This week’s headline quotes Natalie Cole, library programs consultant for the California State Library, in the New York Times’ article, “Free Lunch at the Library.” I love how clearly Natalie connects libraries’ response to a community need to our commitment to the values of education and literacy. A big thank you to Janet Ingraham Dwyer, youth services consultant at the State Library of Ohio, who saw the mention of District Administration’s article on summer lunch programs last week and alerted me to this week’s New York Times article on summer lunches at 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. There’s a new entry on Voice Control (Alexa, Siri, etc.) and your thoughts and feedback are always appreciated.
Some of you may have used our trend cards for an activity I usually run when I’m invited out to libraries. We’ve recently redesigned those trend cards and they are available for purchase from the ALA Store or for free download (print them double-sided and cut them in four) from the Center’s web site. The cards can be used as conversation starters with colleagues and members of the community, as mapping tools to illustrate how trends fit together or how they fit into your community, or as starting material for innovation exercises.
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
Gizmodo "Disney is building facial recognition to figure out when you'll laugh during Toy Story 5"
A Disney Research and Caltech research team has developed a new “factorized variational autoencoders” (FVAEs) algorithm that determines how much audiences enjoy every single moment of a film – the researchers built a dataset of millions of facial landmarks to feed into a neural network, and used infrared cameras to film the audiences at 150 showings of nine movies, resulting in an AI system that can predict when an audience might smile or laugh.
CNET "eBay will let you shop using photos from your phone"
eBay will leverage machine learning and artificial intelligence for two new shopping features on its mobile app – Image Search will let users take a photo of a product and use it to search eBay for similar listings and Find It On eBay will let users tap images on any online site and "share" to eBay to get a list of similar-looking items.
Consumerist "Shelf-checking robots to roam the aisles at Schnucks supermarkets"
St. Louis-based supermarket chain Schnucks will use robots to check shelves and find out which products need to be restocked – the chain will also work with students from Washington University to find new uses for the data that the robot gathers from store shelves.
PSFK "Walmart wants to use facial recognition to identify unhappy shoppers"
Walmart recently filed a patent for a technology that would be able to scan and identify the faces of unhappy or frustrated shoppers, alerting employees of the situation and instructing them to report to the checkout register to help the customer in need – the technology would also keep a record of customer spending behavior to link changes in mood to changes in spending.
Hindustan Times “‘Won’t allow driverless cars that take away jobs’ says union minister Nitin Gadkari”
India’s union road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari announced opposition to driverless cars stating, “We won’t allow driverless cars in India. I am very clear on this. We won’t allow any technology that takes away jobs. In a country where you have unemployment, you can’t have a technology that ends up taking people’s jobs.” See also Engadget.
Books and Publishing
The New Republic “Is Trump ruining book sales?”
Since Donald Trump’s election, book publishing has experienced a shift – authors have been bumped from morning news shows to make way for breaking news, readers have shifted toward more politically-charged work, and cultural dialogues have made less time for discussion of books and authors.
Cities and Government
Slate “Federal court: Public officials cannot block social media users because of their criticism”
In Davison v. Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, a federal court found that the chair of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, Phyllis J. Randall, having encouraged Loudoun residents to reach out to her through her “county Facebook page,” violated a citizen’s First Amendment free speech rights when she blocked him “because she was offended by his criticism of her colleagues in the County government” – the judge ruled she “engaged in viewpoint discrimination,” which is generally prohibited under the First Amendment. See also Engadget.
City Lab "One tool for equitable play: A warehouse of shared toys"
In the Netherlands, hopjes offer children the chance to borrow toys, games, and bikes – in deprived areas with higher levels of poverty and crime, the hopjes generate more contact between people with different cultural experiences, facilitate conversation in Dutch, and help first-generation migrants find their footing.
Motherboard "Inside Denver's first 'tiny village' for the homeless"
Denver’s Beloved Community Village provides 11 tiny homes, a shared CircHouse for meals and gatherings, a communal shower house, separate portable toilets, and garden plots as part of a pilot to help find equitable solutions for low-income housing – by spring of 2018, Denver Homeless Outloud hopes to raise enough funds and grassroots support to build two more villages and eventually spawn enough communities to house 300 homeless people in the city.
BBC “New diesel and petrol vehicles to be banned from 2040 in UK”
The UK government announced plans to ban new diesel and gas cars starting in 2040, part of efforts to address air pollution. See also CityLab, CNET, Engadget, Gizmodo, and Mic.
The New York Times "England’s mental health experiment: No-cost talk therapy"
England has embarked on the world’s most ambitious effort to treat depression, anxiety, and other common mental illnesses, offering virtually open-ended talk therapy free of charge at clinics throughout the country – the program screens nearly a million people a year and the number of adults in England who have recently received some mental health treatment has jumped from one in four to one in three.
The Washington Post “Trump announces ban on transgender people in U.S. military”
In a series of tweets, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that he will ban transgender people from serving in the military in any capacity, reversing an Obama administration decision to allow them to serve openly – the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has stated that there would be “no modifications” to current Department of Defense policy on transgender service members without Secretary of Defense Gen. James Mattis ordering changes based on Trump’s direction. See also The Atlantic, The Daily Dot, Mashable, Mic and again and again, New Scientist, and Slate.
The Daily Dot “Facebook, Google, Apple CEOs condemn Trump’s transgender military ban”
The CEOs of Apple, Google, and Facebook all spoke out against the president’s decision to ban transgender people from serving in the military. See also Mashable, ReCode and again, and TechCrunch.
The Daily Dot “Trump administration files brief saying Civil Rights Act doesn’t protect sexual orientation”
The U.S. Department of Justice filed an amicus brief stating that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not protect gay Americans from sexual orientation-based discrimination at work – the DOJ’s brief contradicts the efforts of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in the case, where a man has sued his former employer for being fired after telling his sexual orientation to a customer. See also Consumerist and The Huffington Post.
Pew Research Center “American Muslims are concerned – but also satisfied with their lives”
A Pew Research Center survey of 1,001 U.S. Muslim adults finds that nearly one-in-five (19%) say they have been called offensive names in the last year and 6% say they have been physically threatened or attacked – but four-in-five say they are satisfied with the way things are going in their lives, 84% categorize Americans in general as “friendly” (55%) or “neutral” (30%) toward U.S. Muslims, and nine-in-ten (92%) say they are proud to be American. See also Mic.
ReCode “Google.org is launching a $50 million effort to prepare job seekers for the ‘future of work’”
Google’s philanthropic organization, Google.org, announced a new $50 million initiative to study and prepare “for the changing nature of work,” including partnerships with groups like Code for America; Social Finance, a U.S.-based nonprofit that will study the cost effectiveness and success of youth-training programs; and the National Domestic Workers Alliance, whose Alia service “pools money among domestic workers through a small monthly fee” with the aim of helping those injured or otherwise facing financial difficulty take some time off. See also Engadget and TechCrunch.
The Hechinger Report "Universities and colleges struggle to stem big drops in enrollment"
A dip in the birth rate and a decline in the number of students older than 24, who experts say have been drawn back into the workforce as the economy improves, has resulted in a drop in the number of students in colleges and universities, with 81,000 fewer high school graduates nationwide heading to colleges and universities – projections from the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education has the trend continuing through 2023.
Quartz “A new crop of summer camps teach kids to worship the almighty dollar”
A new wave of summer camps are pushing the fundamentals of finance - Moolah U, Camp Millionaire, and Money Munchkids offer sessions in running a business, investing, and entrepreneurship. See also CNBC.
Mashable “Girl Scouts adds 23 STEM badges in biggest rollout in nearly a decade”
Girl Scouts of the USA announced 23 new badges in STEM and the outdoors, including robotics, coding, aviation design, and meteorology. See also The Daily Dot, Engadget, and The Verge.
Digiday “The New York Times’ ‘Game of Thrones’ newsletter already has over 60,000 subscribers”
The New York Times’ pop-up newsletter for Game of Thrones has built a list of over 61,000 subscribers in just three weeks and with forwards it has seen open rates over 100% through the last two weeks – three staffers contribute every week, writing explainers and recaps, conducting interviews, and curating material from other publishers.
Mashable "Google just announced a new safety feature to keep you safe and informed during a crisis"
Google’s "SOS alerts" will "make emergency information more accessible during a natural or human-caused crisis" by integrating emergency phone numbers and websites, maps, translations of useful phrases, and donation opportunities in home screen notifications, search results, and Google Maps.
Pew Research Center “1 in 4 black Americans have faced online harassment because of their race or ethnicity”
Results of a Pew Research Center survey reveals that nearly a quarter of African American respondents have been targeted online due to their race or ethnicity, compared with 10% of Hispanics and 3% of whites – nearly six-in-ten black internet users (59%) say they have experienced any form of online harassment compared with 41% of whites and 48% of Hispanics.
Bloomberg “Twitter fails to grow its audience, again”
Twitter announced that the number of monthly active users stands at 328 million, the same as in the prior quarter. See also ArsTechnica, Engadget, Gizmodo, and ReCode.
Wired “Google fights against Canada's order to change global search results”
Facing a Canadian Supreme Court order to take down certain Google search results for pirated products globally, Google filed an injunction with the US District Court for Northern California, arguing that globally removing the search results violates US law and thus Google should not be forced to comply with the Canadian ruling. See also Ars Technica.
The Verge “Roombas have been busy mapping our homes, and now that data could be shared” and “Roomba creator says it ‘will never sell your data’ after talking about selling your data”
Wi-Fi connected Roomba models have been collecting spatial data to help the Roomba figure out how a home is laid out and adjust cleaning patterns to deal with things like moved furniture, but Colin Angle, the chief executive of Roomba maker iRobot, expressed interest in sharing the data from these maps to improve the future of smart home technology – before modifying those claims to say that “iRobot will never sell your data.” See also Gizmodo and again, and Inc.
Restaurants, Retail, and Spaces
Brand Channel “Sephora opens experiential retail flagship in Boston”
Sephora’s new small-format Beauty Studio store is 2,000 square feet (the chain’s regular stores average 5,000 square feet) and features digital welcome screens with user menus, employees equipped with iPhones for mobile point-of-sales purchases, integrated AI “virtual artists," and the ability to email digital makeup guides for customers to save in their online or mobile app. See also CNBC and PSFK.
TechCrunch “Amazon launches ‘The Hub’, parcel delivery lockers for apartment buildings”
Amazon unveiled a new service called The Hub that provides lockers in multi-tenant dwellings so that residents can receive bulky packages and pick them up at flexible times – Amazon is offering The Hub as a delivery option for packages from anyone, not just Amazon and its affiliates. See also Engadget and The Verge.
Variety “Inside Jeffrey Katzenberg’s plan to revolutionize entertainment on mobile screens”
A look at Katzenberg’s plan to create a whole new species of entertainment targeting 18- to 34-year-olds with short-form video series produced with primetime TV budgets and production values.
ReCode “TV sets are starting to disappear from American homes”
New data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration finds that the number of TVs in homes shrank to an average of 2.3 in 2015, down from an average of 2.6 televisions per household in 2009 – industry leaders speculate that more Americans are watching TV on devices that aren’t TVs, like laptops, tablets, and phones.
Variety “Nielsen weaves views from Hulu, YouTube TV into traditional ratings”
Nielsen will count views of certain types of programming on Hulu’s live service and YouTube TV, which can then be used in negotiations between TV networks and advertisers – tracked programming has to “mirror” the commercial load of the original linear TV broadcast and be seen within three-day or seven days windows. See also The Daily Dot and Mashable.
Variety “Amazon moves into self-distribution with Woody Allen’s ‘Wonder Wheel’ (EXCLUSIVE)”
Amazon will release Woody Allen’s Wonder Wheel without a distribution partner, offering all of the services that a traditional film studio boasts — from financing to production to rolling out a picture in cinemas. See also GeekWire and The Verge.
Digitimes “Facebook developing smart speaker with 15-inch touch panel”
Facebook is rumored to be developing a smart speaker product, built around an image display and a 15-inch touch panel. See also CNET, The Drum, Mic, and TechCrunch.
The Verge “Mozilla is crowdsourcing voice recognition to make AI work for the people”
The Mozilla Foundation’s new Common Voice initiative asks users to pool information and donate vocal samples to build an open-source voice recognition system like the ones powering Siri and Alexa.
The Verge “A Wisconsin company will let employees use microchip implants to buy snacks and open doors”
Wisconsin company Three Square Market offers employees the option of an implantable chip to open doors, buy snacks, log in to computers, and use office equipment like copy machines – around 50 people are supposedly getting the optional implants. See also CNET and Inc..