Read for Later - “We want to offer just the right learning experience at just the right time.”

This week’s headline quotes Paul LeBlanc, president of Southern New Hampshire University. The university recently acquired the nonprofit LRNG, a Chicago-based organization that helps young people find job opportunities by encouraging them to acquire digital badges on its game-based learning platform. LRNG fits into the university’s ambitious strategic plan, which envisions a learning platform that will enable the institution to educate 300,000 students by 2023 (Inside Higher Ed “With acquisition, university seeks pathway between K-12, college and work”).

A quick note to promote the next round of the ALA’s Policy Corps. The Policy Corps helps develop policy experts available to the library community, ALA, and the ALA Washington Office, creating longevity in expertise and engagement in early to mid-career library and information professionals. You can learn more and apply from the Corps home 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.

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

Five Highlights

Variety “Snapchat gets sci-fi thriller series from chat-fiction startup Hooked”
Hooked, a startup that produces serialized “chat-fiction” for smartphones, will launch “Dark Matter,” a five-chapter sci-fi mystery thriller available through Snapchat.

Inside Higher Ed “With acquisition, university seeks pathway between K-12, college and work”
Southern New Hampshire University acquired the nonprofit LRNG, a Chicago-based organization that helps young people find job opportunities by encouraging them to acquire digital badges on its game-based learning platform – SNHU plans to launch physical community-based learning spaces where students aged 14 to 24 can study toward free or low-cost credentials that can then be counted toward a competency-based degree through the university’s College for America program.

The New York Times “Getting shoppers into stores takes more than inventory”
A look at the retailers that are not only surviving, but thriving in a down turned brick-and-mortar shopping environment, trading on exclusive merchandise, pop-up shops, and experiences.

The Atlantic “What is the future of getting kids to soccer practice?”
Several relatively small companies like Zūm and Sheprd are offering a service of pre-scheduled car rides for unaccompanied minors – limited to larger metropolitan areas, the services charge around $15 for a 15-minute ride and pursue well-off families with time-starved working parents and multiple overbooked children.

The Verge “New copyright exemptions let you legally repair your phone or jailbreak voice assistants”
The US Copyright Office issued new rulings creating major changes to the legal exemption to the DMCA, making it far easier for owners to build software tools to hack, modify, and repair their own devices. See also iFixit “Copyright Office ruling issues sweeping right to repair reforms.”

Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines

The Verge “Christie’s sells its first AI portrait for $432,500, beating estimates of $10,000”
Christie’s has sold its first piece of AI art – the artwork was created by a collective named Obvious that used a type of machine learning algorithm known as a GAN (generative adversarial network) that was trained on a dataset of historical portraits.

Jalopnik “Feds order company to stop shuttling Florida kids to school in autonomous bus”
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ordered transit operator Transdev North America to immediately stop its pilot program transporting kids to school in a “driverless” shuttle – NHTSA said the company’s use of the vehicle as a school bus is “unlawful.”


Kidscreen “Nintendo, Institute of Play start STEAM pilot”
Nintendo and New York’s Institute of Play are partnering to bring Nintendo Labo: Variety Kits, and Nintendo Switch systems into elementary schools nationwide in an effort to strengthen STEAM skills – the pilot is currently running in schools in the greater New York City area, where it is projected to reach 2,000 students ages 8 to 11 during the 2018-2019 school year.

Facial Recognition

The Daily Beast “Amazon pushes ICE to buy its face recognition surveillance tech”
According to documents obtained by the Project on Government Oversight, officials from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement met with Amazon for a discussion of possible use of Amazon’s facial recognition technology, Rekognition – Amazon has clarified that their participation was in a meeting that included several companies where a number of technologies were discussed.

New York Magazine “Smile! The secretive business of facial-recognition software in retail stores”
A look at facial recognition software in retail and event spaces, where the technology has become more popular as a tool for security against theft or disruption, but is almost completely unregulated and often used without the awareness of the public whose data is being collected, stored, and later accessed.


MIT Technology Review “Need medical help? Sorry, not until you sign away your privacy”
A thoughtful look at digital privacy and security issues in healthcare, where data-management systems are increasingly a required part of receiving care.

Restaurants, Retail, and Spaces

TechCrunch ”Walmart’s test store for new technology, Sam’s Club Now, opens next week in Dallas”
Walmart is preparing to open a new Dallas area Sam’s Club that will serve as a testbed for the latest in retail technology, with new concepts like mobile checkout, an Amazon Go-like camera system for inventory management, electronic shelf labels, wayfinding technology for in-store navigation, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence-infused shopping, among other things.

Business Insider “Walmart employees can now use their cell phones during work — and the company is giving them discounts on their phone bills”
Walmart will allow store employees to use their mobile phones on the sales floor to clock in, check inventory and prices, scan products, review sales data, and perform other work-related tasks – a new suite of Walmart apps give employees access to information, such as historical sales data and product delivery schedules, that was previously only made available to management.

Smart Communities

Government Technology “Buffalo, N.Y., offers free citizen training for open data portal”
The city of Buffalo is offering a free four-week course called Data 101 that helps participants learn what open data is, the functionalities of the city’s open data portal, and how they can interact with the data in a way that gives them new insights into their community.

GeekWire “UPS launches cargo e-bike delivery in Seattle, returning to bicycle courier origins a century later”
UPS has partnered with the Seattle Department of Transportation and the University of Washington to pilot package deliveries using electric-assist cargo bikes in downtown Seattle – the University of Washington’s Urban Freight Lab will study the pilot to report back on traffic and emissions reduction.

Streaming Media

Variety “WarnerMedia’s FilmStruck subscription-streaming service to shut down”
FilmStruck, the indie, arthouse, and classic film subscription-streaming service will shut down, part of WarnerMedia’s move to streamline niche-oriented services.