This week’s headline quotes Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s senior vice president of retail, on the company’s success with its Today at Apple programming, which offers over 50 free classes covering coding, photography, music, video editing, photo walks, and emoji art classes (Mashable “Why Apple wants you spending more time in stores even if you're not buying”).
Over the past several weeks I have received requests and suggestions to help make some of this scanning more useful to readers.
First, I was asked how this weekly trend scanning feeds into the trend collection. The intent here is for recurring topics from the weekly scan to eventually be formalized into a trend entry. For example, over the past several months we’ve seen several stories about electric scooters and bikes and that helped bring together the trend entry on Micro-Mobility.
Second, I was asked if I could provide a monthly “snapshot” of recurring streams of information so that we could better track topics that rise to the surface. As I looked back at January, some of the dominant trends to emerge included Artificial Intelligence, Robots (as on-campus delivery vehicles and as emotional support objects), Streaming Media, Self-Driving Technology, and Cashier-less Retail (especially the growing universe of competitors to AmazonGo). I’ll make a note to revisit this list month-to-month – and keep an eye out for new trend entries based on this information.
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 “Amazon will fund computer science classes at over 130 New York City high schools”
Amazon announced a plan to fund computer science courses at nearly a quarter of high schools in New York City – the company will pay for intro and Advanced Placement college-level courses as part of Amazon’s Future Engineer program, which promises to fund computer science classes for over 100,000 underprivileged kids in 2,000 low-income high schools across the US.
The San Francisco Examiner “San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin proposes citywide ban on facial recognition technology”
Under proposed legislation from city Supervisor Aaron Peskin, San Francisco could be the first city in the U.S. to ban the use of facial recognition surveillance technology, expanding ordinances adopted by other cities in the bay area that call for approval before city agencies or law enforcement adopt new surveillance technologies.
Advertising Age “Facebook to create an independent board to monitor content”
As part of its efforts to address policies on hate speech, bullying, nudity, and other sensitive subjects, Facebook says it's building an external independent board with authority to rule on what kind of posts are permissible on the social network.
The Guardian “Future of digital journalism in question as BuzzFeed and HuffPost lay off 1,000”
Revenue-per-click, the business strategy that has informed digital publishers for years, saw a significant hit as two of its leading players – BuzzFeed and HuffPost – reduced staff in the face of contracted digital advertising revenue. See also The New York Times “Digital media: What went wrong?”
Mashable “Why Apple wants you spending more time in stores even if you're not buying”
Apple announced an expansion of its in-store educational programming, called Today at Apple, adding 50 new sessions to its lineup of free classes – the program has become an important part of the company's mission to turn its products and retail stores into a lifestyle, with younger audiences especially receptive to the classes. See also Vogue “Retail is broken. Apple's Angela Ahrendts has a plan”
Bloomberg “Foreign students are a $39 billion industry. Trump is scaring them off”
New foreign student enrollment in the U.S. dropped by 6.6% in the 2017-18 academic year, double the previous year’s rate of decline, according to the Institute of International Education (IIE) – the drop is attributed to multiple factors, including visa delays and denials, the “social and political” environment, and the cost of attending a U.S. school.
The Hechinger Report “As jobs grow hard to fill, businesses join the drive to push rural residents toward college”
The growing demand for college-trained workers in rural America has led states like Tennessee to offer tuition-free community college to all residents and to partner with business leaders on “completion councils” in a dozen rural counties where the proportion of adults with postsecondary credentials hovers in the 20-25% range.
Journalism and News
The Verdict “MIT study finds crowdsourcing effective in fighting fake news”
A recent study by MIT Sloan School of Management Professor David Rand and Professor Gordon Pennycook of the University of Regina aimed to find out whether crowdsourcing, enlisting the services of a large number of people typically via the internet, could be a viable way of judging whether a news source is reliable – researchers asked people across different ages, genders, ethnicities, and political affiliations to rate news sources based on familiarity and trust across three categories: mainstream media outlets, hyper-partisan websites, and websites that produce blatantly false content (“fake news”).
Bloomberg “Facebook loses fact-checking group Snopes after two years”
Snopes, one of Facebook’s first fact-checking partners, announced an end to the partnership after two years – the fact-checking efforts were often understaffed and have only recently begun to address the explosion of misleading photo and video content.
The Intercept “Prisons across the U.S. are quietly building databases of incarcerated people’s voice prints”
In New York and other states authorities are acquiring technology to extract and digitize the voices of incarcerated people into unique biometric signatures, known as voice prints, that can be included in databases from which computer algorithms can learn to identify the voices and to search for other calls in which the voices of interest are detected – authorities and prison technology companies say this mass biometric surveillance supports prison security and fraud prevention efforts, but civil liberties advocates argue that the biometric buildup has been neither transparent nor consensual.
TechCrunch “Facebook pays teens to install VPN that spies on them”
Facebook has been secretly paying people to install a “Facebook Research” VPN that lets the company gather data on usage habits – since 2016, Facebook has been paying users ages 13 to 35 up to $20 per month plus referral fees to sell their privacy by installing the iOS or Android “Facebook Research” app.
Restaurants, Retail, and Spaces
Digital Trends “Walgreens’ smart fridges scan your face and remember your behavior”
Walgreens is piloting Cooler Screens, Internet of Things-enabled screens that project digitized representation of available products inside the cooler – built-in cameras scan shoppers’ faces when they look at the screens to collect data to help marketers better promote products.
City Lab “Uber wants to be your one-stop transit stop”
Uber will pilot a transit option on its app in Denver displaying the time and cost comparison, plus point-to-point directions, for taking trips by bus or train – the company hopes that having the app automatically populate with transit directions could help ease consumers into making a more wallet-friendly and/or planet-conscious choice that includes the ride-hailing service. See also The Nation “In an unequal America, getting to work can be hell”
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
Scientific American “How virtual reality will transform medicine”
A look at how virtual reality might be used in medicine for everything from distracting patients from painful medical procedures and easing anxiety disorders, to supporting those experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse, to surgical training and professional education.