UK Bricks, Facebook News, Instagram, More: Sunday ResearchBuzz, September 15, 2019


New-to-me and I LOATHE this headline. He’s collecting bricks and not hurting anybody. (This may just be an American thing; “eccentric” here can be very pejorative.) The Scotsman: Retired police sergeant shows off eccentric brick collection. “When looking for a doorstop for his garden shed almost ten years ago, retired police sergeant Mark Cranston found a white painted brick from a former colliery in Ayrshire, which inspired him to explore its historical significance. Since then, Mark has amassed a huge amount of bricks from around Scotland, England, Wales and abroad, which he stores in his garden shed in Jedburgh, in the Scottish Borders.” They didn’t link to his Web site! .


Nieman Journalism Lab: Here’s what we know so far about the upcoming Facebook News tab. “More details are trickling out about Facebook’s planned News tab, in which Facebook will pay participating news publishers to display their headlines and article previews, and which is reportedly launching sometime this fall. On Tuesday, The Information published details from an internal Facebook memo with guidelines about how stories will be presented. A few tidbits…”

Tubefilter: Instagram Reportedly Developing A TikTok Copycat Feature Called ‘Clips’. “Tech researcher Jane Manchun Wong, who uncovers unreleased app features by reversing engineering code, reports on her blog that Instagram has long been working on a new camera mode for Stories called ‘Clips’. Clips allows users to edit different videos into a single Story, and then overlay music as well as adjust speed — which are signature editing features for TikTok.”


Make Tech Easier: How to Blur Images Online. “Blurry photos aren’t usually what you’re going for when you hit the shutter button, but if you want to use a shot that has some sensitive information in it, a little judiciously-applied censorship may be in order.”

TechCrunch: This game uses troll tactics to teach critical thinking. “The best medicine against online disinformation is an informed society that’s thinking critically. The problem is there are no shortcuts to universal education. Enter Finnish Public Broadcasting Company, Yle, which is hoping to harness the engagement power of gamification to accelerate awareness and understanding of troll tactics and help more people spot malicious Internet fakes. It’s put together an online game, called Troll Factory, that lets you play at being, well, a hateful troll. Literally.” The article notes that the game contains offensive and extremist content — because, well, it’s about trolling.


Wired: What Happened to Urban Dictionary?. “The site, now in its 20th year, is a digital repository that contains more than 8 million definitions and famously houses all manner of slang and cultural expressions. Founded by Aaron Peckham in 1999—then a computer science major at Cal Poly—Urban Dictionary became notorious for allowing what sanctioned linguistic gatekeepers, such as the Oxford English Dictionary and Merriam-Webster, would not: a plurality of voice. In interviews, Peckham has said the site began as a joke, as a way to mock, but it eventually ballooned into a thriving corpus.”

BuzzFeed News: Facebook Took Down A Fact-Check Of An Anti-Abortion Video After Republicans Complained. “Though [Lila] Rose said abortion is never medically necessary, the fact-check pointed out several medical conditions including pre-eclampsia, HELLP syndrome, and placenta previa can make abortion necessary to save a mother’s life. Rose has said in these scenarios, a doctor could instead deliver a baby early. But that’s only possible when a fetus has developed enough to survive outside the womb, typically around 24 weeks, the fact-check said. The doctors also pointed to the case of Savita Halappanavar, a woman in Ireland who died after being denied an abortion.”

ABC: Google Earth leads to discovery of William Moldt’s remains, 22 years after he went missing. “William Moldt was reported missing in 1997 at the age of 40, after failing to return home from a night out in Lantana, Florida in the United States. A search was launched, but the case went cold — until last month.”


Meduza: Google pays 700,000-ruble fine for refusing to filter search results according to Russian demands. “Google has paid a 700,000-ruble ($11,000) fine in Russia, where the federal censor penalized the tech company for refusing to block all content banned by Russian officials. According to Roskomnadzor, Google only selectively filters search results, and roughly a third of the hyperlinks blacklisted in Russia are still available to the search engine’s users.”


Pharmaphorum: IQVIA launches UK cancer database amid survival rate concern. “As figures show the UK continues to lag behind other developed countries in cancer survival, a new project aims to create a national database with ambitious goals to challenge the variation in care standards in the NHS and encourage clinical trial research.”

Phys .org: Network of leading forest restoration experts features new website. “The new website highlights key findings from 60+ publications, synthesized into eight key messages. Key messages focus on livelihoods and well-being, local decision making, planting trees, natural regeneration, tree cover change, climate change, holistic vision, and guiding principles. The interactive website guides visitors to each message and provides short summaries of foundational research findings and free access to peer-reviewed publications, policy briefs, and educational modules.”

EOS: Finding Faces in Hailstorms. “Hail can be among the most damaging of severe weather phenomena, but predicting whether a passing thunderstorm might start spitting pea-sized (or golf ball–sized) hailstones is notoriously difficult. A new approach using machine learning techniques related to facial recognition technology is giving meteorologists a new tool for mapping how various components of a storm might add up to dangerous hail conditions.” Good morning, Internet…

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