Landscape Plants, Twitter Rumors, Getty Images, More: Thursday Buzz, June 9, 2016


A professor at Montana State University has launched a new Web site with information on landscape plants of the upper midwest United States. There are over 600 plants represented here, broken out by categories: tree, shrub, vine, and groundcover. Nicely done.

In development: a tool to automatically detect rumors and inaccurate information on Twitter (PRESS RELEASE). “The digital journalism dashboard, currently being developed by an international group of researchers, will automatically detect questionable claims as they spread on social platforms like Twitter, and give an estimate of their veracity. By tracking and verifying information in real-time, the tool will allow journalists to keep pace with the huge volume of viral stories circulating online, and separate fact from fiction.”


I guess it was inevitable: Getty has launched a VR group. “Getty Images, responsible for many of the stock photos you see on the web, has launched a VR division called Getty Images Virtual Reality Group. … The company already has 12,000 360-degree images, but will boost that number considerably at the 2016 Rio Olympics. As the official photo agency, Getty will equip each of its photographers with a 360-degree camera to supplement their regular still cameras.”

Slack has added voice calling. “To use Slack’s new calling feature, just click the little phone icon near the person’s name you wish to talk to. From there, well, it’s a phone call. I’m sure you can figure it out.”

Snapchat is making some updates. “You’ll now see image and headline previews of the content inside Discover channels and Live stories on the Stories page, instead of just logos for the publishers or events they capture. The Discover page now features a Pinterest-style mason grid of tiles, while the Stories page now combines the two rows of static Discover channels and Live Stories into one scrollable row of non-friend content.”

Yahoo has launched three new bots on the Kik platform (PRESS RELEASE). “The Yahoo bots will provide Kik users with means of discovering and exploring content in a social context. Yahoo News (@yahoonews) helps users discover, delve deeper, and share the stories that interest them most. Yahoo Weather (@yahooweather) goes beyond simply providing information such as temperature and weather condition, and taps into weather as a shared experience and conversation starter. In addition, Yahoo launched MonkeyPets (@monkeypets), a virtual friend that lives off of emojis and shares selfies from its ‘travels.'”


Julian Assange is making the claims that Google is involved with Hilary Clinton’s presidential campaign. “WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange claims that Google has been working closely with US presidential hopeful Hilary Clinton’s campaign in efforts to promote the candidate in the race to the White House. Speaking from the Ecuadorean embassy in London, via video conference as part of a two-day media event named ‘New Era of Journalism: Farewell to Mainstream’, he said: ‘Google is directly engaged with Hillary Clinton’s campaign,’ the Sputnik reported.” Now I have no idea if this is true or not and no ability to assess. But the fact that this is even coming up, or is being considered a meaningful accusation, means that more questions should be asked about how search engines and social media control information flow, and about the algorithms tech sites use to distribute information.

The New York Times has a look at what wants to be a nicer Reddit, Imzy. It’s still closed beta but I have requested an invitation and will try to do an article if I get one.

Yahoo is tossing its patents into the sales pot. “The beleaguered web pioneer has in recent weeks sent letters to prospective buyers who might be interested purchasing the patents, some of which date back 20 years to the company’s founding and include its early search technology, the newspaper reported. Preliminary bids are expected next week, according to the report.”

Google has posted a couple of demo videos of what its Daydream VR platform will look like. That is exactly what I look like when I bowl.


Let’s pause for a moment while I try to wrap my head around this: Bing researchers are figuring out if people have pancreatic cancer based on their search engine queries. “This achievement has now been published in a research paper in The Journal of Oncology Practice, detailing how Bing could parse anonymized data and find clear search patterns for those suffering of pancreatic cancer. Based on the order, frequency and symptoms they were searching for Bing could determine which users were experiencing cancer-related symptoms, which queries were only prompted by curiosity or anxiety rather than an actual ailment, and which users were actually suffering from pancreatic cancer.”

People around the world – at least, Android users around the world – are spending less time on social media. “Android users around the world are spending less time on major social media applications ‒ including Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram ‒ according to a new study. Installation of some messaging apps, however, is on the rise.
The company SimilarWeb compared usage of the four leading social media apps from January through March of 2015 to the same time period in 2016. The study looked at Android users in Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, India, South Africa, Spain, the UK and the US.” Good morning, Internet…

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