Explore the World’s Oldest Photography Museum via Google


The George Eastman House is the first museum of photography to join the Google Art Project, a digital collection for works of art.

Without leaving your couch, you can visit Google’s Art Project online and see more than 40,000 works of art from across the world. Now, the George Eastman House, which is the oldest museum of photography and photo technique, has added 50 images to the project, as explained in the video above.

These initial images from the George Eastman House will show photographic techniques spanning from the 1840s to the late-1900s. The museum is physically based in Rochester, N.Y., around the house and gardens of George Eastman, who founded the Eastman Kodak Company in the late 1800s.

What’s really neat about being able to access these works on the Google Art Project is that the online platform lets you not only see high-resolution images, but you can also easily access supplementary information about the works. It’s a sort of virtual field trip to museums you can’t readily access on a daily basis or those that are thousands of miles away.Image

Mass Relevance CEO Discusses Sports’ Social Media Takeover


Austin-based Mass Relevance may be more deep-rooted in the sports social media space than any company not named Twitter or Facebook.

The two-year-old startup curates and analyzes social chatter to highlight relevant posts and analyze overall conversation for a surfeit of brands, media companies and digital agencies across several industries. So pervasive is Mass Relevance’s reach, in fact, that Twitter made the company its first official social engagement and curation partner last year.

Sports make up a significant chunk of Mass Relevance’s work; its clients include Major League Baseball, ESPN, the New York Giants, TaylorMade and others. But why the special relationship between sports and social? We recently interviewed Mass Relevance founder and CEO Sam Decker to explore just that.

 

“It used to be you’d go to a game, get your face on the Jumbotron and jump up and down for your three seconds of fame,” Decker says. “We’re essentially doing the same thing — holding a mirror up to fans and allowing them to participate. From the beginning, sports have been about fans getting together. Now you’re participating with this group whether you’re at the stadium or not, and that’s a bullseye for social media.”

Here, Decker discusses Mass Relevance‘s success with sports, how mature the sports social media landscape is today and what changes we should — and shouldn’t — expect to see over the coming year. Read the exclusive Q&A below, then add your own take in the comments.

Q&A With Mass Relevance CEO Sam Decker

How has Mass Relevance been able to carve out its own niche in this world so successfully?

Twitter and Facebook are social platforms people definitely participate in but they don’t spend 100% of their eyeball time there while watching a game — sometimes its on the TV, people they’re talking to, another app with stats or something like that. What we’re able to do is bring social media into these other spaces by filtering and moderating those conversations in a meaningful way.

Maybe a network wants to do a hashtag battle or a team wants to do an activity map of where people are talking about the game on social media — at the end of the day they’re all trying to tell a story. Instead of creating those stories yourself, now you can get fans involved and curate the story from their perspective.

For leagues and teams it’s a bit more straightforward, but what are sports-centric brands looking for when they try to use social media to build loyalty or launch products?

If you think about what’s going on in their world, where they know fans are passionate about a particular sport, there’s really three levels of engagment — about the topic or sport, about the brand, then about a specific product if it gets enough buzz. You can play it at all three levels while creating an experience specifically about just one of them. The sweet spot, of course, is when you can marry passion about a sport to a specific product.

How far along are we in the evolution of sports social media? Are we seeing longterm players and trends solidify, or are things still on really unsettled ground?

We’re still in the first inning overall, but you’ve got some shining stars progressing quickly — MLB and Turner sports being just two examples. Some brands and teams and leagues are further along that curve than others. The way we can tell if a client is going to progress quickly is whether or not we see social being emphasized within the entire organization, from the top all the way down. When you’ve got a social team working within a digital team working within a marketing team and the people outside that don’t know what’s going on, then there’s definitely some catching up to do.

What are some of the biggest changes we’ll see coming to the sports social space in 2013?

I think you’ll see more monetization. You’ll see more teams and brands finding ways to bring social into more of what they’re doing and then monetize that, whether through sponsor-presented experiences or other means.

I also think social media will become more integrated into all the different aspects of what people are doing. It won’t just be ‘Hey, we have Facebook and post there and someone working our Twitter feed,’ which is how it’s been for a long time. Social teams are going to get more attention and budget. Each department will think about how to integrate social into what they do. You’ll have presidents of teams and leagues and networks figuring out more of how to integrate social media across all the touch-points they have with fans.

 

13 Biggest Sports Social Media Moments in 2012

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1. Devin McCourty Tweets While Playing in the Super Bowl (Sort of)

As New England Patriot Devin McCourty took on the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI, his followers were still able to receive real-time updates from his social feeds. But he wasn’t sneaking tweets between plays or during timeouts. Devin and twin brother Jason, who plays for the Tennessee Titans, share their Twitter and Facebook accounts. The Super Bowl showcased one of the more creative approaches to social media in the sports world.

Asus Transformer AiO is Part Android, Part Windows 8


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Asus Transformer AiO P1801, Windows View

The Transformer AiO P1801 is part tablet, part PC, with the ability to switch from Windows 8 and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean in the click of a button.

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Samantha Murphy5 hours ago

Asus launched on Thursday the latest device in its Transformer line, and it certainly lives up to the name.

The Transformer AiO P1801 is part tablet, part PC, with the ability to switch from Windows 8 and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean with the click of a button. The versatility factor gets better too. The tablet can sit on a PC station, equipped with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, and serve as a desktop computer. But when you’re ready to use it far from the confines of a desk, the tablet can be removed. Both the tablet and PC station comes with its own processor.

The bundled set is $1299 and will be available for purchase starting April 12.

However, there are a few things to keep in mind. The 18.4-inch tablet — which boasts a Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor — isn’t exactly light in the hands. It’s big, and heavy too: 5.28 pounds. This isn’t the type of device you’d throw into your bag and go, but it does offer flexibility of setting up shop in another room. That’s how Asus is billing the concept. It also comes with a stand for easy leaning.

It reminds us a bit of the Panasonic 20-inch 4k tablet, which was shown as a prototype at the International CES 2013 conference in January (minus the 4k factor). The company said it would be intended for designers and business users.

Other Transformer AiO P1801 tablet specs include a LED backlit display (1920 x 1080) — with 10-point touch, meaning you can use all your fingers at once on the screen — 2GB DDR3-1600 memory, 32 GB of storage, microSD card reader, built-in microphone, a mini USB 2.0 port and a 33W input charging port. ASUS told Mashable the battery should run for about five hours, playing 5 hours of HD video and 15 hours playing music.

Meanwhile, the PC station runs an Intel Core i5-3350P quad core processor, with 8GB DDR-1600 memory, built-in speakers and a slew of features including an optical drive, SD card reader and an HDMI port. It weighs in at about 9 pounds.

To go between Android and Windows 8, which is also touchscreen-friendly, a button on the side of the device will switch the operating system.

The concept in theory is a smart one, allowing users the option of customizing how they want to use the device, but in practice, we’re not quite sure how well this would work. Mashable will be reviewing the unit in the next few weeks, so check back soon for updates

Twitter Suspends, Then Reactivates, Top Anonymous Account


Twitter Suspends, Then Reactivates, Top Anonymous Account

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Alex Fitzpatrick

17 hours ago

Twitter on Wednesday suspended @YourAnonNews, an Anonymous-affiliated account with 750,000 followers.

The handlers behind the suspended account quickly migrated to @YANBackUp, which was set up for just this occasion:

This account will remain dorment unless: 1. @YourAnonNews gets rate limited. 2. @YourAnonNews gets suspended. – From the team.

, and its contributors wait to hear from @twitter. Our ticket number is #6930160.

Update: Twitter has reactivated @YourAnonNews, which was apparently disabled for sharing private information, according to a screenshot of an email posted by @YANbackup:

 

Other top Anonymous accounts are still active and tweeting in support of @YourAnonNews. Some observers are expecting Anonymous to unleash a cyberoffensive against Twitter in retribution for the suspension. However, major Anonymous accounts are refuting that, arguing Twitter is a platform for Anonymous’ speech and should not be targeted.

those of us who are level minded are NOT declaring war on Twitter. we are waiting for the request for to be unsuspended to b submit’d.

This will not be a war between and @twitter. won’t attack the media and the very same platforms we use to communicate.

Mashable has reached out to Twitter for more information.

The account suspension may be connected to Anonymous’ recent crusade against the controversial Westboro Baptist Church, during which members of the hacktivist collective posted the personal information of church members.

From the water to Washington


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When he got his first-ever C on a history essay in high school, Noam Angrist stayed after school every day for the rest of the year, honing his writing with a teacher. When an unexpected injury cut short his rowing career, he started coaching. When a middle-school student he was tutoring refused to learn the standard material, Angrist introduced him to The Economist.

Passionate about education, economics, crew and making the world a better place, Angrist’s drive and work ethic are matched by his creativity and unconventional methods. The MIT senior believes anyone can learn to do anything.

“I don’t believe in natural talent,” he says — inspirational words, coming from a double major in math and economics who has contributed to several published research papers, a stellar rower turned coach, and the co-founder of a successful youth mentorship program. 

Eight years ago, Angrist says, he was a solid student but had “no ambition athletically.” Then, when he was in eighth grade, his family moved to Israel for a year when his father — Joshua Angrist, the Ford Professor of Economics at MIT — took a fellowship at Hebrew University. “Everything was different,” Angrist remembers. “The school doesn’t emphasize academics; they’re huge on athletics.”

When he walked into gym class on the first day, Angrist was instructed to show how many pull-ups he could do. “I couldn’t do a single one,” Angrist says. “You can’t even do one pull-up, you sausage!” his gym teacher growled. “I walked out mortified,” Angrist remembers.

From that moment on, Angrist had a goal: He stayed up late researching nutrition and athletics, making schedules of when he would eat, when he would exercise. He devoured fat-free cottage cheese, and he jumped rope every morning. “That’s just the way I am, when I have a focus,” Angrist says.

Angrist became a star performer in his gym class — and the student who could do the most pull-ups.

When he returned to the United States for high school, Angrist took up crew, a sport that he says “gives you a chance to be the person you want to be.”

“It rewards hard work,” he says. “And I worked really freakin’ hard.” Despite being the shortest team member in a sport where height can make a big difference, Angrist says, he emerged as one of the best rowers and a team captain. 

When a blood clot forced the removal of one of his ribs — ending his rowing career — Angrist switched to coaching the Brookline High School novice boys’ team. He was decades younger than his fellow coaches, but still led his boats to gold medals in the state championships.

To Angrist, coaching crew was a chance to make a measurable difference. “As a coach, I’m the independent variable, and the success of the students is the dependent variable,” he says. “I wouldn’t do anything if I didn’t feel like it had a direct and tangible impact.” Though Angrist is a tough coach, he says, his rowers are grateful. They may never see him smile, but he says, “Kids know when you invest your heart and soul in something.” 

Crew has helped him succeed as well: Despite the intense time commitment, Angrist says, it helped him focus and excel in his studies. Now, he helps others do the same. 

At the end of their sophomore year at the Institute, Angrist and fellow MIT senior Ron Rosenberg founded Amphibious Achievement, an athletic and academic mentorship program for low-income high school students in Boston. Amphibious Achievement has been featured in local and national publications, and students in the program have shown marked progress in school and on the water. Angrist knows because he’s been keeping careful track.

As a student of economics and math, Angrist values data-based evidence and advocates its use in the creation of policies and programs. In Amphibious Achievement as well as in TechLit — a project he recently started to evaluate the use of Kindle e-readers in schools — Angrist makes sure to keep a careful record of students’ progress.

“We need to revolutionize the way we run and create programs, because right now it’s not based on evidence,” Angrist says. “It’s shocking how much policy is made on the basis of politics and opinions.”

Angrist is working to collect that evidence and to bridge the gap between science and policy. He has spent the last three years working with MIT Professor of Economics Jon Gruber to research the impact of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. 

In summer 2011, Angrist worked in Washington at the Council of Economic Advisors, a group that advises the president on economic policy. His work included the design of “randomized trials to analyze the effectiveness of educational software” — something he is currently putting into practice with TechLit. This past summer, Angrist returned to Washington to work for the World Bank’s education sector. “I am super-passionate about the power of economics to do good,” Angrist says.

Though he knows change ultimately must come from high-level policy decisions, Angrist has spent a lot of time on the ground, working personally with the students he is trying to help. In that time, he has seen kids who were slack-jawed in the face of standardized test problems become engaged and excited in discussions of articles from The Economistand history books. He insists that it is important for learning to be fun. 

“Even though I am a data-driven guy with a heavy math background, what really inspires me — and the reason I think my programs are effective — are the first-hand connections and experiences I’ve had,” Angrist says. “Kids won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

3 Questions: A Web for everyone


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During the opening ceremonies of this summer’s Olympic games in London, a musical performance culminated with a stage-set house rising into the rafters to reveal Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, sitting at a computer and typing the words “This is for everyone.”

That message was not idly chosen. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) — the organization, headed by Berners-Lee, that develops technological standards for the Web — is committed to the idea that the benefits of the Web should be available, not only to people in different countries with different technological resources, but to people with disabilities. According to some estimates, that’s a billion people worldwide. 

In 2008, W3C released the second version of its Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. This week, the International Standards Organization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) announced their endorsement of those guidelines. 

Judy Brewer, a principal research scientist at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, directs W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), which developed both the first and second versions of the WCAG standards. MIT News met with her to discuss the importance of the ISO/IEC endorsement. 

Q. What does ISO/IEC endorsement mean for the WCAG 2.0 standard? 

A. In order to meet the obligations that many national governments have, that people should be able to use the Web without barriers regardless of disability, they may put in place policies that require accessibility. Some governments have particular requirements about the kinds of technical standards they can adopt in policies; for instance, they may require standards to have an ISO status. 

In particular, a recent UN treaty — the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities — requires governments that are signatories to the treaty to take measures to ensure accessibility of information technology. With regard to accessibility of the Web, WCAG 2.0 is a broadly accepted solution that’s ready and waiting for them to take up. 

For the information-technology industry, it’s extremely important to have a consistent set of requirements. If one jurisdiction or organization is requiring accessibility, a lot of businesses hope that it’s the same set of requirements as in other places. It’s extremely difficult to have different requirements across all the areas in which they do business. 

A unified standard for Web accessibility also accelerates support for production of accessible content. The more organizations adopt a unified standard, the more software developers — authoring-tool developers, in particular — realize, “Ah, if I build support for production of WCAG-2.0-conformant content into my authoring tools, more customers will be interested in buying those new tools.” And when more authoring tools support production of accessible Web content, it becomes easier for Web developers to make accessible websites. 

Q. What does the standard consist of? 

A. WCAG 2.0 explains how to use any Web technology to support access to the Web by users with disabilities. For instance, if somebody is deaf or hard of hearing, they need captions. If somebody has a photosensitive seizure disorder, they need the page not to flash at them. If somebody has a visual disability, they may need alternative text for the images on a page or may need to be able to smoothly enlarge the page. For someone with a disability that affects their hands, they may need to smoothly navigate through the page using voice recognition, or a head mouse, or an eye-gaze system. For someone with a cognitive disability, they may benefit from consistent navigation within a website, which actually benefits many users, regardless of disability, as do many accessibility provisions. 

Support for all of these requirements is covered in the guidelines and success criteria of WCAG 2.0, and the techniques for implementing WCAG 2.0 provisions in different technologies are also available. There are WCAG 2.0 techniques for HTML, XML, Cascading Style Sheets, Scalable Vector Graphics — and also for non-W3C technologies such as Flash, PDF and Silverlight. 

For Web developers, we have “How to Meet WCAG 2.0,” which is a customizable quick reference that lists hundreds of techniques. Or if you come up with a good technique for fulfilling an accessibility requirement in WCAG 2.0, you can submit it to the WCAG Working Group, which publishes updated sets of techniques once or twice a year. 

WAI has all of these implementation-support resources available, as well as educational documents. There are training modules that people can take from our site and repurpose, and so forth. We have extensive amounts of material that help people use the standard. 

Q. There are so many different ways that the Web could throw up barriers to people with disabilities. How do you know you’ve covered all the bases? 

A. From when the Web Accessibility Initiative started in 1997, we very much wanted it to be a multistakeholder, consensus-based effort. So we have gotten input from hundreds of organizations and individuals over the years. 

When W3C works on a particular standard, we’re essentially creating a platform where people can come together from all over the world. A working group may start with an initial set of requirements. Then it develops a first public working draft, then iterates through repeated working drafts, publicly exposing the comments received and how those are being addressed. 

Then the draft goes into the candidate-recommendation stage. The whole focus of the candidate-recommendation stage is implementation testing, which may last for six months or more. For WCAG 2.0, we said “We want to prove that this can be implemented in an online-learning site, a financial site, other commercial sites, a very small site, a large government site, a media-rich site, and we want to make sure it’s implementable in multiple languages” — and we came up with a spreadsheet of different types of implementations to test. 

Sometimes we found that a particular provision wasn’t clear enough or had a feasibility issue. We addressed all those issues before WCAG 2.0 became a Proposed Recommendation, which the W3C membership reviews, before it finally became a W3C standard in 2008. And in recognition of its broad acceptance, it has now also been recognized as an ISO/IEC standard, which we welcome. We now hope that will lead to further adoption of WCAG 2.0. 

New technique reveals lithium in action


ImageA solid-state lithium-air battery (highlighted in orange) is positioned inside a test chamber at the Advanced Light Source (ALS) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, in preparation for its testing using X-ray photoelectron microscopy.
Image courtesy of Eva Mutoro and Ethan Crumlin, ALS

Exactly what goes inside advanced lithium-air batteries as they charge and discharge has always been impossible to observe directly. Now, a new technique developed by MIT researchers promises to change that, allowing study of this electrochemical activity as it happens.

The reactions that take place inside a conventional lithium-air battery are complex, says Yang Shao-Horn, the Gail E. Kendall Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering, who was the senior author of the paper. “We focused on finding out what really happens during charging and discharging,” she says. Doing that required the use of a special kind of high-intensity X-ray illumination at one of only two facilities in the world capable of producing such an experiment: the Advanced Light Source (ALS) at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) in California.

That facility made it possible to study the electrochemical reactions taking place at the surface of electrodes, and to show the reactions between lithium and oxygen as the voltage applied to the cell was changed.

The tests used a novel solid-state version of a lithium-air battery made possible via collaboration with Nancy Dudney and colleagues at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Shao-Horn says. When discharging, such batteries draw in some lithium ions to convert oxygen into lithium peroxide. Using ALS, Yi-Chun Lu, a postdoc in Shao-Horn’s lab, and Ethan Crumlin, who received his doctorate from MIT this year and is now a postdoc at LBNL, were able to produce detailed spectra of how the reaction unfolds, and show that this reaction is reversible on metal oxide surfaces. Lu and Crumlin were the lead authors of the new research paper.

A lack of understanding of how lithium reacts with oxygen has hindered the development of practical lithium-air batteries, the authors say — but this type of battery offers the prospect of storing up to four times as much energy as today’s lithium-ion batteries for a given weight, and so could be a key enabling technology for energy storage, among other uses. Most existing lithium-air batteries suffer from large energy losses during charging and discharging, and have been unable to successfully sustain repeated cycles.

Using the ALS, Crumlin says, “enables the investigation of a wide array of electrochemical studies in real environmental conditions, including the ability to … study the surface chemistry of our specially designed solid-state lithium dioxide cell.”

This new method for studying the reactions of such batteries in detail could help researchers in their quest to design better batteries. Such improvements to lithium-air batteries, Shao-Horn says, could potentially enhance round-trip efficiency (energy retention between charge and discharge) and cycle life (the ability to charge and discharge a battery many times).

This study showed that using metal oxides as the oxygen electrode could potentially enable a lithium-air battery to maintain its performance over many cycles of operation. The device used in this study was designed purely for research, not as a practical battery design in itself; if replicated in a real cell, Lu says, such designs could greatly improve the longevity of lithium-air batteries.

The observational method this team developed could have implications for studying reactions far beyond lithium-air batteries, Shao-Horn says. This research, she says, “points to a new paradigm of studying reaction mechanisms for electrochemical energy storage. We can use this technique to study a large number of reactions,” she says. “It allows us to look at a large number of different electrochemical energy-related processes.”

Bruno Scorsati, a professor of chemistry at the Sapienza University of Rome, says this work is “a novel and sophisticated approach.” Scorsati adds that this research marks “a step forward in the progress of the science and technology of these super-high-energy storage systems.”

The work, which also involved six other researchers from ORNL, ALS and MIT, was partly funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy.