West African Arabic Manuscript Database, North Korean Prison Database, India Lost and Found, More: Thursday ResearchBuzz, March 31, 2022


New-to-me, from The Conversation: Timbuktu manuscripts placed online are only a sliver of West Africa’s ancient archive. “While Mali Magic displays 45 very photogenic manuscripts from one private library, the site doesn’t begin to tell the full story of the wealth of West Africa’s manuscripts that are found from the Atlantic to Lake Chad. But thanks to decades of scholarship and, recently, digitisation, that information is now accessible at a bilingual, open-access, online union catalogue of nearly 80,000 manuscripts at the West African Arabic Manuscript Database. This is a resource I began 30 years ago at the University of Illinois that now provides students access to most of the titles and authors that make up West Africa’s manuscript culture.”

Korea Future: Launching the North Korean Prison Database. “Today we launch the North Korean Prison Database — a growing and comprehensive archive of international human rights law violations and atrocities that have transpired in the North Korean Penal system. The database preserves and manages evidence gathered through detailed investigations by Korea Future. To date, we have identified 597 perpetrators linked to 5,181 human rights violations committed against 784 detainees in 148 penal facilities.”

New-to-me, from TRT World: New initiative documents India’s lost heritage sites. “Delhi-based photographer Amit Pasricha is a man on a mission: to document India’s lesser-known and often forgotten heritage sites. It was a desire that manifested over several years, one that finally culminated in a sprawling project titled, India Lost and Found (ILF) in 2018.”

Library of Congress: VHP’s New Online Exhibit: Transcribed Correspondence Collections. “Today, the Veterans History Project (VHP) debuts ‘Line by Line: Transcribed Correspondence Collections,’ a new online exhibit focusing on nine digitized, fully transcribed correspondence collections.”


A sponsored post in Physics World: Society opens up electrochemical research . “From 3 April, in an annual event called ‘Free the Science Week’, [The Electrochemical Society] will lift the subscription paywall on more than 170,000 articles across its entire digital library – which includes journals, conference proceedings, and the society’s Interface magazine – allowing researchers across the globe to explore the archive as well as the latest research results.”


TechCrunch: Google rolls out AI improvements to aid with Search safety and ‘personal crisis’ queries. “Google today announced it will be rolling out improvements to its AI model to make Google Search a safer experience and one that’s better at handling sensitive queries, including those around topics like suicide, sexual assault, substance abuse and domestic violence. It’s also using other AI technologies to improve its ability to remove unwanted explicit or suggestive content from Search results when people aren’t specifically seeking it out.”


Lifehacker: The Best Discord Bots (and How to Use Them). “Discord bots are AI-powered tools that automate tasks and add music, games, welcome messages, memes, and other interesting content to your server. These bots make it easy for you to engage with an audience, build your community, and moderate your server. There’s a whole army of bots to choose from, each of which serves specific purposes—one may automatically welcome new users, while others use webhooks to integrate with other applications—and it can be overwhelming for new users to figure out which ones will deliver the best results for their needs.”


Okayplayer: How Sample Drill Is Leading One Of Rap’s Most Bizarre Sampling Eras. “Sample drill is perhaps the most online iteration of rap music we’ve ever seen. A particularly postmodern recycled medium, born in the wake of a pandemic that made in-person sessions all but impossible, the phenomenon speaks to how online the creation of music — specifically rap — has become. The scrolling thumb has replaced the dusty finger; it’s crate-digging in the post-record shop era. Let’s call it ‘cloud-digging,’ where, in the case of sample drill, everything from 2Pac’s ‘I Ain’t Mad At Ya’ to Dick Dale’s ‘Miserlou’ is fodder for a drill beat.”


Engadget: Apple, Facebook and Discord reportedly gave user data to hackers posing as law enforcement. “Apple, Facebook and Discord turned over user data to hackers posing as law enforcement officials, according to a new report in Bloomberg. The demands, which were forged to look like authentic legal requests, reportedly came from legitimate email accounts that had been ‘compromised.'”

Ars Technica: Google’s next US antitrust issue: Google Maps. “Google’s latest antitrust headache is coming from the US government, which is starting to take issue with how Google bundles Google Maps and restricts developers from using competing services. Nothing’s official yet, but Reuters’ sources say the US Justice Department ‘breathed new life into an investigation of Google Maps to determine if bundling the service together with other Google software illegally stifles competition.'”

Independent: Two men arrested in US based on post-riot Google searches: ‘Is it illegal to go into the Capitol’. “Two men accused of storming the US Capitol on 6 January 2021 were arrested last week after their Google searches and the information they shared on Facebook allegedly incriminated them.”


Financial Times: DeepMind accused of mishandling sexual misconduct allegations. “A former DeepMind employee has accused the artificial intelligence group’s leadership of mishandling multiple allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment, raising concerns over how grievances are dealt with at the Google-acquired company. The female member of staff, whom we call Julia to protect her identity, claimed in December 2019 that a senior researcher at the London-based group had sexually assaulted her twice, threatened suicide, and alluded to previous instances of rape, among other concerning behavior.” Good morning, Internet…

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