Saul Bass, Personal Search, 2016 Election, More: Monday Buzz, November 7, 2016


New-to-me: an archive of Saul Bass posters. (If you don’t know much about Saul Bass, you can read a biography here.) From the home page: “This online archive was created to feature the many posters designed by Saul Bass (1920-1996) throughout his sixty year career, with examples drawn from his private collection. The collection is in the process of being catalogued with only a portion currently on view. When complete, this online archive will contain a full selection of film and non-film posters, limited-edition print materials, publications and some personal designs.” All his stuff is good but the 1960s stuff is absolutely iconic.

A new search engine promises to help you find everything you’ve ever looked at on your computer. “Our brains often forget where we saw something among the countless tabs and documents on our computers each day. To make it easier to find things, Seattle-based Atlas Informatics launched Atlas Recall, which lets you search for anything you’ve ever looked at on your computer. Atlas Informatics founder and CEO Jordan Ritter calls the software ‘a photographic memory for your digital life.’ In a demonstration to CNNMoney, that proved to be a fairly accurate assessment.” This looks like a privacy nightmare as the data is saved on Atlas Informatics’ computers.


This is what I’m worried about getting hacked and spreading misinformation: ‘Bots’ step up for 2016 election news coverage. “If you’re reading about the US election, some of that news is likely to come to you from a ‘bot.’ Automated systems known as ‘bots’ or ‘robo-journalism’ have been around for years, but they are playing a bigger role in coverage this year amid technology advances and stretched media resources. The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, NBC, Yahoo News and the non-profit Pro Publica are among news organizations using automated technology or messaging bots for coverage in the runup to Tuesday’s vote or on election night.”

Wow, if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Facebook must really love Snapchat. “Facebook-owned messaging app WhatsApp is experimenting with a new Status feature that lets users share mood-setting pictures and videos overlaid with other custom elements such as emoji, with the content disappearing 24 hours after it’s shared — so basically a copy of Snapchat Stories.”


From the ALA: CopyTalk: Copyright “capture” webinar archived. “An archived copy of the CopyTalk webinar ‘Captured: Influence, bias and control at the U.S. Copyright Office’ is now available. Originally webcast on November 3rd by the Office for Information Technology Policy’s Copyright Education Subcommittee, our presenter was Meredith Rose, staff attorney at Public Knowledge (PK), a DC public interest organization focusing on telecommunications, copyright and Internet law policy. Meredith talked about PK’s report on the U.S. Copyright Office’s partiality toward the content industry by advocating for stronger copyright and increased enforcement as well as its entry into non-copyright policy arenas, such as telecommunications, in order to argue on behalf of rights holders.”

Another Lifehacker smackdown! This time it’s Google Home vs. Amazon Echo. “This week, Google released Google Home, a voice-controlled smart appliance, to compete with the surprisingly popular Amazon Echo. Both devices can play music, control your lights, and answer questions with nothing but your voice, but we wanted to see how Google’s new device stacked up against the established competition.”


Knowledge@Wharton: Can Twitter Find Its True Calling? “Ironically, Twitter has never been more influential, says Wharton professor of legal studies and business ethics Kevin Werbach. He points to the current U.S. presidential campaign, and notes, ‘I shudder to say it, but there would be no Donald Trump if it were not for Twitter.’ [I disagree. – TJC] (Twitter claims the three presidential debates generated an average of 3 billion Tweet impressions.) Twitter is central to every political campaign these days, he adds. At the same time, its survival is threatened because of its finances.”

Backchannel: When Facebook Cleared Out Thousands of Rooms. “Facebook, with over a billion users, is kind of an internet Beatle-mania. The stakes are massive every time it tweaks or adds to its application. No longer does the company embrace a motto of ‘Move fast and break things.’ Speed is still good, but when you break things for a billion people, the moans echo globally. So when you are Facebook and want to try crazy stuff, you have go off-app. At least that was the thinking in 2014, when Mark Zuckerberg and company wanted to toss some digital pasta towards the ceiling to see what might stick. One glob of that spaghetti was Rooms.”

Are there going to be more games in Facebook Messenger? “Facebook’s gaming aspirations are deeper than its Gameroom app and quick rounds of basketball, soccer (football to the rest of the world) and chess in Messenger. Zuckerberg and Co. are shopping a development kit to, well, third-party developers to bring more distractions to Facebook Messenger. The ‘Instant Games’ toolset will launch later this month, according to a report from The Information.”


Why should you use 2FA whenever possible? Because of stuff like this. “A student and security researcher from Pakistan has found a serious issue with Gmail that makes it possible for a hacker to take over any email address. The vulnerability relates to the way Google handles the linking of a primary Gmail account to another email address for the purposes of message forwarding. In just a few steps it was — before Google fixed the problem — possible to take over ownership of an email address by tricking the system into sending out the necessary verification code.”


Quartz: Wikipedia’s not as biased as you might think. “Often, people limit their Facebook and Twitter circles to likeminded people and only follow certain subreddits, blogs, and news sites, creating an echo chamber of sorts. In a sea of biased content, Wikipedia is one of the few online outlets that strives for neutrality. After 15 years in operation, it’s starting to see results. Researchers at Harvard Business School evaluated almost 4,000 articles in Wikipedia’s online database against the same entries in Encyclopedia Brittanica to compare their biases. They focused on English-language articles about US politics, especially controversial topics, that appeared in both outlets in 2012.”

MIT Technology Review: Machines Can Now Recognize Something After Seeing It Once. “Most of us can recognize an object after seeing it once or twice. But the algorithms that power computer vision and voice recognition need thousands of examples to become familiar with each new image or word. Researchers at Google DeepMind now have a way around this. They made a few clever tweaks to a deep-learning algorithm that allows it to recognize objects in images and other things from a single example—something known as ‘one-shot learning.’ The team demonstrated the trick on a large database of tagged images, as well as on handwriting and language.” Good morning, Internet…

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