This week’s headline quotes 32-year-old farmer Liz Whitehurst, the owner of Owl’s Nest Farm, on her decision to join a growing movement of highly educated, ex-urban, first-time farmers (The Washington Post “A growing number of young Americans are leaving desk jobs to farm”).
Included in this week’s news is coverage of the FCC’s plan to roll back the net neutrality rules that require internet service providers to treat all internet traffic and services equally. The American Library Association’s Washington Office has prepared a quick look at the implications for libraries and library users (District Dispatch “Net neutrality protections eliminated in draft FCC order”) and an action alert for library advocates to contact their members of Congress.
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The Washington Post “A growing number of young Americans are leaving desk jobs to farm”
For only the second time in the last century, the number of farmers under 35 years old is increasing (2.2% from 2007 – 2012) according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest Census of Agriculture and 69% of the surveyed young farmers had college degrees.
Business Insider “Tech billionaires spent $170 million on a new kind of school — now classrooms are shrinking and some parents say their kids are 'guinea pigs’”
A fascinating look at AltSchool, the tech-focused education start-up meant to re-imagine elementary education for the digital age through small “lab schools” in California and New York – several parents have now withdrawn their students from the AltSchool over concerns that the schools are designed more as test beds for technology and software rather than for the purpose of educating enrolled students. See also TechCrunch.
Wired “FCC plans to gut net neutrality, allow internet 'fast lanes’”
The Federal Communications Commission released their plan to reverse Obama-era net neutrality rules – FCC chair Ajit Pai’s statement read "Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the internet….Instead, the FCC would simply require internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that’s best for them and entrepreneurs and other small businesses can have the technical information they need to innovate." See also ArsTechnica, CNET, Consumer Reports, Engadget, Gizmodo, ReCode, TechCrunch, The Verge, and The Washington Post.
Bloomberg “Inside Google’s struggle to filter lies from breaking news”
A look at how Google is contending with unverified posts timed with breaking news events, like mass shootings or natural disasters, which find their way into Google’s News feed and search results when there is limited information for the search engine algorithm to promote and rank.
ArsTechnica “No, you’re not being paranoid. Sites really are watching your every move”
A new study from Freedom to Tinker at Princeton’s Center for Information Technology finds that 482 of the 50,000 most trafficked websites employ session replay scripts, designed to help site operators better understand how visitors interact with their sites by providing the option to re-enact individual browsing sessions, including individual clicks, keystrokes, and scrolls – the collection may cause sensitive information, such as medical conditions, credit card details, and other personal information displayed on a page, to leak to the third-party script providers as part of the recording.
Economics and Employment
The New York Times “As Silicon Valley gets ‘crazy,’ Midwest beckons tech investors”
A new crop of investors, including AOL co-founder Steve Case and Drive Captial’s Mark Kvamme, are increasingly looking to the Midwest for small yet promising start-ups.
NPR “Justice Department threatens to sue Harvard in admissions probe”
The U.S. Department of Justice has opened a probe into the role of race in Harvard University's admissions policies and possible discrimination against white and Asian-American students seeking admission – the Department is threatening to sue unless Harvard turns over documents by a Dec. 1 deadline.
ArsTechnica “FCC will also order states to scrap plans for their own net neutrality laws”
As part of the plan revising net neutrality rules, the Federal Communications Commission also plans to tell state and local governments that they cannot impose local laws regulating broadband service. See also The Verge.
ReCode “Facebook will help some users figure out if they saw Russian propaganda during the 2016 U.S. presidential election”
Facebook will release a new tool for users to check if they followed or “Liked” Russian propaganda pages and accounts during the 2016 presidential election – the tool will be available through Facebook’s Help Center for users who directly followed one of the accounts or pages set up by Russian agents on Instagram and Facebook. See also Advertising Age, CNET, The Daily Dot, Slate, and The Verge.
BuzzFeed News “YouTube is addressing its massive child exploitation problem”
Facing criticism after reports about unsettling animated videos and bizarre content aimed at children and families on its YouTube Kids channel, YouTube terminated over 50 channels and removed thousands of videos as part of a larger effort to weed out exploitative content on the platform. See also The Daily Dot, The Drum, Engadget, Gizmodo, Mashable, TechCrunch, and The Verge.
Journalism and News
MediaShift “‘Trust in News’ study shows more trust for print publications than digital”
Brand and market research firm Kantar’s new “Trust in News” report finds that news consumers in the U.S., U.K., France, and Brazil are reading more widely and becoming more sophisticated in their engagement with news content; believe that “fake news” had an impact on recent elections, but maintain that quality journalism is important for democracy; and hold printed news magazines as the most trusted news source (72% rate them positively), closely followed by 24-hour TV news, radio bulletins and national newspapers – just 33% agreed that social media “provides news I can trust.”
Motherboard “Eric Schmidt says Google News will 'engineer' Russian propaganda out of the feed”
In an interview at the Halifax International Security Forum, Alphabet’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said that Google is working to ferret out Russian propaganda from Google News after facing criticism that Kremlin-owned media sites had been given placement on Google’s news and advertising platforms. See also Engadget, Mashable, and The Verge.
Bloomberg “Uber paid hackers to delete stolen data on 57 million people”
Uber revealed that hackers stole the personal data of 57 million customers and drivers in October 2016 and that the company paid $100,000 to the hackers to delete the data and keep the breach quiet – compromised data included names, email addresses, and phone numbers, but no Social Security numbers, credit card information, trip location details, or other data. See also Advertising Age, ArsTechnica, CNET, The Drum, Engadget, Fast Company, GeekWire, Mashable, Slate, and The Verge.
Quartz “Google collects Android users’ locations even when location services are disabled”
Since the beginning of 2017, Android phones have been collecting the addresses of nearby cellular towers, even when location services are disabled, and sending that data back to Google, giving the company access to data about individuals’ locations and their movements that go far beyond a reasonable consumer expectation of privacy – the practice was confirmed by Google though the company said they never used or stored the data and that it would now be taking steps to end the practice. See also CNET, The Drum, Fast Company, Mashable, and The Verge.
Restaurants, Retail, and Spaces
The New York Times “The death knell for the bricks-and-mortar store? Not yet”
Even as many retailers close brick-and-mortar stores, many others are investing in a joined-up online and offline experience that renovates physical stores to serve as multifunctional event spaces, classrooms, community centers, showrooms, or studios that create a connection to the online preferences of today’s shoppers.
BuzzFeed News “Meet the people who listen to podcasts at super-fast speeds”
"Podfasters" listen to upward of 50 episodes a week by listening to content at speeds higher than 2x – a recent study found that the average listener consumed an average of five podcasts per week.
Fast Company “Amazon made a huge compromise to get YouTube back on the Echo Show”
YouTube videos will return to Amazon’s Echo Show after being disabled in September – in order to secure their return, Amazon made adjustments to the system including having the videos display in the same version of YouTube that runs on desktop web browsers and requiring users to touch the video frame in order to switch to full screen. See also GeekWire, TechCrunch, and The Verge.