This week’s headline quotes Nina Wolff Landau, a junior at Brown University, in response to the information requested by Shiru Café, a new coffee shop that offers students free coffee in exchange for personal data that lets the café target corporate-sponsored messages to customers. Landau notes that the data collected are easily accessible on LinkedIn or other websites (NPR “No cash needed at this cafe. Students pay the tab with their personal data”).
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The New York Times “28,000 public servants sought student loan forgiveness. 96 got it.”
A Government Accountability Office report finds major administrative failings have left both the public service loan forgiveness program’s administrator and borrowers in a state of confusion about the program’s rules, with more than 99% of applications rejected – the precise requirements of the program are complex and the U.S. Education Department has never given a written instruction manual to the company hired to manage the program, according to the audit report.
Wired “Twitter releases new policy on 'dehumanizing speech’”
Twitter announced a forthcoming policy addressing “dehumanizing speech,” which will prohibit “content that dehumanizes others based on their membership in an identifiable group, even when the material does not include a direct target” – the policy builds on research by Susan Benesch, who defines dehumanizing speech as “describing other people in ways that deny or diminish their humanity,” like comparing them to insects, demons, or bacteria.
NPR “No cash needed at this cafe. Students pay the tab with their personal data”
The Shiru Café in Providence, Rhode Island, looks like a regular coffee shop, but will only serve students and faculty members with a college I.D. – while the cafe allows faculty to pay, students receive free coffee in exchange for their names, phone numbers, email addresses, majors, birth dates, and professional interests, all of which allow the café to target corporate-sponsored messages on mobile devices, signs, surveys, and even directly from baristas.
The New York Times “Get in bed with Skynet”
An interesting look at robotic furniture, with examples from Ori, whose furniture runs on tracks and can be activated by voice command or an app, and Bumblebee Spaces, which uses smart robots to store, manage, and retrieve furnishing on-demand from the ceiling.
City Lab “The parks where kids (and their parents) walk and read at the same time”
A profile of library StoryWalks that place book pages or selected text on wooden stakes planted along trails to be read as children and their families walk along the path.
Books and Reading
The Hollywood Reporter “BuzzFeed sets interactive Instagram drama 'Romeo Likes Juliet’”
BuzzFeed will unveil an eight-day retelling of Romeo and Juliet that will play out live across seven character profiles on Instagram, using posts, comments, Instagram Stories, and long-form video platform IGTV.
Communities and Demographics
Bloomberg “Millennials are causing the U.S. Divorce rate to plummet”
New data analysis by University of Maryland sociology professor Philip Cohen finds that the U.S. divorce rate dropped 18% from 2008 to 2016, as Generation X and Millennials, who are taking longer to get married, may be staying together longer and other generations age into life stages when people are less likely to get divorced.
Axios “YouTube is replacing textbooks in classrooms across America”
Results of a survey from Pearson Education finds that YouTube is a preferred education method for Generation Z students (people born from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s), part of a generational shift from more traditional methods of learning through text and lesson plans to more technological methods such as YouTube videos and other virtual platforms.
Fast Company “Exclusive: Tim Berners-Lee tells us his radical new plan to upend the World Wide Web”
Tim Berners-Lee will launch Inrupt, a startup whose mission is to lead a broader movement among developers to decentralize the web and find new ways for individuals to control their own data.
Wired “California Governor signs nation's toughest net neutrality law”
California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill banning broadband providers from blocking, throttling, or otherwise discriminating against lawful content passing through their networks – the U.S. Justice Department filed suit to block the law.
Journalism and News
Nieman Lab “In Canadian cities, the number of newspaper stories published each day has been cut in half in the last decade”
A new report from Canada’s Public Policy Forum finds that the number of newspaper articles produced over the last 10 years has shrunk by almost half, wire service stories are taking the place of local political coverage, and, of those articles still being produced, fewer include coverage of democratic institutions and civic affairs.
Restaurants, Retail, and Spaces
Geekwire “Spotted: Rare blue Amazon locker inside Chase Bank signals tech giant’s latest physical expansion”
A blue Amazon Locker inside a Chase branch in Seattle could point to the latest expansion of the online shopping site’s locker delivery program that now includes over 2,800 units.
Vox “Amazon’s new store only sells its highest-rated products”
Amazon’s new store concept, Amazon 4-Star, carries products that are rated 4 stars or more on the Amazon website or are best-sellers or trending on Amazon – the store currently carries about 1,800 curated products with products and product categories that will rotate.
The Columbia Journalism Review “Is the podcast bubble bursting?”
Several developments, including recent staff layoffs at the podcasting teams at Slate, BuzzFeed, and Audible, could point to a contracting of the podcasting market, as a perceived abundance of supply limits advertising opportunities.