This week’s headline quotes rural entrepreneur Matt Brugger, recounting the advice of Tom Field, director of the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a program that sees a large portion of its alumni returning to their small or rural communities with a vision for economic development through small and unconventional agriculture-based businesses (The Christian Science Monitor “Can the Prairie Generation save rural America?”).
You can always check out the Center's trend collection to see how this scanning comes together to identify trends relevant to our futures.
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Books and Publishing
The Christian Science Monitor “With local connections and quirkiness, indie bookstores thrive”
In the past decade, the number of independent bookstores in the United States has grown by more than 50%, from 1,651 stores to more than 2,500, according to data from the American Booksellers Association – small bookstores have experienced success by bringing together a local focus, dedication to physical books, accessibility to author tours, and a business model that includes other revenue streams.
Communities and Demographics
The Christian Science Monitor “Can the Prairie Generation save rural America?”
A look at a new generation of rural entrepreneurs starting small and unconventional agriculture-based businesses in the rural Midwest – many of these entrepreneurs return to their rural homes after school with a focus on economic development and a desire to live and work in places where they have a deep affinity with the culture.
Wired “The radical transformation of the textbook”
Following on news from education publisher Pearson to phase out print textbooks, a look at the evolution of the textbook, shifting from an ownership model toward a rental model, from fixed revision cycles to regularly updated content, from standalone resource to a more integrated piece of related educational platforms, and ultimately reflecting increasing pressures on publishers to turn a profit.
EdScoop “FCC considers expanding E-Rate program to student homes”
The Federal Communications Commission will consider expanding a common school broadband subsidy program to the homes of students, according to a Government Accountability Office report – the GAO recommended that FCC Chairman Ajit Pai research the cost of making houses with school-age children that don’t have wireless internet eligible for the FCC’s E-Rate program and Pai has tasked the FCC’s Office of Economics and Analytics to gather that data, according to a response letter included in the report. See also ArsTechnica “The FCC’s horrible broadband-mapping system is finally getting an upgrade”
MIT Technology Review “China has started a grand experiment in AI education. It could reshape how the world learns.”
A look at China’s investment in AI-enabled education, including extracurricular tutoring programs like Squirrel and digital learning platforms like 17ZuoYe – for every course Squirrel offers, its engineering team works with a group of master teachers to subdivide the subject into thousands of the smallest possible conceptual pieces, each paired with video lectures, notes, worked examples, and practice problems with all the relationships encoded in a “knowledge graph,” all of which allows the program to personalize curricula to students’ demonstrated needs and pace of learning.
Bloomberg “Amazon gives option to disable human review of Alexa recordings”
Amazon will let Alexa users opt out of human review of their voice recordings, a move that follows criticism that the program violated customers’ privacy – a new policy allows customers, through an option in the settings menu of the Alexa smartphone app, to remove their recordings from a pool that could be analyzed by Amazon employees and contract workers.
The Guardian “Pentagon testing mass surveillance balloons across the US”
The US is conducting wide-area surveillance tests across six Midwest states using experimental high-altitude balloons, documents filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reveal – the balloons are intended to “provide a persistent surveillance system to locate and deter narcotic trafficking and homeland security threats,” according to a filing made on behalf of the Sierra Nevada Corporation, an aerospace and defense company.
The Verge “Electric scooters aren’t quite as climate-friendly as we thought”
A new study finds that shared e-scooters may be more environmentally friendly than most cars, but they can be less green than several other options, including bicycles, walking, and certain modes of public transportation when factoring the full scope of emissions that are produced by the manufacturing, transportation, maintenance, and upkeep of dockless scooters.
The Wall Street Journal “Spotify reports user growth amid industry podcast boom”
Spotify posted greater-than-expected user growth in the latest quarter as the music-streaming giant improved long-term retention of its listeners and broadened its podcasting business – the company ended the quarter with 232 million monthly active users, with its overall podcast audience growing more than 50% from the previous quarter and nearly doubling since the beginning of the year.
The Verge “PBS will stream live for the first time with YouTube TV”
YouTube TV will now include a live, online feed of PBS, including all 330 PBS member stations that choose to participate and PBS Kids channels – at $49.99 per month, YouTube TV offers live TV from over 70 networks.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
TechCrunch “Apple is hosting augmented reality art walking tours in major cities”
Apple’s new [AR]T Walk project creates walking tours through select cities highlighting immersive augmented reality art works – the 1.5 mile walks help combine the company’s push into AR with a continued focus on centering Apple Stores as civic centers where communities can come together.