This week’s headline quotes Parker Thompson, a father of three children between 6 months to 8 years old, responding to the announcement of the new Messenger Kids app from Facebook (The New York Times “New Facebook app for children ignites debate among families”).
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.
Fast Company "This new blockchain project gives homeless New Yorkers a digital identity"
The new Blockchain for Change project will provide a mobile phone to 3,000 people experiencing homelessness – the phone comes loaded with an app called Fummi that helps users securely manage their digital identity even as they share information about their access to shelters and food pantries and make use of financial services.
CityLab "Economic inequality and health inequality are inextricably linked"
The Economic Innovation Group (EIG) crossed county-level measures of economic well-being from their Distressed Communities Index (DCI) with data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), finding that distressed counties have drug death rates that are on average 37% higher than wealthier places and opioid prescription rates that are nearly 56% higher – the opioid gap is just one of several health disparities associated with less prosperous counties, including mortality, obesity, diabetes, and other conditions that become more prevalent and more threatening as economic conditions in a community deteriorate.
Campus Technology "'Pop-up courses' provide short-term learning experiences at Saint Michael's College"
Saint Michael's College, a private Catholic institution in Vermont, utilizes a new "pop-up" course format to "create a space for educated discussion between students and their instructors" about timely issues or interests not accommodated in the traditional curriculum.
The New York Times “New Facebook app for children ignites debate among families”
Facebook’s new Messenger Kids app asks parents to give their approval so children can message, add filters and doodle on photos they send to one another, and introduce a new generation of users to social media – Facebook said Messenger Kids provides a more controlled environment for the types of activity that were already occurring across smartphones and tablets among family members. See also Advertising Age, CNET, The Drum, Fast Company, Gizmodo and again, The Next Web, ReCode, TechCrunch, The Verge and again, and Wired.
Bloomberg “Netflix plans choose-your-own TV adventures for grown-up viewers”
Following its youth-focused Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale and Buddy Thunderstruck: The Maybe Pile, Netflix will produce a choose-your-own adventure show for adults, allowing viewers to pick which storyline to follow and go back to watch the same show again with a different result. See also Engadget, TechCrunch, and The Verge.
Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines
The San Francisco Chronicle “San Francisco to robots: Don’t crowd our sidewalks”
San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors unanimously passed new regulations for sidewalk delivery robots, limiting companies to three robots each; limiting the city to nine robots total; and relegating robots to industrial areas where almost no one lives — the regulations will make it harder for companies to test robots for delivery service, but will help the city prevent sidewalk crowding and protect seniors, children, and people with disabilities. See also Engadget, TechCrunch, and Wired.
Quartz “The ethereum network is getting jammed up because people are rushing to buy cartoon cats on its blockchain”
The popularity of CryptoKitties, a game built on the ethereum blockchain where players spend ether (the digital token used by ethereum) to breed cartoon kittens or trade with other players, and the resulting demand placed on ethereum miners, demonstrates the potential for blockchain to decentralize an application and make it very valuable, but also the challenge of making these decentralized platforms deliver the speed and scale expected of popular internet applications. BBC, Mashable and again, Mic, Motherboard, TechCrunch.
Cities and Government
Quartz "Google is ushering in the age of the horizontal skyscraper"
With its planned London campus, Google has invested in a trend of “landscraper” properties, buildings as long and as horizontal as skyscrapers are tall and vertical, which could represent a shift in urban planning for Midwest states and other areas where there is more land, more affordable real estate, and greater interest in innovative and collaborative spaces that spur economic development.
Demographics and Communities
CityLab "Homelessness in high-cost U.S. cities is driving a nationwide increase"
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2017 Annual Homeless Assessment Report, which presents data from a single-night, volunteer-administered census in 3,000 cities, finds that the number of people experiencing homelessness has dropped in some places, but has grown by 1% overall mostly by an increase in the nation’s 50 most populous cities – the report found that almost one in four people experiencing homelessness live in Los Angeles or New York City. See also The Guardian.
The Economy and the Workplace
City Lab "One nation, under the weight of crushing debt"
Researchers at the Urban Institute visualized 5 million records sourced from a major credit bureau to show each county’s share of households that have debt in collections - having debt in collections has long-term and far-reaching effects and more than a third of American households are currently in debt.
The Daily Dot “Google is letting celebs answer their own search results”
A new Google feature will allows celebrities and influencers to record video answers to the most popular questions about themselves – a dedicated app compiles “a mix of the most-searched questions on Google” specifically about the celebrity and has the celebrity choose which ones they respond to before uploading the video answer and displaying the answer in Google search results. See also Engadget.
Mashable “YouTube CEO announces more human moderators to end violent kid videos”
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki announced that up to 10,000 human moderators would be used to review video content for violations of the platform’s policy, a response to the growing problem of violent, disturbing videos targeted to kids on the site. See also The Drum and Engadget.
The Verge “Google and Amazon are punishing their own customers in a bitter feud”
Google’s and Amazon’s ongoing feud (Google has removed or threatened the removal of YouTube from selected Amazon devices and Amazon has refused to sell certain Nest and Chromecast products) demonstrates the precarious position consumers might increasingly find themselves in as devices become a new battle ground for access. See also Bloomberg, CNET, Engadget, GeekWire, Slate, and TechCrunch.
News and Journalism
Poynter “Poynter releases new study examining trust in the media”
The Poynter Institute’s new 2017 Media Trust Survey finds that the public supports the media, though U.S. President Donald Trump’s rhetoric has influenced attitudes toward the press – 44% of American respondents indicate that they believe the news media fabricates stories about President Trump more than once in a while, 69% believe that the media “tend to favor one side,” and 25% endorse limitations on press freedom (allowing the government to block news stories it sees as biased or inaccurate). See also Poynter.
Restaurants, Retail, and Spaces
The Guardian "San Francisco activists see irony in Yass, a queer startup backed by tech wealth"
Yass, a membership “headquarters and hangout for a new generation of queer people,” would seem to be a welcome space for LGBTQ community, but the venture has raised concerns over its contribution to gentrification, connection to tech money, and specific ties to Silicon Valley billionaire and President Trump supporter Peter Thiel. See also Gizmodo.
The Guardian "Nomad stores: the latest sign of gentrification"
Nomad stores, “semi-permanent” yet “roaming” locations that do not have a planned closing and can disappear without prior warning (distinct from pop-up stores that usually have a planned ending), feed into a wider trend of variety and variability, but may also be a sign of the ebb and flow of neighborhoods and fluctuation of commercial real estate prices. See also The Mercury News.
Bloomberg “YouTube to launch new music subscription service in March”
YouTube reportedly plans to introduce a paid music service in 2018 to rival services from Spotify and Apple and appease record-industry executives who have pushed for more revenue from YouTube, where music remains among the most popular genres of video. See also Advertising Age, CNET, and Gizmodo.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
PSFK "Starbucks’ latest store gives guests an AR tour of coffee production"
In addition to being its largest store, Starbucks’ new Shanghai location integrates an AR experience that lets customers take out their smartphones and find points of interest throughout the store to learn about how the coffee company makes their coffee. See also The Drum, GeekWire, Mashable, and The Memo.