This week’s headline quotes Chicago-area real-estate executive Charles Lamphere, reflecting on employers’ movement away from urban centers and into suburban office parks.
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.
The New York Times “Why are more American teenagers than ever suffering from severe anxiety?”
High school and college administrators are increasingly concerned about teenagers' struggles with anxiety, which may be viewed by some as a less serious problem, but that has real effects, especially in economically disadvantaged communities.
The Verge “How costumers are using cosplay to overcome mental and physical disabilities”
A New York Comic Con panel titled “Cosplay and Disabilities” focused attention on the potential for cosplay and fandom to create inclusive environments for people with different physical and mental abilities.
CNET “Google pledges $1B to prepare workers for tech jobs”
Google introduced a new $1 billion initiative to help nonprofits train and educate workers for the "changing nature of work" – one program, Grow with Google, will give U.S. workers access to Google products and in-person training sessions and a partnership with Goodwill will have 1,000 Google workers train 1.2 million people in digital skills over the next three years. See also Engadget, Fast Company, TechCrunch, and Wired.
Wired “The US Postal Service is working on self-driving mail trucks”
A new report from the U.S. Postal Service highlights plans to put semiautonomous mail trucks into service in just seven years, freeing postal workers to sort mail and deliver letters and packages into mail boxes while rolling down the street.
Bloomberg “Suburban offices are cool again”
As millennials age into the suburbs, employers are shifting their focus from downtown offices to suburban office parks near public transit and walkable suburban main streets with amenities like fitness centers, food-truck Fridays, beach volleyball courts, and concert spaces.
Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines
The Verge “Autonomous cars without human drivers will be allowed on California roads starting next year”
The California Department of Motor Vehicles will allow autonomous cars without steering wheels, foot pedals, mirrors, or human drivers behind the wheel to be tested on its roads starting next year – the revised regulations will be available for a 15-day public comment period before being submitted to the state government, which will then begin enforcing them sometime in the middle of 2018. See also Engadget and Mashable.
Cities and Government
Motherboard “The US has withdrawn from a UN agency that teaches kids to read and protects ruins”
The U.S. will withdraw from UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the latest US exodus from a major, multinational organization or treaty – the State Department requested to still be a non-member observer state in order to advocate for UNESCO goals, but the U.S. will no longer be supporting or actively participating in any of the global programs. See also The Atlantic and Fast Company.
Demographics and Communities
The Atlantic “Religious liberty or discrimination?”
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a government-wide memo to bolster federal protections for religious liberties, outlining 20 principles of religious liberty for federal departments and agencies to observe and instructing officials to give greater deference to religious-liberty claims under existing statutory and judicial protections – the memo extends the current administration’s efforts to roll back Obama-era legal interpretations that protected women and LGBT Americans.
Mic “In historic move, Boy Scouts votes to allow girls to join as Cub Scouts”
The Boy Scouts of America’s board of directors voted to allow girls to join its Cub Scouts program and to develop a scouting program for older girls that will enable them to become Eagle Scouts – programs will remain segregated by gender until 2018 when “existing packs may choose to establish a new girl pack, establish a pack that consists of girl dens and boy dens, or remain an all-boy pack.” See also CNN, Fast Company, and Mashable.
The Hechinger Report “Latino students are falling behind their peers in college, new research shows”
A new study from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce finds that while Latino students have been making progress in college and earning degrees at a faster rate than in the past, they still lag behind white and African American students – in 2016, 45% of Latinos had at least some college education (compared with 35% in 1992), but during the same time period, the college education gap between Latinos and whites has grown to 29 percentage points from 23 points in 1992 and the gap with African Americans has increased to 21 percentage points from 10 points.
Community College Daily “Four-year itch”
A look at how community colleges are moving to award four-year applied baccalaureate degrees in areas like manufacturing technology management, nursing, and information technology to help meet key workforce needs.
The Atlantic “The decline of the Midwest's public universities threatens to wreck its most vibrant economies”
The Trump administration’s proposed cuts to federal funding for basic research and to the budgets of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) could have pronounced effects at public universities that depend on these funds to support their missions – the problem becomes particularly important for public institutions in the Midwest that help to diversify economies that rely disproportionately on manufacturing and agriculture.
TechCrunch “Steve Wozniak announces tech education platform Woz U”
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak announced the launch of Woz U, an online learning platform for students and the companies intending to hire them – the curriculum will focus on computer support specialists and software developers, with courses on data science, mobile applications, and cybersecurity coming in the future.
Gizmodo “Climate change will always hurt poor people the most”
The UN’s climate change warnings focus significant attention on the effects felt by poorer countries, but environmental changes will also affect low income Americans, who often live in areas with outdated sewer systems, lack urban and transportation development, and spend a greater proportion of their income on energy costs.
Mashable “Twitter's Jack Dorsey promises changes to anti-harassment policies after #WomenBoycottTwitter”
Spurred by Rose McGowan’s temporary suspension from Twitter after speaking out against Harvey Weinstein and a Hollywood culture of sexual assault and harassment (Mashable story), many women mobilized under the #WomenBoycottTwitter movement and refused to tweet in protest (Mashable story) – Twitter CEO and founder Jack Dorsey responded to the platform’s ongoing failure to police racist, anti-Semitic, and sexist harassment, promising some "critical" changes to Twitter's anti-harassment tools and policies. For Twitter’s response, see also CNET, The Daily Dot, The Drum, Gizmodo, The New York Times, ReCode, TechCrunch, and The Verge; and for #WomenBoycottTwitter, see also The Daily Dot, The Drum, GeekWire, ReCode, and TechCrunch.
Mashable “YouTube has no patience for DIY 'bump stock' gun demos, bans them”
YouTube will ban "how to" videos for bump stock gun modification, the device that was used by the Las Vegas gunman who killed 58 and injured hundreds more. See also Engadget and Gizmodo.
Journalism and News
Digiday “Politico uses pop-up newsletters to test new European markets”
Politico is using short-term email newsletters to test the publication’s expansion in Europe, selecting subjects that don’t typically fall into Politico Europe’s main content areas but are of interest within individual counties.
Poynter “ASNE's latest diversity survey shows some progress, but newsrooms are still mostly white and male”
The American Society of News Editors’ annual newsroom diversity survey shows slight decreases in diversity at American newsrooms compared with last year – people of color made up 16.55% of those surveyed (down from 16.94% in 2016), but fared better in digital-only newsrooms, where 24.3% were minorities, compared with 23.3% last year.
Gizmodo “Justice Department drops request for names of people who 'Liked' anti-Trump Facebook page”
The U.S. Department of Justice dropped its request for the names of an estimated 6,000 people who “liked” a Facebook page about an Inauguration Day protest – the ACLU challenged several warrants related to protests against President Trump’s inauguration, one of which included the search, claiming they were over-broad.
Restaurants, Retail, and Spaces
TechCrunch “Amazon introduces a way for teens to independently shop its site, following parents’ approval”
A new Amazon service will allow teens to shop its site independently from their parents’ accounts and place their own orders, which parents can choose to review before allowing the purchase – the service provides autonomy for teenagers while introducing a new audience to its larger Prime platform. See also CNET, Consumerist, Engadget, and Gizmodo.
Fast Company “Facebook is hungry for more data, so it’s letting you order food”
Facebook announced a new “Order Food” feature that will let users see what restaurants are nearby and then order food using the Facebook app – food is delivered through partnerships with services including EatStreet, Delivery.com, Chownow, and Olo as well as restaurants like Papa John’s, Five Guys, and Panera. See also CNET, Engadget, TechCrunch, and The Verge.
Slate “Airbnb is opening an apartment building near Disney World”
Airbnb will partner with Miami-based developer Newgard to construct a 324-room building in Florida, part of a series called “Niido by Airbnb” that will allow tenants to rent out their rooms via Airbnb for up to 180 days per year. See also CNET, Consumerist, The Daily Dot, The Drum, Engadget, Fast Company, Mashable, Skift, TechCrunch, and The Verge.
The Daily Dot “Target teams up with Google to take on Amazon this holiday season”
Google will add Target to its Express platform as it ramps up its retail efforts against Amazon – Target customers will now be able to make purchases nationwide from the shopping app and Google Home devices using their voice. See also ReCode, TechCrunch, and The Verge.
Mashable “Amazon has a new cheap Prime deal for U.S. college students”
Amazon’s new variation on the "Prime Student" subscription includes a free six-month trial and a subsequent monthly fee of just $5.49, which students can cancel at any time – the offer provides a new way to attract students without the commitment of a yearly package. See also Engadget.
CNBC “Amazon is exploring ways to deliver items to your car trunk and the inside of your home”
Amazon is reportedly in advanced talks with Phrame, a maker of smart license plates, for a partnership that would allow items to be delivered to a car's trunk and is in the process to develop a smart doorbell device that would give delivery drivers one-time access to a person's home to drop off items.
The Wall Street Journal “Apple strikes deal with Spielberg’s Amblin for ‘Amazing Stories’ reboot”
Apple will partner with director and producer Steven Spielberg and Amblin Television and Universal Television for its first major foray into creating original video content, new episodes of Amazing Stories a science fiction and horror anthology series that ran on NBC in the 1980s. See also Fast Company, Gizmodo, Mashable, ReCode, TechCrunch, and The Verge.
Wired “Is Steven Soderbergh's new app the future of TV?”
Director Steven Soderbergh’s Mosaic is an interactive narrative app that lets viewers click through a growing web of “chapters,” deciding how a homicide investigation unfolds.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
TechCrunch “Everything announced at Oculus’ Connect 4 VR conference”
A quick look at the new products and promotions from Oculus, including the new Oculus Go standalone VR headset, a permanent price drop for the Oculus Rift, the Oculus Dash interface, and an “Oculus For Business” Rift bundle with dedicated customer support – as part of the event Mark Zuckerberg announced an ambitious goal for 1 billion users of VR, even though most analysts estimate that only a few million VR headsets have been sold across the entire industry. For 1 billion users goal, see also CNET, Mashable, and The Verge; for Oculus Go, see also ArsTechnica, CNET, Consumerist, Engadget and again, Fast Company, GeekWire, Gizmodo, Mashable and again and again, PSFK, ReCode and again, TechCrunch, and The Verge; for Oculus Rift price drop, see also CNET, Engadget, Mashable, TechCrunch, and The Verge; for Oculus for Business, see also Engadget, Mashable, and The Verge; and for Oculus Dash, see also TechCrunch.
The Daily Dot “Mark Zuckerberg gets slammed for ‘tone-deaf’ VR demo in Puerto Rico”
As part of a promotion for their virtual reality Spaces app, Facebook shared a livestream featuring avatars of Mark Zuckerberg and Rachel Franklin, the head of Facebook’s social VR team, touring the devastation in Puerto Rico – many viewers found the display tone-deaf and Zuckerberg subsequently apologized. See also CNET and again and again, Engadget and again, Fast Company, GeekWire, Gizmodo, Mashable and again, and TechCrunch and again and again.
Mashable “Oculus is working on an app for experiencing concerts and sports in VR”
Oculus Venues will allow users to experience performances and other events in virtual reality with their friends.
The Verge “Amazon’s Alexa can now recognize different voices and give personalized responses”
Following in the footsteps of Google Home, Amazon announced that Alexa can now recognize individual voices to customize services for multiple users – users are asked to read aloud 10 phrases and Alexa will then use that data to create a voice profile. See also CNET, Engadget, Fast Company, and TechCrunch.