This week’s news featured several stories caught at the intersection of multiple trends. Privacy (or surveillance) and the internet of things. Urbanization and income inequality. So apologies if you find stories that would have been better filed under different headings. Everything converges, eventually.
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.
A quick promo for a project from our colleagues at the American Alliance of Museums' Center for the Future of Museums. CFM’s “Future Fiction” project, is a national challenge for museum professionals, educators, futurists, and community members (library professionals, too) to share their stories of an educational future for the US in which museums play a starring role (Center for the Future of Museums "How to Enter the CFM Education Future Fiction Challenge: It’s Open!!!"). Even if you don’t consider yourself a writer, check it out and consider sharing with those in your community who might find this of interest.
The Obama administration’s proposed budget includes nearly $300 million for water innovation, including making desalination affordable, real-time water use monitoring, growing food with less water, and forecasting of floods and droughts (Fast Company "The White House Wants To Spend $300 Million On A Water Revolution").
Books, Media, and Publishing
Two stories about The New York Times targeting their content to emerging audiences. The Times launched a new email newsletter, The Edit, aimed at college students and featuring stories that help students “through their next steps, both professional and personal, in a way that doesn’t come across as prescriptive” (Nieman Lab "The New York Times Has a New Email Newsletter Aimed at College Students"). In addition to courting college students, The New York Times en Español, a Spanish-language site run out of Mexico City, and the twice weekly Boletín newsletter, are part of a strategy to grow The Times’ international audience (Nieman Lab "En Español: The New York Times Launches a Spanish-language News Site Aiming South of the Border").
Google has partnered with the National Park Service to add over 3,800 works of art, artifacts, and records – and 58 new Street View exhibits – to its Cultural Institute site (The Verge "Google and the National Park Service Are Putting 3,800 Artifacts and Artworks in an Online Museum"). See also TechCrunch.
Somewhere between trends in urbanization and income inequality is the case of Vancouver, a city that has made commitments to accelerate local startups and invest in technology, but in so doing has created problems of affordable housing that could cost it one of its most affordable assets, young people (Financial Post "Without Affordable Housing, Vancouver Risks Becoming an Economic Ghost Town").
An interesting look at how Britain is trying to strengthen their mid-sized cities (Liverpool and Manchester) as urbanization forces draw more attention and potential to their mega-city, London (The New York Times "Britain Aims to Strengthen North’s Cities").
Many of us have thought about the year 2020, when 20% of the population of the world’s richest countries will be older than 65, but this consideration of the year 2040, when surviving baby boomers will approach or pass 85 and make up more than 4.5% of the rich world’s population, takes some of the implications of our aging population even further (Quartz "The Year 2040 Is Looking Very Scary for the World’s Richest Countries"). There’s a particular concern for the effects of that population confronting dementia and other long-term health issues that will require labor-intensive, long-term care.
This illustrative and interactive piece looks at the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey of high school students and considers how today’s teens are behaving differently than previous generations (15.7% of teens today smoke cigarettes versus 30.5% twenty years ago; teenagers today are 31% less likely to binge drink than teens twenty years ago; and 2.7% of teen girls have babies today versus 5.9% in 1996) even as they struggle with new behaviors and consequences like diet and obesity (Vox "Today’s Teens Are Better Than You, and We Can Prove It").
I didn’t quite know where to file this, but I found it fascinating, especially having grown up in Arizona where most people claim no accent. Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Echo, and other voice recognition technologies are getting better at understanding regional quirks and accents, but, in the time between, more users are adopting a “machine voice” distinct from how they speak to people and void of an accent or regional dialect (The Guardian "Y'all Have a Texas Accent? Siri (and the World) Might Be Slowly Killing It").
A new study from the American Association of University Women (AAUW) found that men paid off 44% of their student debt in three years while women paid off 33% of their debt in the same amount of time – and the numbers are even worse when broken down by race (black women pay off 9% of their student debt and Hispanic women 3% in three years) (Quartz "In the US, a College Education is Far More Expensive for Women than for Men"). The reason, as many of us already know, is the gender pay gap.
Schools are partnering with businesses, nonprofits, foundations, public libraries (yes!), and parent groups to address two of the major challenges facing education – poverty and a lack of support at home – and these partnerships provide educators with an important opportunity to experiment and innovate in ways that they might otherwise have been unable to do (The Atlantic "Fixing Schools Outside of School").
The Babson Survey Research Group has released its last survey of online-education and while 3.9% increase in the number of distance education students, the proportion of chief academic leaders that say online learning is critical to their long‐term strategy fell from 70.8% last year to 63.3% and only 29.1% of academic leaders report that their faculty accept the “value and legitimacy of online education” (The Chronicle of Higher Education "Here’s a Snapshot of Online Learning in 2015").
An interesting look at the two sides of Facebook’s Free Basics program, which seeks to promote a fundamental right to access the Internet, but continues to court controversy for the way it conflicts with open web principles and treating all content equally, without favoring certain sites or platforms (The Atlantic "Facebook and the New Colonialism").
A look at how the internet and social media are changing the modeling industry through initiatives like IMG’s call for selfies with the hashtag #WLYG that are reviewed by a talent scout from the company or
Marc by Marc Jacobs casting calls sent out via Instagram or the crowdsourced casting call conducted by Facebook and Ford Models (Vocativ "Instagram Is A Game-Changer For The Modeling Industry").
Internet of Things
An interesting look into the future courtesy of James Clapper, the US director of national intelligence, who shared in testimony submitted to the Senate that “in the future, intelligence services might use the [internet of things] for identification, surveillance, monitoring, location tracking, and targeting for recruitment, or to gain access to networks or user credentials” (The Guardian "US Intelligence Chief: We Might Use the Internet of Things to Spy on You").
Spaces, Retail, and Restaurants
Whole Foods is encouraging independent vendors, including food and drink sellers, clothing retailers, body care makers, record stores, and tattoo parlors, to share spaces in their 365 By Whole Foods locations, the less expensive (and millennial-focused) sister store they are introducing later this year (Grist "Whole Foods Pop-ups Might Offer Tattoos Next to the Asparagus Water"). See also Bloomberg.