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Fun Size for 1/8/20: Decade in review: Tech flops of 2010s

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UMSI's Fun Size digest features tiny, delicious news tidbits relating to information and library topics. Reach us at [email protected].

Decade of flops

The Verge catalogs the major tech flops of the 2010s and comes up with 84. That’s a lot, so tl;dr: Google Reader, Google Fiber, Google Plus, Galaxy Fold, Windows 8 and MoviePass. Scroll to the end for a link to the 100 gadgets that Verge writers think defined the decade – some flops made that list too.

Apocalypse avoided

While every news outlet is looking back at the previous year and previous decade, looks back 20 years to Y2K, when dire predictions of nuclear meltdowns and planes falling out of the sky never materialized. But not, as it turns out, because no one took precautions.

Single Sundays

It’s January, so the gyms are packed, friends are posting resolutions on Facebook and lonely hearts are looking for love. The first Sunday of January is the hottest online dating day of the year, reports. But there’s still time; the second Sunday in January is the next busiest day. So snap that selfie, polish your profile and don’t forget the spellcheck.

Ghost writer

We know about the dark web, but how about a dark robot? Writing for The Outline, Mike Pearl feeds an opening line to GPT-2, an AI natural language generator, and is slightly appalled at the ghoulish prose the robot churns out. Who let it read Steven King?

Get your free data here

For data scientists and anyone else who needs data and lots of it, Storytelling with Data has compiled a Google doc with links to dozens of free data sources. If that sounds dry, consider that you can access the FBI Crime Data Explorer, NASA, a baseball database and the Pew Research Center. Hours of snooping fun.

I need more data…storage!

Speaking of data, Frontier Internet has a nifty dynamic timeline that charts the history of data storage from punch cards in the 1890s through floppy discs and zip drives to the cloud servers hosting the 2.7 zettabytes of digital data that exist today. (To spare you Googling, a zettabyte is a billion terabytes.)

Library juggernaut buys Overdrive

Overdrive, the leading distributor of ebooks for libraries, was sold to KKR on Christmas Eve. KKR also owns RBDigital (a.k.a. Recorded Books) and with its December purchase becomes the leading provider of digital media for libraries. Goodreader speculates that the sale could be related to Macmillan’s decision to limit libraries to one ebook edition during the first eight weeks of publication.

Open to the public

On January 1, 2020, works from 1924 entered the public domain, including silent films of Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd, books by A.A. Milne and Agatha Christie, and music by George and Ira Gershwin. Duke’s Center for the Study of Public Domain has an explanation of the copyright law and links to the thousands of creative works now free to use or share.

Snapchat premieres snackable TV

Teetering on the brink of becoming passé, Snapchat is fighting back with Bitmoji TV, coming soon to a small screen near you. Techcrunch reports that starting in February, you and your friends’ personal Bitmoji avatars can star in a full-motion animated mini-series. Stay ’tooned.

News from UMSI

UMSI assistant professor David Jurgens is co-advising a team of U-M students competing in the Alexa Prize Socialbot Grand Challenge. With Amazon seed money of $250,000, the student group is working to develop a bot capable of carrying on a 20-minute conversation and hoping to qualify for the quarterfinals in February. Read more.