afternoonbuzz

Black Music History Library, Belarus Protest Arrests, National Library of Israel, More: Wednesday Evening ResearchBuzz, August 19, 2020

NEW RESOURCES

Crack Magazine: This collection of articles, books and podcasts traces the Black origins of music. “Organised chronologically, The Black Music History Library is an in-depth collection of reading material, documentaries, series, podcasts and more. The library traces the Black origins of music from the 18th century up until the present day, and makes note of key historians, musicologists and journalists too.”

Meduza: Anonymous IT specialists launch database of people arrested during opposition protests in Belarus. “According to the website’s creators, as of August 18, the database had collected information on 5,000 people arrested during the rallies from August 10–16. The website relies on data from volunteers, the Belarusian Prosecutor’s Office, and the news site Tut.by, as well as information ‘from lists created on Telegram channels.'”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Katz Center, University of Pennsylvania: National Library of Israel’s Suspension of Services. “One of the greatest treasures of Israel and of Jewish academic life internationally is the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem. Recently, as a result of budget cuts and the Covid-19 pandemic, the library has announced that it will suspend public services and put its 300 employees on unpaid leave as of Monday, August 17. The many services that the library provides will cease, including the lending of books and teacher training, and there is great concern for the furloughed staff members and the larger circle of employees affected by the closure.” I’ve seen many national libraries cutting back on services, of course, but none that shut down so completely. Shocking.

InformationWeek: Google, Harvard, and EdX Team Up to Offer TinyML Training. “Online learning platform EdX; Google’s open-source machine learning platform, TensorFlow; and HarvardX have put together a certification program to train tech professionals to work with tiny machine learning (TinyML). The program is meant to support this specialized segment of development that can include edge computing with smart devices, wildlife tracking, and other sensors. The program comprises a series of courses that can be completed at home.”

USEFUL STUFF

ZDNet: Speed up your home office: How to optimize your network for remote work and learning. “Your network has become mission-critical. You need it to keep the paychecks coming and your kids need it to get through school. In this context, getting the most out of your network is essential. But what does that really mean? This comprehensive guide will help you answer that, and help guide you towards changes and improvements you might want to make. I’ll be covering three major topic areas that are inextricably related: understanding your bandwidth requirements, understanding your broadband provider’s offerings, and optimizing your home network.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Voice of America: US Global Internet Freedom Group Says Work Limited by Funding Dispute. “A U.S.-funded global internet freedom group says it has had to sharply curtail its work in a new funding dispute with the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM). Laura Cunningham, the acting chief executive of the Washington-based Open Technology Fund, in a letter… accused the agency and its leader, Michael Pack, of withholding $20 million in congressionally approved funds intended to promote internet access throughout the world, especially in such authoritarian countries as China and Iran.”

Current Affairs: The Truth Is Paywalled But The Lies Are Free. “You want ‘Portland Protesters Burn Bibles, American Flags In The Streets,’ ‘The Moral Case Against Mask Mandates And Other COVID Restrictions,’ or an article suggesting the National Institutes of Health has admitted 5G phones cause coronavirus—they’re yours. You want the detailed Times reports on neo-Nazis infiltrating German institutions, the reasons contact tracing is failing in U.S. states, or the Trump administration’s undercutting of the USPS’s effectiveness—well, if you’ve clicked around the website a bit you’ll run straight into the paywall. This doesn’t mean the paywall shouldn’t be there. But it does mean that it costs time and money to access a lot of true and important information, while a lot of bullshit is completely free.”

RESEARCH & OPINION

The National: Louvre Abu Dhabi joins global research project to analyse ancient mummy portraits. “Launched in 2013, the Appear Project focuses on the analysis of Romano-Egyptian funerary portraits, which were painted on wooden boards and used to cover the faces of subjects after mummification. The use of the portraits began during Roman rule in Egypt and extended towards the 3rd century. The portraits typically depict a single person, and the works were painted while the subjects were alive to be specifically used after their deaths. They bear personal details about the deceased, and their manner of dress and use of jewellery can also reveal their status in society.”

Reuters: Paris pulls out the stops to restore Notre-Dame’s grand organ. “Workers will dismantle its five keyboards, pedalboard and the 109 stop knobs that control airflow to its 8,000 pipes, some as high as 10 metres. The organ which sits under the Gothic cathedral’s huge rose window, was completed in 1867, shortly after the spire, which crashed through the roof during the fire.”

Phys .org: Smartphones are lowering student’s grades, study finds. “The ease of finding information on the internet is hurting students’ long-term retention and resulting in lower grades on exams, according to a Rutgers University-New Brunswick study. The study, published in the journal Educational Psychology, found that smartphones seem to be the culprit. Students who received higher homework but lower exam scores—a half to a full letter grade lower on exams—were more likely to get their homework answers from the internet or another source rather than coming up with the answer themselves.” Good evening, Internet…

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