Veteran Health Care, Quaker Activism, Banned Books, More: Thursday Buzz, April 13, 2017


From the US Department of Veterans Affairs: VA Makes Wait Times for Patients Transparent for Veterans: New online tool is first of its kind. “The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is taking unprecedented steps to increase transparency. Today, VA launched a new Access and Quality Tool that provides Veterans with an easy-to-use, easy-to-understand way of accessing patient wait time and quality of care data. … The tool allows Veterans to access the average times patients are waiting to be seen in their local area; how Veterans describe their experiences scheduling primary- and specialty-care appointments at specific VA facilities; timeliness of appointments for care needed right away; and the quality of health care delivered at VA medical centers compared with local private-sector hospitals.”

Misericordia University: Program celebrates student-faculty research, launch of website celebrating 100 years of Quaker peace initiatives. “In a collaborative project that is part research, part service learning, a class of students at Misericordia University is helping the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) celebrate its 100th anniversary by creating an online public history exhibit of the Quaker organization’s century of peace initiatives around the world.” The digital archive will come online May 10th.

Quartz: Access a database of 70,000 books banned around the world going back to 1575. “This year, Argentine artist Marta Minujín will open an installation built from books, all of which were banned around the world at some point in history. The ‘Parthenon of Books,’ a re-creation of her 1983 installation in Buenos Aires, will be unveiled in June at art festival documenta in Kassel, Germany. Minujín and her team worked with researchers from the University of Kassel to identify book bans of regimes past. The resulting list, which will help books be vetted for the installation, names around 72,000 forbidden titles going back to the 1500s.”

Current E: New Motorsport Image Archive Launched by Spacesuit. “Current E’s photographic partner Spacesuit Media has launched a new image archive today. Thousands of photos are available initially, with editorial use offered free of charge…. Historic material from the Spacesuit Media archives will be added to Spacesuit Collections in the near future, including photographs from every single race in the FIA Formula E series since the sport’s inception, the VBB3 electric land speed world record and the past two Le Mans 24-hour races.”

The city of Boston has launched a data hub. “Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) today launched Analyze Boston, the City’s open data hub. Analyze Boston will create a user-friendly digital catalog of facts, figures, and maps that reflect on life in Boston, such as maps of Boston’s historic districts and datasets of 311 services requests…. Analyze Boston curates more than a hundred datasets, enriches them with descriptive information, and pairs them with tools for data exploration and analysis to broaden their accessibility.”


The Next Web: Google’s new app lets you order food and call a plumber in India. “Google has quietly launched Areo, an Android app to let you order food, as well as hyperlocal home improvement and personal services from local providers in India. Currently available in the cities of Bangalore and Mumbai, it aggregates food delivery, beauty, home maintenance, household repairs, fitness training and physiotherapy, and other services.”


It’s a bit specific, but I’m including this article from Guiding Tech but I don’t believe I’ve ever seen this topic covered before: 3 Best Ways to Access Deleted Reddit Comments. “In normal circumstances, something deleted off a comments thread is lost forever but due to the API of Reddit, it has been made possible for developers to recover the deleted comments from the website.”


Backchannel: How Google Book Search Got Lost. “Today, Google is known for its moonshot culture, its willingness to take on gigantic challenges at global scale. Books was, by general agreement of veteran Googlers, the company’s first lunar mission. Scan All The Books! In its youth, Google Books inspired the world with a vision of a ‘library of utopia’ that would extend online convenience to offline wisdom. At the time it seemed like a singularity for the written word: We’d upload all those pages into the ether, and they would somehow produce a phase-shift in human awareness. Instead, Google Books has settled into a quiet middle age of sourcing quotes and serving up snippets of text from the 25 million-plus tomes in its database.”

State Scoop: Portland’s new crime map shows how far data transparency has come. “Cities once merely dumped their data online without a plan. Today, portals like this one are shaping policy and guiding grander designs in community engagement and policing.”

CNET: Burger King’s new ad intentionally sets off Google Home. “You dream of your gadgets being able to interact with each other. That way, you can concentrate on breathing and eating and your gadgets can do all the thinking. How helpful, then, of Burger King’s new TV ad to deliberately trigger your Google Home to tell you all about its no-doubt sumptuous Whopper.”


Los Angeles Times: Snapchat maker unseals former employee’s lawsuit: ‘Snap has nothing to hide’. “Saying it had ‘nothing to hide,’ the company behind Snapchat released an unredacted version of a lawsuit filed against it by a former employee that claims investors and advertisers were misled about usage data. Snap Inc. offered a blanket denial of the allegations in the lawsuit, brought in January by former employee Anthony Pompliano.”


MIT Technology Review: Me and My Troll. “I have a troll. Writing as @zdzisiekm, or ‘Gus,’ or under other names, he has commented on stories on 6,386 times and counting as of April 2017. As trolls go, he is unfailingly polite, and he doesn’t violate our site’s terms of service. Instead, he is reflexively, tendentiously wrong about a single topic, again and again. Gus is angry about our reporting on global warming and renewable energy technologies. His objections are notionally scientific, but they have a strongly ideological flavor.” Good morning, Internet…

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