VideoWiki, Ecosia, Spotify, More: Monday Evening ResearchBuzz, September 2, 2019


Apparently around for a while, but new to me, via Slate: VideoWiki Challenges Wikipedia’s Traditional Text Focus. “Even in 2019, an estimated 750 million people around the world are illiterate, according to UNESCO. By limiting its encyclopedia to text and a few photographs, Wikipedia was failing to reach this large audience. The VideoWiki project provides web-based software for the collaborative creation, editing, and distribution of multimedia content on wikis.”


Snopes: Does Search Engine Ecosia Use Profits to Plant Trees?. “For many people, this business model may seem ‘too good to be true’ and has led to some skepticism about the legitimacy of this company. A search on Google, for instance, results in several articles and blog posts questioning the legitimacy of the search engine and asking whether Ecosia is a scam. As far as we can tell, Ecosia is a legitimate search engine that truly uses a portion of its profits to help plant trees around the world.”

Slashgear: Spotify loves podcasts so much it could start helping users make them. “Yes, it may not be long before you see Spotify prompting you to create your own podcast and get it uploaded for the world to listen to. Jane Manchun Wong, known for reverse engineering apps and sharing the secrets she finds while doing so, has discovered a ‘Create Postcast’ button lurking within the app.”

Reuters: Exclusive: Messaging app Telegram moves to protect identity of Hong Kong protesters. “The update to Telegram, planned for release over the next few days, will allow protesters to prevent mainland Chinese and Hong Kong authorities from discovering their identities in the app’s large group chats.”


Make Tech Easier: 6 Awesome Google Lens Features You Need to Try. “Google Lens is the feature offered by Google that combines an ordinary smartphone camera with unique AI capabilities. The result is a phone camera that constantly analyses the scene in front of its lens to feed you information.” I did not know about the business card thing.

Lifehacker: Use This Disappearing To-Do List to Actually Get Shit Done. “If you have too many tasks piling up in your to-do list, then they can actually freak you out so much that you get nothing done. You need to crack open a fresh to-do list. Gone is a web-based to-do list where every item disappears after 24 hours. It’s a bracing way to make sure you actually get your shit done now.”


Ars Technica: How YACHT fed their old music to the machine and got a killer new album. “YACHT had long possessed an interest in AI and its potential application in music. But the band tells Ars it wasn’t until recently, around 2016, that the concept of doing a full album using this approach seemed feasible. While research entities had long been experimenting with AI or machine learning and allowing computers to autonomously generate music, the results felt more science project than albums suitable for DFA Records (home to labelmates like Hot Chip or LCD Soundsystem). Ultimately, a slow trickle of simplified apps leveraging AI—face swap apps felt huge around then; Snapchat and its dynamic filters rose to prominence—finally gave the band the idea that now could be the time.”

BBC: The Vagina Bible adverts blocked by social media. “Twitter, Facebook and Instagram blocked adverts promoting a doctor’s book about vaginal health, according to US publisher Kensington. Numerous social media posts using the words ‘vaginal’ or ‘vagina’, advertising Dr Jennifer Gunter’s The Vagina Bible, were rejected.”


Clemson News: Citizen scientists sought to help protect state’s water quality. “Clemson University and the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control are seeking South Carolinians who care about preserving water quality in their home state to serve as scientists — with no Ph.D. or prior training necessary.”

University of New Mexico: UNM joins multi-institutional effort to create Terrestrial Parasite Tracker project. “Museum specimens play a fundamental role in understanding parasite biology, yet specimens and associated data are often hidden away in vials and on microscope slides in research collections all over the country. That is set to change soon, however, as The University of New Mexico joins Purdue University and 25 other institutions to lead the effort to modernize the world’s knowledge on arthropod parasites using a three-year, $4.3 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant. The Terrestrial Parasite Tracker project will mobilize data and images from more than 1.3 million arthropod specimens from research collections across the United States.” Good evening, Internet…

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