Antibiotic Resistance, International Trade, Judiciary Trends, More: Thursday Buzz, May 18, 2017


Fierce Pharma: Newly beefed up in antibiotics, Pfizer launches user-friendly access to global resistance database. “ATLAS tracks a wide array of pathogens and antibiotic treatments, allowing doctors, healthcare providers, researchers and even average consumers to look at what’s happening in their own backyards. A physician prescribing an antibiotic to a patient for a known infection, for example, can look up resistance rates and trends for the drugs they’re considering—all the way down to the regional and state level.”

Xinhuanet: Belt and Road online database released in Shanghai . “Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences Wednesday announced the release of an online database of Belt and Road information. The website … offers free of charge access to writing, data analysis and research findings about 65 Belt and Road countries, said Wang Zhen, deputy chief of the academy.” If you’re wondering what Belt and Road countries are, The Economist has an explanation.. Too bad about that acronym…. I spent a few moments going through the new database and it doesn’t appear to be complete. The entry for Russia, for example, has no data on any political figures. Interactive Database Aids the Study of Judiciary Trends. “A recently enhanced database that houses information about civil and criminal federal cases dating to 1970 is now available to researchers and the public on the Federal Judicial Center’s website as part of a partnership with the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. The interactive database contains docket information from district, appellate, and bankruptcy court filings and terminations, including plaintiff and defendant names, filing date, termination date, disposition of the case, type of lawsuit, jurisdiction, and docket number.”

The Verge: Navigating the well-curated, deeply weird Sponsored Films online archive. “Last week, the National Film Preservation Foundation launched a remarkably well-curated and easily accessible online collection of movies featured in Rick Prelinger’s book The Field Guide to Sponsored Films. These are mostly educational shorts, financed by government agencies, charitable organizations, or corporations with something to say. In the latter half of the 20th century, these shorts were fairly common in schools, workplaces, and civic institutions. But these days, most people encounter them only when they’ve been comedically repurposed. The gang from Mystery Science Theater 3000 often riffs on sponsored films.”

TechCrunch: aims to make state of the art AI advances accessible to everyone. “The new site will host research from Google and its Brain Team. It also allows anyone to quickly access fun experiments that highlight the company’s progress in the field. This includes AutoDraw, that makes it possible for unskilled artists to put their ideas on paper, Duet that can play along with piano players and Quick, Draw!, a game where an AI tries to guess your drawings. A selection of videos and posts about Google’s AI-first efforts are also co-located.


Google Blog: Save time with Smart Reply in Gmail. “It’s pretty easy to read your emails while you’re on the go, but responding to those emails takes effort. Smart Reply, available in Inbox by Gmail and Allo, saves you time by suggesting quick responses to your messages. The feature already drives 12 percent of replies in Inbox on mobile. And starting today, Smart Reply is coming to Gmail for Android and iOS too.”

Poynter: After being wooed by Medium, some publishers are beginning to leave. “Last May, Medium made publishers an offer they couldn’t resist: Free hosting. Advertising dollars. More eyeballs. The opportunity to sell sponsorships and recruit members. Facing stagnating readership and a tough market for digital ads, many publishers dropped their old sites and joined Medium’s growing network. Now, after a company-wide shift away from digital advertising, some of them are heading for the exits.”


Fast Company: How To Mine The Internet For Hidden Clues About A Potential Job Offer. “To make sure you know what you are getting into before you start, you could simply log on to Glassdoor and ask around, or you could go full-on sleuth and employ some next-level investigation in your research. Ken Sawka, CEO and founder of corporate intelligence firm Fuld + Company, says that gathering and analyzing the right information can potentially save you from a bad job decision.” Nice overview.


If you want a good example of why open data and transparency by municipal governments (well, any governments, but you hear less about transparency of governments on a municipal level), please read this article by GroundUp: Here’s where to find data on Cape Town’s water crisis. “The City of Cape Town does a good job of providing basic information about the city’s dwindling water supply. Dam levels are updated weekly on the municipality’s site, which also provides information on all the dams providing water to the city. Announcements about the water crisis via electronic billboards and media releases on radio and newspapers presumably reach most residents. The recent drop in water consumption suggests the City’s messaging has some effect. But if you want to go beyond the basic data, it becomes difficult.”

The Guardian: Facebook promised to tackle fake news. But the evidence shows it’s not working . “Articles formally debunked by Facebook’s fact-checking partners – including the Associated Press, Snopes, ABC News and PolitiFact – frequently remain on the site without the ‘disputed’ tag warning users about the content. And when fake news stories do get branded as potentially false, the label often comes after the story has already gone viral and the damage has been done. Even in those cases, it’s unclear to what extent the flag actually limits the spread of propaganda.”

Access arms race. Reuters: Russian social media site tells Ukrainians how to dodge web block. “Vkontakte, the Russian version of Facebook, on Wednesday sent its millions of Ukrainian users instructions on how to circumvent a ban by the Ukrainian government. Kiev on Tuesday forbade Ukrainian web hosts to provide access to popular Russian social networks, part of a package of restrictions on Russian internet firms that it said was intended to guard against cyber threats.”


National Institute for Justice: Improving a Database to Help Identify a Vehicle by Using Paint Fragments. “For years, investigators have relied on the Paint Data Query database, developed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, to identify the make of a vehicle by matching the physical attributes, chemical composition, and infrared spectrum of the paint, primers, and clear coating layers. The Paint Data Query database contains more than 21,000 automotive paint samples that correspond to more than 84,000 individual paint layers used on most domestic and foreign vehicles sold in North America.” Good morning, Internet…

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