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University of Michigan School of Information


Fun Size for 10/1/20: Curly, the Curling Robot

The world of information - in Fun Size!

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

Top 12 Data Science skills for 2020
Digitalogy’s Claire D. Costa, writing for Towards Data Science, shares his list of the data science skills most in demand in 2020. No real surprises here, but a good rundown of what all aspiring data scientists need to know. GitHub, Agile and Python/R top his list.

Libraries met pandemic well-prepared
While COVID-19 caught many businesses unprepared for the pandemic and subsequent lockdown, one institution was able to shift quickly to an online existence: the public library. Libraries have been providing digital delivery of books, magazines and videos and free internet service for years, but 2020 has ushered in the virtual library of the future, writes Ellen Rosen for the New York Times.

Curly, the curling robot
The quirky sport of curling has a new player, an “ice-going, stone-throwing robot,” according to WIRED’s Matt Simon. Curly beat pro Korean teams in three out of four matches, even without industrious sweepers smoothing its path. While the world may not need a curling-playing robot, the technology involved in its development will have uses far outside the rink, Simon says.

Home work
While working from home has some advantages, it can take a toll on both physical and mental health. To the rescue: Working Den, with the goal of making “healthier, happier remote workers.” The site offers desk exercises, eyestrain assessment, nature videos, cheery background music, a Slack community and even a soundtrack of the London Underground. For those who miss commuting, perhaps.

Palm reader
Talk about convenience: Forget facial recognition, passing your phone over a scanner or fumbling for your wallet. Amazon is experimenting with a new form of payment in its Seattle Go stores: a wave of the hand, palm down. The Verge suggests Amazon’s palm recognition scanning hardware is destined for more locations soon.

The ever-expanding influence of Amazon is rolling down grocery aisles as well, and we don’t mean Whole Foods. Forbes explains why some subtle innovations at one of Amazon’s California stores could change the grocery shopping landscape forever.

Check me out
A Danish idea on how to overcome stereotypes was the inspiration for The Human Library, a project that seeks to provide connections and understanding across social, religious and ethnic divides. Instead of checking out a book, patrons can literally check out a human being with personal experience for an open discussion on delicate subjects such as homelessness, autism, deafness/blindness, PTSD, religious conversions and incarceration.

Something in the AIr
A Ugandan computer scientist and his team of faculty and students at Makerere University are using their Google AI Impact Challenge grant to improve human lives by improving the air quality in Uganda. Watch the two-minute video and meet a man aptly named Engineer.

All keyed up
Ultimate Frisbee is all fun and games, but how about a really practical ultimate skill like, say, typing? VICE documents the return of the Ultimate Typing Championship, where the competitors reached blazingly fast speeds of over 200 wpm on their computer keyboards. Like to see how they’d do on a manual typewriter, though.

Go back in time
Last month, we shared an interactive map that shows the antipodes of any location on earth. Now, Smithsonianmag goes one better, featuring a fascinating interactive map created by Ian WebsterPick any place on earth to see how it appeared up to 750 million years ago, and see the state of the world when flowers, dinosaurs and primates first appeared.

Devon Keen

News from UMSI
Devon Keen has been appointed Director of Inclusion, Equity and Outreach at the School of Information. In this newly created position, she will play a leadership role in the development and implementation of UMSI’s outreach and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. Read more.