Read for Later - “Making personal connections and offering recommendations through a knowledgeable and passionate staff, it’s something that slays an algorithm any day.”

This week's headline quotes Video Vortex manager and “VHS Culture Captain” Josh Schafer on what he thinks makes Alamo Drafthouse’s new video rental store so special (Entertainment Weekly “Alamo Drafthouse video store to let you rent any movie for free”).

A reminder - the call for proposals for the 2018 Future of Libraries Fellowship is now open. The fellowship offers a stipend of $10,000 to advance new ideas and perspectives for the future of libraries through the creation of a public product that will help library professionals envision the future. We look forward to many exciting project proposals - the deadline is May 15th.  

You can always check out the Center's trend collection to see how this scanning comes together to identify trends relevant to our futures - including our newest entry on Experiential Retail. 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

New York Magazine “What you need to understand about Facebook and Cambridge Analytica”
Two investigative stories by The New York Times and The Observer reveal political data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook data, based on documents and other information from a whistle-blower named Christopher Wylie. The stories detail how Cambridge Analytica received data from University of Cambridge professor Aleksandr Kogan, who developed a personality-quiz app for Facebook that was installed by 270,000 people, but could access data about those users or their friends, collecting information from about 50 million Facebook users, whose information was saved to a private database given to Cambridge Analytica to make 30 million “psychographic” profiles about voters. While the transfer of data violated Facebook’s terms of use, and even as Facebook has made changes to its privacy settings for apps that access other people’s data, the revelation makes clear the vulnerability of a business model built on gathering data about users. For an overview, see also ArsTechnica, The Atlantic, CNET, The Daily Dot, The Guardian, Mashable, Motherboard, The New York Times, The New Yorker, Nieman Lab, ReCode, The Verge, and Wired; and for Mark Zuckerberg’s response, see also Advertising Age, ArsTechnica, The Atlantic, Bloomberg and again, BuzzFeed, CNET and again and again, The Daily Dot, Engadget, GeekWire, Mashable and again and again and again, Motherboard, The New York Times, ReCode, TechCrunch, The Verge and again and again, and Wired.

The New York Times “Extensive data shows punishing reach of racism for black boys”
new study led by researchers at Stanford, Harvard, and the Census Bureau finds that black boys raised in America, even in the wealthiest families and living in some of the most well-to-do neighborhoods, still earn less in adulthood than white boys with similar backgrounds, driving the significant income inequality between blacks and whites. See also NPR

CNET “Apple proposes new emojis for people with disabilities”
Apple has proposed 13 new emojis to include more experiences for people with disabilities, including men and women walking with a cane and touching their ear, as well as standalone icons of a hearing aid and prosthetic arm – Apple is “requesting the addition of emoji to better represent individuals with disabilities. Currently, emoji provide a wide range of options, but may not represent the experiences of those with disabilities. Diversifying the options available helps fill a significant gap and provides a more inclusive experience for all." See also The Daily DotEngadgetGizmodoMashableTechCrunch, and The Verge.  

Bloomberg “Apple tries to win back students and teachers with low-cost iPad”
Apple is reportedly preparing to introduce new low-cost iPads and education software in a bid to win back students and teachers from Google and Microsoft – an upcoming event at Lane Technical College Prep High School in Chicago will mark the first time Apple has held a product launch geared toward education since 2012 when it unveiled a tool for designing e-books for the iPad. See also TechCrunch.  

Entertainment Weekly “Alamo Drafthouse video store to let you rent any movie for free”
Cinema chain Alamo Drafthouse’s new Video Vortex concept store provides 75,000 free movies, with VCRs and Blu-ray players available for rent, beer for sale, board games, memorabilia, and more – the concept to give the movies away and charge instead for the ancillary products follows a goal of building a community of movie lovers, allowing movie renters to connect and develop a diverse exchange about film culture.

Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines

The New York Times "Self-driving Uber car kills pedestrian in Arizona, where robots roam" and "How a self-driving Uber killed a pedestrian in Arizona"
An autonomous car operated by Uber struck and killed a woman on a street in Tempe, Arizona, leading the company to quickly suspended testing in Tempe as well as in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Toronto – autonomous technology systems must learn to adjust for unpredictable human driving or behavior, but most researchers still believe self-driving cars will ultimately be more safe than their human counterparts. For general information, see also ArsTechnica, CityLab, Engadget, Gizmodo, The Huffington Post, The Inquirer, MIT Technology Review, Motherboard, Reuters, and TechCrunch and again; for released video, see also Advertising Age, ArsTechnica, Bloomberg, Fast Company, and ReCode; and for Uber halting its program, see also Bloomberg, The New York Times, and The Verge.  


GeekWire “Starbucks explores potential use of blockchain tech for ‘bean to cup’ pilot program”
Starbucks announced a new program that will utilize blockchain technology to track the “bean to cup” journey from farmers in Costa Rica, Colombia, and Rwanda to coffee drinkers in its stores.

Bloomberg “Google Is Working on Its Own Blockchain-Related Technology”
Google is reportedly working on blockchain-related technology to support its cloud business and head off competition from emerging startups that are using blockchain and other digital ledger technologies to securely record transactions and process other data over the internet. See also CNET, Digital Trends, and GeekWire.

Demographics and Communities

The Economist “The mega-rich have ambitious plans to improve the world”
Many of today’s mega-rich have switched from a serial model of philanthropy, in which you make money first and then retire and give it away, to a parallel one, where you start giving the money away while it is still coming in – this form of giving can raise concerns over accountability, influence over policymakers and elected officials, and, given that so many of today’s billionaires are geeks, techno-solutionism.


TechSpot “Amazon patent details delivery drone that responds to human gestures”
Amazon was granted a patent for a delivery drone capable of detecting verbal or physical gestures from humans and responding accordingly – the illustration accompanying the patent shows a man waving his arms as a drone seemingly approaches a home.

Economics and the Workplace

BBC “South Korea to shut off computers to stop people working late”
South Korea’s Seoul Metropolitan Government is introducing a new initiative to force its employees to leave work on time, by powering down all computers at 8:00pm on Fridays – the initiative seeks to stop a "culture of working overtime.”


The Washington Post “A University of Wisconsin campus pushes plan to drop 13 majors — including English, history and philosophy”
The University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point has proposed dropping 13 majors in the humanities and social sciences — including English, philosophy, history, sociology and Spanish — in a shift toward programs with “high-demand career paths” – marketing, management, graphic design, fire science and computer information systems – as a way to address declining enrollment and a multimillion-dollar deficit.

GeekWire “Top schools for AI: New study ranks the leading U.S. artificial intelligence grad programs”
New rankings from the U.S. News & World Report highlight the top graduate programs for artificial intelligence, with Carnegie Mellon University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, University of California — Berkeley, and University of Washington leading the list.

Bloomberg “Chinese companies are buying up cash-strapped U.S. colleges”
Beijing Kaiwen Education Technology Company’s recent agreement to pay $40 million for Westminster Choir College, an affiliate of Rider University that trains students for careers as singers, conductors, and music teachers, highlights some of the financial challenges faced by U.S. higher education – the pending purchase moved several alumni to sue to block the sale, saying it violates Westminster’s 1991 merger agreement with Rider University and will trigger the choir college’s demise.

The Environment

National Geographic “143 million people may soon become climate migrants”
A new report from The World Bank, Groundswell—Preparing for Internal Climate Migration, predicts that climate change will transform more than 143 million people into “climate migrants” – the study looks at the impacts of slow-onset climate, as opposed to more visibly dramatic events such as extreme storms and flooding, and shifts the focus from cross-border migration, which has drawn global attention as refugees and migrants flee war, poverty, and oppression, to in-country migration, which involves many more millions of people on the move in search of viable places to live.

Journalism and News

Nieman Lab “Google announces a $300M ‘Google News Initiative’ (though this isn’t about giving out grants directly to newsrooms, like it does in Europe)”
Google is committing $300 million over three years toward various products and initiatives intended to help news publishers and strengthen their relationships with the company – the project will advance several initiatives including Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project, News Consumer Insights dashboard for publishers, anti-misinformation efforts, and commenting products. See also Advertising Age, The Drum, and Engadget

Poynter “Poynter receives $3 million from Google to lead program teaching teens to tell fact from fiction online”
The Poynter Institute will lead a Google-funded MediaWise project aimed at helping middle and high school students be smarter consumers of news and information online – the project brings together experts from the Local Media Association, the Stanford Graduate School of Education, and Poynter to develop a curriculum to be taught in classrooms and a first-of-its-kind teen fact-checking initiative online.


The Verge “Apple's Tim Cook calls for more regulations on data privacy”
Apple’s Chief Executive Tim Cook called for “well-crafted” regulations that prevent users’ information being put together and applied in new ways without their knowledge during a session at the annual China Development Forum in Beijing – his comments will ramp up pressure on Facebook and other technology companies that rely on data gathered from billions of people to power their products, services, and sales. See also Engadget, Gizmodo, and Mashable.

Restaurants, Retail, and Spaces

GeekWire “Starbucks wants your email address: Coffee giant tests new WiFi sign-up process at U.S. stores”
Starbucks is testing a new WiFi login process that asks customers to provide their email address before connecting – this would make the login process smoother for repeat customers and provide an optional channel for periodical email newsletters and offers from the chain, but the system could turn off those with concerns about personal privacy.

GeekWire “The Riveter raises $4.75M to expand female-focused co-working model across U.S.”
Female-focused co-working startup The Riveter announced a $4.75 million investment round to help expand its services with a digital platform for members, a new podcast and newsletter, additional programming offerings, and more – The Riveter has more than 700 members across its original location in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood and another space in Fremont with plans to open locations in Bellevue, Wash., Los Angeles, Dallas, and Denver.

Gizmodo “Walmart considering smart carts, drone assistants”
Walmart’s latest patents include a shopping cart “sensing device”, a wearables tracking feature, drone directional assistance, and automated item identification – all of which could move toward cashier-less shopping like Amazon Go. See also Engadget and The Verge.

Streaming Media

The Verge “CDs and vinyl are more popular than digital downloads once again”
RIAA's 2017 Year-End Music Industry Revenue Report shows streaming music’s continued growth, as digital download sales decline to the point that they’re now smaller than sales of CDs, vinyl, and other physical media, which hasn’t been the case since 2011 – while subscription services like Apple Music and Spotify continue to be popular, “limited tier paid subscriptions” that provide content with constraints (e.g. Amazon’s $4 per month unlimited music available only on an Echo device) have also been growing and could soon be a very big deal for the industry.