Video Game Maps, Houston Air Quality, Banned Books Week, More: Saturday ResearchBuzz, September 17, 2022


New-to-me, from Lifehacker: Use This Site to Get a Deeper Look at Your Favorite Video Game Maps. “Part of what makes video games so darn fun is the pure exploration. Us 90s gamers remember how huge Ocarina of Time’s Hyrule Field felt for the first time, or how realistic Grand Theft Auto III’s Liberty City seemed. While these games are still just as fun to explore today, modern tech makes it possible to take that exploration a major step forward, by allowing you to fly through the entire map on your own time.”

KSAT: Website aims to make pollution permit information more accessible in Houston. “The new website, called AirMail and launched Tuesday, automatically assembles data from across [Texas Commission on Environmental Quality]’s labyrinthine website so that ordinary people and community groups can easily see where polluting projects are planned, file official comments and request public hearings.”


BusinessWire: American Library Association Highlights Increasing Censorship Attempts During Banned Books Week Programming (PRESS RELEASE). “Libraries nationwide will join the American Library Association to highlight increased censorship of books during this year’s Banned Books Week, taking place September 18-24, 2022. The American Library Association (ALA), Unite Against Banned Books (UABB) and the Banned Books Week Coalition are planning extensive programming during the week, bringing together authors, librarians and scholars to share perspectives on censorship.”


Ars Technica: Discord’s new feature looks a bit like Internet forums—with a dash of Reddit. “Discord announced a new feature on Wednesday called ‘Forum Channels’ to allow for more organized and asynchronous discussions within servers. The intent with Forum Channels seems to be to make it easier for specific conversations to continue for extended periods without the worry that a topic change or another simultaneous conversation will bury a subject in the annals of chat log history.”


MakeUseOf: How to See Deleted Reddit Posts. “When you’re browsing Reddit, finding a deleted post with tons of upvotes is annoying. A brief look at the thread title and your curiosity takes control, leading you into wondering how great it would be if you could just time travel to the past and see what the deleted thread was all about. Well, that’s not possible—only the time travel part. We’ll show you five different ways to view old, deleted Reddit posts and comments so you can satisfy your curious mind.”


WIRED: What Modern Humans Can Learn From Ancient Software. “Emulation reminds me to ask myself whether the computing experience is always getting better. I’m writing this in Google Docs so my editor’s little round avatar head can peek in and make sure I don’t miss my deadline for once, but I’d prefer to write it in WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS, which was the greatest word processor ever—a blank screen illuminated with only letters and numbers, offering just enough bold and italics to keep things interesting. I remember WP51 the way a non-nerd might remember a vintage Mustang. You could just take that thing out and go, man.”

UCLA: UCLA Library to expand global preservation work thanks to largest grant in its history. “UCLA Library has received the largest grant in its 139-year history: $13 million over eight years to digitize and make at-risk cultural heritage materials from the 20th and 21st centuries available online to the public.”


CNET: Tech Companies Ramp Up Efforts to Combat Online Extremism. “Several major tech companies on Thursday announced new policies and tools to combat online extremism on their sites as part of a White House effort focused on fighting hate-fueled violence.”

Florida State University: FSU Department of Computer Science receives $4.2M to boost nation’s cybersecurity workforce. “To help meet the growing demand for cybersecurity experts, the National Science Foundation’s CyberCorps Scholarship for Service program has awarded Florida State University a $4.2 million grant to support students pursuing careers in cybersecurity. This is the second round of funding the Department of Computer Science has received to operate this program.”

University of Maryland: UMD Researchers Create Unremovable Watermark to Secure Intellectual Property in Age of AI. “Watermarks of the future will be a way for organizations to claim authorship of digital models and systems they create, akin to a painter signing their name in the corner of a painting. Current methods, however, are vulnerable to savvy adversaries who know how to tweak the network parameters in a way that would go unnoticed, allowing them to claim a model as their own. That’s changing with the new watermark developed by the UMD team, which presented it at the International Conference on Machine Learning in July.”


Nature: It takes a laboratory to avoid data loss. “Academia heaps most of the burden of documentation and data storage onto individuals, instead of the lab as a whole. At the same time, little, if any, instruction is provided to teach individuals how to properly document and store their data. But labs can mitigate data loss by implementing three simple suggestions.”

University of Chicago: Is a book hidden inside a decades-old piece of concrete? Scientists seek answers to art mystery. “The piece in question is called Betonbuch, or Concrete Book, and is the work of German-born artist Wolf Vostell. He was part of Fluxus, an international community of experimental creators that flourished in the 1960s and 1970s, and was a pioneer of using concrete as a material for art, not just construction. In 1971, Vostell wrote a short book called Betonierungen, or Concretifications, and as evidence of his commitment to the material, he purportedly encased 100 copies of that book in numbered slabs of concrete.” Good morning, Internet…

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