Environmental Racism, Bing, Timnit Gebru, More: Sunday ResearchBuzz, February 6, 2022


Harvard School of Public Health: Interactive web series explores environmental racism. “When it comes to exposures to environmental hazards, people of color and low-income groups tend to get the short end of the stick. They are more likely than other groups to live close to highways or power plants; to live in housing with lead, pest, or other problems; and to be exposed to hazardous chemicals in personal care products. A new series of web resources titled Environmental Racism in Greater Boston, produced by experts at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, tells a multifaceted and accessible story, including interactive data visualizations, about disparities in environmental exposures from the regional level to the individual level.”


Search Engine Journal: Microsoft Bing adds automobile and car search features. “Microsoft Bing now has new car and automobile search features to let you find your next car, the company announced on its blog. You can search for used cars on Bing and then Bing will provide a search box that you can filter to find the car you are looking for.”

The Verge: Two members of Google’s Ethical AI group leave to join Timnit Gebru’s nonprofit. “Two members of Google’s Ethical AI group have announced their departures from the company, according to a report from Bloomberg. Senior researcher Alex Hanna, and software engineer Dylan Baker, will join Timnit Gebru’s nonprofit research institute, Distributed AI Research (DAIR).”

Ars Technica: Mozilla apparently makes and is discontinuing a VR version of Firefox. “If you didn’t know that Mozilla made a VR-specific version of Firefox called Firefox Reality, then it’s OK for you to continue not knowing, because Mozilla announced today that it would be discontinuing support for the browser a little over three years after introducing it.”


MakeUseOf: The 5 Best Apps for a Temporary Burner Phone Number. “We’ve all seen criminal types using burner phones on shows like The Wire and Breaking Bad. And most of us have secretly wanted to throw a phone away or break it in half at the end of a conversation. Unless you have reason to believe the NSA or FBI is interested in you, it’s probably not something you need. However, there are all sorts of non-criminal reasons to have a second phone number. While you may want to get a physical burner phone for emergencies, you could also just get a burner app on your existing phone.”


The Atlantic: How The Snowflakes Won. “Tumblr, launched 15 years ago this month, once had a reputation that was as big and confusing as that of Texas or Taylor Swift: It wasn’t just a blogging platform, but a staging ground for an array of political movements, the birthplace of all manner of digital aesthetics, and the site of freaky in-groups, niche conspiracy theories, community meltdowns, and one very famous grave-robbing scandal. At various points during the platform’s reign of online influence—from roughly 2010 to 2015—the phrase Tumblr user served as a proud identity marker, or something like a slur. Today, it’s an archaism.”

University of Nebraska-Lincoln: Digital project focuses on Nebraska’s Holocaust stories. “Beth Dotan has worked in the Holocaust education field for many years, including at the Ghetto Fighters House Museum in Israel and as the founding director of the Institute for Holocaust Education in Omaha. In pursuing her doctorate at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, she saw an opportunity to continue that work and focus specifically on Nebraska’s survivors and liberators.”


New York Times: Google Vanquished a Rival in Prague. Payback Could Hurt.. “As Google extended its dominance as a search engine over the past two decades, the Czech Republic stood out as a surprising holdout. People in the European nation preferred Seznam, a search engine started in Prague in 1996, two years before Google. For about 15 years, the company’s focus on its local market provided a feel-good story about a hometown underdog prevailing against a rising global titan. But when smartphones became commonplace, most of them with Google installed as the default search, Seznam’s luck ran out.

BBC: Parrots for sale: The internet’s role in illicit trade. “On the surface, the illicit wildlife trade is as it always has been – secret shipment routes, forged customs documents, and covert warehouses. But how we’ve arrived at Faiz [Ahmed]’s establishment is a sign of how drastically the illicit trade in endangered plants and animals has transformed. He has been openly advertising the sale of endangered birds and animals across social media.”


UMass Chan Medical School: Elinor Karlsson explains global effort to map genomes of all plants, animals, fungi and more. “Elinor Karlsson, PhD, offers insights into various applications of modern comparative genomics in a perspective piece published by the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science. The paper is part of a special feature in PNAS on the Earth BioGenome Project, a global effort to map the genomes of all plants, animals, fungi and other microbial life on Earth. The collection of 10 papers marks a new phase for the Earth BioGenome Project as it moves from pilot projects to full scale production sequencing.”

Brookings Institution: How governments should make use of real-time data from online job portals. “Governments need to support workers to remain competitive and shift toward proactive policies that enhance employment possibilities for unemployed and vulnerable workers. In support of this vision, many public employment agencies are faced with the challenge of developing new approaches, including designing the content and delivery of effective reskilling programs. Here are three reasons why governments should make use of real-time information from online job vacancy portals to support this task.”

MIT Press: The MIT Press and Brown University Library launch On Seeing, a book series committed to centering underrepresented perspectives in visual culture. “In today’s world, there is greater access and exposure to visual culture than ever before—outpacing society’s ability to reflect upon its impact. The diverse authors of On Seeing will investigate the ways that power relations are often inscribed in the visual and they will develop knowledge about how visuality is related to equity and justice…. Resources might include an online hub for knowledge-sharing, a downloadable community conversation toolkit, an author interview or podcast, or free-to-the-public events such as book readings and structured conversations in libraries, bookstores, or public arts institutions. With inclusivity and access as driving motivations, On Seeing will be published in print editions and in interactive, open access digital editions.” Good morning, Internet…

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