Happy Martin Luther King Day!
And thanks for sticking around after the week off for Midwinter. That makes this something of a double issue, but I don’t think there’s an overwhelming amount here. Something for everyone, maybe. Especially if you are interested in autonomous vehicles or self-driving cars.
You can always check out the Center's trend collection to see how this scanning comes together to identify trends relevant to our future work.
And let us know what you're reading this week to help think about later.
Ankommen (“arrive” in German) is a guide for refugees to Germany, providing information on language, culture, and customs and even help finding a job (Quartz “Germany Made an App to Help Refugees Integrate”) - somewhere a librarian must have played a role in this.
Interesting research from Pew Research Center explores parental habits for teen’s digital activities, including the use of digital grounding, monitoring passwords, connection with teens on digital platforms, and discussions about web safety (Pew Research Center “6 Takeaways About How Parents Monitor Their Teen’s Digital Activities”).
A team at the University of Michigan is exploring a new Braille e-reader that uses bubbles to push buttons up and down, creating a Braille-like display that costs a lot less than current models (PSFK “The Accessible Tablet of the Near Future?”). See also MIT Technology Review.
We may not think about the future of agriculture as being directly connected to libraries, but as agricultural production moves indoors, farming could become our neighbor or our tenant (TechCrunch “Necessity Is Driving Agricultural Innovation Indoors”).
With several news stories from 2015, we all know that philanthropy is changing. This look ahead to 2016 considers some of the big changes - falling trust in philanthropy; politicized giving; lean philanthropy; inequality and economic inclusion; a focus on cities – that may represent some of the biggest shifts in charitable giving (Inside Philanthropy “Philanthropy Forecast, 2016: Trends and Funders to Watch”).
Even as we look ahead to what might come, consider what might go away - cash, checkbooks, credit cards and ATMs; USB sticks; passwords; remote controls; static documents and paper agreements (TechCrunch “5 Things That Will Disappear In 5 Years”).
We hadn’t talked too much about driverless cars, but then suddenly they were everywhere – including announcements from the Obama administration to invest nearly $4 billion over the next 10 years to help “accelerate the development of safe vehicle automation through real-world pilot projects” (Motherboard “Obama Just Pledged $4 Billion to Develop Autonomous Cars”). See also ArsTechnica, Fast Company, Gizmodo, Gizmodo again, and The Verge.
This announcement and focus is particularly important in light of increasing global competition, helping ensure that the U.S. takes the lead in advancing this technology, establishing regulations for the safety of consumers, advancing the commercialization of the technology, and preparing cities (TechCrunch “The Federal Government Must Act To Ensure That The Autonomous Vehicle Revolution Takes Place In The U.S.”).
Safety and improved traffic flow are two of the big benefits from autonomous vehicles, but those benefits will only come with additional infrastructure changes, including smarter street lights (New Scientist “Autonomous Cars Only Ease Traffic When Paired with Smart Lights”).
Books, Publishing, and Media
In the crossfire of e-books versus print books, Amazon vs. used bookstores, a consideration of what is essential about books in today’s culture, including the opportunity for attention and consideration in the face of competing digital interests (YouTube, social media, TV binge watching) and the continuing need for better systems to identify great books (TechCrunch “Book It, Baby”).
Further proof that media producers are trying to get smarter. Lightwave, a pioneering bioanalytics technology company, has partnered with 20th Century Fox to quantify audiences’ engagement to The Revenant, including heart rate, electrodermal activity (changes in the electrical activity of the skin), and motion (PSFK “Emotion Tracking Could Change How Hollywood Makes Movies”). Yes, this data might help future creators tailor their storytelling to maximize audience engagement.
Exploring new opportunities for social media integration, The Wall Street Journal became the nineteenth publisher and the first U.S. newspaper to have a channel on Snapchat’s Discover platform (Neiman Lab “The Wall Street Journal Is the First American Newspaper to Get a Spot on Snapchat Discover”).
If you’re looking to better understand some of the challenges or innovation opportunities that cities are facing, look no further than the 158 community-transforming ideas that the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced today as finalists in its second annual Knight Cities Challenge (NextCity “Knight Announces Finalists for Cities Challenge”).
A new report from Chapman University’s Center for Demographics and Policy explores how cities will continue to attract driven young people even as families leave congested cities and move toward less expensive urban and suburban areas (New Geography “New Report: Building Cities for People”).
We may think of Uber and Lyft as services for individual commuters, but new programs like Lyft’s “Friends With Transit” may indicate an interest in working with city transit agencies to make public transit more accessible (Next City “Uber Makes Deal to Expand Its Reach Into Public Transit”).
2015 saw a lot of stories about identity and gender. I found it particularly interesting, then, to see news of a new survey from the CDC showing a rise in the number of women identifying as bisexual and reporting same-sex sexual contact than in years past (Vocativ “Bisexuality Is On The Rise, Especially Among Women”). The survey also found an increase among men (though much smaller) and increases in the number of individuals reporting same-sex sexual contact (17.4% of women and 6.2% of men) or same-sex attraction (16.9% and 5.8%).
Pair that with some interesting insights from a seemingly disconnected source. The Transportation Safety Board looked at travelers' interests in airport restrooms, and along with general interests in cleanliness, ease of upkeep, touch free fixtures, and automated towel dispensers is a note that gender-neutral restrooms could offer travelers the most relief, better addressing evolving gender identity norms, reducing congestion, easing maintenance, and improving accessibility (The Atlantic “Mini Object Lesson: The Airport Restroom”).
With the February 19 deadline approaching, this handy guide to registering a drone might be helpful for libraries and the public (Wired “How to Register a Drone”).
A new report from the World Bank considers how American tech giants impact the global economy and income inequality (The Guardian “Silicon Valley Tech Firms Exacerbating Income Inequality, World Bank Warns”). “Many advanced economies face increasingly polarized labor markets and rising inequality – in part because technology augments higher skills while replacing routine jobs.” See also Fast Company.
An interesting letter to new governors (or any lawmaker or citizen, really), reminding them that making a better university system takes time; that the university’s community of learners depends on both research and teaching; and that universities can’t just be factories to produce workers (Wired “Governors Can Design Higher Education for the Future”).
In another look to the future, a consideration of the changing nature of doctoral education, especially as graduate programs increase the size and narrow the focus of their master’s programs while the number of Ph.D. students decline (The Chronicle of Higher Education “What Will Doctoral Education Look Like in 2025?”).
On-Demand, Gig, and the Future of Work
I’ll admit, I’m not very familiar with worker cooperatives, businesses owned and controlled by their workers, who share equally in the profits often employ flexible work schedules, and promote dignity at work and wealth at home for some of the most marginalized workers. New York City, however, had taken note and announced a $1.2 million Worker Cooperative Business Development Initiative (WCBDI) over a year ago, supporting the creation of 21 new worker cooperatives (NextCity “NYC Set to Triple Number of Worker Cooperatives”).
Co-working leader WeWork has moved into the co-living arena, with a new 45 apartment building in New York, which will eventually house about 600 people on 20 floors (Fast Company “From WeWork To WeLive: Startup Moves Members Into Its First Residential Building”). The fully furnished, decorated, and tech-connected spaces also feature common areas including a yoga studio or movie theater and access to community events like fitness classes and potluck dinners and services like cleaning and laundry.
Another Pew Research Center report. This one on online privacy and the compromises Americans are willing to make for convenience (Vocativ “Americans Willing To Give Up Privacy Online For Convenience”). See also The Verge.
The intersection of the Internet of Things and privacy is getting more interesting, especially as a growing number of start-ups and marketing companies look at cross-device (computer, smart phone, tablet, and internet connected appliances) tracking to help better understand and market to consumers (Motherboard “The Internet of Things That Talk About You Behind Your Back”).
Robots, Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning
Another argument that the future of robots in the workplace will be complementary, not competitive — with teams comprised of both a human and virtual workforce seamlessly working together (TechCrunch “Will Robots Save The Future Of Work?”).
And a similar argument for artificial intelligence in health care – taking on diagnosis and coaching duties and sorting through big data to spare overworked medical professionals from some of the dangerous fatigue that can lead to mistakes (Fast Company “Paging Dr. Robot: The Coming AI Health Care Boom”).
Spaces, Retail, and Restaurants
The Chipotle crisis points to one of the challenges’ for Fast Casual’s promise of serving fresh food – supply chains and control can become more complex and risky (Wired “Chipotle's Health Crisis Shows Fresh Food Comes at a Price”).
Five big trends from the American Institute of Architects panel of what architects expect to be the major changes in home design over the next decade - disaster-resistant designs; healthy building materials; smart-home automation; designs catering to an aging population; and energy-efficient design (The Wall Street Journal “Here’s What Architects See in Homes of the Future”).