Code for Democracy, California Real Estate, Bing, More: Thursday ResearchBuzz, November 25, 2021


Sludge: Code for Democracy Debuts New Tool to Track Money in Politics. “Our two-person newsroom has worked with CFD’s tech & data lab over the past few months to help them develop features that will enable more campaign finance watchdogs to follow the money. With this free and open-source platform, people can design and save custom queries, create email alerts for when queries have new results, build data visualizations, download spreadsheets, and more. The results should be more investigative news stories and research reports connecting the dots between money moving and policy outcomes.”

Techwire: New Portal Provides Statewide Property Data. “Symbium, a startup working on tools to help make zoning and permitting work easier at the local government level, has launched a portal allowing anyone to look up information about properties across the state of California. Typically available via local assessor websites, real estate search engines and other such projects, the Symbium portal gives users the ability to search for a specific property, browse by area or filter by information such as assessed value, lot size or land use.” Free, to my great surprise.


Bing Blog: Save time online with Page insights from Microsoft Bing. “For example, imagine you’re curious about Mars and space exploration, but don’t have a specific question in mind. Search “Mars mission NASA” and hover over the lightbulb icon for a promising-looking link. You’ll get a Page insights pane that helps you verify that the source is relevant to your needs, helps you get caught up to speed at a glance on top factoids you didn’t know about, and lets you jump straight to the relevant section of the page when you click ‘Read more’ for a specific question.” It’s a little sensitive — giraffe as a search gets you no additional information but giraffes does — but the information quality and presentation is impressive.


Make Tech Easier: How to Search Twitter Like a Pro. “Twitter is full of tweets of all kinds, including those that are helpful, controversial, and funny. If you don’t know how to search Twitter properly, it can be difficult to find a specific tweet at the right time. Read on to find out how to use Twitter’s advanced search to find old tweets.” Not the type of article that teaches you stunt-searching, but a solid, in-depth overview.

MakeUseOf: How to Apply for Skillshare Scholarships . “You’ve probably heard about Skillshare. And, you’ve probably heard that it costs money. However, in certain circumstances, you may be able to apply for a Skillshare Scholarship to help you cover the cost or completely cover the cost of your Skillshare membership. Here, we’ll take a detailed look at Skillshare Scholarships and how you can apply for one.”


Boston University Today: Gobble, Gobble: Wild Turkeys Star on Student-Run Instagram Page. “You’ve seen them. Watching, waiting, looming. They have zero regard for disrupting traffic and they aren’t exactly friendly when approached. We’re talking about Boston University’s resident wild turkeys. (It is nearly Thanksgiving, after all.) And thanks to a pair of BU students, they’ve gained a bit of internet stardom.”

New York Times: What Does It Mean to ‘Yassify’ Anything?. “‘Girl With a Pearl Earring’ in a full face of makeup. The first Queen Elizabeth contoured from her neck ruff up. Severus Snape with jet-black hair extensions. Sasquatch sporting a smoky eye. These are just a few of the altered images that have been shared by YassifyBot, a Twitter account that started popping up in people’s feeds this month.”


Gizmodo AU: Moscow Warns Google, Apple, TikTok, and More to Set Up Offices in Russia. “The Russian government has told 13 mostly U.S.-based tech firms that they need to set up local offices in Russia by next year or maybe just get the hell out, according to Reuters.”

Search Engine Journal: Data Breach Spreads To Six Web Hosts. “The GoDaddy data breach that affected up to 1.2 million web hosts has expanded to six more web hosts serving customers worldwide. The six additional compromised web hosts are resellers of GoDaddy’s hosting services. The extent of the intrusion appears to be the same as with GoDaddy, with matching dates of when the security intrusion began.”

The Register: emits draft IoT and smartphone security law for Parliamentary scrutiny. “A new British IoT product security law is racing through the House of Commons, with the government boasting it will outlaw default admin passwords and more. The Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure (PSTI) Bill was introduced yesterday and is intended to drive up security standards in consumer tech gadgetry, ranging from IoT devices to phones, fondleslabs, smart TVs, and so on.” I got the meaning from context but I still looked up fondleslab.


StateTech: Natural Language Processing Takes Off in State Government. “It’s been a decade since IBM’s Watson won $1 million on Jeopardy, demonstrating to millions of Americans on prime-time TV just how well computers can understand humans’ natural language. But that Watson was primitive compared with today’s technology, says IBM Global Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer Seth Dobrin. It’s moved through research and experimentation to now represent a scaled set of AI capabilities focused on language, automation and trust.”

The Conversation: Ending online anonymity won’t make social media less toxic. “Online bullying and misinformation are growing problems, and government action to address them is overdue. However, limiting anonymity alone won’t make social media less toxic. It will only work combined with broader reforms to platform design and business models, which drive polarisation, negativity, abuse and misinformation. Reforms must also protect free speech and account for power imbalances between citizens and the state.” Good morning, Internet…

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