Bomber Mascots,, MuckRock, More: Thursday Buzz, June 16, 2016


In development: a digital archive of the mascots carried on World War II bombing raids. “Veterans of Bomber Command have been asked to dig out the mascots they took with them on missions over enemy territory for an exhibition telling the story of the Second World War’s most dangerous campaign.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES is shutting down its URL-shortening service. “We recently performed an evaluation on, a URL shortening solution we’ve operated with Bitly since 2010, and found that the number of people who use the service is declining, and that the general sentiment towards the service can best be described as ambivalence. ” Existing URLs will work, but other shortened URLs will be Bitly going forward.

MuckRock has become a nonprofit. “The six-year-old site, which spent some time in The Boston Globe’s incubator program, offers a platform through which users can group FOIA requests under one overarching project, and launch a crowdfunding campaign to help cover the requests-related reporting expenses. … About 50 projects — ranging from one looking into surveillance in Chicago to another that’s trying to release genealogical and archival data — have already been created so far, and MuckRock in total has facilitated more than 22,000 public records requests.”

First basketball, and now Facebook has a hidden soccer game. “It’s basically a digital version of Keepie Uppie, otherwise known as ‘trying to keep a soccer ball up in the air until you get tired or roll your ankle or it’s time for orange slices.'” I remember this game. When I play it lasts about a nanosecond.


XSLT can be confusing and intimidating, so I was happy to see a gentle introduction at the ALA Web site. While Eric Phetteplace concerns himself in the article mostly with library metadata (Dublin Core, etc), having a grip on XSLT is also very useful when you’re using the importXML function in Google Sheets.


Fossbytes has an article about how Facebook accounts can be hacked using only phone numbers. This is one I don’t understand completely – it doesn’t look like a Facebook vulnerability, but rather an exploitation in a telephony protocol. A video is included but there’s not a lot of detail about the telephony part of the exploit. It’s concerning enough that I deleted my phone number from my Facebook account. (Though in fact since this is not a Facebook vulnerability, if this were legit it would impact basically anything using text / SMS for verification, right?)

And in our “I can’t even wrap my head around this” department, the Air Force’s Automated Case Tracking System (ACTS) going back to 2004 has pretty much been destroyed. “The database of the Air Force’s Automated Case Tracking System (ACTS)—which is used by the Air Force Inspector General’s Office to manage investigations into complaints from whistleblowers of waste, fraud, and abuse; Freedom Of Information Act requests; and congressional inquiries—has become corrupted, rendering over 100,000 case files dating back to 2004 unreadable. And because of the way the database was backed up, an Air Force spokesperson said that neither the service nor Lockheed Martin—the contractor that operates the ATCS system for the Air Force—can recover the data.” (NOTE: More recent stories are reporting that at least some data has been recovered.)

Google is being accused of stealing the technology for Project Loon. “According to a judicial complaint, Google had direct access to Space Data Corporation’s technology who came up with the concept of atmospheric balloons which could help to deliver internet access in difficult to reach areas. Back in 2007, Google almost bought the Space Data Corporation and the company says it even has pictures of Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin looking at one prototype for the balloons.”

As it’s 2016, I was really hoping we would all be worrying about how best to fly our jetpacks. Instead we’re worrying about people livestreaming crimes. “Criminals are increasingly using mobile live-streaming platforms to document their offenses in real-time. Social networks are facing an uphill battle in stopping them. A deadly stabbing in Magnanville, a town northwest of Paris, Monday is the latest example.” I had also hoped that in 2016 we would have evolved enough to know that autoplay video with audio is a terrible idea, but apparently CNN, to which I’ve linked, has not gotten the memo. Be warned.

Social media sites are being sued over terrorist attacks. “It’s an understandable reaction to tragedy. When faced with the unthinkable — like the death of a loved one in a terrorist attack — people tend to make bad decisions. We saw this recently when the widow of a man killed in an ISIS raid sued Twitter for ‘providing material support to terrorists.’ Twitter’s involvement was nothing more than the unavoidable outcome of providing a social media platform: it was (and is) used by terrorist organizations to communicate and recruit new members.”


Ever wonder why teenagers like social media so much? Because it gets ’em straight in the brain. “A ‘like,’ for the uninitiated, refers to the positive feedback given to a post on social media. And new research shows that likes appear to be somewhat intoxicating to teenagers. The same reward center in the brain that is involved in the sensation of pleasure and activated by thoughts of sex, money or ice cream also is turned on when teenagers see their photos getting a lot of likes on social media.”

Larry Kim at Inc: Why Google should buy Twitter. “Despite the return of Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s monthly active user has plateaued, fewer tweets are being tweeted, and Twitter’s stocks have been on a (mostly) downward slide. Not to mention Twitter has lost tons of money–more than $2 billion since launching 10 years ago. But there’s a solution to Twitter’s woes. Google. Google should buy Twitter. And quick.” Good afternoon, Internet..

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