Read for Later – “It changed in step with and reflected the times and the ever-evolving world around it”

This week’s headline quotes Peter Barbey, owner of the Village Voice, articulating the power of the publication even as it moves to end print publication and move entirely online.

Another push for two upcoming events that may be of interest:

  • The Public Library Association and WebJunction will host an "Opioid Crisis Town Hall: Library Needs and Responses" online discussion on September 12 – given the growing concerns around the opioid crisis in the U.S., this will likely be of interest to many.
  • Colleagues from the state libraries of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia as well as COSLINE and LibraryLinkNJ will host a Futures Conference September 25 – 26 - an interesting schedule of speakers that gives a sense of the many directions from which our futures will emerge.

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

NBC News “Post bail”
The United States’ bail system can be unfair to people who don’t have much money, leaving them more likely to remain in jail, be fired from jobs, lose custody of children, plead guilty to something they didn’t do, serve time in prison, and suffer the lifelong consequences of a criminal conviction – to address this, New Jersey and other states are turning to a data-driven algorithm to determine the likelihood for someone to return to court for trial and remove some of the bias in the bail system.

Engadget “Disney Research taught AI how to judge short stories”
Using social question and answer site Quora for a large database to feed into its artificial intelligence algorithms, researchers at Disney and the University of Massachusetts Boston are developing neural networks that can evaluate short stories to predict which stories will be most popular by looking at different sections of each story and the holistic view of a story's meaning.

ReCode “The U.S. government’s self-driving car council has fallen apart under Trump”
The Federal Committee on Automation, a group formed under the Obama Administration and including executives from Apple, Ford, GM, Lyft, and other companies involved in driverless cars, has not met under the Trump administration and has seen several members resign.

Associated Press “Netflix loves to pick hits for each subscriber - but how?”
As Netflix invests in programming, it has also sought to improve its systems for discovery – four out of five of the shows watched on Netflix were suggestions from the system’s algorithm which personalizes reccomendations.

Books and Publishing

The Verge “Medium will now pay writers based on how many claps they get”
Publishing platform Medium will allow more users to publish paywalled articles and will use claps, Medium’s equivalent of a Like, as a tool to determine revenue sharing. 

Cities and Government

Mic “GOP passes a resolution condemning the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville”
At its summer meeting, the Republican Party passed a resolution “condemning the violence and racist beliefs of white supremacists,” part of an effort by Republicans to distance themselves from the white supremacist groups that have expressed support for U.S. President Trump. See also The Atlantic.

Gizmodo “Pro-Trump rallies in 36 states canceled, will be held as online demonstrations”
Pro-Trump rallies originally planned for roughly 37 locations across the US have been canceled after organizer ACT For America claimed concerns for violence and announced plans to hold demonstrations online. See also The Daily Dot and Mashable.


Engadget “Walmart may use a blimp to deploy its delivery drones”
Walmart has applied for a patent on "gas-filled carrier aircrafts" that would serve as airborne bases for courier drones flying to homes they couldn't reach if they flew from a fixed location – the concept is similar to an application filed by Amazon in 2016.

Engadget “Drones will watch Australian beaches for sharks with AI help”
Little Ripper drones will monitor some Australian beaches for signs of sharks, dolphins, whales, and other animals, passing along imagery to an artificial intelligence system that can identify animals in real-time with 90% accuracy.


Engadget “Amazon's new education tool helps students become better writers”
Amazon Education’s TenMarks Writing is a cloud-based program designed to help 4th-6th graders become better writers, using a Writing Coach to guide them through the entire process of putting together a story – TenMarks Writing starts at $4 per student every year.

The Hechinger Report “A textbook dilemma: Digital or paper?”
A look at digital versus print reading, especially for works of more than 500 words, where digital reading may limit comprehension, create a scrolling nuisance, and increase eye strain from glare and flicker.

Education Dive “In push for digital materials, expert says print is still important”
The digital versus print issue also comes down to cost and preference, as many institutions move away from print due to cost concerns even as students, if cost were not an issue, report a preference for and better learning results from print.  

The New York Times “Even with Affirmative Action, Blacks and Hispanics are more underrepresented at top colleges than 35 years ago”
An exhaustive New York Times analysis and visualization of data from the National Center for Education Statistics finds that Black and Hispanic students are more underrepresented at the nation’s top colleges and universities than they were 35 years ago.

The New York Times “As coding boot camps close, the field faces a reality check”
Coding boot-camp programs are facing challenging times – two large schools have announced plans to shut down and employers have begun to expect higher level coding skills than what many boot-camps have been able to offer.

TechCrunch “Uber gives $1.2 million to Girls Who Code”
Uber announced a gift of $1.2 million to Girls Who Code, the non-profit organization working to close the gender gap in tech, through a multi-year partnership. See also CNET, The Drum, and The Verge.

TechCrunch “Black Girls Code says it turned down $125,000 from Uber”
Uber also offered $125,000 to Black Girls Code, but the organization turned it down, citing concerns over the company’s culture and its commitment to its home city of Oakland and concern that the gift could be disingenuous and more PR driven than actually focused on real change. See also The Daily Dot and Glamour.

The Environment

The New York Times “Alaska’s permafrost is thawing”
Scientists from Woods Hole Research Center studying the effects of climate change in Alaska have raised concern over the permafrost, the always-frozen ground that underlies much of the state, which, as it thaws due to climate change, could release vast amounts of carbon dioxide and methane that can flow into the atmosphere and cause even more warming.

The Internet

Engadget “Google search uses a medical quiz to help diagnose depression”
Google will offer a medically validated, anonymous screening questionnaire for clinical depression when users search for information on the condition.

Slate “Russian bots are trying to sow discord on Twitter after Charlottesville”
The Alliance for Securing Democracy, a project of the German Marshall Fund that tracks efforts to undermine democratic governments, monitors a collection of 600 Twitter accounts that are known to be linked to Russian influence and found these accounts busy at work in the days after Charlottesville promoting and sharing extremist right-wing tweets and disinformation.

TechCrunch “Teens favoring Snapchat and Instagram over Facebook, says eMarketer”
The latest projections from research firm eMarketer show a decline in the use of Facebook among teens and young adults as alternative social apps like Snapchat and Instagram are seeing rising and double-digit growth, suggesting a shift to newer and more visual communications platforms. See also Bloomberg and ReCode.

Journalism and News

The Atlantic “When Silicon Valley took over journalism”
As Silicon Valley has infiltrated the profession, journalism has come to depend on the big tech companies that supply audience and resulting revenue, focusing more attention on clicks and algorithms.

Poynter “After more than half a century, The Village Voice is closing its print edition”
Progressive alt-weekly The Village Voice will end its print edition in an attempt to ensure its long-term financial viability – the change is part of a larger trend of closures for local alt-weekly newspapers. See also The Guardian, Mic, Poynter, and TechCrunch.

The Verge “Facebook confirms it will add subscriptions to instant articles”
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg confirmed that the company will begin testing subscriptions inside its fast-loading Instant Articles program, seeking to provide publishers with a new revenue channel as some remove their content from Instant Articles.

Restaurants, Retails, and Spaces

The New York Times “Amazon’s play to rattle Whole Foods rivals: Cheaper kale and avocado”
As Amazon completes its purchase of Whole Foods, the online retailer is promising lower prices on grocery staples – and some interesting integration of Amazon services including linking the Prime membership program into a Whole Foods rewards program, offering Whole Foods’ private-label products on Amazon, and installing Amazon lockers at some locations. See also ArsTechnica, CNET, CNN, Consumerist, The Daily Dot, The Drum, Engadget, Gizmodo, Mashable, NextBigFuture, ReCode, TechCrunch, and The Verge.

GeekWire “Watch out Amazon: Google and Walmart form e-commerce alliance to battle online retail giant”
Google and Walmart will partner to let customers make Walmart purchases through Google Express, an online marketplace where customers can purchase and set up delivery from retailers – the service will also be available through the Google Assistant and Google Home smart speaker. See also CNET, Consumerist, The Drum and again, Engadget, Fast Company and again, The New York Times, ReCode, Retail Dive, and Wired.

Streaming Media

Advertising Age “Pirated NFL, MLB games proliferate on Facebook Live”
As Facebook works to secure streaming rights for professional sports, the social network struggles to police pirated livestreams of sports events.

Mashable “CNN bets Snapchat kids won't be bored by hard news”
CNN has launched its new Snapchat show The Update, a daily news show every night at 6 p.m. ET as well as breaking news segments throughout the day exclusively on the app – following in the model of NBC’s Stay Tuned. See also Advertising Age, The Drum, Engadget, and ReCode.

ReCode “Facebook didn’t win NFL streaming rights, but it will still stream 15 college football games this fall”
Facebook will partner with Stadium, a 24/7 digital sports broadcaster, to stream 15 college football games exclusively on the platform. See also Engadget.

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

Engadget “Facebook's mobile apps now take 360-degree photos”
Facebook's iOS and Android apps can now capture 360-degree photos without the help of a third-party application or an extra device, allowing users to take spherical images and share 360-degree photos to users’ timelines or to a specific album. See also TechCrunch.

Voice Control

MIT Technology Review “Growing up with Alexa”
As voice assistants become more popular and more adept at responding to queries and orders, young users will become more comfortable and sophisticated with the technology, requesting help with homework, controlling other connected devices around their home, and generally changing how they behave around and think about computers.