Ancient Palmyra, Nina Simone & Langston Hughes, Twitch, More: Friday Evening ResearchBuzz, February 26, 2021


Getty: Online Exhibition Explores Palmyra in English and Arabic. “For centuries the ruins of the ancient city of Palmyra have captured the imagination–testaments to the legacy of the prosperous multicultural center of trade that once dominated the region. Return to Palmyra, a new website presented in English and Arabic, invites audiences to explore the rich history of the city, including an exhibition of rare 18th-century etchings and 19th-century photographs of the site, new scholarship, and a moving interview with Waleed Khaled al-As’ad about the modern-day experience of living and working among the ruins of this storied locale.”

Mountain XPress: New digital archive examines Nina Simone’s relationship with Langston Hughes. “In 1949, poet Langston Hughes, right, spoke at Allen High School in Asheville. One of the students in attendance was Eunice Waymon, later known professionally as Nina Simone. In time, the poet and the singer developed a unique friendship, which author and N.C. State University professor W. Jason Miller is currently documenting in an online archive.”


The Verge: Twitch, owned by Amazon, pulls Amazon’s anti-union ads. “Twitch is removing the anti-union ads that its parent company, Amazon, was running on the platform. The ads showed Amazon employees talking about why they want to vote no on unionization and directed viewers to Amazon’s ‘DoItWithoutDues’ website. A Twitch spokesperson said the ads ‘should never have been allowed to run on [the] service,’ as they violate its political advertising policies.”

Search Engine Journal: Google Taking Action Against Sites With Inaccurate Pricing. “Google will soon start to take action against sites that show a different price at checkout than the one provided through Google Merchant Center. It’s Google Merchant Center policy for retailers to maintain consistency between prices provided to Google and prices offered to customers.”


TechCrunch: MealMe raises $900,000 for its food search engine. “The company’s product allows users to search for food, or a restaurant. It then displays price points from various food-delivery apps for what the user wants to eat and have delivered. And, notably, MealMe allows for in-app checkout, regardless of the selected provider.”

New York Times: On Ballet TikTok, a Place for Young Dancers to Be Real. “As more and more stuck-at-home dancers join TikTok, it has also become a place to dissect some of the problems and clichés that dog ballet. Users make darkly funny memes about body dysmorphia, eating disorders, abusive teachers, misogyny and homophobia. They are the same issues that dance films and TV shows mine for drama and melodrama. But the wounded whimsy of ballet TikTok reflects what it actually feels like to be a ballet dancer — the frustrations and joys of a demanding, problematic, beautiful art.”


Washington State Attorney General: AG Ferguson Files Lawsuit Against Google For Repeatedly Violating Washington Campaign Finance Law. “Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a campaign finance lawsuit [Wednesday] against Google for unlawfully failing to maintain key information regarding state political ads that it sold, and failing to provide that information to individuals who requested it.”

Loyola University Chicago School of Law: May it Please the Court: Exploring Facebook’s Oversight Board Formation and Decisions. “Last Friday, Facebook’s Oversight Board (‘the Board’) issued its latest verdict, overturning the company’s decision to remove a post that moderators alleged violated Facebook’s Violence and Incitement Community Standard. This judgment brings the Board’s total number of decisions to seven, with the Board overturning the Facebook’s own decision in five out of the six substantive rulings it has issued. The Board’s cases have covered several topics so far, including nudity and hate speech. Because Facebook’s Oversight Board does not have any modern equivalents, it is worth exploring what went into this experiment’s formation.”


Reuters Institute, University of Oxford: News site Stuff left Facebook. Seven months later, traffic is just fine and trust is higher. “It’s been seven months since Stuff stopped all content on Facebook, and they’re still trying to gauge the true impact – but the traffic dip has not been statistically significant. Stuff’s unique visitors are up 5% year-on-year. However, given it was a strong news year, it would probably be fair to consider this as flat.”

Harvard University Davis Center: Google Needs Historians. (Still.). “Gazetteers (databases that associate placenames with location information) like GeoNames and Google Maps are extraordinarily good at recognizing historical places by their contemporary names. They cope remarkably well with alphabets, alternate transliterations and the occasional misspelling…. They are able to do this not because machines are brilliant, but because they have been fed incredible amounts of data by (occasionally brilliant) human beings. What they can’t do, on the fly, yet, is conduct historical research.” A deep and interesting dive.

Atlas Obscura: California’s Elusive Urban Lizards Can’t Hide From Citizen Scientists. “AS A LIZARD-LOVING KID GROWING up in the San Francisco Bay area, Greg Pauly sometimes found himself running an accidental rehabilitation center for wayward reptiles out of his parents’ house. One neighbor wasn’t particularly sold on the squamates that lived around her yard, he recalls, but her cats, Crackers, Peepers, and Stinkers, kept intercepting them and delivering them to her. Pauly remembers that she paid him a dollar to take the unwelcome gifts off her hands, so he adopted the ‘three-legged, no tail’ lizards as pets.” Good evening, Internet…

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