This week’s headline quotes Sarah Crowne, Arts Council England’s literature director, on the release of their new report, “Literature in the 21st Century: Understanding Models of Support for Literary Fiction,” which considers the future health of literary fiction in an age of cheap and easy entertainment on smartphones and mobile devices (The Guardian “Literary fiction in crisis as sales drop dramatically, Arts Council England reports”)
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.
A scheduling note: this will be the last posting of this newsletter until after the New Year. Happy Holidays and best wishes for the New Year!
The New York Times “F.C.C. repeals net neutrality rules”
The Federal Communications Commission voted to dismantle net neutrality regulations that prohibited broadband providers from blocking websites or charging for higher-quality service or certain content, reflecting the view of the Trump administration and the new F.C.C. chairman that unregulated business will eventually yield innovation and help the economy – while the repeal will still take weeks to go into effect, several state attorneys general and public interest groups announced plans to file a suit to stop the change. See also Digg, ReCode, Slate, The Verge, and Wired; for tech companies’ responses, see also Engadget and TechCrunch; and for states’ plans, see also Advertising Age, ArsTechnica, CNET, ReCode, Slate, TechCrunch, and Wired.
The Guardian “Literary fiction in crisis as sales drop dramatically, Arts Council England reports”
A new report from Arts Council England (ACE) raises concern over the future of literary fiction – the report analyzed declining sales for hardback and paperback fiction from 2007 to 2012, concluding that declining sales likely resulted from the general recession and the rise of cheap and easy entertainment and reading on smartphones and other mobile devices.
Reuters “Alphabet's X sells new wireless internet tech to Indian state”
Alphabet’s X research division will test newly developed free space optical technology in India, transmitting data through light beams at up to 20 gigabits per second between rooftop boxes – the technology has the potential to provide high-speed wireless internet to millions of people. See also ArsTechnica and Engadget.
The Drum “Facebook explores how the newsfeed can have a negative mental health impact on users”
In a blog post entitled Hard Questions: Is Spending Time on Social Media Bad for Us?, David Ginsberg, Facebook’s director of research, and Moira Burke, research scientist at Facebook, considered the psychological effects of using social media, highlighting research from the University of Michigan, UC San Diego, Yale, and Carnegie Mellon University that show a mix of positive and negative effects depending on a person’s interaction with social media, friends, and the real world. See also Quartz and ReCode.
Pew Research Center “Nearly half of Americans use digital voice assistants, mostly on their smartphones”
A Pew Research Center survey finds that nearly half of U.S. adults (46%) say they now use voice-controlled applications to interact with smartphones and other devices, with 42% of U.S. adults using voice assistants on smartphones, 14% on a computer or tablet, and 8% on a stand-alone device such as an Amazon Echo or Google Home.
TechCrunch “Trump signs bill reinstating the FAA’s drone registration requirement”
The recently-signed National Defense Authorization Act reinstated rules requiring all drones weighing between 0.55 and 55 pounds be entered into a registry with the FAA – the full rules are available from the FAA. See also CNET, Engadget, Gizmodo, and ReCode.
Education Dive “Data is key to improving campus outcomes — but infrastructure challenges are holding it back”
A new paper from the American Council on Education encourages higher education leaders to "prioritize the creation of a campus-wide analytics culture focused on the use of data to promote equity and inclusion, improve student outcomes, develop more inclusive environments, and create more holistic resource strategies" – the paper addresses the challenges experienced by over 40 leaders, including a lack of technical and human infrastructure to leverage data in meaningful ways.
The Verge “Former Facebook exec says social media is ripping apart society”
At a presentation at Stanford Graduate School of Business, former Facebook vice president for user growth Chamath Palihapitiya said that he feels “tremendous guilt” about the company that “created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works” – the criticisms were directed at the wider online ecosystem and follow similar statements from other early Facebook and social media leaders including Sean Parker and former Facebook product manager Antonio Garcia-Martinez. See also CNET, Fast Company, Fortune, Gizmodo, Quartz.
The Verge “Facebook responds to former VP who said social media is destroying society”
A Facebook spokesperson responded to Chamath Palihapitiya noting that it has been over six years since he worked at Facebook and that as Faceook has grown “we have realized how our responsibilities have grown too.” See also CNET.
Journalism and News
Nieman Lab “Predictions for journalism 2018”
Nieman Lab’s annual round up of predictions from some of the smartest people in journalism and digital media highlight the growing importance of algorithms, transparency, women in leadership, push alerts, and personalization.
Digiday “Facebook will prioritize shows in the news feed, introduces pre-rolls for Watch”
Facebook announced plans to update its news feed ranking to prioritize publishers and other video creators that are making shows for its Watch video section – in addition to pushing more videos into the news feed, the move could also compel publishers to create longer videos that have users spend more time on Facebook and feature advertisements.
Mashable "SYFY launches Snapchat Show 'GEEKLY' as Snap strips ephemerality from product"
SYFY’s new GEEKLY Snapchat Show covers science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, and superhero news and culture with weekly episodes hosted by YouTube stars Andre Meadows (Black Nerd Comedy) and Whitney Moore (Geek and Sundry) – the show is only available within Snapchat Discover.
The Guardian “France to ban mobile phones in schools from September”
The French government introduced measures to ban students from using mobile phones in the country’s primary, junior, and middle schools (children will be allowed to bring their phones to school, but not allowed to get them out at any time until they leave, even during breaks) – the proposed measures have been met with mixed response, including unions that are skeptical that the ban could be enforced. See also NPR.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
Quartz “Airbnb is replacing the guest book with augmented reality”
Airbnb offered prototype ideas for augmented- and virtual-reality technologies’ uses in customers’ travel experiences, including using VR to tour apartments prior to rental and an augmented-reality system where hosts could leave notes and instructions to their guests as they move through their apartment. See also Engadget, PSFK, and The Verge.