Accessible Travel, Google News, WhatsApp, More: Monday Afternoon ResearchBuzz, July 19, 2021


Travel Agent Central: Wheel The World Launches New Website. “The online travel marketplace allows travelers to browse and book places to stay, things to do, and multi-day tours in more than 50 destinations around the world while providing detailed information about accessibility that lets travelers make informed choices about how and where they can travel with ease.”


From Search Engine Land, an explanation as to why Google News has turned into a tire fire: Google tries to answer publishers questions on visibility concerns in Google News. “For the past couple of years, ever since Google launched the new Google News Publisher Center in December 2019, Google discontinued the application process to appear in these Google News. Before December 2019, publishers would fill out a form to apply to be in Google News. You would then get an email accepting your application or rejecting it, you were in Google News or out. That changed after December 2019 when Google changed the process to be completely automated, without human intervention.”

CNET: WhatsApp adds Joinable calls, a way to hop on group calls after they started. “WhatsApp is adding a new feature with the aim of making it easier for people to join group calls with family and friends. Joinable calls allow you to hop on a call that’s already started, or leave and rejoin the call as long as it’s still going.”


ProPublica: Testing the Air to Tell a Story: How We Investigated Air Pollution Near Florida’s Sugar Fields . “To collect reliable data, ProPublica and The Palm Beach Post collaborated with residents to set up their own air monitors. For four months, these PurpleAir sensors collected data. When the sensors detected a spike in pollution, reporters used a text bot to interview residents in real time about what they were experiencing. The result of these efforts is a stunning piece of multimedia journalism.”

New York Times: ‘Welcome to the Mesh, Brother’: Guerrilla Wi-Fi Comes to New York. “NYC Mesh is one of many fixed-wireless outfits in New York City. They range from community-owned models — like the D.I.Y. ‘internet in a box’ efforts led by the digital justice organization Community Tech NY, and the internet cooperative People’s Choice, started by former Spectrum strikers — to smaller for-profits like Starry, a Boston-based start-up rolling out flat-rate internet plans of $50 a month in large urban markets including New York City.”


Ars Technica: Google delays in-app billing crackdown after wave of US antitrust lawsuits. “Earlier this month, Google was sued by dozens of state attorneys general over its Play Store policies. Just over a week later, the company is essentially delaying the enforcement of one of its most significant upcoming changes: a decree that all Play Store apps must use Google’s in-app billing or face a ban. Developers can now request a six-month extension to the deadline.”

CNBC: Viral video shows Malaysian police destroying 1,069 bitcoin mining rigs with a steamroller. “Malaysian authorities seized 1,069 bitcoin mining rigs, laid them out in a parking lot at police headquarters, and used a steamroller to crush them, as part of a joint operation between law enforcement in the city of Miri and electric utility Sarawak Energy. Assistant Commissioner of Police Hakemal Hawari told CNBC the crackdown came after miners allegedly stole $2 million worth of electricity siphoned from Sarawak Energy power lines.”


ZDNet: Google’s new cloud computing tool helps you pick the greenest data centers. “In another bid to make cloud computing eco-friendlier, Google has created a new tool to push customers who are picking their next cloud region towards choosing infrastructure that is more sustainable. When users browse through their options to manage cloud resources, Google will flag regions that have the lowest carbon impact highlighted with a leaf symbol and a ‘Lowest CO2’ label.”

Arizona State University: Team awarded NSF grant to teach virtual explorers about permafrost, Arctic climate change . “Scientists at Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, the Arizona Geological Survey at the University of Arizona, and the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado Boulder have been awarded almost $2 million from the National Science Foundation to develop a virtual reality teaching tool called Polar Explorer. In this web-based, immersive environment, undergraduate students will explore polar environments in the Arctic to learn about permafrost from their laptops, desktops or mobile devices.”

Mashable: Facebook’s response to Biden and his COVID misinfo criticism is a big miss. “Even if Facebook’s argument is that the company is doing everything correctly now, the fact is that the algorithm it created, which continues to award reactionary content — i.e. conspiracy theories, misinformation — that receives the most engagement, undermines positive efforts. Also, there’s plenty of damage done before corrective actions can be taken in the first place.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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