Texas Newspapers, Japanese Construction Workers, Google Advertising, More: Saturday Buzz, October 22, 2016


Coming soon: more digitized newspapers from Texas. “Digging into local news archives soon will be easier thanks to a joint effort by Tarleton State University’s Dick Smith Library and the Stephenville Public Library to digitize the community’s old newspapers. The Ladd & Katherine Hancher Library Foundation donated a $10,450 grant this month that will help with funding to digitize and archive local newspapers published between 1882 and 1922.”

In response to shortages, the government of Japan is working on a database of construction workers. “The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry intends to create a database in which workers can register their skills qualifications or employment records to establish their work history. Construction companies will be able to make use of the information provided to improve working conditions on the ground. The idea is to alleviate the shortage of construction workers by making it easier to muster human resources.”


ProPublica: Google Has Quietly Dropped Ban on Personally Identifiable Web Tracking. “When Google bought the advertising network DoubleClick in 2007, Google founder Sergey Brin said that privacy would be the company’s ‘number one priority when we contemplate new kinds of advertising products.’ And, for nearly a decade, Google did in fact keep DoubleClick’s massive database of web-browsing records separate by default from the names and other personally identifiable information Google has collected from Gmail and its other login accounts. But this summer, Google quietly erased that last privacy line in the sand – literally crossing out the lines in its privacy policy that promised to keep the two pots of data separate by default.”

After a series of what could be called completely boneheaded moves with content removal and suppression, Facebook appears to be taking things more seriously. “In the weeks ahead, we’re going to begin allowing more items that people find newsworthy, significant, or important to the public interest — even if they might otherwise violate our standards. We will work with our community and partners to explore exactly how to do this, both through new tools and approaches to enforcement. Our intent is to allow more images and stories without posing safety risks or showing graphic images to minors and others who do not want to see them.” This still doesn’t explain censoring animated cartoon breasts shown for medical purposes, but it’s a start.


Genealogists! Do you have ancestors in New England? here’s a freebie for you through October 25th. “From October 18 to October 25, New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) is offering FREE access to essential resources for early New England family history research…. During a special free access week, family historians can search nearly 300,000 records across a unique sets of databases that are at the forefront of early American genealogical research: The Great Migration Study Project, the Early New England Families Study Project, and Torrey’s New England Marriages to 1700.”

This is crazy old-school, but bookmarklets are still useful. From Hongkiat: How to Create a Text-Search Bookmarklet with JavaScript. “Bookmarklets are JavaScript applications that can be accessed as browser bookmarks. They are used to enable users to perform different actions on web pages…. In this article, we are going to see how quick and easy it is to concoct a bookmarklet by creating one that performs a Wikiwand (better-looking Wikipedia) search for a selected text on any web page.”


New York Times: The Mission to Save Vanishing Internet Art. “In the early days of the web, art was frequently a cause and the internet was an alternate universe in which to pursue it. Two decades later, preserving this work has become a mission. As web browsers and computer operating systems stopped supporting the software tools they were built with, many works have fallen victim to digital obsolescence. Later ones have been victims of arbitrary decisions by proprietary internet platforms — as when YouTube deleted Petra Cortright’s video ‘VVEBCAM’ on the grounds that it violated the site’s community guidelines. Even the drip paintings Jackson Pollock made with house paint have fared better than art made by manipulating electrons.”

Facebook Live has really taken off. “Live … has seen the number of people broadcasting at any given minute go up 4X since May. Streams have come from all seven continents plus outer space, they cause people to comment 10X more than normal videos, get watched 3X longer than non-Live content, and most broadcasts come from regular people even if public figures get the biggest audiences.”


The latest big hack? Weebly. “The web design platform Weebly was hacked in February, according to the data breach notification site LeakedSource. Usernames and passwords for more than 43 million accounts were taken in the breach, although the passwords are secured with the strong hashing algorithm bcrypt. Weebly said in an email to customers that user IP addresses were also taken in the breach.”


I have never seen an episode of Friends, so I don’t have much context for this, but apparently researchers have turned one of the characters (Joey) into a chatbot. “Researchers at the University of Leeds fed a computer 236 episodes of Friends, which it used to formulate new phrases for Joey that matched the character’s ‘style and appearance’. The program analysed everything from the show’s script to Joey’s manner of speech, body language and facial expressions in the 97 hours of footage to generate an accurate picture of the character’s behaviour.”

Science Blog: Link found between selfie viewing and decreased self-esteem. “Frequent viewing of selfies through social network sites like Facebook is linked to a decrease in self-esteem and life satisfaction, according to Penn State researchers in mass communications. ‘Most of the research done on social network sites looks at the motivation for posting and liking content, but we’re now starting to look at the effect of viewing behavior,’ said Ruoxu Wang, graduate student in mass communications.”

Sam Houston State University: Research Reveals Differences In Presidential Candidates’ Twitter Usage. “That Twitter would even be a topic of discussion in a presidential debate shows how far it has come since President Barack Obama started using social media as a way to engage with voters in his 2008 presidential campaign. Eight years later, Twitter has blown up as a powerful tool for politicians to immediately get their messages across to the public and as a way to control, and sometimes fix, their images. But as politicians turn to the resource, the effect and the messaging is still unquantified, which is why in 2012, Sam Houston State University political science associate professor Heather Evans set out to examine the effect of social media in campaigning.” Good morning, Internet…

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