Pan Am, NYC High Schools, Canada Oil Sands, More: Tuesday Buzz, September 13, 2016


In development: a digital archive for Pan Am. “University of Miami Special Collections is gearing up for a project to put over 100,000 items in the Pan Am archive online thanks to a digitization grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).”

New York City has a new online tool for getting information on its high schools. Why does it need this? Because there are over 400 of them! “City schools boss Carmen Fariña on Monday unveiled NYC School Finder, a new, online tool that lets users search and sort through the city’s 440 high schools by keyword, location, size, and more. The tool … is an interactive version of the city’s print high school directory, designed to help families select their top high school choices during the enrollment season leading up to city’s the Dec. 1 deadline for first-round high school applications.” Chalkbeat also had a writeup about this new resource and wasn’t thrilled.

Now available: an archive of advertising about Canada’s oil sands. And if you, like me, have neglected your geology students and don’t know what oil sands are, you can get a good overview here. “‘The premise of my work is that media is a site of social struggles,’ [Patrick] McCurdy, an associate professor in the department of communications at the University of Ottawa, told DeSmog Canada. ‘It’s a battle for our imaginations and what we think about a certain topic and the actions we’re willing to take. I wanted to try to map that.’ Working with a two-year grant from the Social Sciences and Humanity Research Council, McCurdy and his team identified all the different stakeholders involved in the oilsands (of which there are many: corporations, industry associations, media, environmental non-profits, Indigenous groups), combed their websites and created an Excel database with the links.”


The Oxford English Dictionary has added some new words. “Food-related terms including chefdom and cheeseball will appear in the new edition alongside yogalates, the combination of yoga and pilates, and Westminster bubble, an insular community of politicians.”

Facebook Messenger chatbots now support payments. What could POSSIBLY go wrong. “The latest version of Facebook Messenger adds a new feature to the 30,000 or so chatbots that currently inhabit its platform. Starting today with version 1.2, those Messenger bots can now accept payments directly in the chat without sending users to an external website.”

Twitter and Cheddar are teaming up. “Cheddar, which already broadcasts live on Facebook, will exclusively air its ‘Closing Bell’ coverage on Twitter from 3 to 4 p.m. Eastern, while its ‘Opening Bell’ markets coverage will continue to air daily from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Eastern on its social platforms. The website broadcasts daily from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, the NASDAQ Marketsite and the Flatiron Building.”

Speaking of Twitter, it looks like longer tweets are coming September 19th. “Twitter is about to make a big change to the way that tweets work, The Verge can independently confirm. Beginning September 19th, the company will cut down on exactly which types of content count toward the platform’s 140-character limit. Media attachments (images, GIFs, videos, polls, etc.) and quoted tweets will no longer reduce the count. The extra room for text will give users more flexibility in composing their messages.”

More Twitter! Twitter will now alert you when someone you follow starts livestreaming. “Twitter is increasing its focus on live streaming today with the launch of a new Notification button on its app that lets you subscribe to be alerted when someone you follow starts live-streaming. When you receive the alert, you can immediately join the broadcast with just a tap. The feature works both for alerting users to new streams from Periscope, as well as for content from Twitter’s live streaming partners, such as the NFL.”


From The Diplomat: Anti-Muslim Sentiment Is Taking Over China’s Social Media Scene. “Chinese social media is quite different from traditional media in many ways; netizens, for instance, express their support or criticism of certain social groups more aggressively, with much less reserve. This is due partially to the government’s tight control of television broadcasters and newspapers, which does not allow any deviation from the official line. Conversely, China’s Internet is relatively open – government’s control notwithstanding, a netizen can post angry comments from time to time with impunity. Discussions on Muslims and Islam has been a taboo for China’s traditional media for several decades. I do not know the exact time when this began, but according to conventional wisdom and experience in the media, it dates back to the Mao Zedong era.”

Is the government of Israel going to have more say in what Facebook does and does not show? “Associated Press reports today from Jerusalem that ‘the Israeli government and Facebook have agreed to work together to determine how to tackle incitement on the social media network.’ These meetings are taking place ‘as the government pushes ahead with legislative steps meant to force social networks to rein in content that Israel says incites violence.’ In other words, Israel is about to legislatively force Facebook to censor content deemed by Israeli officials to be improper, and Facebook appears eager to appease those threats by working directly with the Israeli government to determine what content should be censored.” Facebook obviously needs help with its content review procedures. I’m not sure a country’s government is the correct help.

Stanford: Digital forensics rescues retro video games and software. “Starting in the mid-1980’s, a young man named Stephen Cabrinety filled his home with video games and software…. Cabrinety did not live to see what would become of his efforts—he died of Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1995 at the age of 29—but his collection has achieved a sort of digital immortality. The Stanford University Libraries, which acquired the collection in 2009, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have just completed a multi-year effort to rescue the collection’s digital content from the Atari game cartridges, 5-1/4 inch floppy discs, magnetic tape and other deteriorating storage media that held it.”


Seeking Alpha: Twitter needs to sell itself right now. “The main event for Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) over the last few quarters has been whether or not the company is going to sell itself or be acquired eventually. We commented just a couple of days ago on the latest CNBC report that the company may eventually consider putting itself up for sale. This came in an article that suggested CEO Jack Dorsey only had a little bit of time left before he was going to need to turn around the company. Today we wanted to write about and review two very common sense reasons that if Twitter is going to sell itself, it should do it almost immediately.” Reading the whole article required an annoying amount of hoop-jumping and free registration. It was worth it, but be warned. Good morning, Internet…

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