Google Earth, Instagram, Voice Transcription, More: Monday Afternoon Buzz, March 5, 2018


Google Blog: Take a walk on the wild side in Google Earth. “This World Wildlife Day, become one with nature—and its animal inhabitants—on Voyager, Google Earth’s storytelling feature. We’ve launched three interactive tours with, National Geographic Society and The Nature Conservancy that let you get up close with our planet’s magnificent animals and the challenges they face.”

Wired: Facebook Doesn’t Know How Many People Followed Russians On Instagram. “Facebook told Congress last fall that it had deleted 170 Instagram accounts linked to the [Internet Research Agency]. [Jonathan] Albright found 27 of the accounts, confirming they were Agency accounts by cross-referencing against Congressional exhibits or media mentions. He downloaded data on those sites in October using a social media analytics site called SocialBlade and found they had nearly 2.2 million followers combined. If such a small fraction of the total Instagram accounts had 2.2 million followers, how many followers did the Russian trolls have on Instagram altogether?”


Mashable: Otter app transcribes conversations like it’s no big deal. “Anyone who’s ever transcribed an audio interview into text knows what a painfully slow process that is. But with the new Otter app, created by a company called AI Sense, this could become a thing of the past, even when transcribing a complex conversation with several people speaking. The app, which I tried out at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, is simple to use: Start it up, and it’ll start turning the conversation around it into text. After a quick setup process, it knows when you are speaking, and it can distinguish between different voices in the conversation.”


Nieman Lab: By mass-texting local residents, Outlier Media connects low-income news consumers to useful, personalized data. “By drawing on a hefty database of information compiled from city and county public sources and automating initial responses, [Sarah] Alvarez has built the one-woman-show of Outlier Media into a resource for low-income news consumers in Detroit in search of tangible, individualized information. In 13 months, Alvarez has sent messages to about 40,000 Detroit cell phone numbers in her quest to reach ‘as many Detroiters as possible’; between 1,200 and 1,600 Detroiters have used Outlier to search for information on an address. (Opting out from Outlier’s messages is always an option as well.) ”

University of Texas at Dallas: Film Professor Chronicles Legacy of Classic Hollywood Musicals. “In December, the final conference [The Hollywood Film Musical in Its Mediatic and Cultural Context] accompanied the release of Star Turns in Hollywood Musicals, a collection of scholarly essays about the genre. The book, printed separately in French and English, is connected to a database that contains clips from the films referenced in the essays. At least one other book is planned for release in 2019. In addition, the project is developing a database that will allow scholars and fans to search the entire classic musical corpus of some 1,288 films for various information, including the styles of musical numbers in different historical periods and the careers of the performers in such films. ”

The Globe and Mail: China using big data to detain people before crime is committed: report . “Barely seven months ago, a senior Chinese official promised that artificial intelligence could one day help authorities spot crime before it happens. In the country’s far western Xinjiang region, it’s already happening, with the establishment of a system that critics call ‘Orwellian’ in scope and ambition, and which is being used to place people in political re-education.”


Los Angeles Times: Equifax finds its big data breach hit an additional 2.4 million people. “Equifax Inc. said Thursday that an additional 2.4 million Americans were affected by last year’s data breach, although not as much personal information was stolen from them. The credit reporting company said the attackers stole only the names and partial driver’s license numbers of these additional people, unlike the previously disclosed 145.5 million Americans whose Social Security numbers were obtained. Attackers were unable to get the state where the licenses were issued, the date of issuance or expiration dates, Equifax said.”

ZDNet: GitHub hit with the largest DDoS attack ever seen. “GitHub has revealed it was hit with what may be the largest-ever distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. The first portion of the attack against the developer platform peaked at 1.35Tbps, and there was a second 400Gbps spike later. This would make it the biggest DDoS attack recorded so far. Until now, the biggest clocked in at around 1.1Tbps.”


From Pew (PEW PEW PEW PEW!): Social Media Use in 2018. “A new Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults finds that the social media landscape in early 2018 is defined by a mix of long-standing trends and newly emerging narratives. Facebook and YouTube dominate this landscape, as notable majorities of U.S. adults use each of these sites. At the same time, younger Americans (especially those ages 18 to 24) stand out for embracing a variety of platforms and using them frequently.”

Hybrid Pedagogy: Education in the (Dis)Information Age. “The oldest and simplest of internet technologies, the hyperlink and the ‘new’ kind of text it affords — hypertext — is the foundational language of the internet, HyperText Markup Language (HTML). Hypertext connects all the disparate pieces of the web together. And it’s Sci-Fi name isn’t an accident. It’s hyperdrive for the internet, bending information space so that any user can travel galaxy-scale information distances with a small movement of a finger. The hyperlink still remains one of the most powerful elements of the web. In fact, I’d argue that the hyperlink is our most potent weapon in the fight against disinformation.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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