Los Angeles Art, Web Browsing, Open Data, More: Wednesday Buzz, March 9, 2016


Did you know the Los Angeles Unified School District has a HUGE art collection? (Over 50,000 pieces!) Now there’s a site for exhibiting some of it online. “The online project is a partnership between LAUSD and the Arts Consortium, a nonprofit focused on integrating art into traditional school subjects. The site launched Monday and has two virtual exhibits – one with paintings from early California impressionists and another featuring ancient Greek artifacts and a metal relief sculpture by Salvador Dalí. Organizers hope to add new exhibits two to three times each year.”

Don’t care about privacy? WANT people to see what you’re browsing? MIT’s got you covered. “MIT has launched a new website and Google Chrome extension which has the aim of turning the controversial practice of user-tracking on its head by letting users allow their activity on websites to be tracked, on a per-site basis, in order to share the information on their browsing activity with friends. In effect, the project amounts to a scheme to rate, rank and review the whole of the internet.” More like “share with friends AND EVERYBODY ELSE”: “As the terms of the scheme make clear, any information that you do share is publicly available.”

The Obama Administration is launching a new open data project. “Today, the Administration is releasing a unique package of Federal and local datasets in an easy-to-use format and accelerating a new way for the federal government to collaborate with local leaders, technologists, and community members to use data and technology to tackle inequities and strengthen their communities.” Hit the announcement for a lot more details. Hope this is includes a push for more municipal data projects. The ones I’ve seen lately (LA, Minnesota, etc.) are fantastic.


Some of South Africa’s parks and attractions are now on Google Street View. “The company made creative use of its Street View Tripod and Trekker technology, and captured 360-degree imagery that lets visitors experience things like seeing a family of elephants in the Kruger National Park, take a virtual walk on Table Mountain and pay a visit to Signal Hill using nothing more than their internet-connected phones, tablets and computers.”

Ubuntu 16.04 beta 1 (“Xenial Xerus”) is now available.


I read a very funny blog called Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. Pardon my language. I never thought I’d mention it in ResearchBuzz, but SBTB has just posted part 3 in a series on best practices for using Google Calendar. And it’s in that epic SBTB style, which means snark, sarcasm, and She-Ra GIFs.

Facebook is teaming up with WordPress to create a WordPress plugin for Instant Articles. “The plugin creates a special RSS feed that automatically optimizes posts to appear as Instant Articles. The plugin is open-source and customizable. Its documentation is available here on Github.”


Twitter is teaming up with all kinds of sports. The latest? Cricket! “A After a pathbreaking partnership for the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2015, ICC and Twitter are all set to introduce a range of new interactive experiences for the ICC World T20 in India.”

Google is preparing to test Project Loon in India. “Google’s managing director for South East Asia and India Rajan Anandan told The Economic Times in an interview that the company is in talks with local telecom service providers to pilot Project Loon, its program to beam internet access from balloons floating thousands of feet up in the air.”


The bad news is that Facebook had a ridiculous security vulnerability. The good news is it’s been fixed. “A computer programmer has revealed how he was able to hack into any Facebook account using relatively simple software. Anand Prakash, a product security engineer at Indian ecommerce company Flipkart, said he was able to access accounts without a password by using a common ‘brute force’ cyber-attack on the Facebook website.”


From Columbia Journalism Review: Facebook is eating the world. “Social media hasn’t just swallowed journalism, it has swallowed everything. It has swallowed political campaigns, banking systems, personal histories, the leisure industry, retail, even government and security. The phone in our pocket is our portal to the world. I think in many ways this heralds enormously exciting opportunities for education, information, and connection, but it brings with it a host of contingent existential risks.”

Eeesh. By the end of the 21st century, the dead people on Facebook might outnumber the living. “The social media network has about 1.5bn users around the world, but in the not-so-distant future, the dead people on the platform could end up outnumbering the living. This is due to Facebook not deleting dead users automatically, and instead leaving their profiles up as memorial pages.” Good morning, Internet…

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