Investigative Journalism, Data Studio, Cattle Ranching, More: Tuesday Buzz, May 31, 2016


The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) has launched a new search engine. “People using the new data platform, called ID Search, will be able to set up email alerts notifying them when new results appear for their searches or for persons tracked on official watchlists. They can also create their own private watchlists. Using the new tool, journalists and researchers will be able to access data including gazettes of commerce, company records, leaks, court cases and more. One of the most comprehensive open source lists of Politically Exposed Persons is also at users’ disposal. Starting today, most sources on ID Search will be updated every 24 hours.” Resources from all over the world are here, but seem more focused on Europe/Eurasia.

Google has launched Data Studio. “One of the fundamental ideas behind Data Studio is that data should be easily accessible to anyone in an organization. We believe that as more people have access to data, better decisions will be made. With multiple data connectors, you can now easily create dashboards from many different types of data and share with everyone in your organization – and you can mix and match data sources within a single report. For example, you can combine Google Analytics data and Google AdWords data into a single report.”

Now available: a video library for ranchers. “A new comprehensive website launched earlier this month to help students and cattle producers learn the finer points of raising cattle. Through a partnership with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and the Texas Beef Council, the free site is available with more than 600 videos and six online courses to earn beef quality assurance certification and increase an understanding of beef cattle production.”


Foundr created a huge guide to how to successfully create an online course. This guide is more hype-y than the stuff I usually link to in ResearchBuzz but it’s also extensive and in-depth and I’ll forgive the hype-y-ness (It’s 1:35 AM so I’m just basically making up words.) “Now with more than 1,000 students and counting, we receive daily emails asking us how we’ve managed to build such an intuitive and comprehensive online course. So to help our readers understand just how we did it, and how anyone can do the same, we’ve put together the following definitive guide on how to create an epic online course. In the following article, we’ll walk you through the benefits of an online course, the major steps involved in setting one up, and even a guide to helpful tools and resources that we’ve used ourselves.”


Interesting: teens curate their social media accounts. On one hand, I’m “Wow! Curating!” On the other hand, I’m “OH NOES THE PHOTOS ARE MOSTLY GONE!” “Another teen Instagram user, Catherine, tells TI via text message that she too deletes photos when she doesn’t get a lot of likes. She says she has over 500 followers and most of her posts have around 100 likes. Mastering the art of Instagram sounds a lot like fishing: The photo is bait and the engaged followers are the fish. If one type of bait isn’t working, you toss it and try another.”

YouTube Red is apparently offering some subscribers a free Chromecast. And apparently it doesn’t matter whether you’re a longtime or new subscriber. I’ve been a subscriber for over six months and no Chromecast offer for me, so your mileage may vary.

Wow: a crime scene cleanup company is going all in on VR (PRESS RELEASE). “JanusVR is an application that enables users to immerse themselves into virtual reality websites. JanusVR is free for download at and enables users to explore content. It is compatible with a wide range of VR headsets and does work without a headset present, if you are interested in exploring and don’t own a VR Headset…. Modern platforms like Facebook and YouTube have been embracing 360 videos in the past few months, these videos, recorded with special 360 cameras, enable users to visit exotic places, or attend various events, right from their smart phone or VR Headset. is currently filming and producing a series of digital shorts, which will place viewers among our crew, responding to the scene of an incident.” I will not mention every one of these kinds of announcements, obviously, but this looks like a leading edge.


A Tumblr breach that was mentioned earlier this month is a lot bigger than previously thought. Like 65 million passwords big. “This data breach is now listed on Have I Been Pwned as the third largest ever, after the hack of 164 million LinkedIn accounts and the breach of 152 million Adobe accounts. You can check there to find out if you were a victim, though you should’ve been notified by Tumblr when the company forced users to reset passwords after announcing the breach.”


Google Trends might not be that great for predicting flu outbreaks, but it might be good for tracking chicken pox. “The research group discovered that people ‘Google’ chicken pox frequently during chicken pox epidemics, which allowed the team – made up of academics from the universities of Aberdeen, Glasgow, Michigan, and Princeton University – to pinpoint when epidemics occur and anticipate future epidemics. The study demonstrated that Google searches for chicken pox showed seasonal cycles that tracked the annual occurrence of chicken pox in children.”

Social media appears to help when predicting student problems with alcohol. “‘The strongest predictor of both drinking alcohol and posting about it on SNSs was espousing an alcohol identity – meaning that the individuals considered drinking a part of who they are,’ [Charee] Thompson says. ‘And those two behaviors were associated with alcohol problems – such as missing school or work, or getting into fights – because of drinking.’ In fact, the researchers found that posting about alcohol use on social media was actually a stronger predictor of alcohol problems than alcohol use was. In other words, having a drink was less strongly correlated with alcohol problems than posting about alcohol use was – though clearly students with alcohol problems were drinking alcohol.”

Research from Augustana University: A comprehensive study tracking Twitter adoption and usage by medical professionals from 2006-2015 (this link leads to a PDF document.) “Augustana University healthcare marketing students investigated how medical professionals utilize social media to further engage with their communities. The team selected Twitter as the social media network from which to collect data because of its popularity and ease of use. Twitter also offers an open application program interface (API) that allowed extraction of information from the user profiles and individual tweets. Individual Twitter users were identified as healthcare professionals by searching specific keywords such as physician, MD, chiropractor, and dermatologist within their profile. Up to 1,000 Twitter profiles were retrieved from 24 keywords. The last 3,200 tweets from the selected users were collected. A total of 3,378,285 tweets were analyzed for content, use of hashtags, mobile device use, frequency, longevity, medical relevance, medical specialty, gender, and approximate age.”

Interesting: the case for taking our politicians off Twitter. “Let’s ban politicians from Twitter. I understand this idea goes against all that we’ve told ourselves for a few years now about democracy and access and transparency, but perhaps now it is worth seriously thinking about.” I absolutely disagree with this, but what an interesting perspective. Good morning, Internet…

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