African-American Migration, Google Voice, Wikimedia, More: Wednesday Buzz, January 11, 2017


A new Web site has oral histories of African-Americans who migrated from the southern US to the northern US in the early 20th century. “The oral histories were part of what was intended to be a larger project for the museum about the transformative effects of the influx of black Southerners on the city [of Philadelphia] in the early 20th century. From 1910 to 1930, their population rose from roughly 85,000 to almost 220,000. The interviews were aired on public radio in the 1980s, but Charles Hardy III, a historian and West Chester University professor, and his fellow researchers ran out of money to bring their vision to fruition.”


Good heavens! Are there Google Voice updates on the horizon??! “It’s been a long, long, long time since Google Voice gained any new features or even received much attention from Google. But it appears that’s about to change. Maybe. Hopefully. Today there’s a banner at the top of the Google Voice website that says ‘The New Google Voice is here.’ There’s a clickable link to ‘try now,’ … Some people are seeing it, and others are not.”

Wikimedia is getting money to get organized. “Today, the rich images and media in Wikimedia Commons are described only by casual notation, making it difficult to fully explore and use this remarkable resource. The generous contribution from the Sloan Foundation will enable the Wikimedia Foundation to connect Wikimedia Commons with Wikidata, the central storage for structured data within the Wikimedia projects. Wikidata will empower Wikimedia volunteers to transform Wikimedia Commons into a rich, easily-searchable, and machine-readable resource for the world. Over three years, the Wikimedia Foundation will develop infrastructure, tools, and community support to enable the work of contributors, who have long requested a way to add more precise, multilingual and reusable data to media files.”

Los Angeles Times: Snapchat in 2017: 7 predictions about what’s to come. “As Snap Inc. moves toward an expected initial public offering this year, it’s natural to expect increased predictability and transparency from a company that has thrived so far without much of either. In question in 2017 is whether Chief Executive Evan Spiegel will make Snap act more like Facebook or if he will continue forging a new route. Our guess: He’ll walk the line between the two.” When he writes an article, Paresh Dave doesn’t mess around…

Marissa Mayer is resigning from the Yahoo board of directors. “The company announced on Monday that Mayer would be stepping down from the board as Yahoo completes the sale of its core business to Verizon.”

Facebook is apparently going to add advertisements to its videos. “Industry sources say the social network is going to start testing a new ‘mid-roll’ ad format, which will give video publishers the chance to insert ads into their clips after people have watched them for at least 20 seconds. For now, Facebook will sell the ads and share the revenue with publishers, giving them 55 percent of all sales. That’s the same split offered by YouTube, which dominates the online video ad business.”


Techdirt: Turkey Is Building Domestic Replacements For Gmail and Google. “Turkey has a long history of blocking Internet services. It’s become such a thing, there’s even a site called TurkeyBlocks that is exclusively about this phenomenon. A couple of recent stories on the site suggest the Turkish government is aiming to tighten its local control over the online world even more.” There’s going to be a lot more of this.

Backchannel: Where Weird Facebook is King: How a College Kid Does Social. “On January 2, 2015, I wrote a viral post entitled ‘A Teenager’s View on Social Media,’ in which I dissected popular apps and what I thought about them. It got over one million views. Many people have asked me to write a follow-up or, at the very least, an update. I haven’t felt there was a dramatic enough shift to warrant a new post…until now.” I have actually gotten pretty good at Snapchat, but I’m not using it because I can’t find any friends who Snapchat. Mostly I get porn spam. I’m ResearchBuzz if you want to add me. No more porn spam, please.

Bloomberg: Facebook’s hiring process hinders its effort to create a diverse workforce. “Facebook has put itself at the forefront of efforts to recruit a more diverse workforce, including a targeted internal recruiting strategy in 2015 designed to bring in female, black and Latino software engineers. Yet within Facebook’s engineering department, the push has been hampered by a multi-layered hiring process that gives a small committee of high-ranking engineers veto power over promising candidates, frustrating recruiters and hindering progress on diversity goals.”


Washington Post: It’s time to retire the tainted term ‘fake news’. “Fake news has a real meaning — deliberately constructed lies, in the form of news articles, meant to mislead the public. For example: The one falsely claiming that Pope Francis had endorsed Donald Trump, or the one alleging without basis that Hillary Clinton would be indicted just before the election. But though the term hasn’t been around long, its meaning already is lost.”

Don Heider at USA Today: Why Facebook should hire a chief ethicist. “Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all tech companies should hire a chief ethicist. Chief ethicists could help executives think through difficult, critical decisions. They could help develop ethical guidelines for companies, even a code of ethics. And they could provide company-wide training on ethical decision-making.”


From Medium: Cognitive bias cheat sheet, simplified. “Four months ago I attempted to synthesize Wikipedia’s crazy list of cognitive biases, and after banging my head against the wall for weeks, came up with this Cognitive Bias Cheat Sheet which John Manoogian III beautifully organized into the above poster. It’s a 12-minute read, and I didn’t actually expect anyone to read it, but four months later it’s been viewed 700,000 times and recommended almost 5,000 times! Since then, I’ve started working on a book proposal (get on the email list!) around these topics, and wanted to start by creating an actual cheat sheet that doesn’t take so long to read. Here it is…” Good morning, Internet…

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