Michigan Oral Histories, Israel Student Scholarships, 3D Bone Fossils, More: Tuesday Afternoon Buzz, August 30, 2016


The Ypsilanti District Library (that’s in Michigan) has launched a new African-American oral history archive. “40 years ago, Historian and EMU Professor A.P. Marshall interviewed dozens of leaders in Ypsilanti’s African American community, seeking to preserve the stories and struggles of a generation who lived through the Great Depression, WWII, and the Civil Rights movement…. The Ypsilanti District Library (YDL), in partnership with the African American Cultural and Historical Museum of Washtenaw County (AACHM) and local historians Matt Siegfried and Laura Bien, will spend the next nine months digitizing a priceless collection of oral histories and making them available online…”

Now available: a database of scholarships for students in Israel. “In recent months, Milgapo has created the largest and most comprehensive database of scholarships in Israel, including over 850 different sources of financial aid. Among other things, its database includes scholarships requiring volunteering and social involvement, financial aid based on socioeconomic status, and funding based on ethnic origin.”

Lucy is over 3 million years old but she looks only 900,000 thanks to this one weird trick. Just kidding. Lucy is a famous collection of bone fossils of an Australopithecus, and earlier this week made 3D scans of some of her bones available. “The world’s most famous fossil is now open source. 3D scans of Lucy — a 3.18-million-year-old hominin found in Ethiopia — were released on 29 August, allowing anyone to examine her arm, shoulder and knee bones and even make their own 3D-printed copies. The scans accompany a Nature paper that argues that Lucy, a human relative belonging to the species Australopithecus afarensis, died after falling from a tree.”


Microsoft is launching new tools to fight online harassment. “Today, the company announced two new additions to its online services: one tool for reporting hate speech so that the company can take it down, and another for requesting that the company reinstate content once it comes down. The move comes as criticism from Internet denizens about online abuse reached a new peak this month, notably after online trolls waged Twitter campaign against comedian Leslie Jones and then someone hacked into her personal website and exposed her private information.”

Google has baked its “Cast” feature into Chrome. “Nearly two months ago, Google included a ‘Cast’ option in a beta build of Chrome, which allowed users to beam content from their browser to Chromecast-equipped TVs and speakers, over a local wireless network. The company has now baked the Cast feature into the latest publicly available version of Chrome, so you can use it without an extension. You can find it in Chrome’s menu, with options to choose which device you want to stream to and adjust the volume.”


New Webinar from DigitalGov: Snaps and Stripes: Sharing Public Service Stories with Snapchat. “In a world where content disappears after 24-hours and 10-second, vertical video dominates, you might be asking yourself: Where does government find its place? In this webinar, we will discuss best practices around the use of Snapchat in the federal space. Hear from NASA, USAGov, AmeriCorps and Department of Interior on how they’re using the platform, crafting their messages and telling their stories. We’ll also discuss how government agencies can engage on this platform while also complying with appropriate regulations.” The Webinar is September 15th.


Reason #3412 you don’t want to completely rely on crowdsourcing: Microsoft apologises after Bing translates ‘Daesh’ into ‘Saudi Arabia’. “Microsoft has been forced to apologise after its Bing translation service suggested that the Arabic name for Islamic State ‘Daesh’ meant ‘Saudi Arabia’ in English. The blunder was spotted by Saudi social media users, who called for a boycott of all Microsoft products, causing the mistranslation to go viral, and leading to a public outcry.”

Recode has an update on Google X. “Several people who have recently left X and those close to it describe the Alphabet unit as sputtering, unable to bring projects to life. They say the issues at X aren’t technical hurdles, but a combination of red tape and knotty internal politics. Rather than accelerating the ‘moonshot factory,’ sources say the Google-to-Alphabet reshuffle has clogged it up. The Alphabet company that is meant to create new Alphabet companies is struggling to get them out the door. And I have heard repeated talk of a coming shake-up at the division.”


The FTC is going after “predatory” academic journal publishers. “The Federal Trade Commission on Friday filed a complaint against the academic journal publisher OMICS Group and two of its subsidiaries, saying the publisher deceives scholars and misrepresents the editorial rigor of its journals.”


Research: How many new Twitter followers is a gold medal worth? “To find out, I took the list of 353 Rio 2016 competitors from the Team GB Twitter list and wrote some code that would note the number of followers each has every 15 minutes. So from about Day 3, when I first set my script running, we can now see who picked up the most followers – and when. And we can also work out the approximate social media bonus of winning a medal.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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