Mapback Index, Tree of Life Explorer, Ireland Census Records, More: Tuesday ResearchBuzz, December 14, 2021


Recently I met Molly Brower on Twitter and learned about her Web site, Mapback Index: From the About page: “The Dell ‘mapbacks’ were paperbacks published by Dell in the 1940s and 1950s. They were primarily genre books—mostly mysteries, Westerns, and romances. Many of them were written by authors who were famous at the time; many by authors who became famous later; and quite a few were written by authors who never published another book. The front covers were striking, and the back covers featured stylized maps of locales that featured in the books: sometimes whole towns (real or fictional), sometimes neighborhoods, often apartments or other buildings that were the scene of a crime.” The site has information on about 500 books.

Phys .org: Visually stunning tree of all known life unveiled online. “The OneZoom explorer… maps the connections between 2.2 million living species, the closest thing yet to a single view of all species known to science. The interactive tree of life allows users to zoom in to any species and explore its relationships with others, in a seamless visualisation on a single web page. The explorer also includes images of over 85,000 species, plus, where known, their vulnerability to extinction.”

IrishCentral: Is your family from Cavan? Earliest Irish census records revealed online. “Michael McShane, who launched the website Cavan Townlands with his wife Catherine Kerr, has recently uploaded a comprehensive dataset of census records and census substitutes from the 19th century focusing on the towns of County Cavan.”


CNET: WhatsApp changes Last Seen feature, hides from strangers by default . “Messaging platform WhatsApp recently changed its Last Seen feature, which will no longer display to unknown contacts by default. So if you haven’t chatted with someone before, they’ll no longer be able to see information about your activity on the app.”


MakeUseOf: The Advantages and Limitations of Using Macros in Google Sheets. “Though running a macro is easy, it may not be feasible or acceptable in all cases. By understanding the benefits and drawbacks of Google Sheets macros, you can use them efficiently and securely.” More of an overview than a how-to.


New York Times: Birds Aren’t Real, or Are They? Inside a Gen Z Conspiracy Theory.. “It might smack of QAnon, the conspiracy theory that the world is controlled by an elite cabal of child-trafficking Democrats. Except that the creator of Birds Aren’t Real and the movement’s followers are in on a joke: They know that birds are, in fact, real and that their theory is made up. What Birds Aren’t Real truly is, they say, is a parody social movement with a purpose.”

The Mercury News: Google’s urban village proposal in this city one of Bay Area’s largest residential project in history. “The ambitious proposals — filed by Google in February — for two new neighborhoods on 127 acres of office parks in the North Bayshore neighborhood would boast as many as 7,000 residential units and about 3.1 million square feet of office space, and room for shops, restaurants, open space and a potential school site.”


Tubefilter: A New Bipartisan Bill Would Strip Platforms Of Section 230 Protection If They Don’t Disclose Internal Data. “A new bipartisan bill proposes to strip Section 230 protections from social media platforms that refuse to share internal data with researchers. Sponsored by Democrat Sens. Chris Coons and Amy Klobuchar, and Republican Rob Portman, the Platform Accountability and Transparency Act (PATA for short) would require platforms to share ‘qualified data and information’ with researchers and projects approved by the National Science Foundation (NSF).”

Wired: How to Guard Against Smishing Attacks on Your Phone. “AMONG THE MANY threats to your internet security is ‘smishing,’ in which bad actors try to steal your data or money through a text message that attempts to trick you into following a link you shouldn’t or revealing personal details or login information that should be kept private.”

Boing Boing: Watch these money launderers use social media to recruit patsies. “…savvy criminals are using people’s desire to emulate the flashy lifestyles they see on social media to recruit gullible rubes into laundering their money. The criminals refer to these patsies as money mules, and, as you’d probably expect, the ‘job’ comes with a hefty risk for those who undertake it. In the video linked above, Vice provides a window into the world of social media money launderers.” I did a spot check and it looks like the video is fully-captioned. Unfortunately some of the dialogue in the video is captioned, so if you turn on CC over it, you have two blocks of text on top of each other.


China Daily: Book restorers bound to saving the past. “For a decade, Xie Jincheng has been immersed in his duties at the National Library of China in Beijing. When asked how old he was, the 37-year-old had to pause for a few seconds to remember. Each working day, he sits at a desk and focuses on handling ragged yet priceless pieces of paper in front of him. As one of 17 restorers of ancient books at the NLC, he shakes off centuries of old dust to renew the works he deals with.” Extensive.

Washington Post: New artificial intelligence tool detects most common climate falsehoods “After nearly five years of development and tweaking, John Cook and his colleagues debuted their project: a machine-learning algorithm that can detect climate misinformation on the Web. The algorithm sounds like science fiction: It ‘reads’ sites and flags those with claims presenting false or misleading information about climate change science and solutions.” Good morning, Internet…

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