Banned Books Florida, Twitter, Mastodon, More: Friday ResearchBuzz, October 13, 2023


WGBH: Boston philanthropists launch new effort to ship Floridians ‘banned books’. “Any Florida resident who wants a book can go on the website, choose one title to order and pay $3.99 to have it shipped. Florida residents, libraries and educational institutions can order a book — or someone out of state can send a book to someone they know, with the receiver having to approve the shipment. A Florida delivery address is required for the sale to process.”


NiemanReports: Six Months Ago NPR Left Twitter. The Effects Have Been Negligible . “A memo circulated to NPR staff says traffic has dropped by only a single percentage point as a result of leaving Twitter, now officially renamed X, though traffic from the platform was small already and accounted for just under two percent of traffic before the posting stopped. (NPR declined an interview request but shared the memo and other information).”

Reuters: X removes hundreds of Hamas-affiliated accounts since attack, CEO says. “The X social media platform has removed hundreds of Hamas-affiliated accounts and taken action to remove or label tens of thousands of pieces of content since the militant group’s attack on Israel, its chief executive Linda officer Yaccarino said on Thursday.”


Cassidy James: How and Why to Get Verified on Mastodon . “…my call to anyone and everyone on Mastodon—but especially journalists and well-known personalities—is: get verified! It greatly helps people like me and mods of larger servers know you’re you, and makes it more likely that people will find you in search, follow you, and see you on trending page in their Mastodon app or server.”


The Independent: An app shows how ancient Greek sites looked thousands of years ago. It’s a glimpse of future tech. “Tourists at the Acropolis this holiday season can witness the resolution of one of the world’s most heated debates on cultural heritage. All they need is a smartphone. Visitors can now pinch and zoom their way around the ancient Greek site, with a digital overlay showing how it once looked.”

Defense News: Army at work on a digital ‘blue book’ app, top enlisted soldier says. “According to [Sergeant Major of the Army Michael] Weimer, the blue book app will be a one-stop shop for Army enlisted leaders who want to know “what right looks like.” It will include Army and unit history information, philosophical references like values and creeds, up-to-date information on standards and discipline, clearly defined leader responsibilities, and a digital library containing the service’s most commonly referenced regulations and other publications.”

The Verge: Discogs’ vibrant vinyl community is shattering. “The site has become a central part of the music internet, surviving through physical music media’s replacement by MP3s and then streaming — and rebounding as interest in vinyl, CDs, and tapes did throughout the 2010s. But sellers who use the platform say the site’s old tech has started to wear on them, and new fees and restrictions have made it harder to do business. Changes within the company are threatening to turn a bastion for vinyl fans, record stores, and anyone who cares about music into just another dysfunctional website — and dismantle a singular record of music history, even if just by pushing the sellers and users who have created that record away.”


ProPublica: A Racist Harvard Scientist Commissioned Photos of Enslaved People. One Possible Descendant Wants to Reclaim Their Story.. “The images are among the oldest known photographs of enslaved people in America. Tamara Lanier’s fight to gain control of them shows there is no clear system in place to repatriate remains of captive Africans or objects associated with them.”

Evening Standard: Publishing industry faces billions in costs as students illegally download texts. “Tens of thousands of university students are using illegal sites to download sections of text from books, costing the publishing industry billions of pounds, according to new research. As students returned to university in the UK, there were 300,000 searches made to piracy sites that allow you to download text from books in September alone, academic publisher Perlego has said.”

Task & Purpose: Former soldier searched Google, Reddit for spying tips, prosecutors say. “The federal indictment paints [Joseph Daniel] Schmidt as an admirer of Chinese culture and society but also an unsophisticated spy who turned to Google to research his legal jeopardy and options for a life after trading state secrets. Schmidt allegedly created a 22-page document titled, ‘Important Information to Share with Chinese Government’ with details on US intelligence sources including source types, assessments, sites for meetings, and communication planning, according to FBI declaration documents.” Unsophisticated indeed.


New York Times: Autonomous Vehicles Are Driving Blind. “To earn the right to drive a car, most of us at some point have to pass a vision test, a written test and a driving test. The A.I. undergoes no such government scrutiny before commanding the wheel. In California, companies can get a permit to operate driverless cars by declaring that their vehicles have been tested and the ‘manufacturer has reasonably determined that is safe to operate the vehicle.'”

Tech Policy Press: How Third-Party Social Media Middleware Can Protect Contextual Privacy. “Social media data and metadata is best managed through an architecture that is highly protective of contextual privacy, says Richard Reisman.” Good morning, Internet…

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