Carry-On Luggage, Internet Archive, Library of Congress, More: Monday Buzz, October 31, 2016


New-to-me: a database / list of carryon bag sizes for airlines around the world. From Adria Airways (Slovenia) to Xiamen (Taiwan). You can also get the list as a PDF, which is rather nice.


Woo hoo! The Internet Archive has some new search features. “With over 20 million items in the Internet Archive’s many collections, having a good way to search through them to find exactly what you want is crucial. It is equally important to be able to filter the data in flexible ways so that you see subsets of the data most relevant to you. We are pleased to offer two new features that might change everything about how you search.”

The Library of Congress is teaming up with institutions in Great Britain for a large digitization project for the papers of King George III. “The Library of Congress, the Royal Collection Trust and King’s College London today signed a memorandum of understanding in which they agree to share resources to aid in the digitization of the papers of King George III (1738-1820), the English monarch in power when the American colonies declared independence, creating a new nation. Some 85 percent of the items in the archive, based at England’s Windsor Castle, have never before been examined by scholars. They include correspondence, maps and royal household ledgers.”

Need a little fun for Halloween? Check out Google’s Halloween doodle. “Google has launched their Halloween Doodle, aka Google logo, a day early – it is a fun game where you fight ghosts and scary critters.”


Very cool. Enter a starting address and an end address, and get a movie of your Google Maps driving route. “Once the start and end are entered, the speed of the animation can be sped up or slowed down within the player. You can also change the animation’s frames per second, show walking, biking, and transit routes, and even upload coordinates from your own file.”

Excellent 2m31s video from First Draft News: Newsgathering Using Facebook Live Map. Includes URL hacking to search by lat/long. Good stuff.

Like R? Like text mining? Here ya go. “I am so pleased to announce that tidytext 0.1.2 is now available on CRAN. This release of tidytext, a package for text mining using tidy data principles by Dave Robinson and me, includes some bug fixes and performance improvements, as well as some new functionality….I am even more excited to publicly announce the book that Dave and I have been working on.”

David Toccafondi has a nice blog post breaking down what you need to take into consideration when getting audio and video transcribed. “Good transcriptions/captions are incredibly useful in a variety of situations, and due to ADA compliance, they’re increasingly a necessity. People usually don’t think about this ahead of time, and I try to encourage people to build captioning into research budgets and grant applications whenever possible because costs add up. The more footage you have, the more likely you’re going to have to get someone else to do it, and even just 10 hours of audio could cost you $1000 to have transcribed by a captioning service.”


Reuters: Facebook executives feel the heat of content controversies. “The social network has taken great pains to craft rules that can be applied uniformly with minimal discretion. The reversal on the war photo, however, shows how Facebook’s top executives sometimes overrule company policy and its legions of low- and mid-level content monitors. Facebook has often insisted that it is a technology company – not a media company – but an elite group of at least five senior executives regularly directs content policy and makes editorial judgment calls, particularly in high-profile controversies, eight current and former Facebook executives told Reuters.”

Bloomberg: How Despots Use Twitter to Hunt Dissidents. “There’s nothing illegal about selling Twitter data, but it’s uncomfortable for a company that promotes itself as a medium for free speech and protest. Twitter issues regular transparency reports and has gone to court to fight censorship. Dorsey himself marched with Black Lives Matter activists in 2014, regularly tweeting messages of support and appearing at a conference this June wearing a #staywoke T-shirt. But amid Dorsey’s activism, one data user, Chicago monitoring company Geofeedia, was hired by California police departments after pitching its ability to identify civil rights protesters, according to an American Civil Liberties Union report released in September. Twitter, which touts a policy that prohibits third parties from making content available ‘to investigate, track or surveil Twitter’s users or their content,’ cut ties with Geofeedia in October.”


Australian citizens have suffered a serious data leak through the Red Cross. “More than one million personal and medical records of Australian citizens donating blood to the Red Cross Blood Service have been exposed online in the country’s biggest and most damaging data breach to date.”


Foreign Policy: Facebook’s Free Basics Is an African Dictator’s Dream. “On the surface, Free Basics seems like the answer to many interconnected prayers. It’s a cheap, easy way to get millions of people online at a time when the internet is not only a daily necessity but increasingly thought of as a human right. … But there’s a dark side to Free Basics that has the potential to do more harm than good — a side that suggests that Zuckerberg doesn’t get Africa after all. The app is essentially a cheap version of the internet, a fact that by itself implies that some people aren’t good enough to merit the whole thing. Even worse, it’s a version of the internet that gives Facebook — and by extension the corporations and governments that partner with Facebook — total control over what its users can access.” Good morning, Internet…

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