WordPress, NASA, Google Flights, More: Saturday ResearchBuzz, November 16, 2019


The Verge: WordPress introduces a new way for bloggers to get paid. “WordPress, one of the internet’s leading purveyors of blog infrastructure and hosting, has taken a step toward making blogging more sustainable by allowing sites to easily accept recurring payments. Think: subscriptions. The tool will be available to anyone with a paid WordPress site and to sites that use the company’s Jetpack toolkit.”

TechCrunch: New NASA app puts you in the pilot’s seat of Boeing’s Starliner or SpaceX’s Crew Dragon. “NASA has a new app (or web-based game, if you’re on desktop) that provides a simplified simulation of what it’s like to plan and run a commercial crew mission — meaning one of the planned varieties of mission that will actually take place aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Boeing Starliner once they begin flying crews next year.”

USA Today: Google Flights aims to save flyers money with new alerts on nearby airports, travel dates . “Google rolled out a new feature in November for all users that notifies them when cheaper flights are available at nearby airports, Craig Ewer, a spokesperson for Google, confirmed to USA TODAY. Google also now offers a similar feature that notifies you if altering your travel dates could mean saving a significant chunk of change.”


New York Times: Superhero or Supervillain? Technology’s Role Changes Comic Books. “Comic books have been around since the 1930s, each story taking shape as it moves from its writer to its artists (usually a penciler and an inker) and then to its letterer and colorist. Today, that team effort, which also includes an editor reviewing the work and mindful of deadlines, remains largely the same. But while the way writers and editors work is relatively unchanged, computers and technology have broadened the options for illustrators — some of whom have traded pencils and inks for styluses — and revolutionized the roles of letterers and colorists, in speed, output and artistry.”

The Atlantic: How to Make a Website. “While there’s no telling exactly how many people have learned to French-kiss from wikiHow, we know for sure that more than 22 million people have viewed the article that teaches that particular lesson.”

BuzzFeed News: Before Mark Zuckerberg Tried To Kill TikTok, He Wanted To Own It. “As Facebook’s chief wooed the Chinese government publicly with demonstrations of deference and appeasement, he was quietly working to close an acquisition deal with a Shanghai-based startup that, had it been consummated, would have reshaped the social media landscape as much as the social network’s purchase of Instagram or WhatsApp had. Zuckerberg wanted, a Chinese lip-synching app that was popular among American teens and, according to three people familiar with the conversations, Facebook spent much of the second half of 2016 trying to make that happen.”


CNET: Demonstrators scan public faces in DC to show lack of facial recognition laws. “There aren’t many regulations guiding the use of facial recognition technology. So a digital rights group highlighted that point by scanning people’s faces in busy sections of Washington, DC, on Thursday. The digital rights group Fight for the Future planned this attention-grabbing stunt as part of its campaign to get facial recognition technology banned.”

StarTribune: Hamline, Metro State professors create a database to shed light on mass shooters. “A shooter opens fire at a school or in an office, unleashing grief — and difficult questions. Soon after the hail of bullets comes a barrage of theories about what caused the killings and what could have been done to prevent them. Now a group of Minnesota researchers is introducing new data for the discourse with the creation of a ‘Mass Shooter Database’ bolstered by $300,000 in federal funding.”


PetaPixel: This Algorithm Can Remove the Water from Underwater Photos, and the Results are Incredible. “An engineer has developed a computer program that can, in her words, ‘remove the water’ from an underwater photograph. The result is a ‘physically accurate’ image with all of the vibrance, saturation and color of a regular landscape photo.” Good pun fight in the comments, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Internet Archive: Archiving Online Local News with the News Measures Research Project. “The News Measures Research Project web captures provide a unique snapshot of local news in the United States. The work is focused on analyzing the nature of local news coverage at a local level, while also examining the broader nature of local community news.”

EurekAlert: Inoculating against the spread of viral misinformation. “In a year that has seen the largest measles outbreak in the US in more than two decades, the role of social media in giving a platform to unscientific anti-vaccine messages and organizations has become a flashpoint.”

BBC: Social-media influencers: Incomes soar amid growing popularity. “The money made by social-media influencers has risen meteorically in the last few years, according to a new report. Marketing firm Izea found the average price of a sponsored photo on Instagram has jumped from $134 (£104) in 2014 to $1,642 (£1,276) in 2019. Good morning, Internet…

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