YouTube Recommendations, Garrison Keillor, Scrabble Dictionary: Monday Afternoon Buzz, April 16, 2018


MIT Technology Review: An ex-Google engineer is scraping YouTube to pop our filter bubbles. “YouTube—whose more than a billion users watch over a billion hours per day—shows us some data, like how many times a video has been viewed, liked, or disliked. But it hides more granular details about each video, like how often the site recommended it to other people. Without the full picture, it can be hard to know why, exactly, its algorithm is steering you in a certain direction. Guillaume Chaslot, a computer programmer who spent some time working on recommendations at YouTube and on display advertising at its parent company, Google, thinks this is a problem, and he’s fighting to bring more transparency to the ways videos are recommended.”


Minnesota Public Radio: MPR Reaches Agreement with Garrison Keillor to Restore Public Access to Online Archives. “Minnesota Public Radio has reached an agreement with Garrison Keillor to restore free public access to the online archives of A Prairie Home Companion and The Writer’s Almanac.”

Mashable: ‘Scrabble’ is getting 300 new words this fall. “It’s time to throw away your outdated dictionary and dust off those tiles, baby, because Scrabble is getting some new words. The folks behind Scrabble are beefing up the official Scrabble player’s dictionary with 300 new words to keep up with the times and give veteran players some fresh verbs and nouns to memorize.”

TechCrunch: Podcasting app Anchor can now find you a cohost . “Fresh off its relaunch as an app offering a suite of tools for podcasters, Anchor today is rolling a new feature that will make it easier for people to find someone to podcast with: Cohosts. As the name implies, the app will now connect you – sometimes immediately, if people are available – with another person who’s interested in discussing the topic you’ve chosen.”


USC Libraries: USC Libraries Digitizing 10,200 Hamlin Garland Letters. “The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) is generously supporting a project by the USC Libraries to digitize a trove of 10,200 letters between writer Hamlin Garland and important figures in late 19th and early 20th century American life. Once the project is complete, these letters will be freely accessible online via the USC Digital Library and Digital Public Library of America. Garland is best known for his short-story collection Main-Travelled Roads (1891) exploring Midwestern farm life, his autobiography A Son of the Middle Border (1917), and his biography of Civil War general and U.S. president Ulysses S. Grant. Garland played a leading role in conceptualizing American literary realism and earned a Pulitzer Prize in 1922 for A Daughter of the Middle Border.”

Vice: White nationalist Richard Spencer’s pages just got kicked off Facebook. “Two Facebook pages associated with white nationalist Richard Spencer have been kicked off the platform. The outspoken white nationalist who coined the term “alt-right” and runs the National Policy Institute, had been operating in the open on Facebook. The National Policy Institute, which advocates for a white ‘ethnostate,’ had a page with 4,000 followers. Spencer’s online magazine ‘’ also had a Facebook page with more than 10,000 followers. Both were removed Friday after an inquiry from VICE News about those pages and those of several other prominent hate groups.”


Tubefilter: YouTube’s Restrictions On Firearms Content Has Led A Gun Manufacturer To Sue A Creator. “YouTube’s decision to tighten its restrictions on firearms videos continues to produce a significant ripple effect. Oregon-based gun manufacturer Radian Weapons is suing the owner of the GY6 YouTube channel, alleging that he didn’t deliver the promised results of a sponsored content deal in part because the video ran afoul of YouTube’s guidelines for advertiser-friendly content.”


EurekAlert: RAND identifies new strategies for countering Russian social media . “A new RAND Corporation report finds that Russia is waging a social media campaign in the Baltics, Ukraine and nearby states to sow dissent against neighboring governments, as well as NATO and the European Union. In addition to employing a state-funded multi-lingual television network, operating various pro-government news websites and working through Russian-backed ‘civil society’ organizations, Russia also employs a sophisticated social media campaign that includes news tweets, non-attributed comments on web pages, troll and bot social media accounts, and fake hashtag and Twitter campaigns.”

Economic Times: New AI can now focus on individual speakers in a crowd, thanks to Google. “Just as most smartphone cameras now allow users to focus on a single object among many, it may soon be possible to pick out individual voices in a crowd by suppressing all other sounds, thanks to a new Artificial Intelligence (AI) system developed by Google researchers.”

Ars Technica: YouTube demonetized my tuba videos (also, I make tuba videos). “Early in 2018, YouTube made changes to how us commoners can earn money through its Partner Program (or ‘YPP’). You probably heard about it here and, oh yeah, here. Now seems like a good time to describe my own (less tumultuous) history with YPP.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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