction. According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, Google is distributing a new version of Glass for business use, in industries such as healthcare and manufacturing.”


GovTrack has launched a KickStarter to help it pay for an intern to write news summaries. “Today GovTrack is fully automated. There’s no staff here. All of the information on the site is collected automatically from the official record. But the official record can’t tell us everything we want to know about what’s going on in Congress. With your help I will hire a full time researcher to add more information about bills to GovTrack. The researcher will report on the political context behind legislation and will tell us what bills really mean.” I’m not sure I agree with how the KickStarter is set up (the minimum pledge is $10, and the reward levels are pretty steep) but GovTrack is a great resource, even as an automated tool. I suspect that as an automated tool with a human writing summaries, it’d be amazing.

Fascinating stuff: the New York Times built a robot for article tagging. “The key feature of the automatic tagging system relies on bringing machines into the mix, an idea that inspires conflicting ideas of progress and dread in some journalists. For Editor to work, the lab needed to build a way for machines and humans to supplement each other’s strengths. Humans are great at seeing context and connections and understanding language, while machines can do computations at enormous scale and have perfect memory. Mike Dewar, a data scientist at the Times R&D lab, said the artificial neural network makes connections between the text and an index of terms pulled from every article in the Times archive.”

Users are “detoxing” from social media. “Driving the detox phenomenon are a few key factors, say experts. For starters, many users of social media are starting to see it as a time suck — a distraction that keeps them from going about the business of their day. But others also see social media as something of a toxic environment – one in which they see people bragging about themselves or volunteering opinions contrary to their own, all of which can create feelings of envy or resentment.”

Yahoo has acquired social shopping site Polyvore (PRESS RELEASE). “On Polyvore, users put together sets of clothing, accessories, and lifestyle goods that express their love for style and shopping in a compelling, digital, social setting. In addition to natural integrations with Yahoo Style and Yahoo Beauty, Polyvore’s strong media experience, where community-powered content is curated and actionable for shoppers, will enhance the full portfolio of Yahoo’s digital magazines and verticals. When it comes to advertising, Polyvore’s technology will bring a proven native ad model, new compelling native ad formats, and strong advertising relationships with more than 350 retailers to Yahoo’s fast-growing native advertising platform, Yahoo Gemini.”

MIT Techology Review took a look at Facebook’s Internet drone. “Aquila, as the V-shaped carbon fiber craft is known, is powered by two propellers and has a wingspan of about 42 meters, roughly equivalent to a Boeing 737 airliner. When covered in solar panels and loaded with communications gear needed to beam down wireless Internet connectivity, it should weigh only a little over 400 kilograms (about 900 pounds), roughly one-third of a Toyota Prius.”


Google is refusing a French order to apply “Right to be forgotten” globally. “Google is refusing to bow to an order from the French privacy watchdog to scrub search results worldwide when users invoke their ‘right to be forgotten’ online, it said on Thursday, exposing itself to possible fines. The French data protection authority, the CNIL, in June ordered the search giant to delist on request search results appearing under a person’s name from all its websites, including”


Fun Saturday: Create and explore a landscape from your Webcam. “Make sure you’re in a well-lit area, let your browser access the webcam, and then try pointing it around the room as you use standard controls to ‘walk around in’ the unique spaces that blossom before your eyes.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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