Irish Diaspora, Crowdsourced Biology Research, Google, More: Thursday Afternoon Buzz, August 2, 2018


While wandering around Twitter I heard about a new WordPress site — the Irish Diaspora Histories Network. From the About page: “The histories of the Irish diaspora are varied and diverse, and span a multitude of geographical and chronological periods. As a result, the scholars researching them are often separated by historiography, methodology, and discipline base. This website, and the accompanying social media list, seeks to bring together researchers of Irish diaspora history by highlighting the range of work being doing across the world. It’s hoped that new conversations and connections can be made through the information held on this website.”

University of California San Francisco: New Tool Crowdsources Human Intelligence for Biological Research. “Biologists are drowning in a sea of cellular photoshoots, and because they’re so drenched in such data, their experiments proceed less efficiently. Nothing gums up the scientific process like having 10,000 images to label. To address this problem, a team led by researchers at UC San Francisco, the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, and IBM have launched – a user-friendly website designed to recruit thousands of fresh eyes to look over scientific images. A paper describing the tool was published July 31 in Nature Methods.”


TechCrunch: Google is reportedly planning a censorship-friendly search service for China . “Google yanked its search service from China in 2010 in the face of pressure over censorship, but now the [Intercept] reports that it has developed a censored version that could launch in the country in six to nine months, according to information supplied by a source with knowledge of the plans. The alleged product would block Western services already outlawed in China, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and also scrub results for sensitive terms, such as the Tiananmen Square massacre, and international media including the BBC and New York Times.”

TechAU: Facebook kills automatic WordPress publishing to Profiles. “This morning WordPress users received an email (below in full), explaining that as of August 1st, 2018 (tomorrow) third-party tools can no longer automatically post to Facebook Profiles. This common technique is used by thousands of wordpress blogs as an efficient and reliable workflow. This includes Publicize, the Jetpack tool that enables connections to social platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.”

Facebook: New Tools to Manage Your Time on Facebook and Instagram. “Today we are announcing new tools to help people manage their time on Facebook and Instagram: an activity dashboard, a daily reminder and a new way to limit notifications. We developed these tools based on collaboration and inspiration from leading mental health experts and organizations, academics, our own extensive research and feedback from our community. We want the time people spend on Facebook and Instagram to be intentional, positive and inspiring. Our hope is that these tools give people more control over the time they spend on our platforms and also foster conversations between parents and teens about the online habits that are right for them.”


Penn Today: Penn brings Philadelphia’s rare manuscripts to the world. “‘If medieval manuscripts—which are historical documents, marks of lives well spent, and also consummate works of art—are going to reach their full potential in the 21st century, then they have to reach new audiences,’ says William Noel, director of Penn’s Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. The collaborative three-year project, Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis, or BiblioPhilly for short, will digitize 475 European medieval and early modern manuscripts, and additional individual pages from the collections of 15 universities and other Philadelphia-area institutions. The high-resolution images and accompanying analyses will be made available to the public, free of charge, on Penn Libraries’ OPenn database.”

WHYY: Penn State launching national database to help evaluate Greek organizations after hazing death. “Penn State University is launching a national database that will monitor Greek fraternities and sororities. The scorecard will include grade point averages, sexual assaults, alcohol and hazing violations, and community service hours.”

Quartz: Welcome to Reddit’s GlobalTalk, where the world feels a little bit smaller. “There’s ‘world news’ and there’s ‘news from around the world.’ In the first category are matters of global importance: The US-China trade war, say. In the second is, you know, this story of a German cyclist caught by a traffic camera going 30 miles an hour, naked, in the city of Kiel. Even curious readers can have a hard time finding stories that fall into the latter category. Until now, that is, thanks to a random Reddit user who last week asked a very good question: ‘What’s going on on the non-English parts of the internet that we’re all missing out on?'”


Ars Technica: Password breach teaches Reddit that, yes, phone-based 2FA is that bad. “In a post published Wednesday, Reddit said an attacker breached several employee accounts in mid-June. The attacker then accessed a complete copy of backup data spanning from the site’s launch in 2005 to May 2007. The data included cryptographically salted and hashed password data from that period, along with corresponding user names, email addresses, and all user content, including private messages. The attacker also obtained email digests that were sent between June 3 and June 17 of this year. Those digests included usernames and their associated email address, along with Reddit-suggested posts from safe-for-work subreddits users were subscribed to.”


BetaNews: The future role of AI in fact checking. “As an analyst, I’d like to have a universal fact checker. Something like the carbon monoxide detectors on each level of my home. Something that would sound an alarm when there’s danger of intellectual asphyxiation from choking on the baloney put forward by certain sales people, news organizations, governments, and educators, for example.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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