Eric Ward, Vermont Film, Tectonic Plates, More: Thursday Buzz, October 19, 2017

I just found out Eric Ward passed away on Monday. Eric and I have known each other for ages, and he was one of my first patrons on Patreon. I admired him a lot for his utter integrity to white-hat SEO and link building, and I’m going to miss him.


Vermont Biz: Joint project provides online database of Vermont films, Vermont PBS archive for community use. “Vermont PBS and the Vermont International Film Foundation (VTIFF) today announced the launch of a joint online database of Vermont films and TV programs past and present, the Vermont Archive Movie Project (VAMP) database. This searchable resource will allow students, historians, filmmakers and the public at large to tap into the state’s rich history on film.”

Ars Technica: The Earth’s interior is teeming with dead plates. “Last week, scientists released a monumental interactive catalog that tracks 94 ancient tectonic plates lurking deep within Earth’s mantle, a resource they’re calling an ‘Atlas of the Underworld.’ Although scientists have known for decades that tectonic plates plunge into the Earth’s interior at subduction zones, until recently, those plates disappeared off the geological map once they stopped generating earthquakes, which happens after they’re around 670km below the surface. In the last few years, seismic tomography, which uses waves from earthquakes to make images of the planet’s interior, has restored their visibility. It has revealed subducted plates sinking in the mantle all the way down to the core-mantle boundary, 2,900km below Earth’s surface.”


BetaNews: Google Calendar for the web finally gets a redesign and new enterprise features. “After years of little more than minor tweaks here and there, Google Calendar for the web is finally getting a long-overdue update. Inspired by the mobile app Google has developed, the revamped online version of Calendar gains a new color palette, as well as a layout rejig and a few new features.”

The Hindu BusinessLine: Google in talks with govt to bring back Street View. “Internet giant Google has not given up on bringing its Street View services to India. The company is in talks with the Centre to see how the service can be launched in compliance with local regulations.”


New York Times: Google Serves Fake News Ads in an Unlikely Place: Fact-Checking Sites. “The headlines are eye-catching. Melania Trump is leaving the White House! Home renovation cable star Joanna Gaines has abandoned her HGTV show and husband Chip Gaines! Televangelist Joel Osteen is leaving his wife! None of the stories were true. Yet as recently as late last week, they were being promoted with prominent ads served by Google on PolitiFact and Snopes, fact-checking sites created precisely to dispel such falsehoods.”

Scientific American: Culture Shock: Precious Microbe Collections Languish in Threatened Bio-Libraries. “Freeze-dried and locked away in liquid nitrogen–filled vaults around the world are hundreds of thousands of microbial cultures. In the U.S. these living libraries include 91,000 bacterial and fungal strains in Peoria, Ill., as well as 13,000 fungal strains in Ithaca, N.Y., and 7,500 wild yeasts at the University of California, Davis. Researchers have used strains from such publicly accessible culture collections to develop penicillin as well as the CRISPR gene-editing systems and the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) DNA-amplifying technique. But as government priorities apparently change, and as the federal money that historically created and preserved many of these biological resource repositories in the U.S. dries up, their infrastructure is at risk of deteriorating. ”

BuzzFeed: Outbrain Is Investigating Whether Russian Trolls Used Its Platform For Election Propaganda. “The content recommendation ad network Outbrain, whose clicky content sprawls across the web, is investigating whether Russian ads or other forms of election tampering took place on its service during the 2016 election. Outbrain claims to reach more than 550 million visitors per month via content recommendation modules it places on websites of publishers such as CNN, People, and ESPN.”

TechCrunch: WeChat begins censoring users ahead of China’s National Party Congress. “Expect to see plenty of censorship news coming out of China over the next week. The country’s National Congress is a hugely influential political summit that takes place every five years, and includes the selection of central party leadership. It is also a time when Chinese censors are on high alert, particularly when it comes to online media.”


The Conversation: Solving the political ad problem with transparency. “Almost all the content and advertising on the internet is customized to each viewer. The impact of this kind of content distribution on the 2016 election is still being explored. But, we can certainly say that the campaigns used this to say different things to different people without having to worry about accuracy. Addressing this problem by having people screen ads is impractical and legally questionable. A more straightforward solution based on current disclosure laws is being discussed in Congress: Increase transparency by having digital media platforms post all ads on a web page that everyone can view.” Crowdsourced game aims to find solutions to aflatoxin. “Mars, Inc., UC Davis and partners have launched a crowdsourcing initiative to solve the problem of aflatoxin contamination of crops. A series of aflatoxin puzzles will go online on Foldit, a platform that allows gamers to explore how amino acids are folded together to create proteins. The puzzles provide gamers with a starting enzyme that has the potential to degrade aflatoxin. Gamers from around the world then battle it out to redesign and improve the enzyme so that it can neutralize aflatoxin. Successful candidates from the computer game will be tested in the laboratory of Justin Siegel, assistant professor of chemistry, biochemistry and molecular medicine at UC Davis.”

The Guardian: ‘It’s able to create knowledge itself’: Google unveils AI that learns on its own. “Google’s artificial intelligence group, DeepMind, has unveiled the latest incarnation of its Go-playing program, AlphaGo – an AI so powerful that it derived thousands of years of human knowledge of the game before inventing better moves of its own, all in the space of three days. Named AlphaGo Zero, the AI program has been hailed as a major advance because it mastered the ancient Chinese board game from scratch, and with no human help beyond being told the rules.” Good morning, Internet…

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