Open Source STEM Textbook, Transparent Idaho, TikTok Bans, More: Wednesday ResearchBuzz, September 13, 2023


University of Illinois: Open-source textbook makes STEM education more accessible . “The textbook’s name, ‘Free Energy,’ plays on both the lack of a price tag and thermodynamics, one of the book’s core concepts. Other subjects covered include entropy, electrochemistry and quantum mechanics, following the curriculum of most Physical Chemistry I and II courses at U.S. universities. ”

Idaho Capital Sun: Transparent Idaho offers info on state pay, expenses. Soon local governments will be included, too.. “Transparent Idaho’s data on state government agencies lets people look deep into government finance — including transactions. Transparent Idaho lets users look up expenses, create data visualizations and download the data. Townhall Idaho, also run by the state, lists public meeting agendas and schedules for state agencies and boards. Only information on budgets, fund balances and employee salary information are being shared about local governments right now, but Idaho Deputy Controller John Iasonides said the Idaho Controller’s Office plans to provide more ‘granular’ details in the long run.”


The Verge: VPNs, Verizon, and Instagram Reels: how students are getting around the TikTok ban. “Some of the restrictions, such as the one Montana Governor Greg Gianforte signed a few months ago, are far-reaching, stipulating broadly that TikTok may not operate within the state. That law is set to take effect next year. But for most — Texas included — the restrictions extend merely to government entities. Agencies have been tasked with eliminating the use of the platform on state-issued devices (as well as personal devices used for state business) and Wi-Fi networks. Those agencies include state universities.”

New York Times: 8 More Companies Pledge to Make A.I. Safe, White House Says. “The White House said on Tuesday that eight more companies involved in artificial intelligence had pledged to voluntarily follow standards for safety, security and trust with the fast-evolving technology. The companies include Adobe, IBM, Palantir, Nvidia and Salesforce. They joined Amazon, Anthropic, Google, Inflection AI, Microsoft and OpenAI, which initiated an industry-led effort on safeguards in an announcement with the White House in July.”


Gothamist: Google Translate blamed for linking NYC agency with ‘Communist Party of China’. “No, Mayor Eric Adams and the Chinese government did not team up to build a better New York City, no matter what you might have read on the city’s website. Earlier this summer, a reporter for a Chinese-language news site noticed something strange about the text on a New York City agency’s website after clicking on the ‘Translate’ button and opting for the Chinese-language translation. What they got back were phrases such as ‘Building a City Together with the Communist Party of China.'”

Gizmodo: Salacious Chinese Disinformation Campaign Blames Maui Fires on Deadly American ‘Weather Weapon’. “Researchers say they’ve discovered 85 social media accounts and blogs originating from China and working in tandem to amplify a conspiracy theory claiming the deadly fires in Maui were caused by a secretive “weather weapon” unleashed by the US military. NewsGuard, which has previously uncovered other online influence operations from China and Russia, claims the new ‘coordinated online campaign’ represents the most expansive Chinese operation it has uncovered to date.” Did I intentionally put these two articles together? No.

Dextero: Major anime archive set to “destroy” history after closing. “Tokyo Laboratory is closing its doors after nearly 70 years of working on iconic, historic anime – and original prints of movies and TV shows are set to be ‘destroyed.’… In a statement, the company wrote: ‘Due to the termination of our business at the end of November this year, we will no longer be able to continue storing the original film plates from December onwards, so we are currently working on returning them to our customers.'”


CISA: CISA Announces Open Source Software Security Roadmap . “The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) published the Open Source Software Security Roadmap today that articulates how the agency will enable the secure usage of open source software within the federal government and support a healthy, secure, and sustainable global open source software ecosystem.”

Washington Post: Musk may have violated FTC privacy order, new court filing shows. “Elon Musk repeatedly made business decisions after his takeover of Twitter last year that violated the company’s internal policies and likely ran afoul of a 2022 government order that put sweeping restrictions on the company’s data security and privacy practices, according to depositions from former employees that the Justice Department published in a court filing Tuesday.”

Reuters: Indonesia to ban goods transactions on social media – deputy minister. ” Indonesia is planning to ban goods transactions on social media under new trade regulations, the deputy trade minister told a parliamentary hearing on Tuesday. Ministers have repeatedly said that e-commerce sellers using predatory pricing on social media platforms were threatening offline markets in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy.”


Cornell University: Library gets grant to raise algorithmic literacy. “Cornell University Library has been awarded a grant by the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences (IMLS) to support a project aimed at creating open educational resources on algorithmic literacy—building the public’s knowledge about what algorithms are, how they function, and how they shape modern life.”

University of Bath: Customising avatars to look more like you improves learning in virtual environments . “Learning a new skill using VR works better if your virtual instructor is customised to look more like you, according to research by the University of Bath. The study suggests that even minimal customisation can make a difference in how well people learn in a virtual environment.” Good morning, Internet…

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