Inclusive Books for Children, iPhone Ringtones, Smithsonian Podcasts, More: Friday Afternoon ResearchBuzz, September 15, 2023


The Guardian: Charity launches award and database to encourage diversity in children’s books. “Inclusive Books for Children (IBC) [is] a new charity which has launched a website hosting a database of inclusive books. Site visitors can browse through more than 700 book recommendations and search the database to find books featuring protagonists with specific characteristics.”


Lifehacker: iPhones Are Getting New Ringtones for the First Time in a Decade. “Remember ringtones? Back in the day, when phones still rang with something other than spam calls, people even used to pay for the privilege of choosing a bespoke call sound. These days, the trend is to keep your phone on silent at all times, but it might be worth flipping the mute switch on your iPhone (or tapping the Action button on your iPhone 15 Pro), because we’re about to get a new batch of iPhone ringtones for the first time in a decade.”

Smithsonian: Smithsonian Launches 10th Season of Its Flagship “Sidedoor” Podcast. “Sidedoor investigates lesser-known Smithsonian stories from beyond the public view, with host Lizzie Peabody and renowned Smithsonian experts offering insights along the way. This season of Sidedoor will cover art, science, history and culture, and will take people from behind the scenes at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History to the coastal waters of Maryland and beyond.”


Washington Post: The food industry pays ‘influencer’ dietitians to shape your eating habits. “The trade group paid an undisclosed amount to 10 registered dietitians, as well as a physician and a fitness influencer, to use their social media accounts to help blunt the WHO’s claims that aspartame, a mainstay of Diet Coke and other sodas, is ineffective for weight loss and ‘possibly carcinogenic.’ The campaign, which the beverage group acknowledged organizing, highlighted a little-known tactic the multibillion-dollar food and beverage industry is using to sway consumers faced with often-contradictory health messages about popular products.”

The Verge: TikTok accidentally blocked Hollywood writers strike videos while casting a QAnon net. “TikTok videos about the Hollywood writers strike were temporarily blocked as the platform attempted to moderate QAnon conspiracy theories. Media Matters for America, a nonprofit media research group, reported today that TikTok users were unable to search for content related to the Writers Guild of America strike.”


St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Cyberattack hits main St. Louis-area police database, shuts down system for a day. “A cyberattack earlier this week caused a major law enforcement database to shut down for about a day, leaving local police departments to lean on backup procedures for arrest reports, jail logs and law enforcement records.”

Ars Technica: US rejects AI copyright for famous state fair-winning Midjourney art. “On Tuesday, the US Copyright Office Review Board rejected copyright protection for an AI-generated artwork that won a Colorado State Fair art contest last year because it lacks human authorship required for registration, Reuters reports. The win, which was widely covered in the press at the time, ignited controversy over the ethics of AI-generated artwork.”


MIT News: Helping computer vision and language models understand what they see. “Researchers from MIT, the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab, and elsewhere have demonstrated a new technique that utilizes computer-generated data to help vision and language models overcome this shortcoming. The researchers created a synthetic dataset of images that depict a wide range of scenarios, object arrangements, and human actions, coupled with detailed text descriptions. They used this annotated dataset to ‘fix’ vision and language models so they can learn concepts more effectively. Their technique ensures these models can still make accurate predictions when they see real images.”

Bloomberg: Kidfluencers Are Today’s Version of Chimney Sweeps. “These children are under pressure, whether from their parents or from their algorithms, to produce content on a regular basis. Being a child social media star also involves a potential loss of privacy and a reframing of one’s image with one’s peers, which may be either positive or negative. And these children can be quite young. One star of a YouTube channel with more than 35 million subscribers, which started out as a toy-review site, was 7 years old in the channel’s early days. Legally, these children have no claim to the income their sites generate. Thankfully, many parents are loving and generous. But not all.”


HackADay: It’s Time You Built A Smart Pocket Watch. “There’s just something about a pocket watch that screams class compared to the barbaric act of bending your arm, or the no-fun way of looking at your phone. But smartwatches are dumb, analog things that mostly look pretty. Or are they? [JGJMatt] proves otherwise with their stunning DIY smart pocket watch. It is essentially a cheap smart watch from Amazon stuffed into the shell of an old pocket watch, but you know it’s not quite that simple.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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