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Fun Size for 8/5/22: New life for your Lego set

Data viz, circa 1856

Sometimes, you just have to show people. Crimean War heroine and public health advocate Florence Nightingale turned her statistics into graphics to show data-illiterate politicians that unsanitary conditions were major contributors to deaths of wounded soldiers. This Scientific American article includes elegant examples of her early employment of data visualization, which ultimately saved the lives of both soldiers and civilians.

New tricks for old bricks

Sure, machine learning handles all sorts of practical tasks, from chatbots to medical diagnoses, but what does it do for fun? How about demonstrating all the creations you could make from a specific pile of Legos? The Brickit app will scan your brick pile and provide suggestions and step-by-step directions to make hundreds of tiny toys. Brickit’s snappy site includes a video to inspire you to pull that shoebox out of the closet and get building – or sit back and admire someone else’s handiwork.

All libraries, great and small 

The Global Library Project grew out of Robert Dawson’s 18-year odyssey across the U.S., photographing public libraries both humble and grand. His new exhibit, currently on display at the San Francisco Public Library, features an international photographic survey of libraries from Alberta, Canada to war-torn Ukraine, illustrating how social, cultural and political issues shape a library’s role in its community.

FB Forecast: an avalanche of sponsored content 

If you’ve noticed the proliferation of Facebook posts and Instagram reels from accounts you don’t follow in your feed, just wait until next year. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, facing an aging user base and decreased earnings in the last two quarters, promises that these unsolicited recommendations (aka ads) will increase to 30% of your feed in 2023, says The Verge. Yeah, that should hold its users.

Got a short little span of attention 

It’s not only Facebook that’s lost favor with younger users. College freshman Julia Moon, writing for Slate, is a member of the “technology-addicted generation with short attention spans.” Google is fine for some things, she concedes, but its recommendations are kind of “lackluster,” while TikTok and Snap videos are “fun and easy.” Advertisers, take note.

New game for geography geeks 

Teens may find Google Maps old-school, but another Gen Z group with time on its hands is playing GeoGuessr, a fast-growing game using Google Street View. These geography fanatics can identify the location of an image taken from Street View anywhere in the world in seconds. Though it takes practice. “Candidly, I haven’t had any social life for the past year,” admits one top-player in this New York Times piece. “But it’s so fun.”

Pirate editions 

Preserving all human knowledge in a digital format available to all would seem to be a noble undertaking. Trouble is, it’s illegal. The Pirate Library Mirror is a mirror of existing libraries of pirated content, starting with Z-Library, an illegal repository of journal articles, academic texts and general interest books. The Next Web ponders the pros and cons of collecting and sharing information, legal or not.

Move along, moocher 

Speaking of pirates, one reason your internet could be slow is that some freebooter is camping on your WiFi. Mashable has a way for you to discover who else might be lurking on your WiFi network by checking your router settings. Reasons to do this include protecting your privacy, which might be at least as important as speeding up your internet connection.

Prompt and polished  

This might not be for everyone, but for those who could use a teleprompter for a recording or in-person presentation, MakeUseOf has gathered a few free web-based tools that will have you looking as poised and professional as your favorite newscaster.

Grandma, tell us your story 

Since 2003, StoryCorps has been recording and preserving the stories of everyday American lives for the Library of Congress. The program has just announced a new mobile app that provides access to StoryCorps content of over 600,000 interviews plus the tools to prepare for, record and share your own personal stories with family or the wider world.