ProPublica, Firefox, Microsoft Flow, More: Saturday Buzz, November 25, 2017

I want to give a special shout to Leo F. I really enjoyed your comments yesterday, unfortunately I haven’t been able to reply yet as I’m digging out from my e-mail. I feel like you were my Thanksgiving friend. Thank you!


ProPublica: More Machine Learning About Congress’ Priorities. “Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is a tax wonk ― and most observers of Congress know that. But knowing what interests the other 434 members of Congress is harder. To make it easier to know what issues each lawmaker really focuses on, we’re launching a new feature in our Represent database called Policy Priorities. We had two goals in creating it: To help researchers and journalists understand what drives particular members of Congress and to enable regular citizens to compare their representatives’ priorities to their own and their communities.”

The Register: Firefox to warn users who visit p0wned sites . “Mozilla developer Nihanth Subramanya has revealed the organisation’s Firefox browser will soon warn users if they visit sites that have experienced data breaches that led to user credential leaks.”


C# Corner: How To Generate Audio For My Facebook Post Using Microsoft Flow. “Microsoft Flow is a cloud-based service. It allows us to react to an event in one service and do something with the data from that event into another service. The users can build workflows that automatically do some business tasks and processes across applications and services. It helps us to monitor all our workflow with the help of a great cloud solution called ‘Microsoft Flow’.” I haven’t seen many how-to articles focusing on Flow, and this one is very thorough.

Guiding Tech: How to Use WhatsApp Web for PC: FAQ and Complete Guide. “WhatsApp, world’s leading free messaging service, has a neat little application for computers called WhatsApp Web apart from the WhatsApp Messenger. This application is an extension of WhatsApp’s services, allowing users to type and chat more freely using a PC instead of a phone with a cramped up keyboard.”


Arizona State University: ASU students learn from the dead at Teotihuacan. “Teotihuacan was once the largest and most influential city in the ancient new world. Yet its social structure seems to be more egalitarian than those in its fellow ancient cities. ‘Most ancient societies had an elite class that lived in big houses and had big fancy tombs. Then you got the commoners living in little houses and their burials were very simple with no gravestones,’ said Michael E. Smith, a professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University. ‘You don’t seem to have that distinction at Teotihuacan.'”

Frederick News-Post: Abstracts: Social media and the rise of the impromptu documentary. “Documentaries are typically thought of as films with a nonfiction narrative that explore a topic of interest to viewers, like ‘Planet Earth’ and ‘Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.’ But in recent years, social media has begun to blur or aggregate — depending on your perspective — what we typically think of as a documentary, and how these are made. Could we consider it a documentary, if, for example, a woman were to record footage of men catcalling her on the streets of a busy city?”

The Next Web: These chatbots will answer obvious questions so your bookkeeper won’t have to. “Bookkeepers and accountants have a lot on their plate. Unfortunately, their ability to dedicate their time and efforts to their most important responsibilities is often hindered when they are forced to spend a significant part of their day answering recurring client questions or dealing with mundane tasks like sending invoices or paying bills…. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be this way any longer. The rise of automation — and bookkeeping chatbots, in particular — have made it easier than ever to streamline much of the financially-oriented client communications and other tasks that can sometimes divert your accounting team’s resources.”


Krebs on Security: Name+DOB+SSN=FAFSA Data Gold Mine. “KrebsOnSecurity has sought to call attention to online services which expose sensitive consumer data if the user knows a handful of static details about a person that are broadly for sale in the cybercrime underground, such as name, date of birth, and Social Security Number. Perhaps the most eye-opening example of this is on display at, the Web site set up by the U.S. Department of Education for anyone interested in applying for federal student financial aid.”

RESEARCH & OPINION We learn from our mistakes: how to make better predictions from tweets. “Social media is viewed as a potential goldmine of information. The key is to work out how to mine this abundant source of public sentiment. Linking social media sentiment with human behaviour is a relatively new and evolving field of study. It has a lot of potential – we successfully used it to predict the result of the 2016 US election. But we got it wrong with Australia’s same-sex marriage survey, and here’s why.”

Washington Post: Why did Russian social media swarm the digital conversation about Catalan independence? “On Oct. 1, the hashtag #Catalanreferendum took you to the world’s most popular conversation on Twitter. For more than 12 hours, Catalonia’s independence referendum became a trending topic worldwide. As would be expected, links, posts and articles from two Spanish media companies were the most virally distributed in the digital conversation. More surprisingly, the Russian media conglomerate formed by RT and Sputnik was the fourth most-used source, its content virally distributed as part of the digital debate.”

Knight Center: Research: Hyperlocal news pages on Facebook cover areas of Rio de Janeiro traditionally ignored by media. “Although the promise the internet would be a way to create a global village has, to some extent, been achieved, digital media have also allowed the production of hyperlocalized and hyperspecialized information. In Brazil, where 66 percent of the population is connected to the Internet, social networks have allowed the creation of hyperlocal media – pages and groups that focus on a neighborhood, a place or even a street.”

OpenLearn: How did Facebook likes help Labour at the ballot box?. “The 2017 election saw a stronger than foreseen performance by the Labour Party. Matt Walsh explains how Labour’s Facebook success played out, heralding the party’s overall campaign performance. GE2017 was a numbers game: by achieving very high levels of organic reach, Labour managed to target undecided voters in marginal constituencies, energise voters who had drifted away from the party, and mobilise the young.” Good morning, Internet…

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