Municipal Transparency, William Blake, Amazon Alexa, More: Friday Afternoon Buzz, April 20, 2018


State Scoop: Former U.S. Treasury official is building a financial transparency tool for everyone. “Four years ago, Christina Ho led an effort through the U.S. Treasury Department to help Americans track the federal government’s spending of public funds. Now, she’s left government and embarked on a new project: aggregating data from the country’s more than 30,000 municipalities to help citizens shape local policy.”

Union College: Library celebrates William Blake, poet and painter. “An exhibit showcasing student work with Union’s rare collection of works related to 19th century English author, artist and printmaker William Blake is on view in the Lally Reading Room of Schaffer Library…. Union has an extensive collection of print facsimiles of Blake’s illuminated books and commercial works. A research website dedicated to his oeuvre will be released at the end of this month. Like the exhibit, it will showcase past and present student engagement with Blake’s work at Union.”


BetaNews: Amazon launches Alexa Skill Blueprints. “As Apple’s HomePod fails due to a still-disappointing Siri, Google and Amazon’s offerings remain the cream of the crop. Which of those two you prefer is a matter of personal preference, although I prefer Alexa having tried both. Today, Alexa is getting a unique new feature that sets it apart from Google even more. Called ‘Alexa Skill Blueprints,’ you can easily create custom Skills without any programming experience.”


Shape Arts: How to Put On an Accessible Exhibition. “This guide forms part of our series of free resources on art, disability and access. It should be seen as an overview to support an approach that considers access and inclusion from the very beginning and at all stages of an organisation or individual’s work. Almost 20% of the UK population identify as disabled; Shape’s resources are designed to provide arts organisations and professionals with the knowledge and tools required to help build a more diverse, equal and inclusive cultural sector for disabled people as artists, audiences and workers.”


Virginia Memory: The Art Of The Annual: The Virginia Yearbook Digitization Project. “In 2015, I started the Library’s yearbook digitization project to scan yearbooks from all around Virginia on behalf of public libraries. Thanks to funds from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), we have been able to digitize and provide access to 2,308 yearbooks published though 1977, the year that copyright law impacts use. So far, 35 local libraries have contributed their yearbooks, with more in process. There is no set end date for this project; it will continue as long as IMLS funding supports it and there are willing participants. While working with the yearbooks from the Library of Virginia collection, I began to notice the artistic elements of the yearbooks.”

CBC: Political campaigns are targeting you on Facebook. Help us find out how.. “Around 23 million Canadians use Facebook every month, and with elections looming in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick and a federal campaign next year, those users will no doubt be besieged by political ads on the social media platform. But unlike on TV and radio, political ads online are not strictly regulated.”

Hyperallergic: Metropolitan Museum Aims for Accessibility with Sign Language Tours on Facebook Live. “In the past couple of years, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has made an effort to reach new audiences on the internet. In February 2017, the museum launched its Open Access initiative, making hundreds of thousands of high-resolution images of works in its collections available for free and unrestricted use online. Last fall, the Met’s Access and Community Programs Education Department tapped into social media, presenting its first American Sign Language (ASL) tour on Facebook Live.”


Tubefilter: Barcelona-Based YouTuber Faces Prison For Pranking Homeless Man With Doctored Oreos. “If you thought YouTube pranks had already revealed the lowest levels of human decency, prepare to be stunned: a Barcelona-based YouTuber named Kanghua Ren is in serious trouble with the law after carrying out a prank in which he filled Oreo cookies with toothpaste and fed them to an unsuspecting homeless man on camera.”

ZDNet: Google cuts fake ad blockers from Chrome Store: Were you among 20 million fooled?. “A researcher has uncovered five malicious ad-blocker extensions on the Chrome Web Store that were installed by 20 million Chrome users before Google removed them. The bogus ad blockers were discovered by researchers at AdGuard, a Moscow-based maker of ad-blocking and anti-tracking tech.”


Poynter: Who reads fact-checking and why? Here’s what one outlet found out. “A British fact-checking organization recently heard from more than 2,000 people about how and why they read fact checks. On Tuesday, Full Fact published its first large-scale audience research survey, based on a fall 2017 survey of self-selected participants that contained 24 questions, supplemented with data from Google Analytics and polls. While not representative, the findings are part of a larger trend among fact-checkers to conduct in-house audience analyses.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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