Europe Synagogues, Google SERP, Google Maps, More: Thursday Afternoon Buzz, March 15, 2018


Big Think: An online map of Europe’s 3,318 synagogues. “If you’ve ever wondered how many synagogues there are in Europe, now you have an answer: 3,318. The precision of that answer is down to the Foundation for Jewish Heritage, a UK-based institute that ordered what it says is the first-ever continent-wide study of Jewish houses of worship.”


Search Engine Roundtable: Google Shows Answer Without Any Search Results. “Google is showing answers in the search results without showing any organic listings or ads or anything but the answer. Yehoshua Coren posted on Twitter a screen shot of him going to Google and Google returning the answer and a button to show search results.” This makes me nervous. Not about showing just the time or the result of a math question, but it seems to me like a slippery slope. How far until we get an answer Google has scraped from another Web site and no organic results at all?

Quartz: Google Maps has found a better way to navigate India’s chaotic roads. “Mapping a city like New York, where streets and avenues are neatly arranged in a grid, is a piece of cake. But a city in India is a different animal. So, on March 13, internet search giant Google launched a suite of new features to make getting around the streets and lanes in India easier. From generating unique area-specific codes to using nearby landmarks to navigate to allowing users to add addresses that don’t appear on Maps yet, Google is attempting to bring order to the chaos.”

BBC News: Facebook bans Britain First pages. “Facebook has removed the pages of the anti-Islamic group Britain First and its leaders. The social media company said the group had repeatedly violated its community standards. Earlier this month, Britain First’s leader and deputy leader, Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen, were jailed after being found guilty of religiously aggravated harassment.”

The Verge: YouTube limits moderators to viewing four hours of disturbing content per day. “YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said today that the video platform has started limiting the number of hours its part-time content moderators can view disturbing videos to four hours per day. The news, announced during a Q&A session during Wojcicki’s South by Southwest Interactive talk here in Austin, comes as companies like YouTube are struggling to parse through the sheer volume of user-uploaded content and ensure it abides by its policies. Platforms including YouTube, Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter have faced criticism for subjecting low-paid contractors to content that can be extremely disturbing.”


Coding is Love: The complete guide to using Google sheets as database. “Let’s talk about the mighty Google sheets. Mighty? Yes! It is one the best spreadsheet apps on par with Microsoft Excel. Actually, Google sheets is better than Excel in few cases because of its features like Apps script, Timed triggers, Form triggers, Google sheets API, importXML etc. Let’s talk about different advanced features of Google sheets, its limitations, alternate solutions and how to use those features and how to use google sheets as database!” The English is not 100% perfect but there’s a lot of information here.

Online Journalism Blog: Now available under Creative Commons: my book chapter on data journalism. “When I agreed to write the second edition of the Online Journalism Handbook, I asked that the chapter on data journalism from the 2011 edition of the book be released under a Creative Commons licence. To Routledge’s credit, they agreed. Here, then, I’m making that book chapter available — you can download it from here or access it on Slideshare (embedded below).”

MakeUseOf: 10 Exciting iPhone Education Apps for Kids. “In a little more than a decade, the combination of the iPhone and apps have transformed so many parts of our lives. From social networks and communication to games and much more, the iPhone has made learning, play, and everything in between easier and more enjoyable. One area that’s seen huge change is education. Thanks to the iPhone’s slim form factor, easy to use software, and touchscreen, even toddlers can use the smartphone to learn while having fun.”


Notre Dame: Notre Dame receives Mellon Foundation grant to develop software platform to help universities access library and museum holdings . “The University of Notre Dame has been awarded a $455,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to create a Unified Preservation and Exhibition Platform — a software solution that will enable universities to access museum and library holdings through a single online portal.”

RESEARCH & OPINION Big data hype hasn’t led to tan­gi­ble re­sults in the so­cial sci­ences, expert says . “Despite the great progress in basic research, such as speech recognition and image processing, success stories of existing big data applications in the social sciences are scarce. As early as 2014, big data plummeted from the “Peak of Inflated Expectations” to the “Trough of Disillusionment” phase in the Gartner Hype Cycle. In the basic sciences, the focus is on the technical prerequisites for efficiently recording and storing large quantities of data and automatically processing them. Artificial intelligence methods such as machine learning have great potential here. Only the social sciences have so far benefited little from this, and even seem to be losing ground to other disciplines. I notice that instead of drawing benefit from the flood of data for their empirical research, social scientists are often overwhelmed by the opportunities that arise.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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