USSR, Surveillance Cameras, Rewi Alley, More: Friday Buzz, April 29, 2016


Now available: a database of information about victims of political repression during Russia’s Soviet era. “The project’s organisers have used information on ‘victims of political terror in the USSR’ gathered by Russian historical and civil rights society Memorial as the foundation for the database, supplementing this data with material from other sources.”

In development: a new map of surveillance cameras. “Modern surveillance tools are designed to identify, track, and record a person’s every move. A new project by aims to give power back to the people by enabling collaborative spotting, photographing, and mapping of every surveillance camera on earth.”

The Canterbury Museum in New Zealand has puts is Rewi Alley Collection online. “New Zealand’s largest collection of Chinese artefacts is now available for the public to view in its entirety for the first time. A website…documenting and describing the 1,378 objects in the Rewi Alley Collection at Canterbury Museum has been developed by researchers in the first stage of a three-year Marsden-funded project.”

Audio pertaining to the May 4, 1970 shootings at Kent State University is now available online. “More than 100 reel-to-reel audio recordings pertaining to the May 4, 1970, Kent State University shootings and their aftermath are now accessible through the Kent State University Special Collections and Archives’ digital repository. Some of the recently digitized items include previously inaccessible audio recordings of radio call-in forums, a speech by Kent State President Robert I. White the day after the shootings, a press conference with six students who met with President Richard M. Nixon just days after the shootings, the Scranton Commission hearings and a speech made by Dick Gregory at the Kent State Memorial Service in 1971.”


OnHub from Google is now available on IFTTT. IFTTT is having a giveaway to celebrate the new channel.


Snapchat is hooking up with the summer Olympics. “Snapchat has scored a deal to host video highlights of the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympics. It’s a major coup for Snapchat as well as BuzzFeed, which will be curating the highlights into a channel for the app’s Discover platform.”

The New York Times is passing out 300,000 units of Google Cardboard. “In May, The New York Times will send Google Cardboard viewers to 300,000 digital-only subscribers who were chosen ‘based on the duration of their subscriptions,’ according to a press release. The distribution is timed with the release of ‘Seeking Pluto’s Frigid Heart.'” This is the second round of sending out Google Cardboard.

Is Google going to team up with Fiat? “According to two reports, Google is in late stages of talks with Fiat Chrysler about a partnership that would transfer the tech company’s self-driving car innovations to the group’s expansive line-up, which ranges from Chrysler mini-vans to Ferrari supercars.”

Google Translate is now ten years old. “Ten years ago, we launched Google Translate. Our goal was to break language barriers and to make the world more accessible. Since then we’ve grown from supporting two languages to 103, and from hundreds of users to hundreds of millions. And just like anyone’s first 10 years, we’ve learned to see and understand, talk, listen, have a conversation, write, and lean on friends for help.”


Facebook has released a new transparency report. “For the first time the social network is able to report about the number of data requests that have a non-disclosure order attached to them. More than half of the requests — 60 percent, in fact — have gagging orders that prevent Facebook from notifying users about requests for their data.”


The answer to “Who’s downloading pirated science papers?” is, apparently, everyone. “…increasing numbers, researchers around the world are turning to Sci-Hub, which hosts 50 million papers and counting. Over the 6 months leading up to March, Sci-Hub served up 28 million documents. More than 2.6 million download requests came from Iran, 3.4 million from India, and 4.4 million from China. The papers cover every scientific topic, from obscure physics experiments published decades ago to the latest breakthroughs in biotechnology. The publisher with the most requested Sci-Hub articles? It is Elsevier by a long shot—Sci-Hub provided half-a-million downloads of Elsevier papers in one recent week.”

Twitter is developing technology to identify what’s happening in live video clips. “Twitter’s AI team, known as Cortex, has developed an algorithm that can instantly recognize what’s happening in a live feed. The algorithm can tell, for instance, if the star of a clip is playing guitar, demoing a power tool, or is actually a cat hamming it up for viewers.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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