National Archive GIFs, Voter Registration, Twitter, More: Saturday Buzz, September 24, 2016


The National Archives has released a big set of animated GIFs on Giphy. Note the article I’m linking to is very funny but does have some bad language. And at least one of the comments includes a GIF with – um – explicit behavior.

Students at MIT have released an app designed to help millennials register to vote. “With an intuitive design and integration with many state-based voter registration websites (28 to date with the rest covered by the national database), users can more reliably confirm if they are registered to vote. Those who are unregistered receive a short sample registration form that displays only the information required to register and the registration deadline for the next election. Votemate users can even find the polling location for the next upcoming election and receive email reminders for it.”


Rumors are flying that Twitter will get bought. “CNBC reported Friday that, according to sources, Twitter is in talks with several companies and could soon receive a formal bid. Those companies may include Google and Salesforce.” The more I think about it, the more I think Amazon would be an excellent buyer for Twitter. Another possibility is Snapchat but they don’t have the money. Then I got really silly and started thinking about who would use a worldwide communication network and just got really fat with cash (including $$$ from Google), and I thought: Airbnb! But they still probably don’t have the money or the management structure.

Twitter is allowing you to mark tweets you don’t like. I guess this is to provide quality feedback since Twitter now shows tweets algorithmically by default. (To Twitter’s credit, you can opt-out.) “The feature is apparently rolling out users as we speak, although it seems that it is only available on iOS devices right now, but presumably Android devices and desktop users should be able to expect the feature to arrive eventually as well.”

Google has upgraded its image captioning algo. “Google has announced a new version of its image captioning algorithm that describes the contents of images with 94 percent accuracy. It’s almost as good at writing captions as humans are. It has been trained to emulate descriptions written by real people.”


Hey! You can now register to vote for Snapchat. (At least in the US.) “Snapchat has embedded TurboVote promo videos between the Stories and Discover pages of the app, which you can access by swiping left on the main Snapchat screen after opening the app.”


Facebook has apparently been artificially inflating average viewing time of video. Which, I guess, is why my feed is now full of things like squirrels being cute for 24 seconds. “Facebook told ad buying agency Publicis Media that it likely overestimated average time spent watching videos by a whopping 60% to 80%, according to a letter Publicis sent to clients, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. ”

The Guardian: Yahoo faces questions after hack of half a billion accounts. “Chief among them was why disclosure took so long, both from the date of the hack, almost two years ago, and from the first appearance of the dumped data on the dark web almost two months ago where it was being sold by a user named ‘Peace of Mind’, who had also sold dumps of data from MySpace and LinkedIn. Jeremiah Grossman, head of security strategy at infosec firm SentinelOne, said: ‘While we know the information was stolen in late 2014, we don’t have any indication as to when Yahoo first learned about this breach. This is an important detail in the story.'” The state-sponsored hack claim really bothers me. If you’re going to stay things like that, let’s see some evidence/details/SOMETHING.

Motherboard has an overview of AllMusic, an ancient (in a good way) online music database.

From the Online Journalism blog: Google’s creepy Allo assistant and our rocky relationship so far. “After playing with Allo’s chat prompts for those too lazy to write their own texts, I began to play with the in-conversation Google Assistant bot. Here are the highlights…” Very, very funny. And a good overview of a) how chatbots really aren’t there yet and b) how they might be trying a bit too hard.


The Virginia Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal over a court database. “The Virginia Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal requested by the Daily Press in long-running dispute over whether the state’s Office of the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court must release a database of court case information.” I freely admit I am not up on state legal structures, but this part made me spray tea everywhere: “OES used to release the database, which it creates using case information from 118 of the state’s 120 circuit court clerks. OES’ decision to now deny access is based on the argument that the court clerks are the true custodians of the records, not OES. The office also has argued that the database is exempt from Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act.” Do what now?


BloombergQuint: Facebook and Google Have to Open Up. “Martin Sorrell told you so. The WPP boss has railed against the opacity of Facebook and Google for years, calling for independent checks on the effectiveness of advertising on the sites. So when Facebook said on Thursday that it had overestimated the average viewing time for video ads on the social network for the past two years, the veteran ad man was proven right.” Good morning, Internet…

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