Indiana Traffic, National Library of Medicine, Google Photos, More: Wednesday Afternoon Buzz, November 16, 2016


Whoa: the Indiana State Police have launched a new tool that attempts to predict crashes on Indiana roads. “The Daily Crash Prediction map predicts, within the current three-hour time window, when and where a crash may happen. Users can also select an alternate time period for that same day…. The map uses different colors to indicate the probability of a crash occurring on that date and at that time.”

The Director of the National Library of Medicine has a new blog. “I hope you’ll join me for these fascinating times, and that you’ll consider this blog the perfect space for some two-way dialogue. Along the way, as I acquire new information about NLM programs, services, people, and places, I promise to share them all with you. (Remind me to tell you about the time I actually got locked inside the Library, after official hours. I’m sure that’s a metaphor for something.)” She’s on Twitter, too, if you’d rather follow her that way.

Google has released what sounds like a very cool photo scanning app. “…we’re introducing PhotoScan, a brand new, standalone app from Google Photos that easily scans just about any photo, free, from anywhere. Get it today for Android and iOS. PhotoScan gets you great looking digital copies in seconds – it detects edges, straightens the image, rotates it to the correct orientation, and removes glare. Scanned photos can be saved in one tap to Google Photos to be organized, searchable, shared, and safely backed up at high quality—for free.”

From TechCrunch: Hustle is the grassroots personalized mass-texting tool we need . “Hustle is a text-distribution tool that allows organizers to quickly start individual, personalized conversations with huge numbers of supporters. It’s like mail merge for instant messaging. You write automatically customized scripts, upload phone numbers and assign staffers to text swaths of them one at a time in rapid succession. Supporters may reply directly to a real person who can convince them to act. And organizers can track their campaign’s progress.”


Has Snapchat filed for its IPO? “The company behind the popular Snapchat app and Spectacles smart glasses has been rumored to be looking at going public for some time. CEO Evan Spiegel, for his part, hasn’t been shy about his ambition to sell the company’s shares to the public. Snap, whose Snapchat app has 150 million daily users, could use some of the IPO proceeds for acquisitions in the realm of virtual or augmented reality.”


A new Chrome extension is here to help you detect B.S. on Facebook. “The creator of the extension, Daniel Sieradski, said on Product Hunt that he compiled a list of well-known hoax sites that the extension flags (rather than developing an algorithm to warn users about individual articles). He said the sites run across the political spectrum. Users can submit requests to modify those settings on Github.”


You think Facebook fraud in the US is bad? Check out this article from, “Recruitment: Police commission warns fraudsters over Facebook accounts”. “The Police Service Commission has warned recruitment fraudsters still opening and operating fake Facebook accounts of its Chairman, Mike Okiro, to deceive unsuspecting applicants to desist from such act…. [Head of Press and Public Relations, Ikechukwu Ani] said that fraudsters were said to be using the account to demand for payments as guarantee for recruitment into the Nigeria Police Force.”


Facebook: it’s a mess. From The Guardian: Wildlife smugglers using Facebook to sell ivory and rhino horn. “Wildlife traffickers from a small, sleepy village in Vietnam are using Facebook to offload large amounts of illegal ivory, rhino horn and tiger parts, an investigation has revealed. The results of an 18-month sting by the Wildlife Justice Commission (WJC) – shared with the Guardian – will be presented at a public hearing on 14 and 15 November at the Peace Palace in the Hague. They will show how social media sites such as Facebook are allowing traders greater access to customers.” And may I remind you again: Facebook had $23 billion in cash reserves as of July. There is money to fix this.


University of Pennsylvania: Penn Psychologists Tap Big Data, Twitter to Analyze Accuracy of Stereotypes. “What’s in a tweet? People draw conclusions about us, from our gender to education level, based on the words we use on social media. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, along with colleagues from the Technical University of Darmstadt and the University of Melbourne, have now analyzed the accuracy of those inferences. Their work revealed that, though stereotypes and the truth often aligned, with people making accurate assumptions more than two-thirds of the time, inaccurate characterizations still showed up.”

The New York Times: Mark Zuckerberg Is in Denial. “Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief, believes that it is ‘a pretty crazy idea’ that ‘fake news on Facebook, which is a very small amount of content, influenced the election in any way.’ In holding fast to the claim that his company has little effect on how people make up their minds, Mr. Zuckerberg is doing real damage to American democracy — and to the world. He is also contradicting Facebook’s own research.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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