Stalinist Russia, Las Vegas Court Records, Fashion Photography, More: Monday Buzz, November 28, 2016


Washington Post: In Putin’s Russia, it just got easier to find the perpetrators of Stalin’s purges. “A Russian human rights group has published a database containing personal information about nearly 40,000 members of the notorious security force that carried out Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin’s purges, shedding light on an ugly stretch of history the Kremlin would prefer to remain hidden.”

The Clerk of Court for Clark County, Nevada – the county containing Las Vegas – is undertaking a very large digitizing project. “Business proposals from reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes, candid photographs of alleged mob bosses, paperwork for plans to store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain. Those public records and more — the fabric of Clark County’s history — will be at the fingertips of anyone with a computer and internet access as an ongoing initiative by the county clerk’s office comes to fruition.” An initial portal with recent documents will be available within a few months, while the entire project, as you might imagine, will take years.

Bloomsbury has launched a new digital archive of fashion photography (and the ONLY story I could easily find was in The Daily Mail.) “The work of the independent publisher Bloomsbury, the new online archive features everything from top designers’ graduate shows to candid shots of original supermodels like Naomi, Kate and Helena. Bloomsbury spent more than three years painstakingly digitising and cataloging more than 750,000 images, which date from the 1970s up to 2000, to create its new searchable fashion library.” As you might imagine, this is not a free resource.


Interesting. Amazon has now imposed a limit on reviews for items not bought at the online store. “In a bid to put a stop to false feedback, people can now write only five reviews a week of items not bought via the online store. The change applies to most products and is part of efforts to clamp down on people selling positive comments.”


Lifehacker had an app smackdown between Photomyne and Google’s new PhotoScan app. “For years you’ve been saying you’re going to scan all the photos you have in shoeboxes in the basement. Now’s as good a time as any. There are a few smartphone apps that’ll help you with this so you don’t need to pay someone or drag out a scanner to do it, but Photomyne and Google’s recently released PhotoScan are the two top choices.”

Social Barrel has a writeup on a browser addon that helps find ripped-off photos. “Enter Phototracker Lite. It is a browser plug-in that allows photographers to find their photos being published anywhere without their permission. This tool simplifies the reverse image search function. The best thing of it all is that it is a free Chrome plug-in. It is not a new tool. PhotoTracker Lite has been around for a while, but its latest update includes a one-click search.”


Spoken languages are not the only languages which can become endangered. From Hawaii Public Radio: Hawai‘i Sign Language Still Whispers. “In 2013, scholars and linguists worldwide were stunned by the discovery of a new indigenous language in Hawai‘i. Hawai‘i Sign Language was the first new language discovered in the U.S. since the 1930’s. There are about seven thousand spoken languages in the world, half of which are expected to be lost in the next fifty years. An even more dire fate could await existing sign languages. HPR’s Noe Tanigawa reports on efforts to preserve Hawai‘i Sign and its unique view of the world.”

Facebook will just not give up on getting into India. From Facebook Express WiFi – A new cloaked Free Basics attempt by Facebook or genuinely something worthwhile? “…although it is a part of Facebook’s, Facebook Express WiFi is not like their Free Basics. The very simple and basic concept or premise of Facebook Express WiFi is providing access to high-speed internet to even the rural pockets of the country and attempting to being everyone online. For this, they have partnered with all leading operators. However, not too many details about Facebook Express WiFi are known as of yet but it has one major point of difference and that is – it will not be free.”

Computer Dealer News has a tour of the first Google Shop in North America. “The Google Shop in Toronto, located at the Best Buy location in Heartland, Mississauga, joins Shops in Vancouver, Edmonton, and Calgary. These are four of 14 shops that will be opened by the end of 2016. Inside, customers will find all sorts of Google products, from the Pixel smartphone to the Chromecast.”


Metro News, Ottawa Canada: Supreme Court to hear case involving Google search results. “Google will go before the Supreme Court in the weeks ahead, appealing an order that forced the tech giant to try to remove a company from the Internet. Equustek Solutions is a British Columbia company that got a court order against a competitor that was selling their patented technology online. The injunction didn’t stop the company, so Equustek got an injunction demanding Google delist their competitor from its search-engine results.”


From MIT Technology Review: How to Hold Algorithms Accountable. “Various industry efforts, including a consortium of Silicon Valley behemoths, are beginning to grapple with the ethics of deploying algorithms that can have unanticipated effects on society. Algorithm developers and product managers need new ways to think about, design, and implement algorithmic systems in publicly accountable ways. Over the past several months, we and some colleagues have been trying to address these goals by crafting a set of principles for accountable algorithms.”

The Atlantic: People Censor Themselves Online for Fear of Being Harassed. “…a person doesn’t have to be the target of abuse for it to color their experience online. More than 70 percent of Americans say they’ve seen others harassed on the internet. For black users, that percentage rose to 78; among younger users and lesbian, gay, and bisexual Americans, the proportion is close 90 percent. Groups that were more likely to come into contact with online abuse were also more likely to say that people on the internet are mostly unkind.” Good morning, Internet…

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