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Brain Scans, HathiTrust, Earthquakes, More: Friday Afternoon Buzz, July 1, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

In development: a database of human brain scans. “The Human Connectome Project, a $40 million endeavor to map out all of the brain’s connections, has been ongoing since 2010. The research itself — a painstaking effort to scan and analyze the brains of thousands of adults — has shown that each person’s brain activity is highly unique and can be used to identify individuals with 99 percent accuracy…. Collaborators at Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Minnesota, who make up one of the two scientific consortia working on the Human Connectome Project, are uploading the brain scan data of over 1,200 subjects to a database online so it can be freely accessed by neurologists worldwide. ”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

HathiTrust and the National Federation of the Blind are teaming up, and it’s good news for visually-impaired readers. “More than 14 million digital books will soon be made available to blind and print-disabled users, thanks to a new collaboration involving the National Federation of the Blind and the HathiTrust Digital Library, a digital repository hosted at the University of Michigan. When launched, the program will dramatically increase the availability of books for users who are blind or print-disabled. According to the NFB, currently less than 5 percent of all published works are estimated to be available to the blind, most of which are popular titles.”

Google is adding earthquake information to its search results. “In the event of an earthquake, searches for ‘earthquake,’ ‘earthquakes near me’ or similar queries will give you an at-a-glance summary about the quake, right at the top of the search page.”

Google Fit has gotten an update. “Google has rolled out a major Fit update with a complete visual redesign, new watch face and features for Android Wear, a new home screen widget, more detailed goal-setting and more. Version 1.57.50 is the company’s biggest update to the app in quite awhile, and appears to be a big part of the Android Wear 2.0 overhaul Google promised at I/O last month.”

USEFUL STUFF

MakeUseOf: 10 Email Problems You Can Solve with Gmail Filters. Good stuff, though a couple of these filters are a little too nervy for me.

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Google+ is five years old, and TechCrunch brings a bit of the snark. “The number of those who still love the service fell quickly after those heady days of the summer of 2011. Google did so many things right; the design was great (and used what were, at the time, really advanced web technologies) and its focus on privacy with the help of its Circles seemed like the right antidote to Facebook. People were genuinely excited about Google+. The honeymoon didn’t last long.”

They’re not built yet, but Google is buying power from wind farms in Norway and Sweden. “Norway’s Zephyr and Norsk Vind Energi said the 50-turbine, 160-megawatt capacity onshore Tellenes wind farm south of Stavanger is expected to be fully operational in late 2017, when it would become the largest wind farm in the country. In Sweden Google is buying power from a 22-turbine project near Mariestad, central Sweden, which will be completed by early 2018.”

SECURITY AND LEGAL

Whoa! Google offices have been raided AGAIN, this time in Spain. “Spanish officials raided Google’s Madrid offices on Thursday in a tax probe, authorities said, barely a month after the internet company had its headquarters in France searched on suspicion of tax evasion.”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

From the SF Gate: How social media can distort and misinform when communicating science. “Millions of Americans shape their ideas on complex and controversial scientific questions – things like personal genetic testing, genetically modified foods and their use of antibiotics – based on what they see on social media. Even many traditional news organizations and media outlets report incomplete aspects of scientific studies, or misinterpret the findings and highlight unusual claims. Once these items enter into the social media echo chamber, they’re amplified. The facts become lost in the shuffle of competing information, limited attention or both.”

From US News and World Report: Google, the New Censor. “The company maintains at least nine different blacklists that impact our lives, generally without input or authority from any outside advisory group, industry association or government agency. Google is not the only company suppressing content on the internet. Reddit has frequently been accused of banning postings on specific topics, and a recent report suggests that Facebook has been deleting conservative news stories from its newsfeed, a practice that might have a significant effect on public opinion – even on voting. Google, though, is currently the biggest bully on the block.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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