I’m struggling with this week’s news. So I’m taking an easy way out with this week’s headline, quoting the opening line of Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s note to employees following a contentious internal memo about gender and diversity in the company. The negative trends in our world, evidenced by the events in Charlottesville, may not be what we want to focus on for our futures, but they clearly require our attention and response.
A reminder that we've opened the call for session proposals for our 2018 Symposium on the Future of Libraries, part of the 2018 ALA Midwinter Meeting, February 9 -13 in Denver. We had over 25 sessions at the 2017 Symposium and look forward to another rich discussion of the near- and long-term trends shaping the future of libraries.
You can always check out the Center's trend collection to see how this scanning comes together to identify trends relevant to our futures. The Center's trend cards are also available to help you talk with colleagues and members of the community, map how trends fit together or how they fit into your community, or spark innovation activities.
And as you scan through these articles, consider dropping me a line to let me know what you're reading this week to help prepare for the future.
Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines
Engadget “Intel plans a test fleet of 100 self-driving cars”
Intel unveiled plans to build a fleet of 100 self-driving vehicles, bringing together sensor, mapping, and driving technology from Mobileye with Intel's computing platforms, data center technology, and 5G wireless.
Engadget “Autonomous wheelchairs arrive at Japanese airport”
Panasonic will introduce robotic electric wheelchairs to make Japan's Haneda Airport more accessible – users input their destination via smartphone and the wheelchair identifies its position and selects the best route to get there.
Engadget “Sony will use blockchain to beef up school cybersecurity”
Sony Education will work with IBM to use blockchain for a secure academic platform for storing student records, building a central database better able to securely share documents across institutions and bring together registration documents, attendance, grades, and even lesson plans.
GeekWire “Microsoft is working on its own commercial blockchain framework, expected to arrive in 2018”
Microsoft will release an open-source framework that will allow businesses to implement blockchain technologies to facilitate transactions between customers, suppliers, or anyone with whom they do business.
Cities and Government
City Lab “The next big challenge for small downtowns”
Downtown renaissance projects in smaller cities have invested in residential and entertainment offerings and new civic spaces and buildings, but without new private sector commerce, industry, and public sector and quasi-public sector employers like education and high-quality hospitals to replace or support traditional downtown employers like banks, utilities, and department stores, revitalizations could falter.
The Daily Dot “White supremacists hold torchlight march, rally ahead of ‘Unite the Right’ protest” and “Charlottesville declared state of emergency, white supremacist groups ordered to disperse” and “Car plows through dozens of counter protesters in Charlottesville”
An awful weekend at the University of Virginia where hundreds of white supremacists and white nationalists marched with torches, chanting phrases such as “Blood and soil,” “You will not replace us,” and “One people, one nation, end immigration,” ahead of a Unite the Right rally scheduled to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. White supremacists, white nationalists, and leaders of the alt-right movement engaged in violent encounters with citizens organized to oppose the rally and its hateful messages – local authorities and the governor of Virginia declared a state of emergency as physical fights broke out throughout the morning and a driver used his car to injure dozens of citizens. See also The Chronicle of Higher Education, Gizmodo, and Mic and again and again.
CNET “The fallout over that Google diversity memo rages on”
Google engineer James Damore’s contentious memo about gender and diversity at the company went viral throughout Google and the press before Damore was fired for contradicting the company’s basic values and Code of Conduct, which expects “each Googler to do their utmost to create a workplace culture that is free of harassment, intimidation, bias and unlawful discrimination” – the resulting debate has focused attention on Silicon Valley’s continuing diversity problems, the growing political divide across the country, and the challenge of transparent conversations about diversity in highly politicized environments. For general information, see BBC, The Huffington Post, The New York Times, and NPR; for CEO Sundar Pichai’s response see Fast Company and Mashable; for the employee’s firing see Advertising Age, ArsTechnica, BBC, Bloomberg, CNET, Engadget, The Huffington Post, New York Magazine, ReCode, TechCrunch, and The Verge; for broader implications see Bloomberg, GeekWire, Gizmodo, Mashable, The New York Times, The Verge, and The Washington Post; and for cancelled staff meeting see Ars Technica, CNET, CNN, Engadget, Fast Company, The Huffington Post, Mashable, The New York Times, ReCode, The Verge, and Wired.
Mic “A Minnesota mosque was bombed — and America’s failed anti-extremism policies are to blame”
The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) are investigating a bombing at the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in suburban Minneapolis – while no one was injured, the incident is one of several Islamophobia and anti-Muslim attacks that have taken place in 2017.
Bloomberg “America’s drinking problem is much worse this century”
A new study in JAMA Psychiatry finds that the number of adults who binge drink at least once a week could be as high as 30 million with a similar number reporting alcohol abuse or dependency – women, older Americans, minorities, and people with lower levels of education and income showed increases in alcohol abuse.
The Atlantic “Restaurants are the new factories”
Restaurant jobs are growing faster than jobs in health care, construction, or manufacturing – while this is important for job growth, the typical restaurant job pays about $12.50 an hour (versus $22 an hour for the typical private-sector job).
The Los Angeles Times “Cal State will no longer require placement exams and remedial classes for freshmen”
Cal State plans to drop placement exams in math and English as well as noncredit remedial courses taken by more than 25,000 freshmen each fall — the direction from Chancellor Timothy P. White “facilitates equitable opportunity for first-year students to succeed through existing and redesigned education models,” helping students obtain their degrees sooner, at lower costs, and without a frustration that can lead some students to drop out.
Hechinger Report “The new minority on campus? Men”
Where men once went to college in proportions far higher than women (58% to 42% as recently as the 1970s), the U.S Department of Education reports that women will comprise more than 56% of students on campuses nationwide this Fall – low-income boys in places with the most economic inequality, in particular, suffer what one study calls the “economic despair” of seeing little hope for financial advancement as a result of attending college.
The Wall Street Journal “The end of typing: The internet's next billion users will use video and voice”
“The next billion” internet users will use voice activation and images for communication, as a population of less-educated users go online with smartphones, cheap data plans, and intuitive apps that let them navigate despite poor literacy.
Motherboard “Rather than expanding broadband, the FCC wants to count cell service as internet”
The Federal Communications Commission is considering including phone data plans in its definition of "broadband access," effectively reducing the number of Americans who are considered "unserved" and covering up the problem and reducing the incentive for internet service providers to try to reach them. See also ArsTechnica.
Business Insider “Facebook has killed the Snapchat-like app for high schoolers it quietly released last year”
Facebook has closed Lifestage, the standalone app it released almost a year ago as a dedicated social network for high schoolers. See also CNET, Mashable, TechCrunch, and The Verge.
News and Journalism
Poynter “Mozilla wants to matter more in the fight against misinformation”
Mozilla, the nonprofit organization behind the Firefox browser, announced a new Mozilla Information Trust Initiative to combat online misinformation, concentrating on new products, internet literacy, research, and "creative interventions." See also Nieman Lab.
Restaurants, Retail, and Spaces
Mashable “Sole searching”
Nike is one of several players in a growing network of sneaker apps that use tech to sell shoes in unconventional ways, including timed sales at pop-up locations and scavenger hunts.
Consumerist “Walmart testing self-scanning and checkout by smartphone: Yes, again”
Walmart is once again testing its Scan & Go mobile app – shoppers use their phones or a store-issued scanner to scan items as they walk around the store, before bringing their pre-scanned items to a self-checkout register with a barcode to purchase all items in the cart, and having their purchase reviewed by customer service workers – working to stay ahead of a similar plan for Amazon’s Amazon Go convenience stores. See also GeekWire.
Consumerist “Grocery stores jumping into meal kit market”
Supermarkets are experimenting with meal kits like those from Blue Apron and Hello Fresh – Whole Foods is testing displays that feature a recipe and all of the raw ingredients needed to make the meal and Kroger is offering a boxed kit complete with pre-measured ingredients.
Reuters “Exclusive: Amazon in talks to offer event ticketing in U.S. - sources”
Amazon is reportedly seeking to partner with U.S. venue owners to sell event tickets, part of a new push to reach its massive customer base and lure members to its Amazon Prime service – a sticking point in negotiations appears to be customer data, where venue owners are seeking access to data for who is buying tickets so they can tailor social media campaigns and book the right acts in the right places. See also Consumerist, The Drum, Engadget, Fast Company, GeekWire, and TechCrunch.
The Sharing Economy
BuzzFeedNews “Airbnb is deactivating accounts of people trying to attend a white supremacist rally”
Airbnb deactivated accounts of people believed to be booking units to host gatherings related to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville – the company cited its community rules that "those who are members of the Airbnb community accept people regardless of their race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or age" and added that they were able to find users who violated the policy "through our background check" and the "input of our community." See also The Daily Dot, Gizmodo, Mashable, Slate, TechCrunch, and The Wrap.
The New York Times “Facebook introduces a dedicated home for videos”
Facebook introduced Watch, a dedicated home for videos in the social network and a redesign of the site’s current video tab meant to entice people to watch for longer stretches and return regularly to view shows – the feature will be rolled out to a limited group of users in the United States before a wider release. See also Consumerist, Digiday, The Drum, Engadget, Fast Company, Nieman Lab, TechCrunch, The Verge, and Wired.
Fast Company “Disney is dumping Netflix and launching new streaming apps”
Disney announced that it would be ending its licensing deal with Netflix and will offer a Disney-branded subscription service and an ESPN service as the company moves aggressively into the direct-to-consumer space – the company had “talked about” launching separate Marvel and Star Wars apps, but they “have to be mindful of the volume of product.” See also Advertising Age and again, ArsTechnica, CNET, The Drum and again, Engadget, GeekWire and again, The New York Times, ReCode and again and again, TechCrunch and again, Variety, and The Verge and again and again.
The Hollywood Reporter “David Letterman returning to TV with Netflix talk show”
Another move to make subscription streaming services sources for information and news – David Letterman will lead a new talk show for Netflix conducting longform conversations with guest as well as exploring topics on his own. See also CNET, Consumerist, The Daily Dot, The Drum, Engadget, GeekWire, Mashable, TechCrunch, and The Verge.
The Drum “Netflix buys comic publisher Millarworld to spread its net even wider”
Netflix purchased comic book publisher Millarworld – the streaming service will work to expand character franchises through films, series, and kids shows available exclusively to Netflix global subscribers. See also Consumerist, Gizmodo, Mashable, TechCrunch, and The Verge.
TechCrunch “What we know about CBS’s upcoming streaming service for sports”
CBS announced its intention to launch a live streaming service for sports based on its success with its streaming news network, CBSN. See also Advertising Age and Engadget.
Mashable “The Coen Brothers (!!!) are coming to Netflix for a Western anthology”
Joel and Ethan Coen will write, direct, and executive produce a new Western anthology for Netflix. See also TechCrunch and The Verge.
The Verge “Comedy streaming service SeeSo is shutting down”
NBC announced that it would be ending operations for SeeSo, the $3.99 a month standalone comedy streaming service it started in 2016. See also Advertising Age and Engadget.
Wired “The long, hot summer of Netflix's ever-accelerating expansion”
A look at Netflix’s expansion over the last three months, expanding into international markets and deeper into genres as it seeks to transform entertainment.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
Engadget “Coldplay's Chicago concert will stream live in VR on August 17th”
Samsung is partnering with Live Nation to offer a Coldplay concert in VR for Gear VR headset owners.
Engadget “'W Magazine' shows how fashion is embracing augmented reality”
W Magazine partnered with visual effects production studio The Mill on the magazine's September Collector's Issue featuring interactive, computer-generated elements that work with a smartphone or tablet and a companion app called Beyond the Page.