This week’s headline quotes edX CEO Anant Agarwal, at the U.S. Department of Education’s “Rethink School Summit,” discussing the online learning platform's MicroMasters and MicroBachelors programs (EdSurge “EdX quietly developing ‘MicroBachelors’ program”).
Our colleagues at the San Jose State University’s iSchool are currently promoting two exciting events focused on blockchain technology. Library 2.018 Blockchain Applied: Impact on the Information Profession (June 7, 2018) is currently accepting proposals from presenters and registrations for attendees of the free, online event. Additionally, nominations are being accepted (due by February 15, 2018) for the Blockchain National Forum, a discussion on the key opportunities for libraries to serve as community anchors using blockchain technology.
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.
GeekWire “Intel sets a record with 1,218-drone salute for Olympics’ opening ceremony in Korea”
The Winter Olympics’ first-ever drone light show has earned Intel the title from Guinness World Records for the “most unmanned aerial vehicles airborne simultaneously” – the synchronized flight of 1,218 Intel Shooting Star drones, controlled by one computer and one pilot, broke Intel’s previous record of 500 drones flown simultaneously in Germany in 2016. See also Mashable and The Verge.
EdSurge “EdX quietly developing ‘MicroBachelors’ program”
Following its MicroMasters program, edX, the nonprofit online-education group founded by MIT and Harvard, is quietly developing a “MicroBachelors” degree that is designed to break the undergraduate credential into block components – the program is advanced by a $700,000 grant from the Lumina Foundation and could grow out of the Global Freshman Academy that was launched with Arizona State University.
The Wall Street Journal “Unilever threatens to reduce ad spending on tech platforms that don’t combat divisive content”
Unilever, one of the world’s largest advertisers, is threatening to pull back its advertising from popular tech platforms, including YouTube and Facebook, if they don’t do more to combat the spread of fake news, hate speech, and divisive content. See also Advertising Age, Fast Company, Gizmodo, and TechCrunch.
The New York Times “When you’re a ‘digital nomad,’ the world is your office”
A look at Roam and the digital nomads it was built for, providing an international housing network for those who travel the world while working remotely over the internet - Roam operates complexes of furnished, single-occupancy residences in four cities (Miami, Tokyo, London, and Ubud, in Bali), with three more on the way (in New York, Berlin, and San Francisco).
The Verge “SpaceX launches its powerful Falcon Heavy rocket for the first time”
The success of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket, now the world’s most powerful rocket and the first time a vehicle this massive has ever been sent up by a commercial company, points to more missions ahead and an entirely new type of business for SpaceX, launching national security satellites, sending modules or people into deep space, and partnering with government agencies like the Air Force and NASA. See also ArsTechnica.
Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines
Engadget “AI facial analysis demonstrates both racial and gender bias”
Researchers from MIT and Stanford University found that that three different facial analysis programs demonstrate both gender and skin color biases – in order to test these systems, MIT researcher Joy Buolamwini collected over 1,200 images that contained a greater proportion of women and people of color and tested the facial recognition systems with her data set, finding that "for darker-skinned women . . . the error rates were 20.8%, 34.5%, and 34.7%."
Cities and Government
Government Technology “Vermont city, real estate startup try out blockchain for recording property transactions”
South Burlington, Vermont, will partner with Propy for a pilot project with the city clerk’s office to test blockchain as a new way to record property transactions – the four-stage pilot could see Propy provide the city with paper property deeds with information about the deeds' location in Propy’s blockchain; the city clerk’s entering into the blockchain an acknowledgement of the deed and fees; the linking of Propy’s systems with the clerk’s own land records software; and, ultimately, Propy becoming the city’s land records software.
Communities and Demographics
Citizen Times “Worries grow that the opioid epidemic is creating a 'lost generation' of children”
Social services departments in 16 Western North Carolina counties have reported a steady increase in foster care numbers as opioid-related deaths continue to rise – in one county, 387 children lived in foster care at the end of 2017, up 22% from 2016, and a doubling of the number of foster care cases over the past seven years.
The Los Angeles Times “Walgreens changes restroom policy after customer says a Hollywood store discriminated against her”
Walgreens locations nationwide have adopted a new policy allowing customers to use the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity, following an incident in which a cisgender woman said an employee mistook her gender identity and would only allow her to use the men’s restroom – the ACLU, which became involved after the woman tried to contact Walgreens without receiving a response, notes that bathroom gender discrimination is not only a transgender issue, but is common for many individuals who are perceived to be gender-nonconforming. See also The Daily Dot.
CNET “Facebook creates $10 million community leadership program”
Facebook will award $10 million in residencies and fellowships as part of a new global leadership program – the residencies and fellowships will offer training, support, and funding to as many as 105 people with up to five people receiving as much as $1 million to fund their proposals. See also The Drum, Engadget, and TechCrunch.
The Washington Post “Millions of Americans are living in higher-education deserts, report says”
A new Urban Institute report estimates that 41 million adults lack access to a physical university and as many as 3.1 million also lack access to high-speed Internet connection needed for online education – these education deserts are particularly concerning for people living in rural and Western parts of the country, students who work full time or have children and depend on a near-by institution or internet access to complete online programs, and Native American populations who experience the dual barriers in higher proportions.
Southern California Public Radio “Community colleges move to improve training for entertainment, digital jobs”
A new report commissioned by 29 community colleges in Los Angeles and Orange County reveals detailed wage and job growth information for Southern California middle skill jobs in entertainment and digital industries (sound engineering technicians, producers and directors, and makeup artists) that don't require a four-year college degree – the findings could lead the colleges to improve the training they offer for these regional growth industries.
Albany Times Union “After long battle, mental health will be part of New York's school curriculum”
On July 1, a New York state law will go into effect adding mental health literacy to the school curriculum – the curriculum will provide youth with the knowledge of how to prevent mental disorders, recognize when a disorder is developing, know how and where to seek help and treatment, strategies for dealing with milder issues, and strategies for supporting others who are struggling.
TechCrunch “Facebook confirms test of a downvote button for flagging comments”
As part of its effort to promote meaningful interaction between users, Facebook will test a downvote button on a limited set of public Page post comment reels, creating a simplified way for people to provide a signal that a comment is inappropriate, uncivil, or misleading. See also CNET, The Daily Beast, Digital Trends, Engadget, and Mashable.
Wired “Ethical tech will require a grassroots revolution”
Tristan Harris, a former design ethicist at Google, announced a newly formed coalition of technologists called the Center for Humane Technology, whose central goal is to spark a mass movement for more ethical technology and to educate parents, students, and even children about the dangers of technology addiction. See also The New York Times and PC Magazine.
Internet of Things
TechCrunch “Mozilla announces an open gateway for the internet of things”
Mozilla’s new Project Things could provide a set of frameworks and open standards to allow wider access to internet of things and connected devices – accessory makers and service providers could use the same standard to make devices talk to each other and users could control connected devices from a single interface.
The Verge “Intel made smart glasses that look normal”
Intel’s new Vaunt smart glasses avoid built-in cameras, buttons, LCD screens, and other distractions that created tension between the wearer and the public, instead adopting a simplified design that looks more like regular glasses with a built-in stream of information on what looks like a screen but is actually a projection onto the wearer’s retina – the system provides a simple heads-up style display in the wearer’s peripheral vision that can display simple messages like directions or notifications synched via Bluetooth with either an Android phone or an iPhone.
Journalism and News
Nieman Lab “With its new Olympics texting experiment, the Times is saying goodbye to SMS, hello to personalization”
The New York Times will continue its experiment of direct messaging for coverage of the Olympic Games, with results, photos, and behind-the-scenes coverage delivered direct to subscribers – for the 2018 Games, the paper will introduce new backend personalization features designed to connect readers with coverage that they care about using a new polling tool that asks which topics or events they’re most interested in and remembering readers’ choices, to send them targeted messages when events happen later.
Restaurants, Retail, and Spaces
TechCrunch “WeWork Labs is back”
WeWorks' accelerator-type program WeWork Labs will relaunch with 27 spaces in 16 markets for 2018 – Labs offers super early stage startups a place to work and learn with a loose curriculum and access to educational resources for members.
Digiday “NBCUniversal and BuzzFeed are teaming up for a new parenting channel called Playfull”
NBCUniversal’s and BuzzFeed’s new millennial parenting channel Playfull will target parents aged 20 to 34 with valuable and relatable information with a BuzzFeed-style viral video bent much like the popular Tasty and Nifty cooking and crafting channels.
Engadget “Snapchat and NBC are going all-in on the Winter Olympics”
Snapchat will partner with NBC to broadcast the 2018 Winter Olympics live in the Discover tab along with a daily highlights wrap-up and special series focused on event teams and life in the Olympic Village. See also CNET.
Billboard “Best Buy to pull CDs, Target threatens to pay labels for CDs only when customers buy them”
Two moves by retailers point to the growing popularity of streaming music and the possible decline of physical CDs – Best Buy has told music suppliers that it will pull CDs from its stores July 1, even as it continues to fulfill a vendor commitment to carry vinyl for the next two years, and Target has informed music suppliers that it wants to carry CDs on what amounts to a consignment basis.