US Lynchings, Citizen Engagement, Walt Whitman, More: Saturday Buzz, January 28, 2017


A new Web site maps lynching victims in the United States. “In total, in the century after the Civil War, as many as 5,000 people of color were lynched by mobs in the United States. In the 1890s, on average, nine people were lynched each month. A new website documents each known death on a map, often along with gruesome details about the killing and the size of the crowd.”

A new Web site makes it easier for citizens to contact their representatives. “5 Calls streamlines the calling process to make it user friendly and convenient. Simply enter your zipcode at the top left and you’ll be given a personalized list of numbers to call about the most pressing issues of the day. Click through topics on the left hand column to access a brief overview of each issue, a script to use when placing the call, and an explanation of why you’re calling a particular office (i.e. it’s one of your Senators or the Army Corps of Engineers is conducting an environmental impact report on the Dakota Access Pipeline).” Please note that the helper content here is liberal-oriented; if you’re in favor of a border wall or support the repeal of ACA, you will not find any resources here.

An addition collection of Walt Whitman papers at the Library of Congress has gone online. “The Manuscript Division has already made available online the Thomas Biggs Harned Collection of Walt Whitman Papers and the Walt Whitman Papers (Miscellaneous Manuscripts Collection). Now joining these online is the Library’s most extensive collection of Whitman primary documents, the Walt Whitman Papers in the Charles E. Feinberg Collection.”

A new online tool lets researchers learn more about marijuana use by analyzing tweets. “The website, created by public health researchers and data scientists at RTI International, is a social media analytics tool that uses real-time information gathered from tweets to explore the impact of increased marijuana usage, motivating factors behind usage, and the effects of usage over time. This information helps identify emerging trends and paint a richer picture of the online conversation, which can help inform policy decisions, public awareness, and research agendas.”


Digital Trends: Lock Down Your Facebook Profile Security with the Social Network’s New Tool. “The interactive tool, dubbed Privacy Basics, is helpful for both newcomers and ardent users interested in maintaining their online safety. Instead of simply rehashing information already available on its help center, Privacy Basics is an interactive tool that offers both a quick profile clean-up (just three easy steps) and a breakdown of the elements of Facebook you can control.”


Mashable: How to get the most out of Snapchat’s new search bar.


New York Times: Google, in Post-Obama Era, Aggressively Woos Republicans. “The shift was evident a day after Congress began its new session this month. That evening, about 70 lawmakers, a majority of them Republicans, were feted at the stately Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building, where they clinked champagne and bourbon glasses and posed for selfies with the 600 guests assembled in their honor. The event’s main host was not from the Republican establishment. Instead, the party was primarily financed and anchored by Google.”

Reuters: Social media battle lines drawn ahead of Turkish vote. “Campaigning has not officially started, but a string of video ‘selfies’ by the likes of sports stars, actors and cabinet ministers has already launched a divisive debate on plans that would hand Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan sweeping new powers.”

Walt Mossberg: What’s up with Firefox, the browser that time forgot? “Until about five years ago, techies and others who wanted a speedier, extensible, more privacy-oriented web browser on their desktops often immediately downloaded Mozilla’s Firefox to use instead of Internet Explorer on Windows or Safari on the Mac. But those days seem long ago.” I’m rooting for Firefox too. The more browser choices, the better.


Pinterest has released a rather skinny transparency report. (Skinny as in there weren’t many requests.) “In the second half of 2016, Pinterest received 46 government requests for user data.”


University at Buffalo: Twitter data could improve subway operations during big events . “In a preliminary study, University at Buffalo engineers found that as subway use swells during events that draw big crowds, so too does the number of tweets at these events. The results suggest that data from Twitter, and possibly other social media platforms, can be used to improve event planning, route scheduling, crowd regulations and other subway operations.” Millions of tweets analyzed to measure perceived trustworthiness. “By scanning 66 million tweets linked to nearly 1,400 real-world events, Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have built a language model that identifies words and phrases that lead to strong or weak perceived levels of credibility on Twitter. Their findings suggest that the words of millions of people on social media have considerable information about an event’s credibility – even when an event is still ongoing.” Good morning, Internet…

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