MIT Technology Review: This know-it-all AI learns by reading the entire web nonstop. “To collect its facts, Diffbot’s AI reads the web as a human would—but much faster. Using a super-charged version of the Chrome browser, the AI views the raw pixels of a web page and uses image-recognition algorithms to categorize the page as one of 20 different types, including video, image, article, event, and discussion thread. It then identifies key elements on the page, such as headline, author, product description, or price, and uses NLP to extract facts from any text.” How fortunate that every page on the Internet is 100% true.
Search Engine Journal: 21 Web Directories That Still Have Value. “In the early days of SEO, web directories were the thing. Back then, the Google algorithm was a lot easier to game. If your site was listed on a ton of online directories, it must be pretty dang special – or at least, that’s how the algorithm saw it. The number of directory links you had positively influenced how well your site ranked in the search engines. Online marketers caught on, and schemed to litter the web with directory listings of their website. It was a simpler time.” But thanks to pop-ups, just as annoying.
New York Times: Goodbye to the Wild Wild Web. “Within a 48-hour period this week, many of the world’s internet giants took steps that would have been unthinkable for them even months earlier. Reddit, which spent most of its life as a lawless free-for-all, banned thousands of forums for hate speech, including the largest pro-Trump forum on the internet. Twitch — an Amazon-owned video-gaming platform not known for its political courage — suspended President Trump’s official account for ‘hateful conduct,’ while YouTube purged a handful of notorious racists and punished a popular creator with a history of problematic videos. Facebook, under pressure from a growing advertiser boycott, took down a network of violent anti-government insurrectionists who had set up shop on its platform.”
Mashable: The best apps for remembering that website you want to revisit. “Maybe you’re trying to remember that really funny video you saw online but can’t remember what the heck it was called. You can’t find it online. Your browser history doesn’t go that far back, and it’s not pulling anything up. Or maybe you’re just a bit of a digital hoarder, like me. Either way, not being able to find what you’re looking for is, well, annoying. I’m here to solve this problem. Here are a few of my favorite apps that will help you create your very own web history archive so you never forget about another website you once visited again.”
Digital Inspiration: The Best Online Tools To Know Everything About a Website. “How do I contact the owner of a website? Where is a particular website hosted? What other websites are hosted on that same server? Is the site using WordPress or Gatsby? Which ad networks are they using to monetize a site? Is my site accessible from China? Here are some of the most useful online tools that will help you know every single detail of any website.” Good list, decent annotation.
Library of Congress: In a Web Archives Frame of Mind: Improving Access and Describing the Collections. “In 2018, the Library of Congress Web Archiving Team embarked on a journey to streamline description of the Library’s voluminous web archives. As part of that continuing effort, the Library of Congress Digital Content Management Section is excited to announce the release of 4,258 new web archives across 97 event and thematic collections!”
BetaNews: Sir Tim Berners-Lee launches ‘Contract for the Web’ to stop it descending into a digital dystopia. “The inventor of the world wide web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, has launched a new initiative with the bold aim of transforming the web for the better, avoiding what he sees as the very real risk of it becoming a ‘digital dystopia’.”
Fast Company: A new repository of the web’s best portfolios helps you design yours like a pro. “Humans is like a carefully curated Pinterest board that offers insight into what the best personal websites look like, which services are used to create them, and the technology necessary to build them.”
Mashable: Yes, you can still visit Bob Dole’s 1996 campaign website. Here is its story. . “It’s Oct. 6, 1996. The night of the first presidential debate between President Bill Clinton and the Republican nominee, Bob Dole. Clinton is the young, popular incumbent who played the saxophone on The Arsenio Hall Show. Dole is a stiff conservative, who at 73 years old looks like he yells at kids to get off his lawn. But as the debate ends, right after he warns young people against doing drugs, Dole pulls off a first for a presidential candidate in the new internet era: he drops the URL of his campaign website, http://www.dolekemp96.org, on national TV.”
New York Times: I Visited 47 Sites. Hundreds of Trackers Followed Me.. “Earlier this year, an editor working on The Times’s Privacy Project asked me whether I’d be interested in having all my digital activity tracked, examined in meticulous detail and then published — you know, for journalism. ‘Hahaha,’ I said, and then I think I made an ‘at least buy me dinner first’ joke, but it turned out he was serious. What could I say? I’m new here, I like to help, and, conveniently, I have nothing whatsoever at all to hide.”
EurekAlert: New tool makes web browsing easier for the visually impaired. “In a new study, led by University of Waterloo Faculty of Mathematics student, Alexandra Vtyurina, who collaborated with Microsoft researchers and the University of Washington’s Assistant Professor, Leah Findlater, a way was found to merge the best elements of voice assistants with screen readers to create a tool that makes free-form web searches easier. The tool is called Voice Exploration, Retrieval, and Search (VERSE).”
Gizmodo: 11 Incredibly Useful Websites You Might Not Know About. “The internet is a big place, and there’s no shame in not having gotten around to exploring every last corner of it—but just in case you’ve missed out on some of the very best sites the web has to offer, we’re going to pick out a few lesser-known highlights from our travels that are well worth adding to your bookmarks.”
Search Engine Land: More from Google on its indexing issues . “Vincent Courson, Google Search Outreach, has written a blog post about Google’s search indexing problems of late, how it fixed them and lessons it has learned.”
Ars Technica: Before Netscape: The forgotten Web browsers of the early 1990s. “Update: It’s Memorial Day weekend here in the US, and the Ars staff has a long weekend accordingly. 2019 marks 30 years since Tim Berners-Lee worked at CERN and came up with a little idea known as the World Wide Web. As all of us do a little Web browsing this weekend, we thought resurfacing this piece outlining those early browsers might make all of us even appreciate Internet Explorer today. This story originally ran on Oct. 11, 2011, and it appears unchanged below.” Obviously not Memorial Day weekend now, but this sat in my Pocket queue for a bit. Still a good read, especially for those of use who used Cello, Mosaic, etc. In other words, get off my lawn…
Engadget: Mozilla is helping to make web-based VR available to everyone . “Even though virtual reality has been in the mainstream for several years now, it’s still not very accessible. It often takes trained engineers to create, release and distribute VR content. That could soon change, however, thanks to a new project called Reach, a VR platform created by Emblematic Group and VR pioneer Nonny de la Peña (whom we’ve featured on the Engadget Experience stage before). Built on top of WebVR and in partnership with Mozilla, the project was initially announced at Sundance 2019 earlier this year in its alpha stage. Starting today, however, it’s finally moving into beta. The end goal: to make web-based VR easier to create and consume.” Who remembers VRML? Good gravy I’m old.