Read for Later - “We have always tried to applaud and embrace new developments. We can’t just moan about what is happening.”

This week's headline quotes Jonas Nordling, president of the Swedish Union of Journalists, on the union's approach to new technologies like Rosalinda, a robot reporter that scans data about sporting events to yield news stories (The New York Times "The robots are coming, and Sweden is fine").

A quick plug for the #1lib1ref campaign, happening January 15th through February 3, inviting librarians around the world to add one more citation to Wikipedia to help Wikipedia achieve its mission of collecting and disseminating the sum of all knowledge. Getting involved can be as simple as committing to add a citation to Wikipedia or hosting a coffee hour, edit-a-thon, or other event at your library. You can learn more at #1lib1ref or at the campaign’s Facebook page.  

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. 

Five Highlights

The New York Times "The robots are coming, and Sweden is fine"
Sweden and other Scandinavian countries may have a dramatically different response to new advances in automation, viewing robots as just another way to make companies more efficient – the view is made easier by powerful unions and government support for health care and education that encourage training for new jobs in the face of innovation.    

The Washington Post “‘If we don’t run, then we won’t achieve.’ Why a record number of women are eyeing a run for governor.”
More women than ever, at least 79 (49 Democrats and 30 Republicans) are running for or seriously considering a run for governor’s offices, according to a tally by the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University – the number is more than double what they were four years ago and on track to surpass the record 34 women who ran for governor in 1994. See also The Daily Dot

The New York Times "‘Fake News’: Wide reach but little impact, study suggests"
Researchers from Dartmouth College, Princeton University, and the University of Exeter analyzed the browsing histories 2,525 Americans during the run-up to the 2016 election, finding that the reach of fake news was wide, but also shallow – one in four Americans saw at least one false story, but fake news was a small fraction of participants’ overall news diet, regardless of political preference.

Business Insider "A tsunami of store closings is about to hit the US — and it's expected to eclipse the retail carnage of 2017"
Market analysts are predicting a difficult 2018, expected to eclipse a difficult 2017 that included an estimated 9,000 store closings and 50 chains filing for bankruptcy – commercial real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield estimates that store closings could jump by 33% to more than 12,000 in 2018 and another 25 major retailers could file for bankruptcy. 

TechCrunch “On-demand streaming now accounts for the majority of audio consumption, says Nielsen”
Nielsen’s year-end music report finds that audio streaming continued to grow with a 58.7% increase in on-demand audio streams over 2016 – audio streams surpassed 400 billion in 2017, accounting for 54% of total audio consumption and marking the first time on-demand audio has accounted for the majority of audio consumption.

Cities and Government

Associated Press “Sessions terminates US policy that let legal pot flourish”
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions lifted an Obama-era policy that had federal authorities employ a largely hands-off approach to marijuana enforcement in states where the drug is legal – the new policy will leave it up to federal prosecutors to decide what to do when state rules collide with federal drug law, threatening what has become a multimillion-dollar industry that helps fund some state government programs in those states where the drug is legal. See also The Guardian and Mic

Communities and Demographics

Pew Research Center “New estimates show U.S. Muslim population continues to grow”
Based on its own survey and demographic research, Pew Research Center estimates that there were about 3.45 million Muslims of all ages living in the U.S. in 2017, with projections suggesting that the U.S. Muslim population could replace Jews as the nation’s second-largest religious group after Christians by 2040 and by 2050 could reach 8.1 million – the U.S. Census Bureau does not ask questions about religion, meaning there is no official government count of the U.S. Muslim population.

Economics and Employment

Al Jazeera “Iceland becomes first country to legalize equal pay”
Iceland becomes the first country in the world to legalize equal pay between men and women – a new law requires companies and government agencies employing at least 25 people to obtain government certification of their equal-pay policies. See also Fast Company.

Politico “The real future of work”
A fascinating look at how “alternative work arrangements” or the “contingent workforce” – the use of independent contractors, on-call workers, or temps in place of full-time employees – has radically changed the workforce and created repercussions far beyond wages and work hours to minimum wage and overtime, as well as key benefits like health insurance and pensions.


Edutopia "Will letter grades survive?"
Over the past ten years, at least 15 state legislatures and boards of education have adopted policies to design and implement competency-based education programs at public schools and over 150 of the top private high schools have begun a shift to new transcripts that provide more comprehensive, qualitative assessment in place of A–F grades.

The Atlantic "The intrusion of white families into bilingual schools"
Bilingual or dual-immersion classrooms, where children learn in both English and another language to achieve bilingual skills, are growing in popularity as multilingualism becomes more desirable and urban areas with more diverse populations gentrify – but the appeal could undermine the intended benefit to English-language learners as classrooms struggle to bring together equal numbers of native English speakers and native speakers of the other language.

The Internet

Mic “It’s official: Twitter isn’t going to ban Donald Trump”
Twitter clarified policies regarding “world leaders on Twitter” stating “Blocking a world leader from Twitter or removing their controversial tweets would hide important information people should be able to see and debate…It would also not silence that leader, but it would certainly hamper necessary discussion around their words and actions” – while the blog post does not mention U.S. President Donald Trump, many see it as a response to complaints that the president’s tweets violate the site’s terms of service and warrant a ban from the platform. See also Fast Company, Gizmodo, Mashable, TechCrunch, and The Verge.

The Verge “Logan Paul controversy highlights the carelessness of online celebrity in the YouTube era”
YouTube star Logan Paul’s posting of a video of a dead body in Aokigahara, more commonly known as Japan’s “suicide forest,” raised concerns for social media stars’ responsibilities to their younger audiences and the role of social media platforms in addressing abusive and inappropriate content that appears on their sites, especially when their most famous stars violate stated standards. See also The Verge and Wired


Gizmodo “Amazon reports spike in US law enforcement requests for user data”
Amazon’s latest biannual transparency report shows that the company received 1,618 subpoenas, 229 search warrants, and 89 other requests for data, with the company fully or partially responding to 1,465 of the requests received from law enforcement authorities in the U.S. – the numbers only cover its cloud Web Services business and does not include shopping data or Alexa data that it does not disclose.

Restaurants, Retail, and Spaces

Fast Company “These vending machines give the homeless free food”
Nonprofit group Action Hunger introduced a new vending machine in the UK with free goods available to people experiencing homelessness who use an access card to select fruit, sandwiches, energy bars, clean socks, toothbrushes, and other necessities – Action Hunger works with other homeless organizations to hand out the cards and has worked with businesses to have the vending machines donated. See also Digital Trends and Food&Wine.

Business Wire (Press Release from Amazon) “Amazon’s Best of Prime 2017 reveals the year’s biggest trends — more than 5  bllion items shipped with Prime in 2017”
Amazon’s Best of Prime 2017 report revealed that more than five billion items were shipped worldwide with Prime, Amazon’s member subscription service providing free same-day, one-day, and two-day shipping on select products. See also Engadget, GeekWire, Mashable, TechCrunch, and The Verge.

The Guardian "New York's vanishing shops and storefronts: 'It's not Amazon, it's rent'"
New York City is contending with a large number of unoccupied or “for lease” storefronts, the result of having lost thousands of small retailers to chain stores that have subsequently gone out of business – the shift is not just a result of online shopping trends, but also a shift in the composition of landlords, from local and family operations to institutional investors and hedge funds that are unwilling to drop rents to match retail conditions.

Streaming Media

Digiday “NBC News got 4 million subscribers in 5 months to its Snapchat show”
As CNN winds down its daily Snapchat show “The Update,” NBC News says it will continue with its “Stay Tuned” daily news show for Snapchat, which NBC says receives tens of millions of unique viewers every month and 4 million subscribers since it debuted five months ago.

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

GeekWire “Amazon’s blended-reality mirror shows you wearing virtual clothes in virtual locales”
A new patent from Amazon describes a blended-reality display that puts a user’s image into a virtual scene with options for displaying a variety of clothes on the user – the blended-reality display relies on a system of cameras, projectors, displays, mirrors, and lights that can add layers of pixels to a moving image on a real-time basis with face-tracking sensors and sophisticated software to manage the display so that a realistic blended picture is available from any angle.

Voice Control

TechSpot "UK police force could let people report crimes using their Amazon Echo"
Police in Lancashire, England, are exploring the use of Amazon's Echo speakers for sharing police information, including crime bulletins, missing person reports, wanted suspects, and offenses within an area – and the possibility for victims and witnesses to report crimes via an Echo from within their own homes. See also CNET.