ESL, Google, DuckDuckGo, More: Friday Buzz, July 29, 2016


Now available: a database of English sentences written by non-English speakers. “After thousands of hours of work, MIT researchers have released the first major database of fully annotated English sentences written by non-native speakers. The researchers who led the project had already shown that the grammatical quirks of non-native speakers writing in English could be a source of linguistic insight. But they hope that their dataset could also lead to applications that would improve computers’ handling of spoken or written language of non-native English speakers.”


Google has fixed its little candidate problem. “According to Google, the omissions were the result of a ‘technical bug’ in the Knowledge Graph, the massive information-mapping system that provides the top results bar under many fact-based searches. ‘Only the presidential candidates participating in an active primary election were appearing in a Knowledge Graph result,’ a Google spokesperson said in a statement. ‘Because the Republican and Libertarian primaries have ended, those candidates did not appear. This bug was resolved early this morning.'” Wasn’t the Libertarian primary in May? Why would this come up now? I thought Google has been displaying this data for a while. Not accusing anybody of anything, just confused.


Nice one from MakeUseOf: 8 Search Tricks That Work on DuckDuckGo but Not on Google


Voice of America has a story about the conservation software Arches and how it’s being used in the Middle East and elsewhere. “The system is being used by the American Schools of Oriental Research to monitor historic sites in Syria and northern Iraq, providing weekly updates and an online inventory of thousands of heritage sites. The American Schools’ Cultural Heritage Initiatives, which receives support from the U.S. State Department, has documented damage or destruction at hundreds of sites, and is developing protocols for post-war preservation.”

Variety has an excellent piece on how Yahoo’s focus on being a media company killed it. “Flickr could have become Instagram before Instagram, or pre-empted Google Photos. Delicious could have laid the groundwork for a social news sharing service akin to Twitter. Yahoo Live could have led live video, if the company had only stuck with it. And with Upcoming and other bits and pieces, Yahoo could have built a social network capable of competing with Facebook.” Not mentioned: Yahoo Podcasts, which Yahoo shut down in 2007 much to my unhappiness What if Yahoo had stuck with it? We might actually have a decent podcast search engine.

Warning: this is a link to a Forbes article. $650 Is A Bad Day’: How Instagramers Make Big Money & Why It’s A Problem. I am linking to this one because Jay McGregor did a good job with it and points out that the payola problem is not limited to celebrities. “Recently, a friend’s wife, with fewer than 500 followers, was approached by a ‘healthy’ drinks company asking her to pose with said beverage for a free crate of drinks. I suspect this is not uncommon. Instagram isn’t the sole platform that these advertisers operate on, it’s common across all social channels. Indeed, many of these pictures that are used on Instagram are then re-posted to Twitter and Facebook.”

From Diplomatic Courier: Social Media’s Impact on War. “Vietnam, often called the ‘living room war,’ was the first war broadcast into our homes through our TVs on the nightly news. Many antiwar movement supporters and analysts say that TV coverage helped fuel the movement and ultimately helped end the war. With the advent of social media, TV was replaced by a different populist influencer, which begs the question: what is social media’s role and influence on war and conflict? The answer is digital diplomacy, disruption, hashtag revolutions/movements, and what I call iWars.”

Google/Alphabet had a really good quarter. “Google parent Alphabet reported second quarter earnings and sales that beat analysts’ estimates. The ‘other’ part of the Google business saw sales jump by 33% to a record US$2,2bn. Growth in Google’s cloud computing and corporate software businesses drove the gains.”


Google will comply with Italy’s requirements for data usage. “Italy’s data privacy regulator said on Friday Alphabet Inc’s Google had met its requests to change the way it treats and stores user data to bring practices into line with Italian rules. Two years ago, the watchdog told Google its disclosure to users on how their data was being treated was inadequate, giving it 18 months to comply fully and indicating a series of measures that needed to be carried out.”

Want to avoid getting hacked? You might have to look to the skies. “One of the biggest challenges for hackers who want to get into more secure and isolated networks is physical. If the network is well protected, you might need to be physically close to it to hack it—and standing around with a laptop outside of an office or a power plant might raise some suspicion. But what if the hacker could just fly a special drone, and make it quietly land near the target?”


Research from the University of Missouri: PR Officials Should Utilize Twitter, Social Media During Crises to Gauge Public Response. “MU doctoral students Douglas Wilbur and Danielle Myers examined more than 1,000 tweets surrounding the 2015 release of the motion picture ‘Concussion,’ which portrays the National Football League (NFL) in a negative light with regard to the issue of concussions in football. In the study, the researchers used Contingency Theory, created by MU School of Journalism professor Glen Cameron, as a tool to diagnose different publics’ (i.e. journalists, health professionals, athletes, sports fans) stances toward the movie, the NFL and the concussion issue. This theory was developed for determining how and why PR professionals and organizations choose their public responses during crises. In this study, the MU researchers successfully applied this theory to different public groups, rather than organizations, to understand if and how diverse, semi-organized groups develop stances toward ongoing issues.”

Research: Social media linked to more satisfaction with breast cancer treatment decisions. “Women who engaged on social media after a breast cancer diagnosis expressed more deliberation about their treatment decision and more satisfaction with the path they chose, a new study from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center finds. But the researchers found significant barriers to social media for some women, particularly older women, those with less education and minorities.” Good morning, Internet…

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