Tax Treaties, UK Artwork, Taiwanese-Americans, More: Thursday Afternoon Buzz, February 25, 2016


Actionaid has released a database of tax treaties between developed nations and developing countries. “A tax treaty is an agreement between two countries, deciding which country can tax a foreign-owned company, among other things. Even though some treaties are decades old – signed by a different government many elections ago – they are still as powerful as they were when they were first agreed….Some higher income countries are particularly restricting the power of lower income countries to tax global companies. The UK and Italy are tied as the countries that have entered into the highest number of very restrictive tax treaties with lower income African and Asian countries.” I rarely point to such an “issue-driven” release, and I am making an exception for two reasons: a) the issue of how multinational corporations meet their tax obligations is a pervasive one, as we’ve seen with Google and the EU/UK, and b) Actionaid has made the raw data available for download in an Excel file, so you can play with it yourself.

Now available: an online archive of the UK’s public artwork. “The collection already features over 200,000 oil paintings, the UK’s entire collection, and plans to add watercolors, drawings progressively from this summer.” Note that this is an expansion of the “Your Paintings” site from the UK.

The University of Southern California is developing a Taiwanese-American digital archive. “The project plans to collect, digitize, and return most of the original source material back to the families that provide them. Cham, a second-generation Taiwanese American, is leading the effort under the direction of USC East Asian Library head Kenneth Klein.”


Twitter is upgrading its embedded timeline. “This update is more than just a facelift. Over the last few months you’ve told us about the kinds of stories you want to tell, and we’ve incorporated your feedback directly into the timeline display. As a result, the new timeline has a clean, modern design that blends seamlessly into any page on your site. It’s fully responsive, too, so it looks great at any size. And we think it will delight your users with expanded photos, videos, polls, and cards. We’ve also removed the old ‘hide media’ option to put sharing front and center on every Tweet, so that it’s easier than ever for people to engage with your content.”


Jeff R., who is the only person to Snapchat me ever, pointed me to a guide to Snapchat posted on the Buffer blog.


Didn’t see that coming: Instagram now has more advertisers than Twitter. “That 200,000 number is up from just ‘hundreds’ of advertisers in June. The company, which opened its self-service ad platform in September, said 75 percent of its advertisers are outside the U.S. and the vast majority are small and medium-sized businesses.” Apparently Twitter has about 130,000


The crowdfunding site Patreon is going to start giving users a chance to respond before taking down content. “When asked about DMCA notices, one thing that many creators mentioned is that they just wanted to be warned and have the option to act on it themselves instead of having an automated system remove the content. As a result, we are giving creators 48 hours to handle a DMCA notice on their own before we step in to take action ourselves. This does increase our legal risk, as the ‘expeditious’ removal speed required by the DMCA is not very clear, but we feel very strongly about warning our creators and giving them a chance to act.”


Google is working with the UK’s National Health Service to identify and help patients at especial risk because of kidney failure. “Google DeepMind, the tech giant’s London-based company most famous for its groundbreaking use of artificial intelligence, is developing a software in partnership with NHS hospitals to alert staff to patients at risk of deterioration and death through kidney failure.”

Google is trying to build AI that can look at a picture and identify where it was taken. “Google’s latest experiment attempts solve a task that most humans find difficult: looking at a picture at random and trying to work out where it was taken…. This week, Tobias Weyand, a computer vision specialist at Google, unveiled a system called PlaNet, that is able to decipher where a photograph has been taken by analysing the pixels it contains.” Wow. Good afternoon, Internet…

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