morningbuzz

Arkansas Land, Digital Archive, Slave Trade Database, More: Sunday Buzz, May 22, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

Land surveyors in Arkansas have a new reference database. “To access the database, visit the Division of Land Surveys website… and click on the ‘GLO Map’ link at the top of the page. A map of Arkansas appears divided into the 1,553 townships. By clicking on any township, a surveyor may access searchable PDF files containing the transcribed field notes for the boundary surveys, re-surveys of the boundaries, original subdivision-surveys, resurveys of the subdivision, and any miscellaneous surveys of that township.”

Now available: a digital archive of… stuff. “Today every tweet is archived, every Facebook selfie stashed and cached, every arts/tech/culture blog mirrored, and the idea of the permanence of data is taken for granted. But things like physical objects aren’t permanent. They break down, melt, or are tossed in the trash, and could potentially disappear from public consciousness forever, leaving behind but a foggy memory. Thngs, a digital database for the preservation of physical objects, wants to change that. Billing itself as ‘A place for everything,’ this new system allows users to interact with objects old and new, whether they be a bust of Emperor Vitellius from the 1800s, or the Spice Girls-branded Polaroid Spice Cam from 1997.”

TWEAKS & UPDATES

Gregory O’Malley has gotten a grant to expand his slave trade database. “Now with the help of a $220,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for a project titled Final Passages: The Intra-American Slave Trade Database, O’Malley plans to add his research to the Voyages database. The project will create an interactive, free Web-based database about the slave trade within the Americas and integrate it into the Voyages site.”

Google is getting into modular smartphones. “Word that Project Ara was moving ahead, and not shelved as some had speculated during the past year, came on the final day of Google’ s annual developers conference in the Silicon Valley city of Mountain View.”

USEFUL STUFF

From Lifehacker: Windows Encryption Showdown: VeraCrypt vs Bitlocker. “Choosing two encryption tools for this comparison wasn’t easy. Should we consider two similar tools, or two of the most often-used tools? We opted for the latter in this case, and decided to focus on Windows, since—beyond it being the most popular OS in use—it lets us narrow our focus to the two big apps most people would actually choose from, even if there are tons of options with different features available. Don’t worry, if your favorite encryption app or platform isn’t included here, we’ll get to you soon.” If VeraCrypt isn’t ringing any bells for you, it’s a fork of TrueCrypt, which had a weird shutdown in 2014.

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Interesting: 85% of Facebook video is watched without sound? “As much as 85 percent of video views happen with the sound off, according to multiple publishers. Take, for instance, feel-good site LittleThings, which is averaging 150 million monthly views on Facebook so far this year. Eighty-five percent of its viewership is occurring without users turning the sound on. Similarly, millennial news site Mic, which is also averaging 150 million monthly Facebook views, said 85 percent of its 30-second views are without sound. PopSugar said its silent video views range between 50 and 80 percent.” Now I wonder about this. The length of time that a person must watch a video on Facebook before it counts as a view is ridiculously low – three seconds. It might be that people are watching for more than three seconds and deciding they don’t want to watch the rest. Usually I watch for four or five seconds and then either decide not to watch the rest or turn the volume up.

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

Courts are taking judicial notice of the Internet Archive. “Trademark attorneys often must determine when a third-party used a mark in commerce and the extent and nature of such use, particularly when considering whether to take legal action against a third party for the unauthorized use of a mark. The Internet Archive Wayback Machine (the ‘Wayback Machine’) provides access to a digital library of archived webpages and touts having saved over 450 billion webpages. More courts are taking judicial notice of archived webpages obtained from the Wayback Machine, the latest being the United States District Court for the District of Kansas in Marten Transport, Ltc. v. Platform Advertising, Inc. d/b/a JustTruckingJobs.com and FindATruckingJob.com, 2:14-cv-02464 (4/29/16)).”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

A study suggests that China posts 488 million fake social media posts per year. “Three scholars led by Gary King, a political scientist at Harvard University who specializes in using quantitative data to analyze public policy, ran the first systematic study of China’s online propaganda workers, known as the Fifty Cent Party because they are popularly believed to be paid by the government 50 Chinese cents for every social media post.”

From The New York Times: The Real Bias Built In At Facebook. “Algorithms are often presented as an extension of natural sciences like physics or biology. While these algorithms also use data, math and computation, they are a fountain of bias and slants — of a new kind. If a bridge sways and falls, we can diagnose that as a failure, fault the engineering, and try to do better next time. If Google shows you these 11 results instead of those 11, or if a hiring algorithm puts this person’s résumé at the top of a file and not that one, who is to definitively say what is correct, and what is wrong? Without laws of nature to anchor them, algorithms used in such subjective decision making can never be truly neutral, objective or scientific.” I’m so grateful she wrote this.

OTHER THINGS I THINK ARE COOL

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