David Bowie, Google Assistant, Twitter, More: Thursday Afternoon ResearchBuzz, January 10, 2019


AdWeek: The New David Bowie AR App Lets You Explore His Life in the Most Mind-Bending Way Yet. “David Bowie might make augmented reality a hero–at least for one day. To celebrate Bowie’s birthday, a new AR mobile app for Apple and Android devices lets fans explore hundreds of items from the late singer’s life. The app, a collaboration between the David Bowie Archive and Sony Music Entertainment, is called ‘David Bowie Is,’ a title bearing the same name as the touring exhibition that’s already attracted more than 2 million fans across 12 cities.”


Wired: Google’s New Interpreter Mode Translates Your Conversation. “…Google is trying to outsource another human-to-human interaction: the kind that occurs between a person who works in hospitality and a guest who speaks a different language. A new feature in Google Assistant, called Interpreter Mode, turns the virtual assistant into a real-time language translator between two people who are trying to chat in the same physical space. It starts rolling out today on Google-powered smart displays and smart speakers.”


Fast Company: How I redesigned Twitter to be mostly harmless. “As we did with nicotine, we may someday discover that there is no safe dose of Twitter. For now, you may be (or just feel) compelled to use the platform. But who says you have to inhale its tar-filled content-vapors unfiltered? What if, when you visited (because if you haven’t already deleted the app from your phone, do that immediately), you saw something that was barely a social network at all–and something more like a harmless linkblog?”

App Advice: Articulu Turns Content From the Web Into Natural Sounding Audio. “After downloading the app, you can see suggested articles in a number of different sections including popular, tech, news business, lifestyle, and more. But easily the best feature is to select any URL and have the app turn into an audio article.” Nice idea. Does have a monthly fee if you want unlimited use.


The Atlantic: The Peaceful Transition of Government Twitter Accounts. “The various committees of the House of Representatives are strange, human institutions. They are staffed by whoever holds the majority, which, since January of 2011, had been the Republicans, but is now the Democrats. And with that change, the committees must deal with important business, such as establishing new chairpeople, deciding on organizing principles, and … handling the committee Twitter account.”

Nieman Lab: Fewer nosy neighbors and data overlords: This German publisher is trying to build a hyperlocal social network. “Dog poop and parking spot shortages: just local news things. These story topics might seem trivial individually but are the core of what matters to local communities — and local news consumers. It’s journalists listening for their questions and getting them answers.”


Krebs on Security: Dirt-Cheap, Legit, Windows Software: Pick Two. “Last week, KrebsOnSecurity heard from a reader who’d just purchased a copy of Microsoft Office 2016 Professional Plus from a seller on eBay for less than $4. Let’s call this Red Flag #1, as a legitimately purchased license of Microsoft Office 2016 is still going to cost between $70 and $100. Nevertheless, almost 350 other people had made the same purchase from this seller over the past year, according to eBay, and there appear to be many auctioneers just like this one.”

ZDNet: Google removes 85 adware apps that were installed by millions of users. “Google has removed 85 Android apps from the official Play Store that security researchers from Trend Micro deemed to contain a common strain of adware. The 85 apps had been downloaded over nine million times, and one app, in particular, named ‘Easy Universal TV Remote,’ was downloaded over five million times, according to researchers.”


Found on Expressing and Challenging Racist Discourse onFacebook: How Social Media Weaken the “Spiral of Silence” Theory. “This article examines the discursive practices of Facebook users who use the platform to express racist views. We analyzed 51,991 public comments posted to 119 news stories about race, racism, or ethnicity on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation News Facebook page. We examined whether users who hold racist viewpoints (the vocal minority) are less likely to express views that go against the majority view for fear of social isolation. According to the ‘spiral of silence’ theory, the vocal minority would presumably fear this isolation effect. However, our analysis shows that on Facebook,a predominantly nonanonymous and moderated platform, the vocal minority are comfortable expressing unpopular views, questioning the explanatory power of this popular theory in the online context.” I had not heard of the Spiral of Silence theory, but Briannica helped me out.

NewsMaker: Using Big Databases to find Superconductors of the Future (PRESS RELEASE). “Superconductors are materials that conduct electricity with virtually no resistance. Superconducting materials have improved the field of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and have led to the development of particle colliders that can be used for research related to splitting atoms. Currently available superconducting materials can only perform at extremely low temperatures. If researchers can find superconducting materials that work at ambient temperature, electricity could be conducted over large distances without energy loss. Current approaches to searching for these materials are somewhat random, and results strongly depend on researcher’s intuition, experience and luck. Materials scientist Yoshihiko Takano of Japan’s National Institute for Materials Science and colleagues have shown that sifting through an inorganic materials database using specific search parameters can provide a more systematic way to finding superconducting materials.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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