This week’s headline quotes Alannah Maynez, a Yale freshman enrolled in the overwhelmingly popular Psyc 157: Psychology and the Good Life, a course focused on teaching students how to lead a happier and more satisfying life (The New York Times “Yale’s most popular class ever: Happiness”).
Our colleagues at the San Jose State University’s iSchool are currently promoting two exciting events focused on blockchain technology. Library 2.018 Blockchain Applied: Impact on the Information Profession (June 7, 2018) is currently accepting proposals from presenters and registrations for attendees of the free, online event. Additionally, nominations are being accepted (due by February 15, 2018) for the Blockchain National Forum, a discussion on the key opportunities for libraries to serve as community anchors using blockchain technology.
A quick note - if you are attending the 2018 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Denver, please consider joining us for the Symposium on the Future of Libraries. Due to the 2018 Midwinter Meeting, next week’s post may be a little late, but hopefully available by Wednesday.
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.
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.
Bloomberg “Amazon, Berkshire, JPMorgan link up to form new health-care company”
Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. announced plans to set up a new independent healthcare company to provide their U.S. employees with simplified, high-quality, and transparent health care at reasonable costs – the companies would bring their data and bargaining power to bear on lowering health-care costs, including by providing more transparency over the prices for doctor visits and lab tests and enabling direct purchasing of some medical items. See also The Atlantic, The Daily Dot, Engadget, The Huffington Post, The New York Times, and Reuters.
The New York Times “Yale’s most popular class ever: Happiness”
With 1,200 students, nearly a quarter of Yale’s undergraduates, Psyc 157: Psychology and the Good Life has become one of the school's most popular courses – the course’s instructor, Laurie Santos, a psychology professor and the head of one of the school’s residential colleges, believes that students want to change themselves and the culture on campus.
Recode “Mark Zuckerberg says spending less time on Facebook is a good thing — for now”
While reporting its fourth quarter earnings, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg noted that users spent less time using the social network last quarter than the previous quarter, a 5% decline in time spent on the app – Zuckerberg had expected a decline as a result of changes Facebook was making to its News Feed algorithm, but those changes came after Facebook had closed its fourth quarter. See also Advertising Age, CNET, Nieman Lab, Recode, and TechCrunch.
Harper’s Bazaar “Zara launches its first 'click and collect' store”
Zara’s new pop-up shop in Westfield Stratford City is the first of its kind to accommodate online orders – customers can expect to receive their online orders by 2pm on the same day – and introduced a new product recommendation system that uses RFID technology to let customers scan and see a product’s accommodating sizes and even coordinating garments.
Colorado Public Radio “For some prisoners on the cusp of freedom, virtual reality readies them for release”
The Fremont Correctional Facility, a level 3 prison in Canyon City, is using virtual reality to prepare inmates who had been sentenced to either life without parole or very long sentences as juveniles, but who may now be eligible for release after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled such sentence for juveniles to be cruel and unusual punishment – virtual reality is part of a re-entry curriculum that prepares individuals for life outside the prison, including scenarios at laundromats, restaurants, and other spaces that many have never experienced.
Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines
MIT Technology Review “China and the US are bracing for an AI showdown—in the cloud”
China’s cloud providers (Alibaba, Tencent, and Baidu) and the US providers (Amazon, Google, and Microsoft) are increasingly focused on the potential of AI services via the cloud – whoever emerges as the dominant player could shape the kinds of AI services that become widely adopted across international markets.
Demographics and Communities
The Dieline “Cleveland Indians to kinda sorta remove Chief Wahoo in 2019”
The Cleveland Indians announced that they would no longer wear jerseys displaying the Chief Wahoo logo starting in 2019 – widely regarded as a racist depiction of Native Americans, the move reflects MLB commissioner Rob Manfred’s promotion of a more inclusive and diverse league, even though the logo may still appear on other merchandise. See also Mashable.
Inside Higher Ed “‘Decolonizing’ a journal”
After angering many critics in 2017 by asking a scholar who has expressed views endorsing racial hierarchies to review a book on inequality and urban education, The American Historical Review, the academic publication of the American Historical Association, announced a series of steps to make it “more responsive to the exciting new voices that are challenging the historical profession to live up to its responsibilities to a diverse society,” as articulated in editor Alex Lichtenstein's column “Decolonizing the AHR.”
Axios “Scoop: Trump team considers nationalizing 5G network”
A PowerPoint and memo, obtained by Axios and produced by a senior U.S. National Security Council official, points to a debate and possible interest within the Trump administration in a government-owned nationwide 5G network to guard against China’s increasing dominance in the manufacture and operation of network infrastructure. See also CNET, Engadget, Scientific American, and TechCrunch.
The Daily Dot “110 child health experts ask Facebook to discontinue Messenger Kids”
In an open letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg from the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, more than 100 health experts urged Facebook to dismantle the Messenger Kids app, calling their decision to proceed with the app “irresponsible” given growing concerns about how social media affects youths. See also TechSpot and The Verge.
Journalism and News
Poynter “Newsrooms welcome Facebook's new local news emphasis, but remain wary of its effect”
Facebook announced a new focus on local news in the News Feed – the announcement follows a previously announced update that would provide a sharper focus on friends and family and less news in the News Feed. See also CNET, Fast Company, Recode, TechCrunch and again, TechSpot, and The Verge.
The New York Times “If workers slack off, the wristband will know. (And Amazon has a patent for it.)”
Two recently-awarded Amazon patents point toward a future wristband that tracks movements, uses vibrations to nudge users when they do something wrong, and allows supervisors to identify a user's pauses and breaks – while it is unknown if Amazon plans to proceed with the wristband for its employees, the appearance of the patents has raised concerns over employee privacy and surveillance and the dehumanization of employees in the workplace. See also GeekWire and The Guardian.
Gizmodo “Facebook conveniently declares 'Privacy Principles' ahead of stringent new regulations”
A few months before the EU enacts its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) privacy rules, Facebook has both revamped privacy controls for users to make them simpler and published its internal “privacy principles,” which detail the company’s commitment to protecting user data. See also CNET and The Verge.
Government Technology “Baltimore rolls out smart trash cans”
Baltimore is moving forward on a $15 million project to deploy 4,000 smart trash receptacles across the city – the wi-fi enabled trash cans transmit information about how full they are so that city services can offer as-needed collections.
Wired “Sidewalk Labs is building a platform for making the city of tomorrow”
Sidewalk Labs is launching "Coord," a cloud-based platform to integrate data from cities’ transportation infrastructure (public transit, bike-sharing, car-sharing, as well as tolls, parking, and curb space) – the information can be shared across cities and companies to coordinate and hopefully lead urban innovation. See also GeekWire and The Verge.