Scotland History, Volcano Fatalities, Facebook, More: Thursday Buzz, June 7, 2018


The National: Scotland Is Now launches Portal AR app with partners Google. “The Portal AR app has users travel through portals on their phone screens to visit different destinations across Scotland – spanning from riding the North Coast 500 on a motorbike to discovering food and drink culture through the heritage of our whisky distilleries. As well as allowing users to virtually visit Scotland it also offers portals into how we live, work, invest and study throughout the country. Locals provide insight into what the country means to them by way of voiceovers while 360 degree videos and stills help users immerse themselves in Scottish culture.”

ScienceNews: Here’s a look at the world’s deadliest volcanoes — and the ways they kill. “Guatemala’s Fuego volcano erupted explosively on June 3, sending hot gas and rock racing downhill in what’s known as a pyroclastic flow. At least 69 people were killed. Emergency officials are trying to reach buried villages to assess the scope of the disaster, but Fuego is already the world’s deadliest eruption of 2018. The tragedy offers a grim reminder of the many dangers posed by volcanic eruptions. While pyroclastic flows figure prominently in an exhaustive list published last year by British scientists, there are many other potential threats including toxic gas and lava flows. The scientists analyzed how nearly 280,000 people have died in eruptions, including about 62,600 deaths from indirect causes such as famine and disease in the aftermath, since the year 1500.”


Nieman Lab: Here’s what the first Facebook-funded news shows will look like. “Shep Smith, Anderson Cooper, and vertical-video lava: That’s what Facebook is bringing to its underperforming Watch tab soon in its first slate of Facebook-funded news video shows.”

Instagram plans to launch Snapchat Discover-style video hub
. “Instagram is preparing to unveil a home for longer-form video — a YouTube competitor and its take on Snapchat Discover. According to multiple sources, Instagram will offer a dedicated space featuring scripted shows, music videos and more in vertically oriented, full-screen, high-def 4K resolution. Instagram has been meeting with popular social media stars and content publishers to find out how their video channels elsewhere would work within its app. It’s also lining up launch partners for an announcement of the long-form video effort tentatively scheduled for June 20th.” I mentioned Instagram possibly opening to hour-long videos but this looks like a full on video blitz.


The Obscuritory: Lost Japanese game Labyrinthe released – and more are coming. “Yesterday, YouTube user Saint posted a video and a download of Labyrinthe: Horror Tour 3, a Japanese adventure game that was previously assumed to be lost or unreleased. A write-up on Hardcore Gamer 101 from 2014 said that “Labyrinthe is completely lost, and begs the question as to whether it was released at all.” So the sudden appearance of this game is startling to say the least! But there’s more to the story. ”

CNET: New AI ethics council in Singapore will give smart advice. “Singapore is taking the lead on one of the topics companies like Facebook and Google are grappling with: using artificial intelligence and data responsibly. A new council is being set up to advise the city-state’s government on the ethical and legal use of AI and data, Singapore’s Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran announced at the opening of Innovfest Unbound Tuesday.”

The Atlantic: Gambling Channels Are the Latest Victims of YouTube’s Arbitrary Moderation Process. “Days before he was set to begin a month-long promotional tour for his YouTube channel, Brian Christopher learned that his account had been abruptly terminated. In the two years since Christopher has been running BrianChristopherSlots, he’s produced more than 1,100 vlogs of himself gambling, mostly on slot machines, and racked up 50 million views and 80,000 subscribers. But then, last week, his account was suspended, along with many other prominent YouTube gambling channels. In an email, YouTube explained the suspension was due to ‘repeated or severe violations’ of its community guidelines, which prohibit ‘violent or dangerous acts that have an inherent risk of serious physical harm or death.’ (YouTube did not respond to requests for comment from The Atlantic.)” I am not a fan of gambling but this is nuts.


Forbes: We Built A Powerful Amazon Facial Recognition Tool For Under $10. “The democratization of mass surveillance is upon us. Insanely cheap tools with the power to track individuals en masse are now available for anyone to use, as exemplified by a Forbes test of an Amazon facial recognition product, Rekognition, that made headlines last month. Jeff Bezos’ behemoth of a business is seen by most as a consumer-driven business, not a provider of easy-to-use spy tech. But as revealed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) last week, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is shipping Rekognition to various U.S. police departments. And because Rekognition is open to all, Forbes decided to try out the service. Based on photos staff consensually provided, and with footage shot across our Jersey City and London offices, we discovered it took just a few hours, some loose change and a little technical knowledge to establish a super-accurate facial recognition operation.”

Search Engine Land: Report: EU about to fine Google billions in Android antitrust case. “According to a report in Financial Times (paywall), the European Commission is set to impose a second major antitrust fine on Google for alleged abuse of power in Android licensing deals with phone makers. The report says EU Competition Chief Margrethe Vestager is ‘poised to announce the negative finding within weeks . . . marking the most significant regulatory intervention made against Google’s business model.'”


InformationWeek: Why Microsoft’s GitHub Deal Isn’t a Sign of the Apocalypse. “By picking up GitHub, Microsoft immediately becomes a major force in open source software development. As of June 2018, there were 28 million developers in the GitHub community, as well as 85 million code repositories, making it the world’s largest host of source code. Still, it’s easy to understand why developers generally mistrust Microsoft.”

Techdirt: Has Facebook Merely Been Exploited By Our Enemies? Or Is Facebook Itself The Real Enemy?. “Two recent books written in the aftermath of recent revelations about mischievous and malicious exploitation of social-media platforms—especially Facebook and Twitter—exemplify this zeitgeist in different ways. And although both of these books are filled with valuable information and insights, they also yield (in different ways) to the temptation to see social media as the source of more harm than good. Which leaves me wanting very much both to praise what’s great in these two books (which I read back-to-back) and to criticize them where I think they’ve gone too far over to the Dark Side.”


Tubefilter: Check Out This Fully-Functional, YouTube-Based Edition Of ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?’. “YouTube’s annotations, before they were phased out in favor of cards in 2017, were used to power a few cleverly-designed formats, including several choose-your-own-adventure games that lived entirely on YouTube. Though cards are now the way of the YouTube world, creators are still finding innovative ways to gamify the world’s top video site. The latest example comes from a guy named Nigel, who used cards to create a YouTube-focused version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, titled Who Wants To Be A Youtuber.” Good morning, Internet…

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