Whaling, African Trees, University of Iowa, More: Sunday Buzz, December 27th, 2015


Scientists and historians need your help to transcribe whaling logbooks. “The project, called Old Weather: Whaling, is led by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The whaling museum is transcribing and digitising its own logbooks, as well as original data sources from the Nantucket Historical Association, Martha’s Vineyard museum, Mystic Seaport in Connecticut, and the New Bedford free public library. The digitised logbooks are being posted online so ordinary ‘citizen-scientists’ can help researchers sift through the vast amounts of information.”

Another crowdsourcing project: transcribing a study on the life cycles of African trees. “[Koen] Hufkens, a postdoctoral fellow working in the lab of Associate Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology Andrew Richardson, this month launched Jungle Rhythms, a citizen-science project that aims to digitize thousands of pages of detailed observations on the life cycles of African trees…. What is known, Hufkens said, is that a group of Belgian scientists were stationed at the Yangambi Research Station in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1938 to 1958 as part of an agriculture-based research project, and that the group began collecting observations on the life cycles of local trees. The observations were kept in a series of notebooks, and later summarized in large tables, which were stored in an archive under less-than-ideal conditions.”

The University of Iowa Libraries are digitizing the posters and playbills from Hancher Auditorium on the University of Iowa campus. I don’t even know where to start. The Grateful Dead, W.E.B. Dubois, Marcel Marceau, Gwendolyn Brooks… and that was just on the first two of six pages (looks like over a little over 250 items have been digitized.) What a great explore.


Oh, ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh. The New Mexico Genealogical Society is suspending its Twitter feed and blog in favor of posting just to Facebook. Facebook, where organic reach is dropping like a rock. Facebook, where the search facilities are laughable. Genealogy societies, please please PLEASE don’t do this.

Looks like all of Wolfram|Alpha’s updates are now aggregated on the Wolfram blog. The Wolfram|Alpha blog is dead.

This month has been so completely bonkers that I missed WordPress’ announcement of its new release, “Clifford”.


Want an easy way to compare the features of several productivity apps? Here’s your sheet. “The free Google spreadsheet has 108 different parameters as of writing, and compares 15 different apps. From specific features like audio notes and audio transcription, to larger things like Google Calendar support or HTTPS encryption, if you have a question about a to-do app’s features, it’s probably covered here.

Hongkiat has an exhaustive list of Google products and services. Not a lot of annotation here, so this is more of a reminder list than a learning tool.

Okay, I’ll cop to it. This is only useful for a given value of useful. But I’ve been getting more into Twitch lately and *I* think it’s useful — 17 Great Twitch Channels to Follow.


From HBR, which is always a treat to read, but man is this grim (not inaccurate, not poorly-done, not wrong, just grim): What the Death of Topsy Tells Us About Today’s Social Web. “Hasty obituaries for Topsy described it as an analytics tool, speculating on whether and how its functionality has been absorbed into Apple’s search technology. Those pieces let us file Topsy away as roadkill in the ever-more-competitive landscape of analytics tools, or as yet another example of a tech startup that is purchased and then dismantled for parts. But those obstacles obscure Topsy’s role as a facilitator of conversation. And they miss seeing something more profound and troubling in the death of Topsy: the gradual collapse of the infrastructure and culture that placed conversation, rather than campaigning, at the heart of social media.”

Lawrence Alexander looks at what he says is a huge fake account network on LiveJournal that is dedicated to promoting Vladimir Putin. “Since spring 2014, thousands of fake LiveJournal blogs have been mass-posting content promoting a pro-Kremlin stance on world events, attacking Western leaders and praising Russian president Vladimir Putin. Using custom Python code, Lawrence Alexander was able to isolate and analyze these accounts. Delving deeper into the metadata of the supporting Twitter bot network could provide further clues as to their origin.” Fascinating article. But why would you do this on LiveJournal?


The country of Turkey is getting an unhappy Christmas present: a heavy cyber attack. “Turkish Internet servers are suffering a powerful cyber attack, slowing banking services and fanning fears that it could be a politically motivated attack from abroad…, a non-governmental organisation that administers addresses for websites using the ‘tr’ domain, said Thursday that the attack appeared to be from ‘organised sources’ outside Turkey.” Good morning, Internet…

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