Gopher, Humanities, YouTube, More: Friday Buzz, February 25, 2016


I LOVE IT. MetaFilter has put its Gopher server back up. (I’m counting it as a “new resource” since the original server went down in 2001.) What’s Gopher? “It’s a text-based menu-driven document retrieval system dating to the late pre-Septembrian era of the Internet, a kind of alternative approach to distributed document sharing that ended up being the Betamax to WWW’s VHS. You can ask it for a text document it has and it’ll be like okay, here you go, here’s that document.”

The J Paul Getty Trust has announced the Getty Scholars’ Workspace. “Getty Scholars’ Workspace is an online environment designed to support collaborative art-historical and humanities research, where research teams can examine digital surrogates, build bibliographies, translate and annotate texts, share and annotate images, and exchange ideas. With Getty Scholars’ Workspace, research and communication are consolidated into a single online location accessible from anywhere.”


YouTube is now letting you blur any part of an uploaded video. “The concept isn’t entirely new – in 2012, YouTube launched a face blurring tool to help anonymize people in videos. With today’s update, users can blur out any section of the video – be it unwanted license plates, visible phone numbers, wardrobe malfunctions, disturbing imagery, or the like.”

Google has added the ability to edit docs through voice dictation. “Google Docs supports a lengthy list of voice commands aimed at selecting text, formatting a document, adding and editing tables, and more. For instance, saying the word ‘cut’ followed by the phrase you’d like to delete would tell Google to erase those specific words. Google has supported voice dictation in Google Docs for months, but this is the first time advanced editing tools like these have been made available.”

Bing wants to help you find your Oscar nominee look alike. Yeah, good luck with that. “Do you know which celebrity you most resemble? We do! Even better, we know which Oscar nominated celebrity you look most like based on our new Bing image search experience,” For giggles I uploaded a picture of Drew Barrymore, which matched 42% with Kate Hudson. (And Bing matched it with “other celebrities,” including — dingdingding! — a 100% match with Drew Barrymore!)


MakeUseOf tested four free online OCR tools, not including the one built in to Google Drive. Nice article.


The artist Miroslaw Rogala is running an Indiegogo campaign to pay for the cost of digitizing his analog video collection. “I have hours of tape documenting Chicago Imagist painter Ed Paschke working in his studio as well as interviews with him and other rare footage. I have also worked with Carolee Schneemann, Merce Cunningham, Shigeko Kubota and many other artists, performers and musicians, all captured on tape in my library. I even have unpublished footage of Czeslaw Niemen, the iconic singer who is as revered in Poland as Elvis is in the United States. Over the years I have created over three hundred analog video tapes in several different formats, the most popular being 8mm, Betamax SP and ¾” SP and non-SP.” He describes his ultimate goal to create a digital database of the content and make it accessible worldwide. Unfortunately at this writing he has raised only $1200 in two months, and there are only 12 days of the campaign left. (His goal is $20,000 to purchase the equipment and hire assistants to help him get it done.)

News site 9to5Google apparently briefly had its ad revenue frozen by Google for copyright violation. Which makes no sense; 9to5 has been around for years and Google is just now having a Google-cow about the name? “In the meantime, if we do have to change our name, what should we change our name to? is probably the easiest. But perhaps we should embrace the bigger company name: Obviously that has the same risks. We could also just reduce ourselves to as few of characters as possible with Or maybe we lose the 9to5 and go 24/7? You tell us!” I vote for

The New York Times is considering banning visitors who use ad blockers. As long as you don’t ask people to turn their ad-blockers off and then serve up malware, it’s all good…

Hmm. Apparently French prison inmates are on Periscope. “Being in jail doesn’t mean one has to miss out on social media; on the contrary, with the use of modern online applications, prisoners are becoming pretty popular bloggers, the French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur (L’Obs) reported. Most inmates in French prisons, apparently, own cell phones with which they access the Internet and social media websites. In Baumettes prison in Marseille, for example, between 70 and 80 percent of inmates have cell phones, the magazine said.”


Protip: Do not impersonate the Lt. Governor of Alabama on Facebook.


Motherboard has a terrific read about bots, what it’s calling a “botifesto”. “The bot can be thought of as more than an assistant: it can be a kind of civic prosthetic, a tool that augments our ability to sense other people and systems. Bots won’t replace journalists, but they can help supercharge them by automating tasks that would otherwise have to take place manually. A bot can continue to report indefinitely on a topic, or expose connections or patterns that would take many hours for a human to uncover. Through these myriad affordances, bots can become powerful tools for citizens to use in demanding accountability of those in power.” Good morning, Internet…

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