Daily Archives: June 19, 2015
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YouTube — and the ability for people to easily shoot videos from their phones — has changed the way news outlets report on big events. Now Google wants to help the media find eyewitness videos and make sure they are trustworthy.
To do that, the search giant on Thursday launched YouTube Newswire, which gathers together and verifies eyewitness videos from current events so news outlets can add them to their stories.
The service is a joint project between the News Lab at Google and Storyful, a News Corp-owned startup that focuses on news coming from the social Web. The two companies have partnered since 2011, when protests broke out in Egypt’s Tahrir Square.
“The role of the eyewitness has never had a more vital place in the newsgathering process,” said Oliva Ma, who heads the News Lab, in a blog post Thursday. “It’s almost impossible to turn on the news during a breaking event without seeing raw video uploaded by a YouTube user somewhere across the globe.”
The move underscores tech giants’ increasing role in helping the media to produce news. Facebook launched a similar service with Storyful last year, called FB Newswire. YouTube’s new service also highlights how important crowd-sourced video has become, especially as more people use smartphone cameras to document what’s going on around them.
YouTube is the largest video site in the world, with 1 billion unique visitors a month. Those people are watching more than 5 million hours of news video on YouTube everyday, according to Ma.
At launch, several of the videos on the Newswire are around the day’s biggest news stories: A shooting at a historically Black church in Charleston, South Carolina, and floods in Texas and Oklahoma. The videos come from both eyewitness and local newspapers, and have been verified by Storyful’s team of editors.
In addition to the newswire, YouTube on Thursday announced two other projects that have to do with eyewitness journalism. One of the projects, called the First Draft Coalition, will serve as an educational resource for journalists — helping them to verify eyewitness videos and consider the ethics of using them in stories. The other is a partnership with the Witness Media Lab, focused on eyewitness videos having to do with human rights issues.
Connected cars are getting a great deal of attention right now, as they offer the chance to transform transportation in Western countries where cars and trucks dominate road traffic. In Asia’s dense mega-cities though, it’s gas-powered scooters, not cars, that rule the road.
Taiwan-based Gogoro is trying to connect those vehicles while also driving down energy consumption in those heavily polluted megalopolises with its electric Smartscooter. Gogoro announced yesterday that it would start taking orders on for its Smartscooters – priced at $4,100 – in Taiwan later this month.
Gogoro’s scooters include 30 sensors that send diagnostic information to owners’ smartphones via Gogoro’s app and are powered by two 20-pound batteries. When the batteries run low, they can be swapped out at Gogoro’s smart recharging stations for fully charged batteries. Gogoro plans to place networks of its charging stations throughout cities in Asia. It already has 32 in Taipei, Taiwan’s capital city, as part of the pilot it’s running there. It plans to increase that number to 150 by the end of the year. The Smartscooter can travel 62 miles at 60mph on a pair of fully charged batteries.
Gogoro will need the infrastructure of battery-swap stations in place to expand to new cities. The Smartscooter is also more expensive than gas-powered alternatives, but the company says that over the first two years of ownership the electric Smartscooter costs less than some gas-powered models.
Replacing the millions of gas-powered scooters on the streets of Asia’s biggest cities with electric ones would help alleviate the air pollution problems in many of those cities.
Loans and investment from China are crucial not only for the development of Sri Lanka but also in strengthening China-Sri Lanka bilateral ties, Speaker of Parliament Chamal Rajapaksa said.
In a recent exclusive interview with Xinhua and the Asia Pacific Daily, he said that while China and Sri Lanka have enjoyed generations of friendship and cordial relationship, it was only at the end of the civil war in 2009 that China started to play an important role in the country’s reconstruction efforts.
“The famous Sino-Lanka Rubber-Rice Pact signed in 1952 played an important role in the development of Sri Lanka. The pact witnessed the great friendship between China and Sri Lanka. However, the development of Sri Lanka stagnated because of the 30-year-civil- war,” Rajapaksa said.
Rajapaksa said that after peace was achieved in 2009, China provided loans and investment to support the post-war reconstruction in Sri Lanka. “With China’s financial support, the Sri Lankan economy was able to take off and the country is now being noticed by the world.”
The speaker cited as an example of the China-funded project, the Puttalam Coal Plant, which has provided 50 percent of the country’s power requirement and cut by 25 percent the electricity cost since its operation.
Another China-funded project is the south container wharf at the Colombo Port, a joint venture between the Sri Lanka Ports Authority and China Merchant Holdings Ltd. “Through China’s expertise and funding, the Colombo South Port has become the World’s Fastest Development Port in 2014.”
“China has vigorously supported and participated in the construction process of Sri Lanka which has benefited the Sri Lankan people. The friendship between China and Sri Lanka is difficult to break and would remain vibrant in the years to come,” the Speaker was quoted as saying by Xinhua.
Since Chinese President Xi Jinping’s official visit to the island nation in September last year, the friendship between the two countries has risen to a higher level with deeper mutually beneficial cooperation in various sectors, Rajapaksa said, adding because of this, there has been a noticeable increase in the inflow of investment from local and foreign sources into the country.
Facebook has been working hard to improve the News Feed experience for its billion-plus users but despite all of the measures that it’s taking there doesn’t seem to be a concrete way to ensure that posts from people you love and care about the most are always prioritized in the News Feed. As it turns out Facebook is testing a new feature called “See First” which is going to prioritize posts from contacts that users specify, recent posts from those contacts will always be shown at the top of the News Feed.
This feature will provide much needed control to Facebook users who can then filter out posts from their friends and family, and not have to search for their posts that get buried underneath the sea of updates from Pages, groups and other contacts.
Facebook confirmed to TechCrunch that it is currently running a small test of a new feature which lets users indicate a specific person or Page from which they would like to see posts at the top of their News Feed, adding that the company is “always exploring new ways to improve the Facebook experience.”
It’s unclear though at this point in time if Facebook will end up rolling out this feature to everybody, it will obviously look at the test results first before making its decision, but I’m sure there are many Facebook users like me who would like to have the ability to further fine tune their News Feed experience.