Read for Later – “It’s important that institutions like libraries get the recognition they deserve”

This week’s headline quotes Eric Klinenberg, professor of sociology and the director of the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University, from an opinion piece in The New York Times that argues that libraries are being disparaged and neglected at precisely the moment when they are most valued and necessary (The New York Times "To restore civil society, start with the library").

A reminder that we are launching a new monthly e-newsletter focused on smart communities and libraries’ possible roles in smart community development. Get Smart - Planning Libraries' Roles in Smart Communities will be produced by the Center for the Future of Libraries with CTG UAlbany as part of the IMLS -funded project “Enabling Smart, Inclusive, and Connected Communities: The Role of Public Libraries.” To sign up to receive Get Smart, please visit the subscription page.

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? Drop me a line to let me know what articles and reports you're reading that others might find of interest.

Five Highlights

Education Dive “New York public colleges to offer access to free food”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced new plans to have all New York State public colleges at The State University of New York and The City University of New York have a food pantry or stigma-free food access for students in need by the end of the fall semester – 36% of four-year students and 42% of community college students reported being food insecure, according to a survey released by the Wisconsin Hope Lab.

Fast Company “840 new dictionary entries to help you speak better Gen Z”
Merriam-Webster announced 840 new entries to their dictionary – many of the words indicate a movement toward the language of younger generations (adorbs, rando, TL;DR, GOAT), others are indicative of developments in science and technology (biohacking, fintech, nanobot, haptics).

The Verge “Google launches new search engine to help scientists find the datasets they need”
Google launched its new Dataset Search as a tool to unify the different repositories for datasets online – the initial release will cover the environmental and social sciences, government data, and datasets from news organizations like ProPublica. See also SearchReSearch.

The New York Times "To restore civil society, start with the library"
In an opinion piece, Eric Klinenberg, professor of sociology and the director of the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University, argues that libraries are being disparaged and neglected at precisely the moment when they are most valued and necessary – so many people are using libraries for such a wide variety of purposes that library systems and their employees may be overwhelmed; our values for free, open access to shared culture and heritage may be out of sync with the market logic that dominates our world; and few influential people understand the expansive role that libraries play in modern communities.

Quartz “The BBC is getting into ASMR”
The BBC is exploring “slow radio” with programming that will relax listeners with the sounds of Irish cows being herded up a mountain or leaves crunching on walks through the country – the programming picks up on the autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) trend that seeks to replicate the calming sensation many people feel when listening to a range of gentle everyday noises.

Economics and the Workplace

Gizmodo “Whole Foods takes first step toward unionizing”
Employees of Whole Foods, the grocery chain purchased by Amazon just over one year ago, are beginning to organize, issuing an email (obtained by New Food Economy) proposing collective action by the store’s employees – in the U.S., Amazon has resisted unionization efforts, but if Whole Foods workers are ultimately successful in having their demands met, it might kickstart such efforts more broadly across the company.

The Washington Post “Unions in the 21st century: A potent weapon against inequality”
In a perspectives column, a look at the decline in unions and workers' collective bargaining strength and their correlation to growing income inequality in the U.S.


TechCrunch “MasterClass raises $80M after doubling sales last year”
Online learning platform MasterClass, which packages celebrity-taught online classes, has raised $80 million to expand internationally – MasterClass’ sales more than doubled from 2016 to 2017 and the company is on pace to compete with Udacity and Coursera in revenue.

Nature “Radical open-access plan could spell end to journal subscriptions”
Research funders from France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and eight other European nations will mandate that the scientists they fund make resulting papers free to read immediately on publication – the pledge, called Plan S, has been described as a radical open-access initiative that could change the face of science publishing.

NPR “Today's college students aren't who you think they are”
According to Alexandria Walton Radford, Center Director for Postsecondary Education at the think tank RTI International, 74% of undergrads have at least one or more of the following characteristics that could be considered “nontraditional” – financially independent from their parents, having a child or other dependent, being a single caregiver, lacking a traditional high school diploma, delaying postsecondary enrollment, attending school part time, or being employed full time.

The Internet

The New York Times “Twitter bars Alex Jones and Infowars, citing harassing messages”
Twitter said it would permanently suspend Alex Jones’s account as well as the account for Infowars, saying that Jones had posted messages that violated its policies – the move follows actions by Facebook, Apple, YouTube, and others to limit the reach of Jones’s content – a New York Times analysis found that Facebook’s and YouTube’s bans have already drastically reduced InfoWars' reach. See also The New York Times.

BuzzFeedNews “Apple has permanently banned Alex Jones' Infowars app from the App Store”
Apple confirmed the removal of the Infowars app from the App Store and said Infowars would not be permitted to return to the App Store but declined to comment further – the app allowed users to read articles, shop, and livestream programming.

Wired “Google wants to kill the URL”
An interesting look at how the team behind Google’s Chrome browser is beginning to consider the future of URLs – while it is a difficult issue and there is no easy solution, the team is working now on identifying all the ways people use URLs in the hopes of finding an alternative that will enhance security and identity integrity while also adding convenience for users.

Journalism and News

“Apple is talking to big newspapers about joining its subscription service”
Apple has reportedly begun talking to major newspapers, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, about adding their content to Texture, the magazine app Apple bought in March – Apple’s reach and user base may appeal, but it may be a difficult proposal for those papers that already have their own digital subscription options and seek to maintain a close relationship with readers.

Restaurants, Retail, and Spaces

The New York Times “Hard lessons (thanks, Amazon) breathe new life into retail stores”
A reminder of the growing shift in retail toward “experience” – the strong economy and consumer optimism are helping those retailers that have learned to match the ease and instant gratification of e-commerce shopping with concierge services that personalize and simplify the buying experience.

TechCrunch “Airbnb for Work is getting bigger”
Airbnb is expanding its Airbnb for Work program that targets business travelers, offering businesses the opportunity to use Airbnb Experiences to arrange team-building activities, making some of the homes available on Airbnb for corporate off-sites and meetings, and letting employers secure temporary housing for employees relocating for work.

Transportation and Mobility

CNET “Lyft is rolling out its first electric scooters today”
Lyft has launched its dockless electric scooters program in Denver as part of a one year pilot program – Lyft believes scooters and bikes will offer an affordable option for people without cars and plays into the goal of getting a million cars off the road by the end of next year.