Vermont Home Contractors, Cuban Missile Crisis, Google, More: Saturday ResearchBuzz, August 5, 2023


Vermont Public: Vermont’s secretary of state says new contractor registry will help with flood recovery. “Many Vermont homeowners face the daunting task of rebuilding after last month’s floods. Contractors are in extra-high demand – but finding someone reputable can be really difficult in a competitive market. Coincidentally, this year Vermont began regulating home contractors – and the Secretary of State’s Office has created an online map of contractors who have registered with the state and paid a fee. Vermonters can use the map to find someone local.”

Wilson Center: “Blundering on the Brink”: Cuban Missile Crisis Documents from the Central Archive of the Russian Ministry of Defense. “A collection of documents from the Central Archive of the Russian Ministry of Defense (TsAMO), available in English for the first time on the Wilson Center Digital Archive, offers fascinating new details of the Cuban Missile Crisis.”


The Verge: Google’s AI search is getting more video and better links. “Google’s AI-powered Search Generative Experience is getting a big new feature: images and video. If you’ve enabled the AI-based SGE feature in Search Labs, you’ll now start to see more multimedia in the colorful summary box at the top of your search results. Google’s also working on making that summary box appear faster and adding more context to the links it puts in the box.”

TechCrunch: Google pulls its AI Test Kitchen app from Play Store and App Store. “Google has pulled its AI Test Kitchen app from the Play Store and the App Store to focus solely on the web platform. The company launched the AI Test Kitchen experience last year to let users interact with projects powered by different AI models such as LaMDA 2. The first set of experiments included the model breaking down a goal into different subsets and talking about dogs to check if the system sticks to the topic.”


NBC News: What does it take to make a hip-hop hit? TikTok.. “Rapper Armani White had a hit with his song, ‘Billie Eilish’ — before the track had even been released. It happened with the help of an indelible 16-second viral clip on social media.”

New York Times: Tired of Dating Apps, Some Turn to ‘Date-Me Docs’. “Writers of the online text profiles, which can read like 1,000-word versions of the personal ads of yore, hope for a more meaningful connection than a swipe might allow.”

Associated Press: Twitch expands its ban on gambling livestreams. It also says viewership of the content is down 75%. “Amazon-owned Twitch said Wednesday it’s expanding the ban on livestreams of gambling content on the platform. The company said it will now prohibit streams of online casinos Blaze and Gamdom, adding to the four sites it banned last October when its new gambling policy went into effect.”


Washington Post: A one-star Google review was a major clue in a fatal hit-and-run . “The pickup continued driving as passersby rushed to help the two motorcyclists, the affidavit states. [Tiffany] Fletcher suffered a head injury and a broken left femur. [David] Adams died several days later from injuries he sustained in the collision, court documents state. The fatal crash on the evening of June 9 in Riverview, Fla., sparked a hunt for the truck’s driver, the Tampa Bay Times reported. Investigators tracked down the suspect using an unlikely clue: a scathing one-star review of a business on Google.”

Al Jazeera: France’s AFP sues Elon Musk’s X over payments for news. “French news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) has filed a lawsuit against Elon Musk’s X, accusing the social media platform of refusing to engage in discussions about payments for the distribution of news. AFP said on Wednesday it had filed the lawsuit in Paris to compel the platform formerly known as Twitter to hand over information that would allow it to calculate fair compensation for the sharing of its content.”

University of Texas at Dallas: Researcher Explores Effect of Hospital Mergers on Data Breaches. “The period during and after hospital mergers and acquisitions is an especially vulnerable time for patient data when the chance of a cybersecurity breach more than doubles, according to research by a University of Texas at Dallas doctoral student. Just the announcement of a merger is enough to trigger increased data breaches, said Nan Clement, a PhD candidate in economics in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences.”


Cornell University: Fact-checking can influence recommender algorithms. “J. Nathan Matias, assistant professor of communication in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, conducted an experiment with a community of 14 million on Reddit, and found that encouraging people to participate in knowledge-gathering could, in fact, move an algorithm’s needle. Suggesting that community members fact-check suspect stories, he found, led to those stories being dropped in Reddit’s rankings.”

Notre Dame News: Social media marketing most effective when it prompts consumers to start posting. “Social media is a critical marketing tool to help raise awareness when firms launch new products. The platforms can help inform consumers about product characteristics and benefits relative to competitors’ products. New research from the University of Notre Dame analyzes data from the motion picture industry, which often relies on social media promotion, in an effort to understand how marketers could better promote other new products.”


Caltech: Fiber Optic Cables Detect and Characterize Earthquakes. “In California, thousands of miles of fiber optic cables crisscross the state, providing people with internet. But these underground cables can also have a surprising secondary function: they can sense and measure earthquakes. In a new study at Caltech, scientists report using a section of fiber optic cable to measure intricate details of a magnitude 6 earthquake, pinpointing the time and location of four individual asperities, the “stuck” areas of the fault, that led to the rupture.” Good morning, Internet…

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