Ms. McKean started a campaign last month on Kickstarter, the crowdfunding site, to unearth one million “missing” English words — words that are not currently found in traditional dictionaries. To locate the underdocumented expressions, she has engaged a pair of data scientists to scrape and analyze language used in online publications. Ms. McKean said she planned to incorporate the found words in Wordnik.com, an online dictionary of which she is a co-founder…Before her analytics project gets underway next month, Ms. McKean is crowdsourcing a list of missing words for possible inclusion in Wordnik.
A sword on display at the British Library has an 800-year-old mystery engraved on its blade. Dating back to between 1250 and 1330 AD, the sword was discovered in the east of England, in the River Witham near Lincoln, in the 19th century. The sword is a particularly fine double-edged steel weapon of English design. It was most likely forged in Germany and belonged to a wealthy man or a knight.
The hilt is cross-shaped, which is normal for swords from this period of the Middle Ages, and is heavy enough to have cloven a man’s head in twain if swung with sufficient strength.
But the sword, on loan to the library from the British Museum, does have a couple of highly unusual features. Down the centre of the blade, it has two grooves known as fullers, where most blades only have one. On one side, it also bears an inscription:
The Purposeful Gaming and BHL project recently launched its first two browser-based video games, Smorball and Beanstalk. Both are designed to offer players a fun online diversion while helping the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) enable full-text searching of digitized materials. Funded by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), which was awarded in December 2013, the project is exploring how games might be used to entice people to participate in crowdsourcing efforts at libraries and museums. READ MORE: Biodiversity Heritage Library Launches Crowdsourcing Games | Library Journal
Could television be the secret weapon that gets more girls into science There is no shortage of initiatives that aim to get girls interested in STEM careers from an early age. From GoldieBlox’s building kits and storybooks to the 8-week summer camp Girls Who Code teaching teens the fundamentals of robotics and web development. That’s because in order to right the lopsided gender balance in science, engineering, and math, research indicates that it’s important to engage girls while they are young and encourage them to continue to pursue STEM careers. And we all know how important diversity is to business, particularly as it becomes more globally connected.
SOCIAL NETWORKS ASPIRE to connect people, which is a noble but naive goal. When we uncritically accept connection as a good thing, we overlook difficult, important questions: Are some forms of virtual communication more nourishing than others? Might some in fact be harmful? Is it possible that Facebook, for instance, leaves some people feeling more lonely? No one knows for sure. We tend to build things first and worry about the effects they have on us later.
Like other social networks, Panoply will take up that noble goal of connection, but in a more specific, structured way. As software goes, it’s something of a novelty—a product that aims to enrich lives through precise, clinically-proven means, rather than merely assuming enrichment as a byproduct of its existence. READ MORE: A Social Network Designed to Combat Depression | WIRED
As accomplished as modern-day computers are, there are some very basic things even the smartest machines have yet to master: tough judgment calls, advanced image recognition, making goofy faces, conducting psychological surveys. These are an assortment of tasks we humans can still claim as our own. Or at least, that we can outsource to other, less fortunate humans. Like me.
In Amazons words, Mechanical Turk is “a marketplace for work that requires human intelligence.” But in reality its even simpler than that description implies: Its a job board where the pay is low and the jobs are dumb. If you have a functional cerebral cortex, an internet connection, and a few minutes to spare, you can pick up a handful of odd jobs—the oddest of jobs—and make a few bucks, pennies, and nickels at a time. But whats it like to be that “human intelligence?” As I found out last year, its weird, fascinating, perplexing, and a little depressing, all at once.
The challenge: You have two minutes to educate a Stupid Robot by describing the picture below as precisely as possible. The catch: you can only list one word of any given length from 4-10 letters, and the robot will reject words it already knows. Therefore, you must be accurate, creative, and specific all at once.
If, like me, you found this challenge oddly entertaining, you might enjoy Metadata Games, a set of interactive tagging games designed to help libraries and museums crowdsource useful metadata for their collections.