Civil Rights Activists, Zoho Office, Microsoft Flow, More: Monday Afternoon ResearchBuzz, February 18, 2019


University of Iowa: Rare Recordings of Civil Rights Activists Available Now. “In 1963 and 1964, attorney Bob Zellner recorded a series of interviews with civil rights activists in Mississippi and Alabama. Zellner conducted the interviews on behalf of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in an effort to document the activists’ experiences, which were often under challenging and violent circumstances. The interviewees participated in the Mississippi Summer Project in 1964, later to be known as Freedom Summer, a drive to register African Americans in the Magnolia State to vote. For decades, attempts by blacks to register at county court houses across the state were met with intimidation, harassment, and even violence. Freedom Summer was an organized response to this situation, with activists from across the U.S. participating, including over 800 college and university students. Among them were about a dozen students from the University of Iowa.”


PC World: Zoho Office Suite taps AI to provide a free, powerful alternative to Office 365. “If you don’t want to pay for Microsoft’s AI-powered Microsoft Office, there are alternatives—including Zoho’s free Zoho Office Suite. Zoho’s alternatives to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Google Keep launch today, complete with their own intelligent features that are arguably friendlier than Microsoft’s own.”


How-To Geek: What is Microsoft Flow?. “As part of Microsoft’s push towards cloud and mobile apps, they’ve invested in several cloud-only additions to the old familiar Office apps. One of these is Flow, a trigger-based system for creating automated workflows.” Nice overview.

Lifehacker: Finish Your Unfinished Projects with This Free App. “Task management apps are all well and good, but sometimes you need a little more organizational firepower than a simple (digital) to-do list. I’ve been playing around with Nozbe lately, and I’ve enjoyed how the app makes it easy to track everything you need to do in the many projects you’re juggling at any one time.”


BuzzFeed News: Here’s How One Of Facebook’s Biggest Anti-Vax Communities Built Its Massive Network. “While Facebook is mulling over exactly how to combat a topic as complex and emotional as the anti-vaccination misinformation, members of its community continue to use the site’s tools to promote themselves. For a clear look at how this simple, ad-driven feedback loop works, let’s take a look at ‘Stop Mandatory Vaccination,’ one of the more prolific Facebook communities for anti-vaxxers.”

CNN: Russia is backing a viral video company aimed at American millennials. “Three online video channels designed to appeal to millennials have collected tens of millions of views on Facebook since September. But the pages pushing the videos do not disclose that they are backed by the Russian government. The pages are run by Maffick Media, a company whose majority stakeholder is Ruptly, a subsidiary of RT, which is funded by the Russian government. Although Maffick Media has hired contractors and freelancers in Los Angeles in recent months, the company is not registered in the US, it is registered in Germany.”

Quartz: Google Translate is a manifestation of Wittgenstein’s theory of language. “More than 60 years after philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein’s theories on language were published, the artificial intelligence behind Google Translate has provided a practical example of his hypotheses. Patrick Hebron, who works on machine learning in design at Adobe and studied philosophy with Wittgenstein expert Garry Hagberg for his bachelor’s degree at Bard College, notes that the networks behind Google Translate are a very literal representation of Wittgenstein’s work.”


Quartz: The emails that brought down Enron still shape our daily lives. “The Enron Corpus, as the collection is known, has been used in more than 100 projects since that research team presented it to the public in 2004. As the biggest public collection of natural written language in an organizational setting, it has been used to study everything from statistics to artificial intelligence to email attachment habits. An online art project by two Brooklyn artists will send every single one of the emails to your personal inbox, a process which (depending on the frequency of emails you request) will take anywhere from seven days to seven years.”

MIT Technology Review: AI is reinventing the way we invent. “Regina Barzilay’s office at MIT affords a clear view of the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research. Amgen’s drug discovery group is a few blocks beyond that. Until recently, Barzilay, one of the world’s leading researchers in artificial intelligence, hadn’t given much thought to these nearby buildings full of chemists and biologists. But as AI and machine learning began to perform ever more impressive feats in image recognition and language comprehension, she began to wonder: could it also transform the task of finding new drugs?”

Anthropocene: Using social media to measure air pollution’s psychological toll. “People are less happy on days when the air is more polluted, according to an analysis of 210 million posts on the Chinese social media site Sina Weibo. Researchers have suspected that air pollution takes a psychological toll generally, and that dirty air due to industrialization, coal burning, and motor vehicles has become a drag on well-being for Chinese city dwellers. But these effects are difficult to measure.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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