Mumbai Architecture, New Zealand Cards, Cosmetics, More: Monday Buzz, May 16, 2016


The city of Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay) now has a digital archive for its architecture. “A student of IIT-Bombay’s Industrial Design Centre (IDC), [Sitara] Shah brings together Mumbai’s scattered heritage structures in a new website, along with details of about their architectural features, location and history. Currently, the website … has details of seven heritage structures, but intends to rope in 590 such structures in the city.”

Dunedin Public Libraries (New Zealand) is starting a huge project to digitize index cards. “The 199,000 index cards from 1851-1993 containing information from newspapers and about community groups are being uploaded online as part of a digital archive entitled ‘‘Scattered seeds – He Purapura Marara”…. Material from Dunedin land search and rescue and Dunedin marine search and rescue organisations were also being digitised and Ms [Linda] Geddes hoped other groups would do so, too.”

The Smithsonian has launched a personal care and cosmetics digitization project. “The National Museum of American History, with the support of Kiehl’s, plans to extend the collection to the Web through the Cosmetics and Personal Care Collections Digitization Project. A museum specialist will identify, photograph and provide descriptive information for the cosmetic and personal care objects collection on the Web. The project will allow the museum’s collection of cosmetics and personal care products to be accessed online for education and research around the world. Digitization initiatives of this type are a priority for all Smithsonian museums and research centers.”


Google will start being more aggressive about blocking Flash in its Chrome browser. “Google has detailed plans to start blocking most Flash content with Chrome, with the change targeted toward the end of this year. Under its current vision, nearly every website would have Flash content blocked by default. Visitors would still be able to enable Flash content on a site-by-site basis, but they would have to specifically choose to do so.”


The Wirecutter takes an in-depth look at spotting fake Amazon reviews. “Like a lot of people, we read Amazon reviews as part of our product research. Getting broad feedback on a product can be very useful when we’re looking for widespread issues or seeing how a company handles warranty claims. However, as time has gone by, we’ve begun to read user reviews with a far more critical eye.”

From Social Media Examiner: Snapchat and Podcasting Growth: What the Research Reveals. This is a podcast, but the show notes are more than worth reading on their own. “Podcasting inched up from 9% in 2008 to 11% to 2009. And to 12% in 2010. For a short time, podcasting plateaued before jumping to 15% in 2014. After Serial came out, there was enormous advertiser, brand, and insider interest in podcasting. Listenership went from 15% in 2014 to 17% in 2015. In 2016, podcast listening has surpassed 21% already. That’s a 24% increase year over year in the percentage of Americans who listened to a podcast.” And still no decent discovery search engine.


Ewww. Apparently the Philadelphia police department disguised one of its vehicles as a Google Maps car. “The Philadelphia Police Department admitted today that a mysterious unmarked license plate surveillance truck disguised as a Google Maps vehicle, which Motherboard first reported on this morning, is its own.”

Hearing more rumors about an Android VR headset from Google. “According to multiple rumors and a newly spotted placeholder on the Google Play Developer Console, it seems that Google will be unveiling an Android VR headset at Google I/O next week.”


Google could be facing a serious fine from the EU. “Google faces a record-breaking fine for monopoly abuse within weeks, as officials in Brussels put the finishing touches to a seven-year investigation of company’s dominant search engine. It is understood that the European Commission is aiming to hit Google with a fine in the region of €3bn, a figure that would easily surpass its toughest anti-trust punishment to date, a €1.1bn fine levied on the microchip giant Intel.” 3 billion euros is about 3.1 billion US dollars.

It looks like people are doing less online because they’re worried about privacy and security. “This chilling effect, pulled out of a survey of 41,000 U.S. households who use the Internet, show the insecurity of the Web is beginning to have consequences that stretch beyond the direct fall-out of an individual losing personal data in breach. The research suggests some consumers are reaching a tipping point where they feel they can no longer trust using the Internet for everyday activities…. The survey showed that nearly 20 percent of the survey’s respondents had personally experienced some form of identity theft, an online security breach, or another similar problem over the year before the survey was taken last July.”

Three anti-racism groups in France will be making hate speech complaints against Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. “French law requires websites to take down racist, homophobic or anti-semitic material and tell authorities about it. But French Jewish students union UEJF and anti-racism and anti-homophobia campaigners SOS Racisme and SOS Homophobie said the three firms had removed only a fraction of 586 examples of hateful content the anti-racism groups had counted on their platforms between the end of March and May 10. ”


Users apparently create “folk theories” to understand how nontransparent algorithms and other unexplained elements of a user experience work. “Despite evidence that only a minority of Facebook users realize their news feeds are guided by an algorithm, there are still plenty of home grown ideas about how posts are chosen to appear. Facebook, of course, won’t tell us precisely how the feed works. But researchers have gathered 10 ‘folk theories’ of the mysterious algorithm in a paper describing a study of 40 users.” Good morning, Internet…

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