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University of Michigan School of Information


Fun Size for 6/4/21: Take better photos with your phone

10 things you might not know about Americans and Facebook

While the lawsuits have been piling up against Facebook lately, with claims it’s too big, too powerful and monopolistic, it is still one of the most-used social media platforms in the U.S., right behind YouTube according to Pew Research Center surveys.  Here are 10 facts about Facebook that might surprise you. 

Howdy, neighbor

From C|Net: Facebook seems to be stepping into Nextdoor’s territory as it tests out a new feature in four U.S. cities and Canada. “Neighborhood” aims to create social media communities based on geography, allowing users to find neighbors with common interests, share information, receive and offer help. Will it manage to avoid Nextdoor’s rep as the curmudgeons’ soapbox? And will the Canadian version be Neighbourhood?


The most recent update to Apple’s operating system, iOS 14.5, has some new and useful features, says Mashable, but the one people are most likely to care about is the 9 new Emojis, including a flaming heart and a woman with a beard. We could have used the new syringe emoji a few months ago, but we’ll save it for our booster shot.

What to watch next

Netflix also has a new feature, based on your viewing preferences. The Play Something button “will show a variety of algorithmically curated content,” according to The Verge, including new shows and movies, something from your watchlist, or programs you’ve started watching.

Keep on truckin’

A driverless 18-wheeler recently took a load of watermelons 950 miles, from Tucson to Dallas, in 14 hours, 42% faster than a human driver could have made the trip legally. According to SingularityHub, rather than eliminating jobs, these autonomous vehicles could help address the shortage of truck drivers and make the jobs easier for those who have them. Sit back and enjoy the ride.

Hands across the border

Two European cities have created a unique link to combat tribalism and social polarization, in this story from The Verge. Vilnius, Lithuania and Lublin, Poland are now connected in real time, through life-sized science fiction-y video portals in their city centers, where people can scope out neighbors 375 miles away. Plans are to add similar portals in other cities. 

Saving Sicilian, Yiddish, Maori and more

Language is another vital form of human connection, and of the 6,000-7,000 known languages in the world today, up to 80% could disappear by 2100, according to experts. Efforts to preserve some of these “heritage languages” include Woolaroo, a new tool developed by Google. The app uses machine learning to preserve languages on the brink of extinction, as graphically demonstrated in this story scroll from Google Arts & Culture. 

Don’t trip on the Sidewalk

File under Things You Should Know: On Tuesday, June 8, Amazon will automatically activate a new feature on several its devices, including Echo and some Ring doorbells, to create a virtual network mesh around your home reaching about as far as your sidewalk. Hence the name, Sidewalk Bridge. PC Mag explains the pros (get your new Amazon gadgets up and online easily) and cons (um, your data? security?) and tells you how to opt out.

Just in time for canning season

In a rare non-paywalled piece, The Washington Post hails the little-known but authoritative and free resources offered by land grant colleges and universities’ extension services. Reporter Becky Krystal finds educated advice on topics like cooking, preserving, gardening, health and food safety, often tailored to the geographic region where the school is located, like high-altitude baking tips from Colorado State. 

Oh, Snap!

While they say cameras in our phones are superior to the average point-and-shoot camera, somehow that doesn’t always equal great photographs. However, C|NET has compiled tips and tutorials from some professional photographers to help you take your best-ever photos with an iPhone or Android phone. You’ll look at your phone from a whole new angle.