The Washington Post: IRS releases tool that lets you make sure your employer isn’t messing up your taxes. “The Internal Revenue Service released a tool Wednesday designed to help millions of Americans ensure they are not dramatically underpaying or overpaying their taxes under the new Republican tax law. The online calculator allows taxpayers to compare how much their employer is withholding on their pay stubs to a government projection of how much should be withheld. The tool makes that calculation based on income, household size and other variables.”
Library of Congress: New Online: High-Resolution Color Images of James Madison’s Notes from the Constitutional Convention. “When the Constitutional Convention met in Philadelphia in 1787, James Madison, then a delegate from Virginia, later fourth president of the United States, took it upon himself to take notes…. Those notes—more than 600 pages in Madison’s tiny, neat handwriting—are in the James Madison Papers in the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress. The Library has long made them available to scholars and the public, first on microfilm, and then online. Now, for the first time, the Library is making available online high-resolution color images of the notes that reflect modern standards for publication.”
Google Blog: Simple music-making for everyone. “For this year’s Music in Our Schools Month, we’ve added a new experiment to the website called Song Maker. It’s a simple way for anyone to make a song, then share it with a link—no need to log in or make an account. Anyone can instantly hear what you made, and even riff on it to make their own song. It lives on the web, so you don’t need to install any apps to try it. And, it works across devices—phones, tablets, computers.”
TWEAKS AND UPDATES
The Daily Dot: Twitter Bookmarks allow you save tweets for later. “In an effort to give its social media platform a little more utility, Twitter is rolling out a new tool today: Bookmarks. Different from the app’s ‘liked’ posts, this bookmarking feature should give users better control over links and tweets they want to remember for later.”
BetaNews: Google’s Slack alternative Hangouts Chat exits beta. “Hangouts Chat competes directly with the likes of Slack and Microsoft Teams, allowing for easier workplace communication and collaboration. The service can be used on the web, and there are Windows, macOS, iOS and Android apps available. Google is emphasizing not only how it integrates with other Google products, but also support for bots.”
The Social: Facebook decides two separate news feeds is the wrong call. “Your news feed won’t be splitting up after all. In October, Facebook said it was testing a change in the news feed that separated it into two distinct feeds: one for personal posts from friends and family, and another one called the ‘Explore Feed,’ for brands, publishers and other businesses. On Thursday, the social network said it’s ending the test because the results came back negative.”
Refinery 29: Here’s How To Make Sure You Can Watch All The Oscars Action Live. “This year will be better known as the year stars wore black to show solidarity with #MeToo and Oprah briefly suspicions of a presidential run in 2020. When Jimmy Kimmel returns to host the Oscars for the second year in a row this Sunday, you can bet there will be lots of extra careful envelope-checking before the presenters take the stage and winners are announced. If you want to avoid being the person Googling ‘what happened at the Oscars’ on Monday, here’s what you need to know to catch all of the action live.”
AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD
Los Angeles Times: Twitter CEO pleads for ideas on how to make the social network more civil. “Twitter Inc. just admitted it’s become a swamp for toxic conversations. Chief Executive and co-founder Jack Dorsey tweetstormed a plea for ways to make Twitter’s social network a nicer place by measuring ‘collective health, openness, and civility of public conversation.’ He said Twitter accepted responsibility for inadvertently helping to spread misinformation, harassment and manipulation via bots. He also asked the public to propose solutions and cited work in this area by the nonprofit organization Cortico.” I wish I had faith in this initiative. I do not.
The Register: We need baby Googles, say search specialists… and one surprising VC. “Google’s vertical search tormentors in Europe have called for Alphabet’s cash cow to be broken up, arguing that Google’s solution hasn’t improved competition. Google wrote its own remedy in response to the European Commission’s ruling that it distorted competition, using penalties to demote rival niche search products such as shopping and travel. The remedy, which involves rival services having to pay to be promoted in an auction, was introduced in four months ago. But Foundem and other European vertical search competitors say it has done nothing to alleviate the harm Google causes, and have called for structural solutions.”
RESEARCH & OPINION
NextGov: The Unsung Heroes of Digital Government. “In the tech and startup world of massive companies like Facebook, Amazon and Google, this approach is second nature; meeting their users’ needs is built into their DNA. But in government environments, we’re just beginning to see how the discipline of product management is vital to supporting and accelerating the success of projects that can positively impact millions of Americans. The best part? The talent to make this happen may already be in your organization or department.” I know this seems a little weird for RB, but I love the argument that management of technology is absolutely critical to success, as opposed to “Oh look cool tech let’s throw it out there.”
Phys .org: Crowdsourced family tree yields new insights about humanity. “Thanksgiving gatherings could get bigger —a lot bigger—as science uncovers the familial bonds that bind us. From millions of interconnected online genealogy profiles, researchers have amassed the largest, scientifically-vetted family tree to date, which at 13 million people, is slightly bigger than a nation the size of Cuba or Belgium. Published in the journal Science, the new dataset offers fresh insights into the last 500 years of marriage and migration in Europe and North America, and the role of genes in longevity.”
Digital Trends: Baidu’s new A.I. can mimic your voice after listening to it for just one minute. “We’re not in the business of writing regularly about ‘fake’ news, but it’s hard not to be concerned about the kind of mimicry technology is making possible. First, researchers developed deep learning-based artificial intelligence (A.I.) that can superimpose one person’s face onto another person’s body. Now, researchers at Chinese search giant Baidu have created an A.I. they claim can learn to accurately mimic your voice — based on less than a minute’s worth of listening to it.” Good morning, Internet…
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