GMail, PBS Shows, Investigative Journalism, More: Sunday ResearchBuzz, October 4, 2020


The Verge: Gmail mistakenly removed the button that lets you triage loads of emails at once, but it’s coming back. “If you’re not the inbox zero type — and I’m definitely not — you might sometimes rely on Gmail’s ‘Select all conversations that match this search’ option to read, archive, or delete hundreds or thousands of messages at once. Except we can’t do that anymore, and neither can a number of angry Gmail users we’ve spotted. The option has up and disappeared. Google accidentally removed it, the company confirms to The Verge.”

GBH: Chat Plays GBH Brings Popular Public Media Programs To New Social Media Audiences with Multiplatform Interactive Live Streaming Event. “GBH will bring the experience of some of its iconic public media programs to new audiences during Chat Plays GBH, a five-hour interactive live streaming variety show produced across Twitch, YouTube and Facebook. Throughout the live stream, GBH will bring together content from a series of nationally-recognized GBH productions, including NOVA, ANTIQUES ROADSHOW, Arthur and Joyce Chen Cooks.” Those are all mashing up in my head and I’m kind of here for it.


Bellingcat: The Disappearance of Quitobaquito Springs: Tracking Hydrologic Change with Google Earth Engine. “Establishing a direct causal relationship between ongoing construction work and a system as interconnected and complex as an aquifer is also extremely difficult. Those responsible for the border wall construction project also deny impacting Quitobaquito Springs. When contacted by Bellingcat, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said ‘monsoonal and leaks with the existing liner of the pond’ were more likely behind the falling water levels. Fortunately, open source investigative methods can provide us with valuable information to help address these questions and hypotheses. Not only can we measure the loss of water in the pond from satellite imagery, we can also use other public data sets to evaluate explanations such as drought and agricultural water usage.


TheWrap: Facebook Criticizes Netflix Doc ‘The Social Dilemma’ for ‘Distorted View’ of Social Media Issues. “The tech giant, in an un-bylined company blog post, pushed back against several claims in the film, including that it’s built to incentivize users to spend more time on the platform. Facebook said that its algorithms are designed to improve the user experience and showcase content users may find interesting — something Netflix also does with its own recommendation algorithm, Facebook noted.”

ArtNet News: Is This TikTok Artist Really ‘Bob Ross of Japan’? See the Gentle Watercoloring Videos That Made Harumichi Shibasaki an Unlikely Star. “Move over Bob Ross, there’s a new lovable painting teacher taking the Internet by storm. A white-haired Japanese man named Harumichi Shibasaki has taken social media by storm with a series of low-key how-to art videos featuring a variety of materials including colored pencils, crayons, and watercolors.”

Getty Iris: Archive of Venezuelan Intellectual and Photographer Alfredo Boulton Comes to the Getty Research Institute. “Photographer Alfredo Boulton, who lived from 1908 to 1995, was a champion of modern art in Latin America and a key intellectual in 20th-century Venezuela. An art critic, art historian, and photographer, he wrote more than 60 publications on the art and historiography of his country…. Newly acquired by the Getty Research Institute, the Boulton archive, ca. 1920-1995, contains his extensive correspondence with local and international artists, institutions, intellectuals, and collectors; his writings for magazines and newspapers, his research materials on pre-Hispanic art, colonial art, the iconography of independence leaders, and modern artists; and a complete vintage collection of his photographic production.”


CNBC: Google contractors allege company prevents them from whistleblowing, writing Silicon Valley novels. “Google contract employees are alleging the company’s confidentiality agreements prevent them from a range of legal rights from whistleblowing to telling their parents how much they make, according to a recent court filing. A California appeals court recently discussed a lawsuit accusing Alphabet’s Google and one of its staffing firms, Adecco, of violating a number of California labor laws, including free speech, by requiring workers to sign extensive confidentiality agreements.”

Reuters: With the Feds circling, Google is starting to play nice with smaller rivals. “Small rivals of Alphabet Inc’s Google say signs are emerging of more benevolent behavior from the online advertising leader amid accusations by the U.S. government and states that the company uses its dominance to thwart competition.”

BloombergQuint: Google to Cite Rivals and Privacy in U.S. Lawsuit Defense. “Google is expected in the coming days to be hit with the biggest U.S. antitrust lawsuit since the government went to battle with Microsoft Corp. two decades ago. Officially, the company hasn’t laid out its legal arguments yet. But piecing together submissions to other antitrust authorities, executive blog posts, and congressional testimony gives a picture of Google’s strategy.”


University of New South Wales: Hey Google, it’s time you listened closely to what our kids are saying. “Up until now, speech recognition software that powers virtual assistants like Google Assistant, Alexa and Siri has relied on a growing database of adult voices. But all that is about to change with the launch of AusKidTalk, a joint project of five Australian universities that aims to build a world-first database of Australian children’s voices.”

TechCrunch: Google research lets sign language switch ‘active speaker’ in video calls. “An aspect of video calls that many of us take for granted is the way they can switch between feeds to highlight whoever’s speaking. Great — if speaking is how you communicate. Silent speech like sign language doesn’t trigger those algorithms, unfortunately, but this research from Google might change that. It’s a real-time sign language detection engine that can tell when someone is signing (as opposed to just moving around) and when they’re done. Of course it’s trivial for humans to tell this sort of thing, but it’s harder for a video call system that’s used to just pushing pixels.”

EurekAlert: How Steak-umm became a social media phenomenon during the pandemic. “n addition to looking at data from the Steak-umm Twitter account, the researchers also analyzed a random sample of 1,000 tweets that mentioned or replied to Steak-umm. All of the tweets were from a two-week period in April. Four key themes emerged from that analysis – all of them supportive of the Steak-umm brand.” Good morning, Internet…

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