This week’s headline quotes Jamie Margolin, the 17-year-old founder and executive director of Zero Hour, a group working on the March 15th international day of environmental action (BuzzFeed News “A huge climate change movement led by teenage girls is sweeping Europe. And it’s coming to the US next.”).
Have you been (curiously? skeptically?) following the blockchain trend? Our colleagues at the San Jose State University School of Information recently announced a 6-week MOOC, Blockchain & Decentralization in the Information Profession, led by Jason Griffey. Enrollment is free and the course will run from March 11 - April 21. The MOOC is part of SJSU’s IMLS-funded Blockchains for the Information Profession project.
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.
Consumer Reports “What Amazon buying Eero could mean for consumers”
Amazon’s acquisition of Eero, a company that helped popularize mesh networks, could make it easier for homeowners to manage a wide array of wireless and smart home devices, but the purchase refocuses concerns over big technology’s acquisition of high-profile startups, potentially limiting innovation.
Daily Yonder “Long-term population loss affects one third of rural counties”
A third of rural counties in the United States have experienced protracted and significant population loss over the last century, according to new research from the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire.
The New York Times “New York City Public Schools should be evaluated based on diversity, not just tests, panel says”
A high-level panel commissioned by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called on the city to create diversity targets for all 1,800 schools so that their population reflects the racial and economic makeup of the surrounding areas.
BuzzFeed News “A huge climate change movement led by teenage girls is sweeping Europe. And it’s coming to the US next.”
Tens of thousands of high school–age students in Belgium, Germany, and Sweden have boycotted class and protested against climate change, injecting a new urgency into the debate around climate change and calling attention to a lack of action by governments.
Engadget “Lego’s newest playsets are haunted by AR”
Lego is bringing together several trends in interactive play – building, video games, and storytelling – in its new AR-based line, Lego Hidden Side, where builders construct sets and bring them to life using their phones, with a continuing narrative to keep them coming back for more. See also Fast Company “Lego is betting on the wrong future”
Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines
MIT Technology Review “Trump has a plan to keep America first in artificial intelligence”
The Trump administration’s American AI Initiative is designed to boost America’s artificial intelligence industry by reallocating funding, creating new resources, establishing standards, retraining workers, and engaging internationally – unlike other similar plans from other countries, Trump’s executive order does not allocate any new federal funding toward executing the vision. See also Wired “Why the US needs a strategy for AI”
Axios “Apple buys voice app startup Pullstring”
Apple has acquired PullString, the AI startup used to power interactive voice apps for toys, including the interactive Hello Barbie doll Mattel released in 2015 - the acquisition could allow Apple to make it easier to write voice apps with a more open Siri.
TechCrunch “OpenAI built a text generator so good, it’s considered too dangerous to release”
Non-profit artificial intelligence research company OpenAI said its new natural language model, GPT-2, which was trained to predict the next word in a sample of 40 gigabytes of internet text, produced text that “adapts to the style and content of the conditioning text,” allowing the user to “generate realistic and coherent continuations about a topic of their choosing” – while the system has potential benefits (bots capable of better dialog and better speech recognition), the non-profit is concerned for negative effects like generating fake news, impersonating people, or automating abusive or spam comments on social media. See also Wired “The AI text generator that's too dangerous to make public”
Communities and Demographics
The Atlantic “Amazon's retreat and the new politics of tech”
Amazon’s announcement not to move forward with plans to build out its massive HQ2 corporate office in Long Island City shows a potential shift in power toward urban activists opposed to cities’ economic development deals that appeal to big technology with subsidies and other incentives. See also Slate “New York’s anti-Amazon movement is now a blueprint for critics of big tech” and CityLab “New York’s ejection of Amazon is the start of a movement”
Pew Research Center “Millennial life: How young adulthood today compares with prior generations”
An informative overview of Pew Research Center’s work on Millennials over the past few years, looking at how the generation compares to other generational groups across education, racial and ethnic diversity, marriage and family composition, and their role in the electorate.
Bloomberg “Facebook, facing lawmaker questions, says it may remove anti-vaccine recommendations”
Facebook, under pressure to reduce harmful, misleading, and fake content, said it is exploring removing anti-vaccine information from the systems that recommend content on its network, following a letter from U.S. Representative Adam Schiff sent to Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg and Google boss Sundar Pichai asking them to address the problem.
CNET “ACLU, NAACP call on Congress to address discrimination in privacy laws”
Over 40 advocacy organizations, including the ACLU, NAACP, Consumer Watchdog, and the Center for Democracy & Technology, jointly sent a letter to Congress, urging lawmakers to address data-driven discrimination issues in upcoming privacy laws as data security and privacy abuses have harmed marginalized communities, including deceptive voter suppression, misinformation targeting African Americans, and discriminatory government surveillance.
Restaurants, Retail, and Spaces
USA Today “CVS introduces new concept store with more health care, less retail”
Drug store chain CVS, one of America's largest retailers, is debuting three HealthHUB locations in Houston featuring less space devoted to retail goods and more closed-off space for classes, such as yoga, as well as expanded space for health treatments and pharmacist consultations.
Fortune “The backlash against cashless stores is growing”
New Jersey legislators passed a bill forcing retailers to accept paper money, a move that takes aim at the growing number of restaurants and shops that are going cashless, including the cashless and cashier-less Amazon Go convenience stores – Philadelphia’s city council is due to vote on a similar bill next week, and the state of Massachusetts has long had a policy against cash-free businesses. See also TechCrunch “Amazon could launch Amazon Go store in London”
Engadget “CBS reached its streaming subscription target two years early”
CBS is reporting that its streaming platforms, CBS All Access and Showtime, reach 8 million subscribers, up 60% from the 5 million reported last year, driven by originals, including high-profile genre fare like Star Trek Discovery and The Twilight Zone – as a comparable, Netflix hit 60.55 million domestic subscribers in its fourth quarter last year.
Wired “Americans are abandoning public transit—but don't blame Uber”
A new report from transportation research and advocacy organization TransitCenter finds that riders are even less enthused about public transit than they were two years ago – as many regions contend with cheap gas, available auto loans, ridesharing, and a new breed of bike- and scooter-share, the report’s results point to a growing consensus among transportation experts and researchers that more American are returning to cars. See also Governing “The bus system of the future”
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
Engadget “The BBC is giving 'Doctor Who' the VR treatment”
The BBC is preparing Doctor Who: The Runaway, an interactive 12-minute virtual reality episode that places the viewer inside an animated version of the TARDIS console room.