Great Smoky Mountains, NYC Theater, YouTube, More: Tuesday Buzz, June 27, 2016


Western Carolina University’s Hunter Library has completed its digitizing of Great Smoky Mountains National Park materials. “For the past four years, library staff worked with the Smokies and the state’s Western Regional Archives to select archival material to scan, describe and upload for easy access. The collection is extensive, with almost 10,000 pages and images, including photographs, historic documents, government reports, maps, surveys of land, letters, journals, booklets, artifacts and administrative records.”


New York City performance space La MaMa has released an expanded digital archive. “Expect to see photographs of Harvey Fierstein in the early stages of creating his ‘Torch Song Trilogy’; a program from an overlooked Philip Glass opera; and ephemera from Warhol’s Factory. The website … will be in its most complete form yet as part of La MaMa’s 55th anniversary season.”

YouTube is getting into major television production. “YouTube is taking a bold step into major television production. Dance drama TV series ‘Step Up,’ based on the film franchise of the same name starring Channing Tatum, will be coming to YouTube Red, Google’s paid streaming service.”

Rumors are floating around that Google will release its own phone this year. Hopefully with a headphone jack. “The new device, which will be released by the end of the year according to a senior source, will see Google take more control over design, manufacturing and software.”


Lifehacker has an automation smackdown between IFTTT, Zapier, and Flow. I think I gotta try Zapier…

Akshat Verma posts some good stuff! His latest is a roundup of WAV to MP3 converters.


A petition has been started to ask Twitter to verify the accounts of all US political parties, not just the Democrats and Republicans. As I noted when I signed the petition, Twitter has managed to verify Miss Piggy’s account. If it can do that it can definitely manage to verify the accounts of all US political parties.

The ABC Books Digital Archive at Princeton was the subject of a large and fascinating tagging project. “ABC Books is a digital archive of over fifty rare and historical children’s alphabet books, available to view page-by-page. The project is primarily pedagogical in nature. Linked to the English Department’s ‘Children’s Literature’ course, it provides an opportunity for enrolled undergraduates to complete digital humanities work for course credit as well as introduces graduate student AIs to teaching and assessing digital humanities work…. During the spring semester 2016, we asked our students to help us develop a comprehensive search function for the site. For the first step, each enrolled student added at least one hundred ‘tags’ to the archive. With well over two hundred students taking the course, we ended up with a staggering 50,000+ tags.”

Odd story from The Guardian: Secretive Alphabet division aims to fix public transit in US by shifting control to Google. “Sidewalk Labs, a secretive subsidiary of Alphabet, wants to radically overhaul public parking and transportation in American cities, emails and documents obtained by the Guardian reveal. Its high-tech services, which it calls ‘new superpowers to extend access and mobility’, could make it easier to drive and park in cities and create hybrid public/private transit options that rely heavily on ride-share services such as Uber. But they might also gut traditional bus services and require cities to invest heavily in Google’s own technologies, experts fear.” The Guardian’s tone in this article reads like, “Google wants to take over the world,” but I think it’s more “Google is frantically searching for income streams before the online advertising market implodes completely.”


Researchers have found a botnet of over 3 million Twitter accounts. “The 3 million accounts were all created on April 17, 2014 and feature serialized names, starting with @sfa_2000000000 and going all the way to @sfa_2002999999, with only a dozen accounts missing from the list. What’s more, each and every one of these accounts has the same number as its Twitter ID, a unique number that cannot be changed and which is assigned at registration (though can be pre-reserved).”


Facial recognition algorithms apparently have a difficult time when used on large data sets. “The UW team first developed a dataset with one million Flickr images from around the world that are publicly available under a Creative Commons license, representing 690,572 unique individuals. Then they challenged facial recognition teams to download the database and see how their algorithms performed when they had to distinguish between a million possible matches. Google’s FaceNet showed the strongest performance on one test, dropping from near-perfect accuracy when confronted with a smaller number of images to 75 percent on the million person test.”

Danny Page at Medium: Stop Using Google Trends. “Google Trends is a very interesting product, as it gives us real-time data on how people are using Google. Google the Address Bar of the Internet, so if you need information on a topic, just type in ‘Euros’ and you’ll have the scores and times of every game of the UEFA Euros Championship. Google can then track that interest in a topic and we can see it. But what shouldn’t you use Google Trends for? Well, until people start using it appropriately, everything.” Good morning, Internet…

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