CRS Reports, Auburn University, Firefox Reality, More: Thursday Buzz, September 20, 2018


Library of Congress: Congressional Research Service Reports Now Available Online. “I’m pleased to announce that, for the first time, the Library of Congress is providing Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports to the public. The reports are available online at Created by experts in CRS, the reports present a legislative perspective on topics such as agriculture policy, counterterrorism operations, banking regulation, veteran’s issues and much more.”

Auburn University: Auburn University Libraries Opens Archive of Audio Recordings from the 1960s and ‘70s. “Auburn University Libraries Special Collections and Archives Department has been working to make available a large number of audio recordings of the university’s Horizons Lecture Series, Auburn Profiles Series, Auburn Conference on International Affairs, and various other speeches and programs conducted on campus, many of which have not been available to researchers and scholars for many years. Originally recorded in the 1960s and ‘70s, these recordings represent a treasure trove of the actual words of political and military leaders, sports figures, journalists and entertainers. The first of these newly digitized recordings are now available for researchers and casual listeners free online.”


Mozilla Blog: Explore the immersive web with Firefox Reality. Now available for Viveport, Oculus, and Daydream. “Earlier this year, we shared that we are building a completely new browser called Firefox Reality. The mixed reality team at Mozilla set out to build a web browser that has been designed from the ground up to work on stand-alone virtual and augmented reality (or mixed reality) headsets. Today, we are pleased to announce that the first release of Firefox Reality is available in the Viveport, Oculus, and Daydream app stores.”

Popular Science: Twitter will let you see your feed in chronological order again—here’s how and why. “Since 2016, following someone on Twitter has been an unexpectedly complicated affair. What was previously a reverse-chronological feed of every tweet, picture, gif, threat, misguided political opinion, or dad joke became algorithm-driven chaos designed to steer you toward tweets that would maximize engagement. Features like ‘Tweets you may have missed’ and random tweets liked by another account you follow would show up in the stream. It wasn’t an uncommon move at the time—Facebook and even Instagram shifted from their once-orderly ways. The algorithms had taken over social media, Skynet style.”


Social Media Examiner: How to Create Social Media Images With Google Drawings. “Want to create social media images without purchasing expensive software? Looking for a solution you can access from any computer? In this article, you’ll learn how to create professional-looking images using Google Drawings.”


Washington Post: How conspiracy theories spread from the Internet’s darkest corners. “On July 7, Charlie Kirk, founder of Turning Point USA and frequent Fox News contributor, published a tweet that contained startling but inaccurately sourced statistics about the alleged growth of human trafficking arrests under the Trump administration. It stated there were 1,952 human trafficking arrests through all of 2016, but in the first half of 2018 authorities had already made an astounding 5,987 human trafficking arrests. Kirk’s tweet falsely claimed these figures came from the Justice Department.”

The Verge: How white supremacists are thriving on YouTube. “What role do major institutions play in the promotion of extremism? Two days into this week, we’ve already gotten two important looks at the issue.”

Jagran Josh: Marathi language atlas and corpus to be launched soon by Deccan College. “In order to record the regional variations in the Marathi language, a team of linguists at Deccan College are planning to create a digital corpus and dialect atlas. The Rajya Marathi Vikas Sanstha of the Maharashtra government has entrusted a team from Deccan College, led by Sonal Kulkarni-Joshi of the Linguistics Department, to study the language and preserve its dialects.”


Qrius: I dismantled Google’s tracking systems — here’s what happened. “Here’s what happened when I turned off all of Google’s excessive tracking services, and the shocking discoveries I made about what certain companies know about me from my search history and tracking services.”

CNET: Lawmakers pressure Google to share how YouTube collects, uses kids’ data. “Rep. David Cicilline, a Democrat from Rhode Island, and Jeff Fortenberry, a Republican from Nebraska, said in their letter that YouTube’s data collection practices ‘may not be in compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998,’ or COPPA, a federal law regulating user data collection from sites with users under 13 years old.”

Techdirt: Compromise Music Modernization Act Will Bring Old Sound Recordings into The Public Domain, Tiptoe Towards Orphan Works Solution. “Over in the House, the CLASSICS Act was unfortunately merged with a separate bill, the Music Modernization Act (which is mostly uncontroversial) and voted through unanimously. However, it hit a stumbling block in the Senate — leading to negotiations to create a compromise between Wyden’s ACCESS Act and the original CLASSICS Act. That compromise has now been released and… it’s actually fairly decent. To be clear, this is not how anyone would draw up copyright law from scratch, and there are still bits and pieces that concern me in the bill. But compared to where we were with the CLASSICS Act, this is a pretty big improvement.”


Engadget: AI can identify objects based on verbal descriptions. “Modern speech recognition is clunky and often requires massive amounts of annotations and transcriptions to help understand what you’re referencing. There might, however, be a more natural way: teaching the algorithms to recognize things much like you would a child. Scientists have devised a machine learning system that can identify objects in a scene based on their description. Point out a blue shirt in an image, for example, and it can highlight the clothing without any transcriptions involved.” Good morning, Internet…

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