Audio Clips, T.S. Eliot, Stolen Forklifts, More: Wednesday Buzz, October 12, 2016


A new tool aims to make audio clips more shareable. “Shortcut, in the form that is launching today, is an application that allows users to search through the entire “This American Life” archives, clip portions of audio, and share and embed them. Powerful confessions, idiosyncratic bursts of laughter, meaningful exchanges – these snatches of audio can now be used to promote an episode, to share a favorite moment, or applied out of context to communicate a reaction. ‘I have sent my own coworkers quotes of themselves,’ admits Foo. Apparently a clip of her laughing made the rounds, as well.” There are plans to open-source Shortcut.

Now available: a digital archive devoted to poet T.S. Eliot. (And thank you, Guardian, for leading with a picture of T.S. Eliot which DOESN’T remind me of Ellsworth Toohey.) “Featuring hundreds of unpublished letters by Eliot, along with rare material including photographs from the collection of his late wife Valerie Eliot, the site is free to access. Faber press director Henry Volans said he hoped it would show all sides of a writer whom the Nobel prize committee said in 1948 had made an ‘outstanding, pioneer contribution to present-day poetry’.”

Now available in the UK: a database of stolen fork lifts. “The Stolen Truck Database is believed to the first of its kind in the UK. Through it, anyone who has had a truck stolen can report the theft and the details of the truck including make, model, power source and serial number. This is then added to a central database. Similarly, anyone being offered a used truck can access the database to check whether it has been reported as stolen.” Don’t laugh. When you need a forklift you NEED A FORKLIFT, and you can’t just run over and borrow your neighbor’s. And they’re incredibly expensive to rent. Do not ask me how I know this.

Internet archivists, check out this new journal. “Let us assume that the internet is here to stay. And that it becomes still more pivotal to have solid scholarly knowledge about the development of the internet of the past with a view to understanding the internet of the present and of the future; on the one hand, past events constitute important preconditions for todays internet, and, on the other, the mechanisms behind the developments in the past may prove very helpful for understanding what is about to happen with the internet today. Based on this rationale the new scholarly journal Internet Histories: Digital Technology, Culture and Society (Taylor&Francis/Routledge) has just been founded.”

Now available: a new tool for audio transcription (PRESS RELEASE). “The technology marries a text editor to an audio/video player. The intuitive editor makes it simple to quickly search a word, click on it to play – if there is an error in the automated transcription users can instantly correct it. Hours of work are reduced to minutes. Users can add instant captions for silent video on social media and export content with unprecedented ease to Twitter, Facebook etc. With good audio users are reporting transcription accuracy of up to 98%.”


A crowdsourcing project to digitize the history of the Danish West Indies is going very well. “More than 100 volunteers have so far indexed approximately 14,000 historical documents related to the history of the Danish West Indies into an online database, a press release from the Danish National Archives said Tuesday.”

Google’s Project Fi now has a group plan. “With Project Fi, wireless service is simple and easy — you get seamless access to three 4G LTE networks, use data abroad at no extra cost, and you send and receive texts and calls across multiple devices. Last week we expanded our device options to include Google’s new Pixel phones, and today we’re excited to introduce Project Fi’s group plan: an easy way to share Project Fi with the people who matter most to you. With Project Fi’s group plan, you can now have up to six people on one plan, making it easier to pay your bill, track data usage, and manage settings for everyone, all from one place.”


Deepgram has made its speech search engine free for journalists until Election Day. ” The audio search technology relies on artificial intelligence, and has been likened to a ‘Google for sound’ – meaning that it can be used a lot like a search engine, but one that’s capable of surfacing phrases found in audio files, instead of text on webpages.”

PhoneRadar has published a very extensive article on how to use Google Photos. “Mastering anything requires two things, patience and practice, but that rule doesn’t apply to everywhere, especially when you’re reading a guide. The whole point of a guide is to be to make sure its readers understand the tips quite easily. Otherwise, it beats the basic purpose of it. And that is what you should expect from this guide, an easy understanding of the deep, yet resourceful features of the Google Photos.”


The Guardian: Facebook and Google: most powerful and secretive empires we’ve ever known. “Google and Facebook have conveyed nearly all of us to this page, and just about every other idea or expression we’ll encounter today. Yet we don’t know how to talk about these companies, nor digest their sheer power. We call them platforms, networks or gatekeepers. But these labels hardly fit. The appropriate metaphor eludes us; even if we describe them as vast empires, they are unlike any we’ve ever known. Far from being discrete points of departure, merely supporting the action or minding the gates, they have become something much more significant. They have become the medium through which we experience and understand the world.”

You can now take a shufti at Google’s self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivan. “Last May, Google and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) signed a deal to make a fleet of self-driving Pacifica minivans — the first phase in a broader autonomous car deal between the two companies. On Sunday, the first prototypes were spotted in a San Francisco parking garage by the CEO of Enterprise Garage Consultancy, who sent some spy photos to Electrek. They show over a dozen plug-in hybrid Pacificas with cameras and LIDAR sensors mounted on their roofs.”


Wait. What? Academics pay journals to publish ghost-written articles to get promotions. “The fact that Chinese scientists and medical practitioners need to get published in SCI-indexed journals to get ahead in their field has spawned an international multimillion-dollar industry which includes ghostwriting companies and international publications which are happy to publish papers as long as writers pay their publication fees.” The first time I tried to access this link I got a 502 error. Reloading did the trick. Thanks to Aaron T. for the heads-up. Good afternoon, Internet…

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