Classics Teaching, Presidential Debates, YouTube, More: Thursday Buzz, September 22, 2016


A new open access journal is available: Journal of Classics Teaching. “Now online and open access the Journal of Classics Teaching (JCT) aims to be the leading journal for teachers of Latin, ancient Greek, Classical Civilisation and Ancient History internationally. JCT covers the primary, secondary and tertiary education sectors and welcomes articles and short book reviews of interest to Classics teachers.”


Twitter announced debate livestreaming. Facebook announced debate livestreaming. Then YouTube came in and Godzilla’d all over everybody. “Voting also requires you to get educated with the latest and greatest from the candidates. That’s why we’re also excited to announce that we’re live streaming the presidential debates from more news organizations than ever before including PBS, Fox News, The Washington Post, Bloomberg, and Telemundo. You can also follow your favorite YouTube creators, including The Young Turks and Complex News, who will be on the ground reporting from the debates using YouTube Live directly from their phones.”

YouTube is asking for help in moderating itself. “The company has announced the launch of a new, crowdsourced moderation program called ‘YouTube Heroes,’ which asks volunteers to perform tasks like flagging inappropriate content, adding captions and subtitles, and responding to questions on the YouTube Help forum, among other things.” I thought Google was making huge strides in AI etc. Why is this necessary? If you need more eyes to review what AI-based tools flag, why not hire them?

Google Allo is a little different than first announced. “When Allo was announced at Google’s I/O conference earlier this year, the messaging app was presented as a step forward for privacy. Alongside the end-to-end-encrypted Incognito Mode, the Allo team talked about bold new message retention practices, storing messages only transiently rather than indefinitely. But with the release of the app today, Google is backing off on some of those features.”


Twitter has released a new transparency report. “Along with posting the newest data, we have updated our report site to make all of the various information easier to understand and navigate. Upgrades include bigger, bolder visualizations, clearer explanations about the numbers, and more granular details about many of the requests we receive. Specifically, we’ve added several new sections about global information requests, including: the number of preservation requests received for user data, more insights into requests that we formally or informally challenge, a breakdown between emergency and non-emergency requests, and the percentage of requests where basic account information is provided versus the production of the contents of communications (e.g., Tweets, DMs, media, etc.).”

Danny Sullivan is not impressed with Google Allo. “Hey! Google has a new messaging app out today called Allo. Pity I can’t send you a text message about it. Allo can’t handle that, not from my actual number, which is a core failing out-of-the-box. It’s a failing Google can’t afford with yet another messaging app.”

Gizmodo: The Dark Web Is Mostly Full of Garbage. “The sites which don’t actively work to circumvent laws (oppressive or totally sensible) tend to lack any sort of function at all. A single word on a blank page. A stupid gif with autoplaying sound, an annoying trend that mostly died with Myspace. These sites don’t even serve the purpose of domain squatting, as most onion urls intentionally defy memorability. In some ways, its refreshing to see pages that completely lack both interactivity and agenda—amateurish graffiti scrawled against a digital landscape that’s purpose-built to be undiscoverable by the overwhelming majority of people. But for the relatively small onion community, perhaps they have a message.”

Mark Zuckerberg and his wife are pledging $3 billion to fight disease. Well, to fight the lack of funding for basic research. “Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan are committing $3 billion over the next 10 years to accelerate basic scientific research, including the creation of research tools—from software to hardware to yet-undiscovered techniques—they hope will ultimately lead to scientific breakthroughs, the way the microscope and DNA sequencing have in generations past.” And, being Mark Zuckerberg, he doesn’t have to worry about anybody spending $1 billion of this money on a video scoreboard.


Chatter going around that Yahoo is about to confirm a big data breach. “Yahoo is poised to confirm a massive data breach of its service, according to several sources close to the situation, hacking that has exposed several hundred million user accounts. While sources were unspecific about the extent of the incursion, since there is the likelihood of government investigations and legal action related to the breach, they noted that it is widespread and serious.”

China will begin treating social media posts as evidence in criminal cases. “The new rule will give the police and other law enforcing agencies extensive powers to scrutinize posts on social media, mobile phone messages and emails as part of their investigation process. It has been formulated by the Supreme People’s Court, Supreme People’s Procuratorate and the Ministry of Public Security, is aimed at regulating the collecting and reviewing of digital data in criminal cases, government sources said. It will come into force on October 1.”


MIT Technology Review: The Growing Problem of Bots That Fight Online. “‘An increasing number of decisions, options, choices, and services depend now on bots working properly, efficaciously, and successfully,’ say Taha Yasseri and pals at the University of Oxford in the U.K. ‘Yet, we know very little about the life and evolution of our digital minions.’ This raises an interesting question. How do bots interact with each other? And how do these interactions differ from the way humans interact? Today, Yasseri and pals throw some light on these questions by studying the way bots on Wikipedia interact with each other. And all is not well in the land of cyberspace.”

The most-cited scientist on Google Scholar? Why, it’s et al. “Et al. has 2,415,484 attributed citations in the Google database. Second place? Sigmund Freud, with 451,806 citations, according to Webometrics.” Good morning, Internet…

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