Read for Later - “A frictionless experience is part of the future.”

This week’s headline quotes Lindon Gao, co-founder of retail technology company Caper, who says that the cashierless shopping model will be a hybrid - “Some people like the interaction. Some people don't want to deal with anyone and just get what they want and leave." (Advertising Age “Amazon Go has attracted a host of cashierless imitators”)

I'm a little late as I catch up from the ALA Midwinter Meeting. And while I don’t normally include stories about libraries in this weekly wrap-up, several Midwinter attendees talked up three articles that show how libraries are changing to meet new needs.

You can always check out the Center's trend collection to see how this scanning comes together to identify trends relevant to our futures.

What new information has sparked your interest? Drop me a line to let me know what you're reading or discovering that helps you consider the future of libraries.

Five Highlights

Advertising Age “Amazon Go has attracted a host of cashierless imitators”
As Amazon proceeds with the expansion of its cashierless convenience store model, Amazon Go, a fleet of companies are working to replicate elements of Go or invent other ways of streamlining store operations to help broaden the cashierless model.

Mashable “The food delivery robot take-over continues at yet another college campus”
Starship Technologies has launched a fleet of 25 mini robots on the George Mason University campus, in Fairfax, Virginia, delivering food and drinks to the 40,000 students, faculty, and staff – customers order through an app and items are delivered by autonomous wheeled robots at a delivery fee of $1.99.

CBS News “Rural America's "brain drain": How student debt is emptying small towns”
New research from the U.S. Federal Reserve finds that adults with student loans are less likely to remain in rural areas than those without it and adults with the highest student loan balances are the most likely to migrate to cities, all contributing to a growing college attainment gap between urban and rural America, which has diverged from about 5 percentage points in 1970 to 14 percentage points in 2016.

The New York Times “The hard part of Computer Science? Getting into class”
The surge in student demand for computer science courses is far outstripping the supply of professors, especially as the tech industry snaps up talent, creating an undergraduate divide of computing haves and have-nots — potentially narrowing a path for some minority and female students to an industry that has struggled with diversity.

The Atlantic “Your TV is now a computer, but not in a good way”
As televisions become “smarter,” connecting to the internet, running apps, and acting as platforms for video services such as Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, or YouTube, they have become more like computers and other internet-connected devices that help generate information that companies can use themselves or sell to third parties for “post-purchase monetization.”

Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines

The New York Times “How do you govern machines that can learn? Policymakers are trying to figure that out”
As part of a three-day gathering at M.I.T., including expert panels, debate and discussion, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development worked to agree on recommendations for artificial intelligence policy that could help set standards and guidelines in many countries – among the themes that emerged across the gatherings, rules are needed to make the world safe for A.I. while at the same time allowing the technology to flourish; policy should embrace the needs of many stakeholders, not just the superpowers; and A.I. policy is ultimately linked to data policy, including issues of its collection, handling, and use.

Bloomberg “Facebook endows AI ethics institute at German university TUM”
Facebook is endowing a new institute devoted to the ethics of artificial intelligence at the Technical University of Munich – the center will investigate issues around AI safety, fairness, privacy, and transparency.

Fast Company “Amazon’s little blue delivery robot is roaming around the Seattle suburbs”
Amazon announced plans to test a fleet of autonomous, fully electric delivery bots on sidewalks in Snohomish County, Washington – the pilot will include six bots chaperoned by Amazon employees and only allowed out during daylight hours from Monday through Friday.

Co-Working, Co-Living

GeekWire “The Riveter begins national expansion with new female-focused co-working space in Austin”
Fresh off a $15 million investment round, Seattle-based female-focused co-working space The Riveter is kicking off a nationwide expansion with a new location in Austin, Texas.


Mashable “Now Girl Scouts can earn badges for cybersecurity skills”
Following a 2018 announcement of a new set of STEM-oriented badges from the Girl Scouts of the USA, the largest Girl Scouts council in the DC area, Girl Scouts Nation's Capital (GSNC), is working with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) to develop a custom-made game to help Scouts learn about privacy, online identities, security, and cyberbullying.

The Environment

The Atlantic “The world just experienced the four hottest years on record”
Berkeley Earth, a nonprofit research group that publishes an annual temperature analysis, finds that 2018 was hotter than any year in the 19th century or 20th century and hotter than any year since 1850 with the exception of 2015, 2016, and 2017 – meaning that the past four years have been the four hottest years ever reliably measured. See also The Guardian “Americans’ climate change concerns surge to record levels, poll shows”

Journalism and News

The New Yorker “Does journalism have a future?”
After periods of conglomeration, the dot-coms and digital upstarts, and the collapse of established business models, a look at how journalism—the way news is covered, reported, written, and edited—has changed, including in ways that have made possible the rise of fake news.


NextCity “Library systems embracing their new roles as social service hubs”
A look at how libraries are addressing homelessness and mental health issues, with examples from San Francisco Public Library’s team of Health and Safety Associates (known as HASAs) and Denver Public Library’s Homeless Services Action Committee and their on-staff social worker.

NPR “Once centers of Soviet propaganda, Moscow's libraries are having a 'loud' revival”
A look at Moscow's libraries, now experiencing a transformation from musty houses of Soviet propaganda into bustling work spaces for 21st century city-dwellers, hosting events like language clubs, readings, and lectures.

CityLab “Cities can bridge the digital divide by offering free tech support”
Discussions of the digital divide usually center on device access, internet access, and training, but several cities are also exploring tech support as a central element of addressing the divide – some cities like Washington, D.C., offer publicly funded tech support programs while other cities rely on existing institutions (including libraries) or community groups to fill the need.

Streaming Media

ReCode “Hulu is cutting the price of its most popular streaming service — and raising the price of its most expensive one”
Hulu is cutting the price of its original subscription service, which lets you watch TV shows that have already run on traditional TV networks, as well as movies and some original programming, from $8 a month to $6, even as it raises the price of its live TV service, which offers a cable-TV like package of channels, from $40 a month to $45.