National Parks Service, Victorian Shakespeare, Facebook Underwater, More: Sunday Buzz, August 28, 2016


Now available: a digital archive for some national parks in the United States. “The [Open Parks Network] features about 200,000 downloadable images, maps, architectural designs, engineering plans and 1.5 million pages from technical reports and journals that detail events from more than 20 national parks, state parks, historic sites and battlefields throughout the country…” The parks covered in the archive seem to be mostly in the southeastern US.

More National Parks: Google’s got some new National Parks Service content. “This Google Arts & Culture exhibit and interactive documentary in honor of this month’s [National Parks Service] Centennial is available on the web and in the Google Arts & Culture App on iOS/Android. You can immerse yourself in 360-degree video tours through some of the most remote and breathtaking places in five different National Parks. … At each park, a local ranger guides you through places most people never get to go — spelunking through ancient caves at Carlsbad Caverns, flying above active volcanoes in Hawai’i, and swimming through the coral reefs of the Dry Tortugas in Florida.”

The blog Cardiff Shakespeare has a quick writeup on a Shakespeare archive called the Victorian Illustrated Shakespeare Archive. I think it’s a longstanding project that was finally launched, but mentions of it have been floating around for a couple years. Either way well-worth looking at. “This is a valuable resource featuring over 3000 illustrations from the four major illustrated editions of Shakespeare’s Complete Works in the Victorian period.”


Speaking of things I’ve never thought about before – what would it be like to Facebook from the bottom of an ocean? “Deep below the surface of Europe’s largest lake, Vänern in Sweden, Anders Brodin reaches for his diving computer. Thumbing carefully through its menus, he opens a Facebook client and composes a short message. He hits send. ‘Right now, I am diving at 16.1 meters and the temperature is 15 degrees. This is only the beginning…’ pops up on the screens of his friends around the world. This is something that divers have never been able to do before. More than a metre below the surface of a body of water, most radio communication fails. The water absorbs the signals of all but the lowest-frequency electromagnetic waves, meaning that a normal mobile phone, or even a walkie-talkie, simply wouldn’t get any signal.”

Facebook is tweaking its trending topics. “Today, we’re making some changes to the Trending feature on Facebook that will make the product more automated and will no longer require people to write descriptions for trending topics.” So no more summaries noting that 85-year-old actresses were born in 1981?

Twitter’s getting a new DM button? “Twitter will soon initiate a new feature that could expand its presence across the web. The micro-blogging website is working on a new message button for its set of publishing tools that can be added to external sites, suggesting it could possibly begin appearing all over the web, reports Digital Trends.”

WhatsApp will start sharing some of its data with Facebook. “When Facebook bought the startup WhatsApp in 2014, Jan Koum, WhatsApp’s cofounder, declared that the deal would not affect the digital privacy of his mobile messaging service’s millions of users…. Two years later, in a move that might rankle some of the company’s 1-billion-plus users, WhatsApp will soon begin to share some member information with Facebook.”


You may have noticed that I don’t link to a lot of WikiLeaks-related stuff. It’s because of this: while I’m a big advocate of transparency in government, I have a serious problem with collateral damage. The AP breaks it down. “In the past year alone, the radical transparency group has published medical files belonging to scores of ordinary citizens while many hundreds more have had sensitive family, financial or identity records posted to the web. In two particularly egregious cases, WikiLeaks named teenage rape victims. In a third case, the site published the name of a Saudi citizen arrested for being gay, an extraordinary move given that homosexuality can lead to social ostracism, a prison sentence or even death in the ultraconservative Muslim kingdom.”

Recode: Google keeps ex-Googlers close by investing in their startups. “According to multiple sources, Google has recently backed several early startups from former employees, including Hello, adding to Google’s already complex weave of corporate financing. It’s unlikely Google is deploying these funds to dig back into social media or generate massive returns. Instead, these deals seem mostly about Google’s ongoing attempt to keep familiar engineers close to the company fold.” Of course I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this. Not sure how long Google can keep doing it, but don’t see anything wrong with it.

Chinese search engine Baidu has apparently put the kibosh on virtual currency ads. “Baidu has quietly removed advertising for bitcoin and all other forms of virtual currency from its online service, two of China’s largest bitcoin exchanges say, signalling a growing wariness over the proliferation of online scammers.”


Using Dropbox? Have an old password? Dropbox wants you to update. “If you signed up for Dropbox prior to mid-2012 and haven’t changed your password since, you’ll be prompted to update it the next time you sign in. We’re doing this purely as a preventive measure, and there is no indication that your account has been improperly accessed. We’re sorry for the inconvenience.”


Sigh. Voter Information on Government Websites Still Fails Basic Accessibility Tests. “Perkins Access, an Watertown Massachusetts-based accessibility consulting group connected with the Perkins School for the Blind carried out an assessment review of 25 state websites and the digital properties of several large cities throughout the country.” Good morning, Internet…

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