Ballet, Residential Schools, New Guinea, More: Sunday Buzz, November 1st, 2015


Under development: a digital archive for the history of Black people in ballet. The site is still undergoing development and fundraising, but the Facebook page is very busy and full of informative links and commentary. I heard about this site via a New York Times article on diversity in ballet.

Opening next week but still under development: a digital archive of residential school stories and statements. Residential schools were schools administered in Canada to Native people with the goal of assimilating them into non-Native Canadian culture. “[Ry] Moran said there are over 200 terabytes of digital information to sort through. That includes 7000 survivor statements, five million documents from government, churches and schools, 35,000 photos and all the audio and video from [Truth and Reconciliation Commission] gatherings, dialogue panels and events held over the past seven years….For now the [National Center for Truth and Reconciliation] is taking small steps in sharing the story of Indian Residential Schools in an educational and responsible way.”

Under development: a database of New Guinea languages. “The island of New Guinea has the world’s highest linguistic diversity, with more than 900 languages divided into at least 23 distinct language families. This diversity includes the world’s third largest language family: Trans-New Guinea. However, the region is one of the world’s least well studied, and primary data is scattered across a wide range of publications and more often then not hidden in unpublished ‘gray’ literature. The lack of primary research data on the New Guinea languages has been a major impediment to our understanding of these languages, and the history of the peoples in New Guinea. aims to collect data about these languages and place them online in a consistent format.”

Twitch, which has a sense of humor I quite like, is celebrating the launch of its new Creative Channel with a nine-day marathon of soft-spoken painting teacher Bob Ross. All 403 episodes of his show, The Joy of Painting. I popped in to check it and there were over 60,000 viewers. And I ended up watching for ten minutes because Bob is like human Valium.


Sabah, in Malaysia, is now on Google Street View. “Sabah is home to the highest mountain in Malaysia, so you can now scale the Mount Kinabalu peak from the couch. A UNESCO world heritage site, Mount Kinabalu sits in Kinabalu Park which teems with unique flora and fauna — including the gigantic Rafflesia plant and orangutans.”

Want to socialize more? Tired of sitting in a dark room looking at a screen? Google wants you to help find Who’s Down. (Google amazes me with its name choices; I thought for a minute this was for finding friends who were in some kind of bad situation or otherwise out-of-touch; “down”.) “It’s an invite-only app that simply shows you whether you’re ‘down’ to hang out — presumably, once you have confirmed that you are indeed ‘down,’ your friends nearby will see that status and include you in whatever wonderful activities they have planned.”


To celebrate Halloween and pumpkins and everything, the NEHGS is making its cemetery databases free through Saturday, November 7th. “Just in time for the Halloween celebrations and to add some fun to ancestral research this holiday, and New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) have made their complete collection of American cemetery databases accessible for FREE to guest users on their data-rich website.” You do have to have a guest account on the site (which is also free.)


The government seized two newspapers in Turkey, so those papers carried on publishing via Twitter.

Oh good grief. Facebook won’t allow R.U. Sirius to use that name on Facebook even though he’s written books under it and has used it everywhere (I still have a copy of How to Mutate and Take Over the World.) R.U. is a Grandaddy of the Internet and this is insane.

But maybe he will get a reprieve: Facebook is “tweaking” its real name policy. “Facebook isn’t doing away with the real name policy, but a letter issued by the social network’s vice president of growth Alex Schultz today reveals some changes the company is making. According to the letter, Facebook is looking to reduce how many people are required to verify their name ‘when they are already using the name people know them by.'”

A neural network has been taught how to judge your selfie. “Creator Andrej Karpathy, who previously worked with Google Research on its learning algorithm program DeepMind, fed the program with more than five million photos tagged #selfie before purging it down to around two million self-portraits worth using. The network was then programmed to determine whether or not a selfie was a good one by analyzing social signals such as likes and shares for the photo.” I think I’ve taken one selfie in my life and that was when I was a teenager. It was not called a selfie, then, however, it was called Tara being stupid with a camera.


The philosophical problems of our age: How do you, in compliance with Creative Commons, attribute a 3D-printed item? “For the original works that CC was primarily designed for, this attribution requirement was fairly straightforward…If you use a CC-licensed image in a blog post, put a credit below the image or at the end of the post. If you use a CC-licensed song as the soundtrack to your video, add the credit at the end. In most of the digital world, there is often plenty of space for attribution metadata. As is often the case, this relatively straightforward system gets a bit more complicated when it comes into the world of 3D printing. As long as we stay digital, adding attribution to a 3D file can be simple. Once that digital file becomes physical, attribution can get a lot harder.” Good morning, Internet…

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