Africa Buildings, Renter Assistance, Crow Tribe Photography, More: Thursday ResearchBuzz, July 29, 2021


Google Blog: Using AI to map Africa’s buildings. “Google’s Open Buildings is a new open access dataset containing the locations and geometry of buildings across most of Africa. From Lagos’ Makoko settlement to Dodoma’s refugee camps, millions of previously invisible buildings have popped up in our dataset. This improved building data helps refine the understanding of where people and communities live, providing actionable information for state and non-state actors looking to provide services from sanitation to education and vaccination.”

Consumer Finance Protection Bureau: CFPB Releases Online Tool to Help Renters and Landlords Access Federal Assistance. “The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) today released an online tool to help renters and landlords impacted by the pandemic easily find and apply for payment assistance for rent, utilities and other expenses. The Rental Assistance Finder, available at, connects renters and landlords with the state and local programs that are distributing billions of dollars in federal assistance nationwide to help renters stay housed during the pandemic.”

Mississippi State University: Digitized photos from MSU Libraries’ Holder Collection unveil beauty of Montana’s Crow Indian tribe. “The photographic beauty of both the natural and built environments of Montana’s Crow Indian tribe is now easily accessible to academic researchers and U.S. history enthusiasts through Mississippi State University Libraries’ digital collections.” Not a huge collection, but good photography.


The Verge: ‘Good night’ or ‘bedtime’, Alexa routines now support multiple phrases. “Alexa routines can now be triggered using multiple custom phrases making it easier for everyone in a household to initiate smart home automations without having to remember the exact wording.”

The Register: Google updates timeline for unpopular Privacy Sandbox, which will kill third-party cookies in Chrome by 2023 . “The new timeline has split the bundle of technologies in the Privacy Sandbox into five phases: discussion, testing, implementation in Chrome (called ‘Ready for adoption’), Transition State 1 during which Chrome will ‘monitor adoption and feedback’ and then the next stage that involves winding down support for third-party cookies over a three-month period finishing ‘late 2023.'”


CNN: Olympics spoilers are basically inevitable in 2021 — but there are still some ways to avoid them. “After all, Tokyo is 13 hours ahead of US Eastern Time, meaning American viewers who aren’t tuning into live streams are seeing some events on a delay. So how does any smartphone user avoid spoilers without going off the grid? It’s not easy. But here are some ways you can try to be somewhat surprised when you tune in at primetime.”


Toronto Star: Local Indigenous archives and language revitalization underway at KFPL. “An initiative to create and digitize an archive of local Indigenous history is in full steam at the Kingston Frontenac Public Library. Danycka Pereault, an Indigenous woman from the Kingston area has recently joined the team responsible for the work thanks to a grant from Young Canada Works and going towards the StoryMe project.”

Mother Jones: New Report Shows How Trump Keeps Buying Facebook Ads. “In partnership with Media Matters, the liberal media watchdog, the new Real Oversight Board report found that even though Trump has been banned from Facebook until 2023, his PAC has run at least 251 ads on the platform just since June, with Facebook earning more than $15,000 in revenue from the Save America Joint Fundraising Committee. While many of these Trump posts include content labels applied by Facebook designed to fight disinformation, earlier Media Matters analysis has found that posts with labels are interacted with 2.6 times more than posts without them.”

Mashable: TikTok’s reality shifting trend mixes dream-like consciousness with fandoms. “TikTok users are taking fan culture to the next level by practicing a sort of meditation in an effort to ‘shift realities’ to inhabit the fictional universe of their choosing. It’s sort of like a more real form of daydreaming.”


New York Times: States say they will appeal the dismissal of their Facebook antitrust suit.. “More than 40 state attorneys general on Wednesday said they planned to appeal the dismissal of their antitrust lawsuit against Facebook, setting up a protracted legal fight to rein in the power of the Silicon Valley giant.”


Fermilab: Scientific publishing organizations and national laboratories partner on transgender-inclusive name-change process for published papers. “All 17 U.S. national laboratories and many prominent publishers, journals and other organizations in scientific publishing announced today the beginning of a partnership to support name change requests from researchers on past published papers. Previously, individual researchers shouldered the burden, administratively and emotionally, of initiating name-change requests with each publisher of their past papers…. This partnership streamlines these previously ad hoc processes and offers an official validation mechanism to all involved by enabling researchers to ask their respective institutions to pursue name changes on their behalf directly with the publishers and journals.”

Medium: Finally, could Google’s chickens be coming home to roost?. “The disappearance, on the flimsiest of pretexts, of Google Reader in March 2013, a product that had a significant user base in probably the most sophisticated segment, marked a turning point for many people, who realized that the company’s products were simply not reliable. Search with Google? No problem. Investing time and effort in using any Google product that requires you to put your information in it? A big mistake, because the company, whatever it says, can and will remove it at any time, for whatever reason. Simply put, Google cannot be trusted.” I still cannot fling myself into Google Keep like I can with other tools, because I do worry that Google will cut it off at any time. I’m thinking about Swipebucket. Good morning, Internet…

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