RNA, Restaurant Menus, YouTube, More: Friday Evening Buzz, December 8, 2017


Iowa State University: New online database brings the genome into focus using molecular structure. “Iowa State University researchers have built an accessible online database that brings critical genomic data into sharp focus with the single click of a mouse. In an article published today in the journal Scientific Reports, a team of Iowa State University researchers presented a novel database that allows scientists to quickly access information on RNA structures encoded within the human genome. The database is freely accessible to anyone on the web, where it allows scientists to study the functions and structure of RNA with greater speed and ease than in the past.”

Restobiz: Sirved launches world’s first menu-based search engine (PRESS RELEASE). “Sirved, the world’s first menu-based search engine, has launched its app that lets you search every menu from every restaurant — filtered by craving, dish, or dietary restrictions like gluten-free or vegetarian. The app rolled out on Dec. 5 across Canada, with some US markets already online and more coming soon. The app’s proprietary menu-search technology already indexes a database of more than 100,000 menus, from cool local spots to well-known names.”


Bloomberg: YouTube to Launch New Music Subscription Service in March. “YouTube plans to introduce a paid music service in March, according to people familiar with the matter, a third attempt by parent company Alphabet Inc. to catch up with rivals Spotify and Apple Inc.”


Quartz: Google’s true origin partly lies in CIA and NSA research grants for mass surveillance. “Two decades ago, the US intelligence community worked closely with Silicon Valley in an effort to track citizens in cyberspace. And Google is at the heart of that origin story. Some of the research that led to Google’s ambitious creation was funded and coordinated by a research group established by the intelligence community to find ways to track individuals and groups online.” I realize that headline is a bit bonkers, but the article is written by someone who identifies himself as a former employee of the National Science Foundation.

WLRN: This Man Is On A Quest To Put All The Art Of The World In One Place. Here’s Why . “If Spotify or Apple Music’s goal is to have all the world’s music in one place, what would be the equivalent for visual art? That’s the space Carter Cleveland wants to fill with his website, the largest online database of contemporary art. It also partners with galleries to sell art.”

US News & World Report: U.N. Calls on Social Media Giants to Control Platforms Used to Lure African Migrants . “The U.N. migration agency called on social media giants on Friday to make it harder for people smugglers to use their platforms to lure West African migrants to Libya where they can face detention, torture, slavery or death. The smugglers often use Facebook to reach would-be migrants with false promises of jobs in Europe, International Organization for Migration (IOM) spokesman Leonard Doyle said.”

Premium Times Nigeria: CSOs to establish database on corruption cases. “Say No Campaign, a coalition of some civil society organisations, says plans are underway by the organisation to establish database of corruption cases across the country to enhance investigation. One of the conveners of the group, Jaye Gaskiya, stated this in Abuja on Wednesday when the group visited the National President of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, in Abuja.”


The Atlantic: Can Forensic Linguistics Pin Down the Author of a Trump Tweet?. “In an earlier piece, I suggested that a single tweet was not enough evidence to dust for linguistic fingerprints. And a single word couldn’t be a dead giveaway either, no matter how much people would like to portray the use of pled rather than pleaded as an obvious Trumpian solecism, especially when Dowd himself has been documented using pled at least once. All the experts I’ve talked to since the tweet was published agree that there is no way to rule definitively whether it was written by Trump or Dowd—or by Trump and Dowd together, or by someone else entirely. But it’s still possible to analyze the tweet according to its linguistic features.”

Newsweek: Trump’s Tweets Show Why Social Media Could Hurt Democracy. “…the president’s retweets should lead us to ask a deeper question: whether social media, including Twitter, might be corrosive to the very fabric of democracy itself. This wasn’t the first time Trump used his Twitter account to amplify hate speech or propagate obvious falsehoods. He has routinely tweeted absurd theories that would blow a 2.0 on any informational breathalyzer: for instance, his infamous claim that 3 million undocumented immigrants voted in the 2016 election—an idea he got online from a total crackpot, and which remains bereft of a single shred of evidence.”

University of Colorado Boulder: When celebrities die, ‘grief policing’ abounds, social media gets toxic. “After the deaths of David Bowie, Prince and actor Alan Rickman in 2016, grieving fans flocked to public comment threads on social media to pay their respects in what has been likened to a virtual wake. But many also arrived to find a toxic space where so-called ‘grief police’ mocked them for lamenting the loss of a stranger, chastised them for emotional rubber-necking or even dissed the dead. That’s the key finding of a study published this week by CU Boulder researchers who analyzed more than 7,000 Facebook comments to gain insight into how people mourn death in the internet age. Their conclusion: People are surprisingly mean to each other online even in times of tragedy, but some technological fixes could likely make things better.” Good evening, Internet…

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