Read for Later – “There is a cool factor, but that shouldn’t be a driving factor for a nonprofit institution”

This week’s headline quotes Somen Saha, co-founder and CEO of n-Powered, a start-up that works with universities to program Echo Dots for students’ use on campuses (The Chronicle of Higher Education “Hey, Alexa, should we bring virtual assistants to campus? These colleges gave them a shot”).

A reminder that we've opened the call for concurrent session proposals for our 2019 Symposium on the Future of Libraries, part of the ALA Midwinter Meeting, January 25 - 29 in Seattle. We had over 35 sessions at the 2018 Symposium – covering refugee services, blockchain technology, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, library fine policies, linked data, and more – and look forward to another rich discussion of the near- and long-term trends shaping the future of libraries.

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.

What have you read lately to help you think about the future? Consider dropping me a line to let me know what articles and reports you're reading that others might find of interest. 

Five Highlights

The New York Times “Meet the YouTube stars turning viewers into readers”
A profile of “BookTubers” like Christine Riccio of PolandBananasBooks, which has close to 400,000 subscribers – because their audience skews younger, publishers are interested in their ability to tap into a market that may not necessarily look to traditional publications for recommendations.

The New York Times “Apple’s $1 trillion milestone reflects rise of powerful megacompanies”
Apple reached a milestone becoming the first publicly traded company to attain a market value of more than $1 trillion – the valuation highlights how a group of enormous technology companies has come to dominate the economy. See also The Christian Science MonitorTechCrunchThe Washington Post, and Wired.

The Chronicle of Higher Education “Hey, Alexa, should we bring virtual assistants to campus? These colleges gave them a shot”
A look at three schools – the Georgia Institute of Technology, Northeastern University, and Arizona State University – that have provided students with Echo Dots to answer campus-specific questions about meal plans, business hours for campus buildings, and more.

Bloomberg “Google is planning China search app, ending long boycott” 
Google is reportedly preparing a version of its search engine for China that blocks results the communist government considers sensitive – the project, code-named Dragonfly, is one of several options the company is pursuing for returning to China after refusing to self-censor search content in 2010. See also Advertising AgeBloombergGizmodoTechCrunch, and The Verge.

Engadget “More states join lawsuit to keep 3D-printed gun plans off the internet”
A Seattle judge temporarily blocked Defense Distributed’s release of designs for 3D-printed guns after seven states and Washington, DC, sued the company and U.S. State Department – additional states have since joined the legal battle to stop the firearm plans from being sold online. See also BBCThe Christian Science MonitorCityLabCNETGizmodoMotherboardThe New York TimesSlate, and Wired and again.

Cities and Government

Curbed “Scooter startup Bird plans to fund protected bike lanes”
Dockless electric scooter company Bird announced that it will begin steering revenue into a dedicated fund to expand transit infrastructure in the cities where it operates – as Bird and other “micromobility” start-ups add new transit options to city streets, this fund could attract local governments seeking to add or improve non-automotive infrastructure.

Communities and Demographics

Mashable “Study finds almost no increase in diversity in popular films over the last decade”
new study from USC's Annenberg Inclusion Initiative found that the top 100 grossing films from 2007 to 2017 have shown minimal to no change in their representation of marginalized races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, genders, and people with disabilities.


The Christian Science Monitor “School without grade levels? A North Dakota district makes bold changes.”
Northern Cass School District 97 in North Dakota is in the midst of a three-year pilot to abolish grade levels, allowing students to plot their own academic courses to high school graduation as it adopts competency-based education.

Motherboard “School board bans snow days, will make kids work online instead”
Anderson County School District Five in South Carolina has launched a pilot program to get rid of snow days and instead have students work from home during inclement weather – while students are given Chromebooks to use at home, the plan does not address those students who might live in the 10,000 households in the county that don’t have access to internet with even 10mbps download speeds.

Engadget “France bans smartphones in schools”
New French legislation will prohibit students from using smartphones and tablets while at school, except for pedagogical purposes – the law makes electronic distraction a matter of public health amidst concerns French youth have become super-connected. See also The Verge.

The New York Times “The iGen shift: Colleges are changing to reach the next generation”
College-bound iGens or Gen Zers, those born from 1995 to 2012, are driving changes in the ways administrators communicate with student bodies, the composition of courses, the availability of campus counselors, and personalization across higher education. 

The Internet

TechCrunch “Facebook launches a digital literacy library aimed at educators”
Facebook announced the launch of a Digital Literacy Library to help educators address topics like privacy, reputation, identity exploration, security, safety, wellbeing, and more – the lesson plans were drawn from the Youth and Media team at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. See also Engadget and The Verge.

Journalism and News

TechCrunch “Google partners with news orgs to show more data in its search results”
Google announced that it is working to surface more data from publishers' data journalism projects in its search results, working with news organizations, including ProPublica, to produce the structured data in the format it needs for its search index. See also Engadget and Nieman Lab.

Subscription Services

Wired “Reality catches up with MoviePass, and it ain't pretty”
MoviePass, the startup that launched a $10 unlimited movie ticketing service nearly a year ago, announced several changes, including a monthly rate increase from $10 to $15 and limiting the availability of "blockbuster" films (any movie opening on 1,000 screens or more), as it struggles with its financial model – even if this marks the demise of MoviePass, the service has forced changes across the industry, such as AMC’s launch of their A-List plan, a $20 per month subscription that provides up to three movies per week. See also CNETTechCrunch, and The Verge.