Read for Later - “This is a dangerous time. Moving forward, we need to be more vigilant with what we trust from the internet.”

This week’s headline quotes Jordan Peele, speaking as president Barack Obama, in a public service announcement Peele created by manipulating video of the former president to follow a script written and performed by Peele – the video highlights the evolving threat of digital misinformation (BuzzFeedNews “This PSA about fake news from Barack Obama is not what it appears”).

A reminder of the 2018 Future of Libraries Fellowship. The fellowship offers a stipend of $10,000 to advance new ideas and perspectives for the future of libraries through the creation of a public product that will help library professionals envision the future. We look forward to many exciting project proposals - the deadline is May 15th.  

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.

What have you read lately to help you think about the future? Consider dropping me a line to let me know what articles and reports you're reading that others might find of interest. 

Five Highlights

Bloomberg “Amazon has a top-secret plan to build home robots”
Amazon is reportedly building a domestic robot codenamed “Vesta,” led by its Lab126 hardware research and development division – while an Amazon spokesperson said the company doesn’t comment on “rumors and speculation,” the company has aggressively hired for positions including “Software Engineer, Robotics” and “Principle Sensors Engineer.”

BuzzFeedNews “This PSA about fake news from Barack Obama is not what it appears”
Jordan Peele and BuzzFeed collaborated on a public service announcement to warn the public about the rapidly evolving threat posed by digital misinformation – the video manipulates and digitally alters footage of president Barack Obama to a script written and performed by Peele, using Adobe After Effects, a readily available piece of video software, and FakeApp, an artificial intelligence program that create photorealistic faceswap videos. See also CNET, The Daily Dot, Gizmodo, Mashable, Variety, and The Verge.   

Pew Research Center “The future of well-being in a tech-saturated world”
Pew Research Center and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center queried some 1,150 technology experts, scholars, and health specialists about how changes in digital life will impact people’s overall physical and mental well-being over the next decade– 47% of respondents predict that individuals’ well-being will be more helped than harmed by digital life in the next decade, while 32% say people’s well-being will be more harmed than helped, and the remaining 21% predict there will not be much change in people’s well-being compared to now.

The New York Times “Public servants are losing their foothold in the middle class”
State and local employees now account for the smallest share of the American civilian work force since 1967, even as the populations they serve have grown – the 19.5 million workers who remain are finding themselves financially downgraded from the middle class.

The New York Times “Starbucks C.E.O. apologizes after arrests of 2 black men” and “Starbucks to close 8,000 U.S. stores for racial-bias training after arrests”
Starbucks issued an apology and announced plans close its more than 8,000 stores for one day to conduct anti-bias training after two African-American men were arrested at one of its stores– the men were refused use of the restroom because they had not bought anything and were asked to leave, and when they declined, an employee called the police. See also Advertising Age and again, The Drum, Fast Company, GeekWire, Mashable, NPR, and The Washington Post

Communities and Demographics

Fast Company “At Lincoln Center, hyper-individualized plays for fans with autism”
Lincoln Center’s Big Umbrella Festival is the performing arts center’s first-ever festival dedicated to children on the autism spectrum, featuring a mix of interactive theater, multi-sensory experiences, and “relaxed” performances that take place across the Lincoln Center campus.


EdScoop “SNHU pilots blockchain-enabled credential program”
Southern New Hampshire University will pilot a program to provide 1,000 alumni with blockchain-based digital credentials – the digital credentials will not replace paper degrees or traditional transcripts, but will serve as an enhanced version of a student’s academic record and as a platform to organize the certifications, competencies, and achievements that come with lifelong learning.

StateScoop “University partnership brings innovation campus 'Aggie Square' to Sacramento”
The city of Sacramento and the University of California, Davis, will partner on a new technology and innovation campus, Aggie Square, that will include collaborative spaces for academic research and professional education, incubator and accelerator space to facilitate economic development, housing for UC Davis community members, and entertainment and retail spaces.

The Environment

Engadget “Lyft promises to make all rides carbon neutral”
Lyft announced plans to purchase carbon offsets to make every Lyft ride carbon neutral – Apple and Google recently published updates on their efforts to offset their energy use with renewable energy. See also Grist, TechSpot, and The Verge

The Internet

Engadget “Wikipedia adds page previews to prevent endless link clicking”
The Wikimedia Foundation announced a new page preview feature for links in Wikipedia, allowing users to explore related topics on the site without leaving the entry they are currently viewing. See also Digital Trends.

BuzzFeedNews “What comes after the social media empires”
Faced with sometimes toxic and divisive content, the big social media platforms (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter) that were once predicted to dominate the internet, now find their users splintering off into more niche social networks.

The Internet of Things

Digital Trends “Nest launches an ambitious attack on energy insecurity with The Power Project”
Smart home technology company Nest’s The Power Project will install one million energy-and-money-saving thermostats in low and moderate-income homes over the next five years – while the project’s primary goal is to address energy insecurity faced by people with lower incomes, it will also increase smart home technology adoption across communities. See also CNET.

Journalism, Media and News

Bloomberg “Apple is planning to launch a news subscription service”
Apple reportedly plans to integrate recently acquired magazine app Texture into Apple News and debut its own premium subscription offering – the upgraded Apple News app with subscription features is expected to launch within the next year, with a portion of subscription revenue going to magazine publishers that are part of the program. See also Digital Trends, The Drum, Engadget, TechCrunch, and TechSpot.

The Verge “Facebook begins fact-checking news for users in India, one of its largest markets”
Facebook will pilot third-party fact-checking in India, working with independent journalism initiative BOOM to review English stories and rate their accuracy from six ratings including “false,” “mixture,” “true,” and “not rated” – stories rated “false” will be displayed lower in the News Feed. See also Engadget.

The New York Times “Kendrick Lamar wins Pulitzer in ‘big moment for hip-hop’” 
Kendrick Lamar’s album “DAMN.” received the Pulitzer Prize for music, becoming the first winner who is not a classical or jazz musician – Dana Canedy, the administrator of the prizes, stated, “We are very proud of this selection….It shines a light on hip-hop in a completely different way. This is a big moment for hip-hop music and a big moment for the Pulitzers.” See also The Daily Dot, Fast Company, and The Verge

Restaurants, Retail, and Spaces

Quartz “More people have Amazon Prime than live in Germany”
In its annual letter to shareholders, Amazon revealed that Amazon Prime now has more than 100 million members – in 2017, the company shipped more than five billion items with Prime worldwide. See also Advertising Age, Digital Trends, The Drum, Engadget, GeekWire, Gizmodo, Mashable, Racked, ReCode, TechCrunch, and TechSpot

Voice Control

The Verge “Alexa is becoming more personal with custom responses”
Amazon’s Alexa Skill Blueprints will let users customize a variety of skills or questions with personal answers and responses that will only run on their Alexa devices – the templates include custom questions and answers, responses designed for house guests, trivia games, jokes, and even short stories that could also be particularly useful for bedtime stories when a parent is working away from home. See also ArsTechnica, CNET, Digital Trends, Engadget, and The Verge.


Engadget “Intel cancels its smart glasses due to lack of investment”
Intel is closing the group responsible for wearable devices, including the Superlight project Vaunt smart glasses that had been announced in February. See also The Inquirer