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Weekly News Digest

February 24, 2022 — In addition to this week's NewsBreaks article and the monthly NewsLink Spotlight, Information Today, Inc. (ITI) offers Weekly News Digests that feature recent product news and company announcements. Watch for additional coverage to appear in the next print issue of Information Today. For other up-to-the-minute news, check out ITIís Twitter account: @ITINewsBreaks.

CLICK HERE to view more Weekly News Digest items.

Historical Context for The Gilded Age From Adam Matthew Digital

Fans of HBO’s The Gilded Age will be happy to hear that Adam Matthew Digital introduced a new primary source collection, The Gilded Age and Progressive Era. The company notes, “Featuring papers and correspondence from luminaries of the time including John D Rockefeller Sr, the Astor Family and Edith Wharton; the satirical cartoons of Thomas Nast and Joseph Keppler; material on labour disputes; and the records of rail, steel, and oil corporations; [this collection] sheds light on this transformative period in American history.”

“The Gilded Age and Progressive Era is the most expansive and varied digital collection of primary source material available for the study of the period,” says Lauren Morgan, head of editorial production at Adam Matthew Digital. “A time of huge wealth and rising social inequality, the resource covers a broad range of themes from architecture to labour movements, to philanthropy and progressivism. It stands as a truly varied collection of material charting the contradictions of the age.”

For more information, read the news item.

'How the New Banned Books Panic Fits Into America's History of School Censorship' by Constance Grady

Constance Grady writes the following for Vox:

It seems as though every few years, a new wave of panic sweeps across America about the books being taught in schools. They are too conservative, or too liberal; they’re being suppressed, or they’re dangerous; they’re pushing an agenda; attention must be paid. This winter sees America in the grips of the latest version of this story, with conservative-driven school book bannings heating up across the country. And experts say there’s a special virulence to this particular wave. …

And the bans, too, are much more forceful than they’ve been before. ‘Some are an individual school board deciding to pull something from a curriculum or take it out of the library,’ [Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America,] says. ‘But there are also much more sweeping pieces of legislation that are being introduced that purport to ban whole categories of books. And that’s definitely something new.’

While the extremes to which the most recent book bannings go are new, the pattern they follow is not. Adam Laats, a historian who studies the history of American education, sees our current trend of banned books as being rooted in a backlash that emerged in the US in the 20th century. That backlash, he says, was against ‘a specific kind of content, seen as teaching children, especially white children, that there’s something wrong with America.’

Looking at the school book bannings of the 1930s against the bannings of the 2020s can show us how history repeats itself—even when we attempt to bury our history.

For more information, read the article.

'Artificial Intelligence Challenges What It Means to Be Creative' by Richard Moss

Richard Moss writes the following for Science News:

When British artist Harold Cohen met his first computer in 1968, he wondered if the machine might help solve a mystery that had long puzzled him: How can we look at a drawing, a few little scribbles, and see a face? Five years later, he devised a robotic artist called AARON to explore this idea. …

Not far behind was the composer David Cope, who coined the phrase ‘musical intelligence’ to describe his experiments with artificial intelligence–powered composition. Cope once told me that as early as the 1960s, it seemed to him ‘perfectly logical to do creative things with algorithms’ rather than to painstakingly draw by hand every word of a story, note of a musical composition or brush stroke of a painting. …

Cohen and Cope were among a handful of eccentrics pushing computers to go against their nature as cold, calculating things. The still-nascent field of AI had its focus set squarely on solid concepts like reasoning and planning, or on tasks like playing chess and checkers or solving mathematical problems. Most AI researchers balked at the notion of creative machines.

Slowly, however, as Cohen and Cope cranked out a stream of academic papers and books about their work, a field emerged around them: computational creativity. It included the study and development of autonomous creative systems, interactive tools that support human creativity and mathematical approaches to modeling human creativity. In the late 1990s, computational creativity became a formalized area of study with a growing cohort of researchers. ...

Soon enough—thanks to new techniques rooted in machine learning and artificial neural networks, in which connected computing nodes attempt to mirror the workings of the brain—creative AIs could absorb and internalize real-world data and identify patterns and rules that they could apply to their creations.

For more information, read the article.

'Why Amazon's New LGTBQ+ Children's Category Matters' by Hanna Kjeldbjerg

Hanna Kjeldbjerg writes the following for Publishers Weekly:

As the marketing director for a small publisher, I’m very familiar with the power of Amazon categories. Although I am Team Bookstore, not Team Bezos, Amazon is not just a reseller—it has become the search engine for books. …

[A]n author I work with, Julie Schanke Lyford, noticed something missing from the Amazon page for her children’s book, Katy Has Two Grampas: there was no LGBTQ+ category for kid lit.

This felt like an oversight—Amazon is known for its sophisticated algorithm. Many general categories have children’s books counterparts, such as physics, Renaissance history, and disaster relief and preparedness. Classification gets granular: fiction vs. nonfiction, print vs. Kindle, and even paid vs. free e-books. But representation for queer kid lit was noticeably missing. …

‘Amazon adding this category is a huge win for the LGBTQ+ community,’ says Alaina Lavoie, program manager at We Need Diverse Books. ‘Many people intentionally seek out children’s books that include LGBTQ+ parents and families. This makes it much easier to find these books as the category grows.’

For more information, read the article.

' and CORE Cooperate to Build AI Chemist' by Balviar Notay

Balviar Notay writes the following for Jisc:

CORE and are extremely pleased to announce the initiation of a new research collaboration funded by the Norwegian Research Council. …

The team at have spent the last 5 years building an award-winning AI engine for scientific text understanding. Their patented algorithms for identifying text similarity, extracting tabular data and creating domain-specific entity representations mean they are world leaders in this domain. 

The AI Chemist project is a collaboration between and The Open University, Oxford University, Trinity College, Dublin and University College, London. CORE is a not-for-profit platform delivered by The Open University in cooperation with Jisc that hosts the world’s largest collection of open access scientific articles. …

Working in partnership with CORE developers and researchers, will now leverage the vast quantities of research papers available in the CORE dataset. This dataset will be employed in improving the quality of text extraction from scientific literature from Chemistry focused domains. The output of this phase will support and The AI Chemist in understanding reasoning and inference across research papers. 

For more information, read the news item.

Send correspondence concerning the Weekly News Digest to NewsBreaks Editor Brandi Scardilli
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