Read for Later - “Kids develop 21st-century skills in play”

This week’s headline quotes Dr. Michael Yogman, chief of the division of ambulatory pediatrics at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ committee on psychosocial aspects of child family health, which led the development of the Academy’s new statement on the power of play (The New York Times “Let kids play”).

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Five Highlights

The Guardian “Skim reading is the new normal. The effect on society is profound”
An interesting consideration for how digital devices and the digital transfer of information may be driving a need for a new “bi-literate” reading brain that is capable of the deepest forms of thought in either digital or traditional mediums.

The Atlantic “The problem with ‘Hey guys’”
The use of “guys” as an easygoing way to address a group of people is being scrutinized by many people, increasingly viewed as a symbol of exclusion of female, transgender, and gender-nonconforming people.

City Lab “When City Hall becomes a homeless shelter”
Seattle’s government first opened its city hall headquarters as a severe weather shelter in 2006, but as the number of people experiencing homelessness in Seattle has grown (the estimated homeless population is over 11,600), it has operated the basement as an emergency shelter year-round and now even uses the city hall’s lobby – homeless advocates note that cities’ stopgap measures are helpful in the moment, but don’t address the underlying problem.

Pew Research Center “How teens and parents navigate screen time and device distractions”
New research finds that 54% of U.S. teens say that they spend too much time on their cellphones and 36% of parents of teens say that they themselves spend too much time on their cellphone – 51% of teens say they often or sometimes find their parent or caregiver to be distracted by their own cellphone when they are trying to have a conversation with them.

The New York Times “Let kids play”
The American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy statement titled “The Power of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Young Children”, characterizing play as intrinsically motivated, involving active engagement, and resulting in “joyful discovery,” and advising doctors to encourage playful learning for parents and infants by writing a “prescription for play” at every well-child visit in the first two years of life. See also Brookings.

Books and Reading

Engadget “New York Public Library turns classic novels into Insta Stories”
Working with ad agency Mother, The New York Public Library is using Instagram's Stories feature to convert classic novels into "Insta Novels", animated digital novels illustrated by visual artists that are meant to be more accessible and enticing to read. See also City Lab and Fast Company.

TechCrunch “Walmart and Kobo launch Walmart eBooks, an online e-book and audiobook store”
Following their announcement in January for a partnership with Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten for the sale of audiobooks, e-books, and e-readers in the U.S., Walmart is launching a full e-book and audiobook catalog on – stores will also sell digital books cards for popular titles in stores.

Cities and Government

Government Technology “What’s new in civic tech: South Bend, Ind., launches new digital inclusion center”
Among several stories, a look at South Bend’s new Center for Learning, Information, Connectivity, and Knowledge (CLICK) digital inclusion center, a collaboration between the city, St. Joseph County Library, and St. Joe Valley Metronet – the facility features high-speed Internet, public Wi-Fi, and computers, with programing focused on “empowering residents to gain the technology and digital literacy skills demanded by the modern age.”


Engadget “Google's Daydream science labs bring STEM experiments to VR”
Google has partnered with Labster to open more than 30 virtual reality lab experiences in Daydream to help students get more lab time no matter where they are – students pursuing an online BS in Biological Sciences at Arizona State University started working in the labs earlier this month, experiencing 30 VR simulations on topics like animal physiology, ecology, and molecular biology.

CNBC “Google, Apple and 13 other companies that no longer require employees to have a college degree”
Job-search site Glassdoor compiled a list of 15 top employers that have said they no longer require applicants to have a college degree, including companies like Google, Apple, and IBM – employers may be showing more interest in hands-on experiences that employees can gain from a coding boot camp or an industry-related vocational class.

The Environment

The Associated Press “Kroger to phase out plastic bags at all stores”
Joining a growing list of companies seeking more sustainable policies, the nation's largest grocery chain, Kroger, has begun to phase out the use of plastic bags with a goal of being plastic-bag free at all of its nearly 2,800 stores by 2025 – while there has been a pushback from lawmakers when cities and towns attempt to prohibit the use of plastic bags or charge fees if customers do not bring reusable bags, companies are free to make their own choices on that front, and increasingly, are doing so.

The Internet

CNBC “Instagram is inviting college students to join new groups organized by school”
Instagram is testing a new feature that will group student users by college community to help them "connect with other students" and make the photo-sharing app more like the flagship Facebook app.

CNET “Facebook tests 'things in common' label to try to connect non-friends”
Facebook is testing a new label, called "things in common," that will appear in some users’ comments – Facebook will highlight things users have in common with non-friends who have left comments, including similarities in location, membership in public groups, employment, or enrollment at schools.

The Washington Post “Facebook is rating the trustworthiness of its users on a scale from zero to 1”
Facebook has begun to assign its users a reputation score, predicting their trustworthiness on a scale from zero to 1 based on the ways users interact with information, including flagging something as false news which fact checkers verify as true and reporting false news that’s indeed proven to be false – the trustworthiness score is one measurement among thousands of new behavioral clues considered when users report content on the platform.

Journalism and News

Poynter “More Americans trust the media than they did last year and the majority trust local news”
New findings from The Poynter Institute’s second Media Trust Survey show that 54% of Americans have “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of trust and confidence in the media, 76% of Americans trust local television news, 73% trust local newspapers, 59% trust national newspapers, and 55% trust national network news.

Voice Control

TechCrunch “Amazon expands its Alexa Fund Fellowship to a total of 18 universities, up from 4 last year”
Amazon will expand its Alexa Fund Fellowship program to 14 new universities - the Alexa Graduate Fellowship, focused on fostering education by PhD and post-doctoral students on topics like machine learning, speech science, and conversational A.I., will be available to 10 universities and the Alexa Innovation Fellowship, which is aimed at helping entrepreneurship center faculty serve as voice experts on campus, will be available to 10 universities.