NEH, Pinterest, Microsoft, More: Saturday Buzz, August 6, 2016


The National Endowment for the Humanities has announced the winners of its Chronicling America data challenge. “We invited members of the public to produce creative web-based projects demonstrating the potential for using the data found in Chronicling America. Entries could be data visualizations, web-based tools or other innovative and interesting web-based projects. Entries came through, the U.S. government’s hub for federal prize and challenge competitions. The nationwide competition garnered extremely high-quality entries on a variety of subjects, which showed the importance of and potential for making this rich historical data openly available.”

The latest big Internet site to embrace video? Why, it’s Pinterest! “We’re already working on new ways to help you discover videos you love, with personalized recommendations to help you find videos that match your unique tastes. We’re also working on a fully integrated video player that makes watching videos right on Pinterest better than ever.”

Microsoft has launched a new tool to make it easier to port Chrome extensions to the Microsoft Edge browser. “While the app appears to be in early stages – and hasn’t even been formally announced by Microsoft as of yet – it seems to be functional, providing developers the ability to load extensions from folders, re-validate them and view bug reports.”

Facebook has launched a new layout for pages. And for once I think it’s actually pretty good and have nothing to complain about. I better check myself for fever. “The brand pages focus on the brand and put ads on the sidelines. The new layout is crisp, clean and gives the brand a little more prominence. A spokesperson from Facebook said, ‘We’ve introduced a new design for Pages on desktop to make it easier for people to learn about and interact with businesses on Facebook, including a new column for tab navigation and a more prominent call-to-action button.'”

So how’s that collaboration between Twitter and the Library of Congress doing? not so good. “Six years after the announcement, the Library of Congress still hasn’t launched the heralded tweet archive, and it doesn’t know when it will. No engineers are permanently assigned to the project. So, for now, staff regularly dump unprocessed tweets into a server—the digital equivalent of throwing a bunch of paperclipped manuscripts into a chest and giving it a good shake. There’s certainly no way to search through all that they’ve collected. And, in the meantime, the value of a vast tweet cache has soared. This frustrates researchers, who had hoped to mine the archive for insights about language and society—and who currently have to pay heavy licensing fees to Twitter for its data.”


Here’s an interesting perspective on Pokemon Go: Pokémon Go players could capture 400 years of wildlife sightings in 6 days “Pokémon-Go encourages millions of players to explore their local area collecting imaginary creatures. However, if the Pokémon they caught were instead observations of real species they could produce more wildlife observations in 6 days than have been collated over the past 400 years by naturalists.” The math used to generate that stat is included at the end of the article.

Wow, Twitter is losing a lot of communications executives. “It’s noteworthy that three of Twitter’s top communications executives have left in the past month. The highest profile departure in the past few weeks was longtime Apple veteran PR executive Natalie Kerris. Kerris joined the company in February in the middle of a critical time for the company, which basically had to prove to investors and the rest of the world that it could be a strong, growing independent network. Twitter’s head of product communications, Rachel Delphin, also left last month to lead communications at Tanium.”


For the second time in less than a month, Apple has rushed out a patch for a security bug.

More bugs: there’s a security flaw in Windows that allows attackers to steal Microsoft Account credentials – and apparently Microsoft isn’t going to fix it. “The flaw is widely known, and it’s said to be almost 20 years old. It was allegedly found in 1997 by Aaron Spangler and was most recently resurfaced by researchers in 2015 at Black Hat, an annual security and hacking conference in Las Vegas. The flaw wasn’t considered a major issue until Windows 8 began allowing users to sign into their Microsoft accounts — which links their Xbox, Hotmail and Outlook, Office, and Skype accounts, among others.” It looks like you can avoid this by not using IE, Edge, or Outlook. Or Windows, I suppose.

Free software site FossHub got hacked. “This isn’t good. Two of the most popular programs on download site FossHub were recently replaced with malware that nuked the master boot records on any PC unlucky enough to install it.” Major props to FossHub for a quick, transparent, and classy response.


Researchers at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis are looking for volunteers to help them test an app for caregivers of Alzheimers patients. “Because the study takes place online, participants may reside anywhere. There is no cost to participate, and those selected will use a social microvolunteering web app that was specially designed for use in Facebook for this study. Participants will meet in small Facebook groups to decide on caregiving questions that they would like answered through the use of the web app.”

You’d think that making people post under their real names would regulate their behavior at least a bit, wouldn’t you? apparently not. “In research published this June in the journal PLoS One, [Lea] Stahel studied comments on online petitions published on a German social media platform between 2010 and 2013. The data included 532,197 comments on about 1,600 online petitions. Commentators could choose to be public or anonymous. Contrary to expectations, the commentators with the harshest words during mass public attacks were more likely to be the name-identified ones than the anonymous ones (less than a third of commentators kept their names private).” Good afternoon, Internet…

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