This week’s headline quotes Richard Wiles, executive director of the environmental advocacy group the Center for Climate Integrity, whose new report estimates the need for at least $42 billion by 2040 to provide basic storm-surge protection in the form of sea walls for all coastal cities with more than 25,000 residents. The price tag provides some context for the difficult decisions that large and small communities - and the nation - will have to confront. (The New York Times “With more storms and rising seas, which U.S. cities should be saved first?”)
A note that we are already looking ahead to the 2020 Midwinter Meeting and the Symposium on the Future of Libraries (January 24 – 28, 2020, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania). We are currently accepting session proposals for the 2020 Symposium. First review of proposals will begin July 15th with a final closing date for proposals of August 15th. You can learn more from our press release.
You can always check out the Center's trend collection to see how this scanning comes together to identify trends relevant to our futures.
What new information has sparked your interest? Drop me a line to let me know what you're reading or discovering that helps you consider the future of libraries.
The Verge “Scribd’s latest reading discovery feature is like CliffsNotes for the latest, best-selling books”
Reading platform Scribd introduced a new Snapshots feature designed to introduce potential readers to new books in quick fashion by offering a multi-page summary generated by its “in-house editorial content team” – the feature is the latest in a handful of new tools the site has introduced in the last couple of years designed to boost the platform’s visibility among book readers.
The New York Times “With more storms and rising seas, which U.S. cities should be saved first?”
New research from environmental advocacy group the Center for Climate Integrity estimates that by 2040, simply providing basic storm-surge protection in the form of sea walls for all coastal cities with more than 25,000 residents will require at least $42 billion – while there is growing consensus among policymakers and scientists that coastal areas will require significant spending to ride out future storms and rising sea levels, the size of the expense raises the question of which communities will be left behind.
Politico “Facebook unveils plans to fight misinformation about census”
Facebook announced its intention to develop a plan to stop misinformation aimed at keeping people from participating in the 2020 census – the company said it will release a policy this fall that prohibits users from misrepresenting "census requirements, methods, or logistics," and will deploy algorithms to detect and delete census-related misinformation.
CNET “Amazon's Counter lets you pick up packages at Rite-Aid stores”
Amazon introduced yet another program to make receiving packages easier – Counter lets customers pick up packages from more than 100 Rite-Aid stores across the country, with the online retailer expecting to have more than 1,500 Counter locations by the end of 2019.
The Hollywood Reporter “'The Office': Why NBCUniversal is paying $500M to pull the hit from Netflix”
NBCUniversal's announcement that it is pulling The Office from Netflix when that deal ends at the start of 2021 is the latest indicator of a growing war among subscription streaming service providers – as a growing number of production companies enter the streaming environment (Disney, WarnerMedia) they will limit licenses to other providers in an effort to create exclusives that push consumers to subscribe to multiple services.
Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines
CNET “Amazon's future vision of AI, warehouse bots and Alexa”
In the follow-up to their re:MARS event, CNET spoke to four Amazon executives representing a wide range of its business divisions, exploring the company's AI development for everything from its Amazon Go stores, warehouse robots, and the continued improvement of Alexa.
Axios “Apple acquires self-driving startup Drive.ai”
Apple bought Drive.ai, an autonomous driving startup, and has hired dozens of Drive.ai engineers, indicating that the company hasn't given up its autonomous driving project.
Education Dive “Associate degrees in liberal arts are on the rise, study finds”
A new study from the Community College Research Center finds that the number of associate degrees awarded in the humanities and liberal arts nearly doubled from 2000 (218,000) to 2015 (410,000).
ProPublica “The unproven, invasive surveillance technology schools are using to monitor students”
With the rise of campus violence, U.S. schools are increasingly turning to surveillance technologies that claim to feature aggression-detection software that can anticipate and prevent harmful activities by listening to and analyzing student discussions in hallways, cafeterias, and other spaces – but there are questions about the technology’s usefulness, relying on machine learning algorithms that analyze sounds (rough, strained noises in a relatively high pitch) but don’t take words or meaning into account, and the general premise that verbal aggression precedes school violence.
The Verge “Twitter will now hide — but not remove — harmful tweets from public figures”
Twitter is introducing a new notice for tweets belonging to public figures that break its community guidelines – the notice will only apply to tweets from accounts belonging to political figures, verified users, and accounts with more than 100,000 followers and will feature a light gray box before the tweet notifying users that it’s in violation, but available to users who click through the box.
Tech Spot “Google is rolling out public transit 'crowdedness' predictions for Google Maps”
Google will introduce a new feature to Google Maps to let users know if a bus or subway is expected to be particularly busy – the feature will eventually be available for public transportation in 200 cities around the world.
Advertising Age “Google workers petition San Francisco Pride to exclude the tech company from the parade”
Almost 100 Google employees signed a petition asking the San Francisco Pride Board of Directors to revoke Google’s sponsorship of Pride 2019 and exclude Google from representation in the San Francisco Pride Parade, escalating pressure on the technology platform to overhaul its handling of hate speech online, especially on YouTube. See also TechCrunch “SF Pride says it won’t exclude Google from the Pride parade”
Journalism and News
Poynter “The Washington Post is reinventing travel writing to help you live like a local”
The Washington Post’s new By The Way travel feature relies on local residents and writers to tell their own stories, share their favorites, and invite travelers to peek into their lives – the 50 city guides highlight neighborhoods away from the tourist zones that provide more authentic experiences.
Mobility and Transportation
Wired “These cities will track scooters to get a handle on regulation”
Fifteen cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, and San Francisco, have created a nonprofit called the Open Mobility Foundation, devoted to collecting, maintaining, and standardizing information about where shared vehicles (cars, scooters, and bicycles) are parked – the foundation will take control of the Mobility Data Specification, a digital tool created by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation that was used to solicit and organize information about shared scooters to help cities improve their transportation systems and make them safer and easier to navigate.
Wired “Transit agencies turn to Uber for the last mile”
In 2016, Florida’s Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority began to subsidize ($3 and later $5) rides on Uber, taxis, or wheelchair-accessible cars that ended at a public transit stop – while the program has been replicated with varying success in communities across North America, a new report from the Shared Use Mobility Center gives the Pinellas County program mixed reviews, raising questions about whether this kind of “first-mile, last-mile” collaboration between the public and private sectors is worth the time and money and whether the tech can attract more people onto struggling transit services.
Restaurants, Retail, and Spaces
The Washington Post “Attention, Walmart executives: Amazon’s coming after your low-income shoppers”
Amazon announced new offerings aimed at lower income customers more traditionally served by Walmart or Dollar General, including half-price Prime Memberships for those on certain governmental aid programs, new ways for customers to reload their online accounts with cash paid at convenience stores, and, perhaps most controversially, a new credit card for consumers trying to establish or rebuild their credit, but with an interest rate that tops 28%.