MIT Podcasts, AcademicInfluence, Google Meet, More: Wednesday Afternoon ResearchBuzz, September 30, 2020


MIT News: New website features podcasts from around MIT. “The Office of Open Learning has created MIT Podcasts, an app that gathers all of MIT’s podcasts onto one page, with a list of new episodes updated daily. With some 30 podcasts from over a dozen departments, initiatives, offices, and clubs, the content represents a wide range of interests and expertise from across the MIT community.”

PR Newswire: AcademicInfluence. com Ranks the World’s Most Influential Think Tanks (PRESS RELEASE). “… examines billions of open-source, crowd-edited data points, mapping lines of influence through continuously updated data repositories, including Wikipedia and Crossref. These databases result in analysis that resists being gamed or undermined by single-source editorial bias. now opens access to these user-customizable search capabilities so that students, researchers, and inquirers can discover the most influential people and institutions, providing the answers users seek with the objectivity they need.” The people search, to see how famous people rank in influence, is addictive.


PC World: Google Meet extends unlimited meetings until March, possibly without a key feature. “Google said Tuesday that it would extend the period during which customers could make unlimited calls using Google Meet until March 31, 2021, ending speculation that it would end the free period on September 30. While that might be good news for those who use Meet casually to keep in touch with friends and family, one feature seems to have disappeared: the ability to record and archive Meet calls to Google Drive, which Google had offered for free as part of its original offer.”

Barron’s: China Search Engine Sogou To Be Taken Private By Tencent. “Chinese search engine Sogou confirmed Tuesday it would be taken private by tech giant Tencent, in a deal that values the US-listed firm at around $3.5 billion. The announcement comes a day after Chinese internet giant Sina Corp, parent company of the country’s Twitter-like platform Weibo, said it would be taken private.”


Sometimes you read an article that just punches you in the pit of your stomach. NPR: Artists Turn GoFundMe Comments Into A ‘Get Well Soon!’ Card For A Sick System. “The popular crowdsourcing site GoFundMe is a go-to place to appeal for help with rent, medicine, child care and favorite causes. Along with donations, supporters leave comments ranging from ‘Can’t wait for you to have the glasses you need!’ to ‘Best of everything big guy,’ to simply ‘Get well soon!’ Artists Sam Lavigne and Tega Brain have turned those well wishes into an artwork called Get Well Soon! It consists of more than 200,000 comments scraped from GoFundMe and arranged alphabetically in relentless rows of hope, cheer and sympathy.”

NBC News: Coordinated push of conspiracy theories target Biden hours before debate. “On Facebook, memes insisting Biden should have his ears inspected for electronic devices before the debate saturated the platform on Tuesday. One meme that simply said ‘Joe Biden should be inspected for a hidden ear piece as well as submit to a drug test before the debate. Share if you agree!’ was posted by a network of conservative sites early Tuesday morning.”


Engadget: Sonos sues Google for infringing on five more speaker patents. “Just one day before Google’s Pixel 5 reveal, Sonos has filed a new lawsuit against the search giant, alleging it has infringed five more patents. The patents cover technologies that form the basis of some of Sonos’ best-known features, including its Trueplay tuning tool.”


Washington Post: How Facebook could help plunge our democracy into chaos on Nov. 4. “In 2016, a key component of Russia’s efforts to help Donald Trump win the White House involved moving disinformation through social media, especially Facebook. While it’s still uncertain what the Kremlin is up to this time, Facebook remains the world’s most powerful delivery system for lies, propaganda, and conspiracy theories. As we head toward an election that could well be contested after Nov. 3, there’s a new reason to fear that Facebook could again play a toxic role in spreading chaos that is badly debilitating to our democratic system.”

New York Times: What’s the Plan if Trump Tweets That He’s Won Re-election?. “Imagine: It’s midnight, and the electoral map looks quite red. But news networks and election officials aren’t calling the swing states, as this year’s record numbers of mail-in and absentee ballots have yet to be fully counted. Mr. Trump, leading in the popular vote, decides he’s seen enough. He takes to his social media platforms and declares that he has won re-election and will accept no other result. He tells his tens of millions of followers that the Democrats and the press will try to change the result and steal the election. The door to unrest and constitutional crisis swings wide open.”

EurekAlert: Making raw data more usable. “Computers play a significant role in data science and analysis, but despite their speed and accuracy, they are unable to understand nuance and mitigating factors that could make raw data more usable. Gautam Das, a computer science professor at The University of Texas at Arlington, is leading a team of researchers working to address that shortcoming by increasing the role of humans in the data science pipeline.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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