Sculpture, Yale, Facebook, More: Tuesday Buzz, November 17th, 2015

NaNoWriMo and ResearchBuzz will have to take a back burner as I plunge into a manic week.


In development: a digital archive for sculpture grottoes in China. “Chinese researchers are taking digital inventory of a collection of ancient sculptures and artwork at the Maijishan Grottoes in northwest China’s Gansu Province, local relics protection authorities said. The Maijishan Grottoes, translated as Wheat Stack Hill, is a 1,500-year-old UNESCO World Heritage site home to 10,632 Buddhist sculptures.”

Yale University has digitized a collection of photos from the Divinity Library. “Relating primarily to missions & world Christianity from 1855-1978, the photos can be sorted by date, with the earliest being from the papers of Henry Harris Jessup, missionary to Syria from 1856-1910.”

Facebook has launched a new notifications app. “Notifications are becoming one of the primary ways people first learn about things wherever they are. Today we are introducing Notify, a new app from Facebook that delivers timely notifications about the things that matter to you, from the sources you love, all in one place.” This irritates me beyond belief. Facebook has launched a new way to keep up with news sources. Lovely. But at the same time the organic page reach of a Facebook Fan page has continued to drop. So I can sign up for one of the limited sources on this app and get all the notifications, or I can sign up for one of literally millions of Facebook fan pages and have – what? – maybe a 1 in 20 chance of seeing an update? I could jump through hoops to make sure I see all the updates but I shouldn’t have to.


Periscope has launched some updates to make it easier to browse. I’m excited about the Global Map. “We’ve always thought that Periscope has the potential of showing you the world in real time. This vision inspired us to create the Global Map. Our first implementation, launched in June, had some limitations. The map only showed live broadcasts (no replays) and was limited to a total of 250 broadcasts. At any given point there are thousands of broadcasts live on Periscope and orders of magnitude more replays, so the Map was only showing the tip of the iceberg. The new map launching today has some major improvements.”

Yahoo has launched a new daily broadcast. For some reason. “Today, moments before the closing bell sounds, we’re launching The Final Round on Yahoo Finance. Each weekday, at 3:58 p.m. ET, this live daily show will offer insight into the most important business news of the day, what’s driving the markets, and what to expect in the days and weeks ahead. The Final Round launches with Fidelity Investments as the sponsor.”

Quartz is going to open-source two of its mapping tools. “News outlet Quartz is developing a searchable database of compiled map data from all over the world, and a tool to help journalists visualise this data. The database, called Mapquery, received $35,000 (£22,900) from the Knight Foundation Prototype Fund on 3 November.”


Niiiiiiiice. From Open Data Soft: HOW WE PUT TOGETHER A LIST OF 1600+ OPEN DATA PORTALS AROUND THE WORLD FOR THE OPEN DATA COMMUNITY. “So, after the tasty map of French cheese, the state of Open Data in 2014 and SNCF Open Data, OpenDataSoft is thrilled to continue its Open Data Weekly series with this comprehensive list (and a map) of 1600+ Open Data portals around the world.”


The Smithsonian needs a few good humans — okay, a lot of good humans — to help transcribe Apollo mission stowage lists. “Today, we are publicly launching an exciting initiative to transcribe Apollo stowage lists of all government- and contractor-provided equipment stowed on the Command and Lunar Modules during the six successful Apollo missions to the Moon. With the help of digital volunteers these transcriptions will eventually lead to a reliable and searchable database.”

An interesting New York Magazine piece on people using Instagram for blogging. “Instagram limits each caption to 2,200 characters. The potential length becomes extremely annoying as a marketing tool, and brands often abuse it to post contests or elaborate copy (see this explainer from Crowdfire). But in the hands of an average user, it provides plenty of space for a few observations of ‘the enormous and simple beauty of ordinary life,’ as @keishua_ writes in one post, a snapshot of her cat gazing out the window.”

Russia is asking Twitter to save user data locally. “Russia’s Internet watchdog Roscomnadzor is demanding that microblogging service Twitter store its Russian users’ personal data on servers inside Russia. The demand is based on the recently introduced data localization law that came into force at the start of September.”


A computer scientist in the UK who has more nerve than I do has created a public livestream of the last 50 Web sites he’s visited to make a point about what new UK surveillance laws will mean. “The openly published browsing history of Brett Lempereur, a senior lecturer in computing at Liverpool John Moores University, shows the time, device used, and websites he has visited. All this data would be collected by ISPs and made available to police and security services if new surveillance laws are passed.”

Google apparently wants to warn users when e-mails are not encrypted. “Google is getting ready to alert Gmail users when messages are received in the clear instead of via encrypted transport, in response both to slow adoption of encryption by some hosts, and apparent hostility to encryption in some countries. Seven countries – Tunisia, Iraq, Papua New Guinea, Nepal, Kenya, Uganda and Lesotho – should be regarded as dangerous places to send emails, according to Google’s research.”


Interesting: Stanford researchers have discovered patterns in the way researchers lie about their data. “Even the best poker players have ‘tells’ that give away when they’re bluffing with a weak hand. Scientists who commit fraud have similar, but even more subtle, tells, and a pair of Stanford researchers have cracked the writing patterns of scientists who attempt to pass along falsified data.”

Remember that tool Microsoft had where you could upload a picture and it would guess your age? Now it wants to guess your emotions. “All a person has to do is upload a photograph to Microsoft’s Project Oxford website, where its beta tools are hosted. Using facial recognition software and artificial intelligence, the emotion recognition engine will create a string of numbers in relation to eight possible emotions: anger, disgust, contempt, fear, happiness, neutral, sadness and surprise.” Since I have chronic RBF I don’t think this is going to work well for me. Good afternoon, Internet…

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