This week’s headline comes from Consumerist’s coverage of the new Nordstrom concept store, which will feature no merchandise but provides a space for customers to hangout, try on some of their online purchases, and take advantage of stylist services.
A reminder that we've opened the call for session proposals for our 2018 Symposium on the Future of Libraries, part of the 2018 ALA Midwinter Meeting, February 9 -13 in Denver. We had over 25 sessions at the 2017 Symposium and look forward to another rich discussion of the near- and long-term trends shaping the future of libraries.
You can always check out the Center's trend collection to see how this scanning comes together to identify trends relevant to our futures. We've just added a new entry on Creative Placemaking. 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.
And 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.
Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines
Fast Company "How John Deere’s new AI lab is designing farm equipment for a more sustainable future"
John Deere Labs’ acquisition of Blue River Technology, a startup with computer vision and machine learning technology that can identify weeds and make it possible to spray herbicides only where they’re needed, represents one step in John Deere’s embrace of “precision agriculture,” the use of technologies like artificial intelligence and self-driving cars to target crops and soil for optimum productivity and health.
ReCode “U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has introduced a new set of voluntary guidance for self-driving cars”
Secretary Elaine Chao introduced the second version of voluntary guidance for the deployment and testing of self-driving cars – the new version advises against state laws that limit testing of self-driving cars, arguing against “unnecessary burdens on competition and innovation by limiting ADS testing or deployment.” See also ArsTechnica, CityLab, Engadget, and Slate.
Books and Publishing
CityLab "Indie bookstores embrace the side hustle"
Independent bookstores continue to experience growth as they position themselves as community spaces for hanging out and meeting neighbors.
The Guardian “Amazon redacts one-star reviews of Hillary Clinton's What Happened”
Amazon removed hundreds of one-star reviews of Hillary Clinton’s memoir What Happened posted within hours of publication – the company noted “we remove customer reviews that violate our community guidelines” including “when we find unusually high numbers of reviews for a product posted in a short period of time.” See also Mashable and Quartz.
Cities and Government
CityLab "The rise of public-sector crowdfunding"
Via government-specific crowdfunding platform like Neighborly or Citizinvestor, more and more local governments are soliciting donations for traditionally publicly-funded services.
The New York Times "The suburb of the future, almost here"
As millennials continue to move to the suburbs, drawn by housing affordability, they may push a new design driven by disdain for energy wastefulness, visual monotony, and social conformity and resulting in smaller house and lot sizes, improved plant-to-pavement ratios, and more open community spaces and neighborhood amenities.
ArsTechnica "Hyperloop One, Colorado DoT to study 360-mile intercity route"
Hyperloop One, which seeks to build high-speed, low-pressure, tube-based rail transportation, announced 10 routes around the world that it will study as potential locations for a Hyperloop – the U.S. routes include Pueblo-Denver-Cheyenne, Chicago-Columbus-Pittsburgh, Dallas-Laredo-Houston, and Miami-Orlando. See also NextCity.
The Verge “Drones carrying blood could be the future of rural medicine”
A drone flew chilled human blood on a three-hour flight across 160 miles of Arizona desert, breaking records for the transport of biological samples on a remotely operated vehicle and pointing to a future where drones could be used to drop off medical supplies or pick up samples for testing.
BuzzFeed "There's blood in the water in Silicon Valley"
As major technology companies confront some of the biggest and most pressing issues facing the United States – automation and inequality, trust in public life, privacy and security – they are increasingly portrayed as sinister centers of unaccountable power. See also Bloomberg.
The Washington Post "How Silicon Valley is erasing your individuality"
Technology innovators are quickly pursuing full integration in our daily lives – serving as personal assistants, recommending services and products based on the data we supply, collecting and storing private information and files, and providing on-demand information and entertainment – all the while shaping society into their ideal vision of technology and humanity.
The Guardian “Google 'segregates' women into lower-paying jobs, stifling careers, lawsuit says”
A new class action lawsuit argues that Google systematically pays women less than men and denies promotions and career opportunities to qualified women who are “segregated” into lower-paying jobs – the suit provides the most detailed formal accounts to date of gender discrimination and pay disparities at the company after months of criticism and a growing chorus of women publicly speaking out. See also Advertising Age, ArsTechnica, Bloomberg, CNET, Fast Company, Gizmodo, Mashable, The New York Times, Reuters, and The Verge.
Quartz “The college lecture is dying. Good riddance.”
While the college lecture is considered a picture-perfect paragon of learning for many, colleges and universities are moving ahead with interactive online courses that have students watch short videos and then immediately answer questions to test their attentiveness and enhance retention – the online segments, quizzes, problem sets, virtual study groups, and forums might actually provide more interaction than an ordinary in-person course.
The Chronicle of Higher Education "Bipartisan bill aims to provide support for homeless college students"
The bipartisan-sponsored Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act could help remove barriers to access to higher education for students experiencing homelessness and those in foster care by amending the Higher Education Act of 1965 to streamline the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, provide housing options for students in between terms, and improve outreach to these students.
NPR “Harvard withdraws fellowship invitation to Chelsea Manning”
The Institute of Politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School announced that Chelsea Manning would be one of its visiting fellows, but quickly withdrew the invitation following resignations and cancelled events from former CIA officials Mike Morell and Mike Pompeo. See also The Daily Dot, The Guardian, The New York Times, and The Washington Post.
Politico "The great nutrient collapse"
Agricultural research has pointed to a decline in nutrients in many foods over the past 50 to 70 years, but many researchers are beginning to shift away from the idea that this is the result of crop selection to instead consider that changes in the atmosphere itself may be changing the food we eat.
Zocalo Public Square “From Paradise Lost to Harry Potter, fanfiction writers reimagine the classics”
A look at how fanfiction can enhance the enjoyment of popular media, develop writing skills, create community, and drive creativity.
Slate "Apple is beckoning us into an internet of one"
With wireless headphones, cellular-connected iWatches, and wireless charging iPhones, which all network together, Apple has promoted a model of wearables that create completely cloud-based personal computing, where no matter what device you’re using you can always pick something up right where you left off.
ReCode "Facebook’s reliance on software algorithms keeps getting the company into trouble"
A ProPublica investigation found that Facebook’s automated ad buying software, which allows advertisers to target users based on specific information that they’ve added to their profile, provided options for targeting users based on their use of anti-Semitic phrases or involvement in hate groups – the investigation was reviewed and confirmed by Slate and similar options were found on Google and Twitter. Facebook and the other platforms have since issued statements or comments indicating that they would remove the inappropriate categories. For Facebook, see also Advertising Age, CNET, Fast Company, The Huffington Post, New Scientist, Scientific American, and Slate; for issue across other platforms, see also CNET, Engadget and again, Mashable, and The Verge; and for responses, see also The Daily Dot, ReCode and again, TechCrunch and again, and The Verge.
The Daily Beast “Exclusive: Russia used Facebook events to organize anti-immigrant rallies on U.S. soil”
Russian operatives hiding behind false identities used Facebook’s event-management tool to remotely organize and promote political protests in the U.S. See also CNET, Engadget, and Fast Company.
TechCrunch “Upcoming versions of Google Chrome will let you permanently mute sites, block autoplaying videos”
The upcoming version of the Google Chrome web browser (Chrome 64) will limit the ability for sites to autoplay videos – Google announced that autoplay will only be allowed when the media itself doesn’t include sound, or when the user has indicated an interest in the media. See also ArsTechnica, CNET, Consumerist, and Mashable and again.
TechCrunch “Facebook ‘Snooze’ button temporarily hides people in your feed”
Facebook will pilot a new “snooze” feature that will temporarily limit a user’s posts from appearing in timelines for a day, a week, a month or permanently – the feature could deter people from permanently unfollowing, unliking, or unfriending things on Facebook while still giving them control over what they see. See also Engadget, Mashable, and The Daily Dot.
Consumerist “Facebook launching Crisis Center to put Safety Check, fundraising in one place”
After expanding Safety Check to allow users to offer and get help in a crisis, Facebook is now moving Community Help and Safety Check to its new Crisis Response feature, allowing users to create fundraisers and donate to support those affected by crises and providing links, articles, photos, and videos of crisis-related content from public posts. See also Engadget, Mashable, TechCrunch, and The Verge.
Journalism and News
The Verge “Google News now displays localized community updates from bloggers”
Google announced a change to Google News that will include information about hyperlocal events from sources like bloggers and high school newspapers to help users see more about “news and events happening right in your own backyard.”
Engadget “Apple’s FaceID replaces TouchID on the iPhone X”
Apple’s FaceID facial recognition feature will make its debut on the iPhone X, powered by what the company calls a True Depth camera system made of a series of sensors that detect a user’s face, even in the dark, and unlocks the iPhone by simply looking at it – the system can't be spoofed by photos and all data processing is done on the device itself, leaving everything encrypted and none of the info sent to the cloud. See also The Verge.
Wired “Apple's Animoji will teach you to love face tracking, for better or worse”
Apple's TrueDepth camera will project and analyze 30,000 dots across a person’s face, creating a high-resolution map of facial features that will allow them to unlock phones, pay for transactions with face recognition, and animate emoji with facial expressions. See also Engadget and Mashable.
The Economist "What machines can tell from your face"
Face recognition software could be seen as just another tech evolution, but because faces are public and unique, the ability to record, store, and analyze images of faces cheaply, quickly, and on a large scale could bring about fundamental changes to notions of privacy, fairness, and trust.
Wired "Apple’s FaceID could be a powerful tool for mass spying"
Apple’s new FaceID could raise fears over government surveillance and mass scans to identify individuals based on face profiles – one in two American adults are already enrolled in a law enforcement facial recognition network and at least one in four police departments have the capacity to run face recognition searches – as Apple’s new system will create a unified single facial recognition system built into the world's most popular devices. See also The Atlantic.
CityLab “Motel 6 is probably not the only company tipping off immigration agents”
Phoenix’s New Times broke a story about two Motel 6 locations in predominantly Latino Phoenix neighborhoods routinely sending information about their guests to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement – the report has raised questions about how many other private sector institutions might also be sharing information about individuals’ use of their spaces. See also Consumerist, The Daily Dot, and Mashable.
Mashable “Download this: the new anonymous app that's going viral with teens”
The popular teen-focused app "tbh" takes an unconventional approach to anonymity, allowing friends to anonymously communicate but only by exchanging positive compliments, which are sent via in-app quizzes.
Restaurants, Retail, and Spaces
The Verge "Apple calling its stores ‘town squares’ is a pretentious farce"
Apple’s Senior Vice President of Retail Angela Ahrendts announced that the company would be calling its stores “town squares,” positioning them as “gathering places” that will transform from commercial spaces to locations where the company will develop “communities” and host concerts, lead workshops, offer up meeting rooms, and teach everything from coding to photography to music-making. See also The Atlantic, CNET, and Mashable.
The New York Times “Can a vending machine replace a bodega? A start-up’s plans draw fire”
The start-up Bodega provides vending machines that are as “easy as opening your own pantry” using an app that is linked to customers’ credit cards – the naming of the company and the assumed displacement of what for many is a neighborhood institution was met with quick response from the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development in New York, the New York State Coalition of Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and users across social media. See also CityLab, The Daily Dot, Engadget and again, Fast Company and again and again, The Guardian, Mashable and again, Mic, Motherboard, Remezcla, Scientific American, Tech Crunch, and The Verge.
Consumerist "Need an aspirin or some deodorant? CVS vending machines offer on-the-go options"
CVS will introduce vending machines at “select landmark locations” in the Northeast, including airports, public transit stations, and college campuses – the machines will be customized to suit the location they’re in and stocked with things like over-the-counter medications, beauty and personal care products, eye care and oral health care products, first aid items, batteries, phone chargers, earbuds, and healthy snacks and beverages.
Consumerist “Nordstrom concept store doesn’t stock actual clothing but it does offer booze”
Nordstrom is launching a new retail concept, dubbed Nordstrom Local, that will not stock any actual products but will feature eight dressing rooms surrounded by a common space where customers can hang out, drink beverages, talk to personal stylists, and take advantage of services including manicures, alterations, and tailoring. See also Fast Company, Fortune, Mashable, and Retail Dive.
Fast Company "How ride-sharing can close one gap in our broken health care system"
Launched in 2016 as a partnership between Uber and Boston-based medical practices to provide free rides to non-emergency medical appointments, Circulation addresses a serious challenge in health care – 3.6 million people missed an appointment because they simply couldn’t make it to the doctor’s office.
Pew Research Center “About 6 in 10 young adults in U.S. primarily use online streaming to watch TV”
A new Pew Research Center survey finds that six-in-ten 18- to 29-year olds (61%) say that the primary way they watch television now is with streaming services on the internet - other age groups are less likely to use internet streaming services and are much more likely to cite cable TV as the primary way they watch television.
Variety “Hulu to spend $2.5 billion on content in 2017 — less than half Netflix”
Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins said that company plans to spend $2.5 billion on content in 2017, launching seven new original series in the next six months – that would place Hulu in third place in spending among the subscription-video services behind Netflix and Amazon. See also TechCrunch and The Verge
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
Engadget "Meet Rembrandt in this Samsung Gear VR experience"
Oculus has partnered with virtual reality studio Force Field for Meeting Rembrandt, introducing viewers to the artist's home and surroundings using an actor to play the artist against computer-generated environments.
Engadget "Apple's new iPhones are designed for augmented reality"
At its iPhone event this week, Apple said that all of the new iPhones were designed to be AR-ready, with phone cameras calibrated for AR, ready to handle low-light and 60 fps video, and a new gyroscope and accelerometer to ensure more accurate motion tracking.
Consumerist “‘South Park’ screws with viewers’ Google Home, Echo Devices”
The latest episode of South Park included several lines designed to activate Amazon Echo and Google Home devices. See also The Daily Dot, GeekWire, Mashable, TechCrunch, and The Verge.
Mashable "Say hello to AirPower, Apple's new wireless charging pad"
Apple’s AirPower is the company's first big move toward wireless charging – the charging pad itself needs to be plugged into a wall outlet and then can power devices placed on top of it.