Royal Commonwealth Society, Twitter, Facebook Political Ads, More: Wednesday Afternoon Buzz, October 24, 2018


The Round Table: The RCS celebrates 150 years with a new digital archive. “The Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS) has made public a digital archive of its history as it marks its 150th anniversary and the 25th anniversary of its library and archives becoming part of Cambridge University Library. The society was formed in 1868 as the Colonial Society to promote knowledge and appreciation of Britain’s overseas territories. As the RCS website stated ‘it was conceived of as an intellectual endeavour where papers would be presented at meetings and published in the society’s journals, and the creation of a research library was at the heart of the project’.”


CNN: Twitter bans more InfoWars accounts . “Twitter on Monday removed more than a dozen accounts affiliated with the fringe right-wing media organization InfoWars, a company spokesperson told CNN. The spokesperson said the company permanently suspended 18 accounts, in part, for attempting to help InfoWars and its founder, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, circumvent the ban Twitter placed on them in September by posting material related to the media organization.”

The Stranger: Largely Unnoticed, Facebook Has Made a Significant Change to Its Archive of Political Ads. “Facebook may believe it’s immune from Washington state law regulating online political ads, but last week the tech giant did something that local election regulators—and other transparency advocates—have long been urging. As part of an October 16 announcement that Facebook would expand the company’s political ad self-regulation efforts to the UK, Facebook also, somewhat quietly, made a global change.”


Lifehacker: Learn Web Development for Free With App Academy. “Coding school App Academy has opened a free online interactive version of its 12-week curriculum. That’s a pretty good deal, since the Academy’s in-person classes in San Francisco and New York can cost as much as a semester in college. The online version involves less direct human interaction, but it includes online mentors and access to a community Slack chat.”

PC Magazine: 10 Free Data Visualization Tools. “Data visualization literally changes how you look at data. But if you’re worried that an investment in this technology might not be for you, then check out these 10 free tools that let you explore your data in new ways, without having to spend a bundle on the experience.”


The Verge: NASA lost a rover and other space artifacts due to sloppy management, report says. “Thanks to improper management, NASA has lost a wide array of historical spaceflight memorabilia over the last few decades — such as an old lunar soil bag, former spaceflight hand controllers, and even a test lunar rover. That’s according to a new report out today from NASA’s Office of the Inspector General, which analyzed how the space agency oversees its historical assets. While procedures have improved at NASA, a few unique pieces of storied spaceflight property have either been misplaced or taken by ex-employees.”

CBC: ‘Not good enough’: Toronto privacy expert resigns from Sidewalk Labs over data concerns. “A privacy expert who resigned this week from her role as an advisor to Sidewalk Labs, the Google sister company set to build a ‘smart’ neighbourhood on Toronto’s waterfront, is concerned that the “treasure trove” of data collected there will be vulnerable to attacks.”


BuzzFeed News: Is In Cahoots With Public Records Agencies, A Group Suspects. “I know that Michael Peck, my great-great-great-grandfather, died on July 14, 1922. I know this because last October I visited the cemetery in Cornwall, New York, to find the date on his headstone. I had been searching for information on Michael for almost a decade on, but never found any information about his death. Had I waited until a few weeks ago, I could have saved myself the trip upstate. Ancestry finally added the New York State Death Index for 1852–1956 to its collection, and I would have found Michael’s date of death with a few clicks of a mouse. This new archive on Ancestry, however, was added under questionable circumstances, one genealogist claims.”


MIT Sloan Management Review: Twitter Is Not the Echo Chamber We Think It Is. “We are in the midst of a public conversation about whether social media echo chambers facilitate the spreading of fake news or prevent constructive dialogue on public issues. In a recent interview with The Washington Post, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said that he was experimenting with features to reduce echo chambers on Twitter by inserting content with alternative viewpoints into people’s feeds. In response, an op-ed in The New York Times predicted that this idea would backfire, citing recent research showing that exposing people to alternate viewpoints only makes them more partisan. The problem with this otherwise important debate is that it assumes that Twitter users exist in echo chambers in the first place. They don’t.”

The Next Web: This AI can search for people by height, gender, and clothing in surveillance videos. “A team of AI researchers from India developed a tool to search for people in surveillance footage by height, clothing color, and gender. It’s like a search engine that can find people in a video.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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