Read for Later – “It is imperative we start questioning how much of our virtual public space we are willing to give to companies”

This week’s headline quotes artist Sebastian Errazuriz from his response to a new project from Snapchat that overlays augmented reality art installations in locations around the world – a strong reminder that trends and changes need to be questioned and carefully considered.

I’m trying something new with this week’s round-up, highlighting five articles that were particularly interesting and might deserve some additional attention.

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.

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.    

Five Articles

The Verge “Snapchat will put Jeff Koons’ art installations in augmented reality” and Mashable “Artist digitally vandalizes Snapchat's AR balloon dog in protest”
Take a look at Snapchat’s new plans to insert augmented reality art installations in locations around the world and one artist’s response to this plan.

The New York Times “The new bedtime story is a podcast”
Podcasts continue to grow in popularity and providers are wokring to expand their audience to include children and young people.

The Atlantic “America's political divide intensified during Trump's first year as president”
Based on insights from a new report from the Pew Research Center, a look at how political polarization manifests itself in not only difference on policy, but also in the ways that we want to live.

New York Magazine “Does even Mark Zuckerberg know what Facebook is?”
This New York Magazine article has received a lot of attention and deservedly so for its ability to convey the scope and scale of the social network and connect that to the consequences we have seen play out in our communities.

Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines

The Verge “Self-driving taxis are coming to residential neighborhoods”
Self-driving taxi fleet Voyage announced its launch in a retirement community in California, making two self-driving Ford Fusions available to the 4,000 residents of the Villages, a gated community for senior citizens in San Jose – the cars will learn to navigate the 15 miles of roads within the community.

Gizmodo “Google’s DeepMind launches ethics group to steer AI”
The DeepMind ethics group will oversee the responsible development of artificial intelligence by helping developers put ethics into practice (e.g. maintaining transparency, accountability, inclusiveness, etc.) and educating society about the potential impacts of AI. See also TechCrunch and The Verge.

Engadget “Boeing buys Aurora, an autonomous drone company”
Boeing has acquired Aurora Flight Sciences, a company developing autonomous flying vehicles that take off and land vertically.

Engadget “Airbus flying taxi concept on track to make first flight in 2018”
Airbus announced plans for its flying taxi concept, CityAirbus, to make its first flight by the end of next year and then start flying in cities by 2023 – the vertical take-off and landing electric-powered aircraft will be able to transport four passengers.

Cities and Government

The Atlantic “America's political divide intensified during Trump's first year as president”
The divide between Republican and Democratic voters intensified during the first year of President Trump’s administration, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center – public opinion remains more divided along partisan lines than along the lines of race, religion, age, gender, and educational background.

Mic “Elon Musk thinks he has the answer to Puerto Rico’s blackout. Here’s how it could play out.”
Elon Musk proposed installing Tesla solar energy systems to help bring electricity back to the Puerto Rico – the system could be a promising solution, but the solar panels need to connect to energy-storing batteries that may be hard to supply at scale. See also The Daily DotGristMashableTechCrunch, and The Verge

Content and Publishing

The New York Times “The new bedtime story is a podcast”
Another look at how podcasting is expanding its audience to include children, with the new Pinna subscription app for kids, new scripted podcasts from youth-focused production company Gen-Z Media, and even a Kids Listen advocacy organization that lobbies for more and better content for children.

Fast Company “Meet the woman working to make podcasting more diverse”
The Werk It Festival focuses on “encouraging and inspiring women to become podcasters,” growing from 85 attendees in 2015 to 600 attendees in 2017, as it seeks to make half of the iTunes top 100 podcasts female-hosted in the next five years – they’re on their way with 33% of the top 100 having female creators and hosts. 

Demographics and Communities

BuzzFeedNews “Jeff Sessions just reversed a policy that protects transgender workers from discrimination”
The US Attorney General issued a memo to agency heads and US attorneys reversing an Obama administration policy that had interpreted Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination to cover discrimination based on gender identity including transgender status.

The Guardian “Rise of the yimbys: the angry millennials with a radical housing solution”
In urban centers where housing costs are pricing young people out of homes, new groups have taken up the term yimbys, saying “yes, in my back yard” to any kind of new housing development that might alleviate housing shortages and skyrocketing rental prices.


Detroit News “Column: Target shows way on higher pay”
Target announced a new plan to voluntarily raise its pay floor to $15 an hour by 2020 – the push seeks to recruit “top-quality” help to staff its stores.


TechCrunch “Ohio State University launches its new Digital Flagship University with Apple”
Ohio State University announced a new digital education initiative in collaboration with Apple that includes a new iOS Design Lab on its Columbus campus and the distribution of iPad Pros to incoming first-year students – the Design Lab will be open to students, faculty, and community members for tech training and certification for developing apps in Apple programing language Swift.

The Internet

New York Magazine “Does even Mark Zuckerberg know what Facebook is?”
Facebook’s scale (2 billion members) and scope (birthday-reminder, news disseminator, photo and video album, group forum, etc.) makes it difficult to grasp all at once – and has released unintended consequences in local communities and national politics.

Wired “Alphabet closer to using balloons for telecom in Puerto Rico”
The Federal Communications Commission gave Alphabet’s Project Loon approval to fly 30 balloons over Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands for up to six months to provide emergency connectivity – the project still needs a confirmed wireless carrier’s network. See also CNET, The Daily Dot, Engadget, Mashable, NextBigFuture, and The Verge.

Bloomberg “Google CEO appeases publishers with subscriptions”
Google will eliminate its "first click free" program that listed articles higher in search results if publishers agreed to offer some stories for free – the rule change will now index all subscription news outlets in search, let publishers determine how many articles to provide free through the search engine, and will not demote them in results if they have little or no free content. See also Advertising Age, CNET, Consumerist, Engadget, The New York Times, and Reuters.

Nieman Lab “Facebook’s new anti-fake news feature will offer more context about articles users see in the News Feed”
Facebook will provide an information button on news articles that appear in the News Feed, offering information about the news source, content related to the article in question, and details about where and how the article is being shared. See also CNET, Engadget, Fast Company, ReCode, TechCrunch, and The Verge.


CNET “Yahoo announces all 3 billion accounts hit in 2013 breach”
Yahoo expanded the scale of its 2013 data breach from one billion users to the full 3 billion accounts in its service. See also ArsTechnica, Gizmodo, Mashable, and Motherboard.


TechCrunch “Here’s everything Google announced today”
Google announced a line of new products and features including a Google Home Mini to compete with the Echo Dot, an expanded Google Home Max to compete with Apple’s HomePod, a Daydream View headset update that provides a wider field of view, and new wireless Google Pixel Buds that include a live translation feature for over 40 languages. See also CNET, Mashable, The New York Times, and The Verge; for Google Home Mini, see also CNET; for Google Home Max, see also CNET and again; for Daydream View, see also Mashable; and for Google Pixel Buds, see also ArsTechnica, The Daily Dot, Engadget, and TechCrunch

TechCrunch “Google Clips is a new $249 smart camera that you can wear”
Among Google’s most surprising product announcements, a lifelogging wearable camera called Clips that uses machine learning to focus in on elements of the user’s choosing and capture photos of them. See also ArsTechnica, CNET, The Daily Dot, Gizmodo, Mashable and again, TechCrunch and again and again, and The Verge and again and again

Restaurants, Retail, and Spaces

Bloomberg “Amazon is testing its own delivery service to rival FedEx and UPS”
The Seller Flex pilot will pick up packages from warehouses of third-party merchants  and deliver them to customers’ homes, work that is currently handled by UPS and FedEx - the pilot will make more products available for free two-day delivery and relieve overcrowding in the company’s warehouses. See also Advertising Age, TechCrunch, and The Verge.

USA Today “Toys R Us has a plan to save itself and it's unreal”
Two weeks after filing for bankruptcy protection, Toys R Us will proceed with an in-store augmented reality experience that it hopes will help reinvigorate its stores and make them destinations for shoppers who might otherwise choose to shop online.

CNBC “Shake Shack to open cashless, kiosk-only location in New York City”
Hamburger chain Shake Shack will introduce a new store concept that replace the cashier's counter with digital kiosks and mobile ordering, text message alerts that let customers know when their food is ready, and a cashless policy meant to speed payments. See also Engadget and TechCrunch.

Engadget “Walmart bought a shipping company for same-day deliveries in NYC”
Retailers continue their pursuit for faster delivery times, as Walmart purchases Parcel, a New York City-based same-day delivery service that allows customers to schedule deliveries within two-hour windows. See also ArsTechnica and Consumerist.

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

The Verge “Snapchat will put Jeff Koons’ art installations in augmented reality”
Snapchat will collaborate with artist Jeff Koons to insert augmented reality art installations in locations around the world. See also CNET, Engadget and again, Mashable, Mic, and TechCrunch and again.

Mashable “Artist digitally vandalizes Snapchat's AR balloon dog in protest”
In response to Snapchat’s and Koons’ collaboration, New York-based artist Sebastian Errazuriz and his studio Cross Lab announced plans to vandalize the Central Park AR installation as a means of “questioning how much of our virtual public space we are willing to give to companies" and to have people consider the potential that AR could lead to public spaces being "dominated by corporate content designed to subconsciously manipulate and control us." See also Gizmodo.

The Verge “Apple now sells a dissectable AR teddy bear named Parker”
Children’s start-up Seedling introduced Parker, an AR-enhanced teddy bear that has children use an app to engage in STEAM games and puzzles. See also Engadget.

The Drum “The Guardian gives away 97,000 Google Cardboard headsets to introduce new VR app”
The Guardian will distribute 97,000 Google Cardboard headsets to UK readers as part of a promotion for its new VR app and VR experiences.

The Drum “Amnesty International and Al-Jazeera launch virtual reality documentary to highlight Rohingya refugee crisis”
Amnesty International has partnered with Al-Jazeera to produce the virtual reality documentary ‘I Am Rohingya’ on the escalating refugee crisis in Myanmar.

Voice Control

The Washington Post “Mattel has canceled plans for a kid-focused AI device that drew privacy concerns”
Mattel will not move forward with its kid-focused smart hub Aristotle, stating that it did not "fully align with Mattel's new technology strategy" – children’s health and privacy advocates had petitioned the toy maker not to release the device. See also ArsTechnica, CNET, The Drum, Engadget, GeekWire, Gizmodo, and The Verge.

The Guardian “Amazon's latest Alexa devices ready to extend company's reach into your home”
Amazon's aggressive push for an expanded Echo product line will bring eyes and ears into every part of consumers’ lives, leading a new generation of young people who will grow up never knowing a day they couldn’t talk to their houses. See also Engadget.

Engadget “Amazon's Echo line is heading to India and Japan”
Amazon will make Echo and Alexa available in India by invitation and will expand the products and services to Japan later this year – the company will also open the Alexa Skills Kit and Alexa Voice Service to allow developers to create customized software for Indian and Japanese customers. See also The Drum, Motherboard, Techcrunch, and The Verge.

The Verge “Google Assistant gets a male voice option”
Google’s "Voice II" option in Google Assistant provides a huskier-voiced AI assistant as an alternative to the standard female-voiced assistants.