Gender Disparity
Northeastern professor’s work shows gendered language in teacher reviews
Would you say that a female college professor is more likely to be annoying, bossy, or unfair? Or that a male professor has a better chance of being wise, intelligent, or awesome? An interactive chart gaining attention on social media this week suggests just that. By using 14 million teacher reviews from, Northeastern history professor Ben Schmidt created a data visualization that allows users to explore words used to describe male and female teachers. By typing any word into the box, the chart rearranges to display how often the word is used and in which subject areas. Many of the results illustrate gendered language. Read More
Life after death
Facebook creates a 'living will' for users' accounts after death
Facebook has created the option of appointing a 'legacy contact' to manage a page after a user's death.
Until recently, the fate of a Facebook page after the user's death has been a decidedly gray area. Family members of the deceased were able to reach out to the social network and ask to have a page taken down or turned into a memorial, but the user had little say in the decision and even then, no one had oversight to manage the memorial page. But this morning, Facebook announced that it has created new protocols for the site which allow users to make decisions about the fate of their online lives after their death. Think of it as a living will for your social media profile. Read More
Magic Bus App
Wanderu launches mobile app to make bus travel easier
From left, Wanderu cofounders Igor Bratnikov and Polina Raygorodskaya (courtesy of company)
Boston-based bus travel search site Wanderu is having a productive February. Last week, the company visited Richard Branson's private Neckar Island to pitch their startup to the Virgin Group founder as part of his Extreme Tech Challenge. Today, Wanderu is launching a mobile application that the company calls the first comprehensive ground travel booking app in North America. Read More
Growth Tree
Payment company MineralTree gets $11.1 million in new funding
The MineralTree team. (Image via  MineralTree)
MineralTree, a Cambridge-based accounts payable and automated payments company, announced today that it has received $11.1 million in new funding from a group of investors that includes Fidelity Growth Partners, .406 Ventures, and new investor First Data, an international payment technology and services company. Read More
Smarter Health
Smartphone 'dongle' is a speedy, affordable detector for HIV and syphilis
Connected to a smartphone, these devices can test for HIV or syphilis in 15 minutes. (Photo: Samiksha Nayak/Columbia University)
A pocket-sized lab that connects to a smartphone through its audio port has shown promise as a rapid and affordable detector for HIV and syphilis in remote areas without a reliable electricity or health clinics nearby. Health care workers at a clinic in Rwanda tested the device on 96 patients and found that the test powered by the smartphone suitably convincing. A whole 97 percent of patients preferred the device over the typical lab-test method, which takes longer, and is more expensive. Read More
Vegas Baby
Schneider Electric aims to bring energy efficiency to the Las Vegas Arena and the Strip
An artists' rendering of the Las Vegas Arena, set to open in 2016. (Image via Schneider Electric)
The city of Las Vegas isn't exactly associated with energy efficiency — that is what you get when you build a metropolis in the middle of the desert, outfit it with millions of lights, and then suck your water supply dry. But Schneider Electric, the international energy firm with US headquarters in Andover, Mass., is doing its part to make a small dent in the energy consumption along The Strip. Read More
a three dimensional education
NVBOTS raises $2 million to bring a 3-D printing curriculum to schools
Samples of 3-D printed objects that teachers can use in their lesson plans. (Photo via NVBots)
Many educators agree that teaching STEM subjects requires hands-on, experiential education (as opposed to "teaching to the test"). But the tools and materials they need to do so are often too costly or too scarce in the budget-stretched world of education. Boston-based NVBOTS, a MassChallenge alum with roots at MIT, provides one solution for schools struggling to fund hands-on experiences in subjects like physics, biology, and math. The company has created a 3-D printing system for schools that includes printer hardware, software that's easy to use, and printing materials like plastic. Their goal is to make it simple for teachers to integrate 3-D printing into their regular classroom activities. Read More
Takes a kicking and keeps on ticking
Kicked but still standing: Boston Dynamics' new robot has a stunning sense of balance
Google-owned bot maker Boston Dynamics has added another leggy member to its family of fearsome robotic quadrupeds. This one’s called Spot, and its special talent is a killer sense of balance. Even as Boston Dynamics employees repeatedly kick the robot, it manages to stay standing. Read More
Book Club Wars
Zuckerberg's no Oprah: His book club is a dud
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
It all started on Jan. 2, 2015, when Mark Zuckerberg shared one of his New Year’s resolutions with the world. He wanted to read more books in 2015. So he set up a Facebook Group called A Year of Books and quickly had over 200,000 likes overnight. He was going to be the next Oprah, TechCrunch reported rather breathlessly. It hasn't quite turned out that way. Read More