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University of Michigan School of Information


Fun Size for 9/1/20: Up your Zoom game

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].

To the ends of the earth
If you could dig straight through the earth, where would you come out on the
other side?
According to My Modern Met, most people in North America had
better be able to swim. A new interactive map lets you enter any address
anywhere in the world and find out what awaits you in the antipodes.

Bigwigs in the hot seat
In July, the CEOs of tech companies Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Google fielded
six hours of questions on anti-competitive practices from the House Judiciary
Antitrust Subcommittee. While politicians don’t always seem to have the best
grasp of technology, has identified five “actually smart” questions
our tech overlords were asked

Cut, fold, tape
With more and more people ordering everyday supplies for home delivery, those
cardboard boxes can pile up
. Sure, they can be recycled, but as part of its “less
packaging, more smiles” campaign, Amazon hopes you’ll get creative. Their
website has instructions on how to turn those boxes into cat condos, robot
costumes, forts, windmills and more, c|net reports.

Share your COVID story
The New York Public Library is collecting aural diaries of how people are being
affected by the COVID-19 pandemic
. The History Now: Pandemic Diaries project
wants reflections on all kinds of topics, from life in quarantine to protests for
racial justice to art and education. Find out how to record and submit your story
on the NYPL website.

Makers’ dozens
Digital designers, rejoice. has corralled 170+ free design tools
and resources
from fonts and icons to illustrations and animations. Need a new
404 page? A crash course in Canva? Dive into this treasure trove and explore. Or
just play with the Blob Generator, a cross between a lava lamp and a stress ball.

Mmhmm, uh-huh
Here’s a timely app with a funny name – mmhmm – “a name you can say while
eating,” according to its founder. Now that we’re all used to Zoom for group
meetings, mmhmm kicks videoconferencing up several notches by transforming
your dull in-home background to a virtual stage. Check out the video in The Verge
for a demo.

Walk, Spot, walk
Writing for c|net, Lexy Savvides describes what it was like to walk a $75,000
robot dog remotely
. The San Francisco-based Formant company that developed
Spot is looking for other volunteers to walk the dog around the Bay Area to test
their software. Spot can be walked from anywhere by anyone with an internet
connection, and without having to carry that plastic bag.

Tips, tools and office sounds
Jeremy Caplan’s Wonder Tools newsletter provides “useful tiny tips for getting
more done, better,” including some of his best spots for finding cool new tools
on websites like Product Hunt and TechMeme. Scroll to the end for “The Sound of
,” a loop of sound effects for those remote workers who miss office
background noise. It’s oddly comforting.

Couch surfing
TechCrunch is touting a new Amazon AR feature that shows users how multiple
pieces of furniture and home décor would look in their own home
. Online
shoppers can upload a photo of their room and try out different arrangements.
Looking for a new couch? Amazon will suggest similar pieces – all to scale and in
high definition.

IKEA through the ages
Speaking of furniture, the Swedish manufacturer IKEA has been around longer
than you might think. To celebrate the 70th anniversary of its first catalog, IKEA
has uploaded every catalog published since 1951 to its museum site
. Who knew
IKEA had a museum site? Thanks to Bloomberg CityLab, now we do.

Creative space coming soon
VOMA, billed as the world’s first fully interactive virtual museum, should be
online soon. The museum will include works from the collections of notable
institutions like the Musée d’Orsay, the Museum of Modern Art and the Art
Institute of Chicago. Viewers will be able to wander the exhibit rooms and even
venture outside, according to Leave your email address to
receive notice when the doors open later this month.

News from UMSI:

Ricardo Punzalan, Irene Pasquetto and Julie Hui

Three alumni––an associate professor and two lecturers––are among several instructional faculty joining the School of Information in fall 2020. Ricardo “Ricky” Punzalan (PhD ’13) returns to UMSI as an associate professor. Read more.