This week felt like clusters of news around specific trends. Bite-sized reading. The power of young women. Computer science in the curriculum. Voice in technology. It’s always helpful to see the news align from different angles pointing to similar insights.
Two short commercials before we dig in.
As you’re looking ahead to your March calendar, make sure to check out the Library 2.016 mini-conference “Privacy in the Digital Age” on March 16th. Privacy has come up again and again in our scanning, so this mini-conference will likely help bring a lot of that thinking together with a specific library lens.
Some big news from our colleagues at the American Alliance of Museum’s Center for the Future of Museum – TrendsWatch 2016 is now available. TrendsWatch is always an enjoyable read with lots of great information applicable to the library environment.
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.
Apple will reportedly integrate Siri, already available on the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Apple TV, into the next version of OS X with a button on the menu bar and a possible always-listening feature (The Verge “Siri will Reportedly Come to the Mac this Year”). See also Engadget and Mashable.
There was a lot of coverage of Facebook’s new emoji buttons – “love,” “haha,” “wow,” “sad,” and “angry” (an originally tested “yay,” did not make the cut after testing didn’t yield as much use) – but, in addition to the opportunity to express a wider range of responses to posts, these new features provide Facebook with greater opportunities to collect data, including more nuanced data on how users are reacting to content (Slate “Facebook’s Five New Reaction Buttons: Data, Data, Data, Data, and Data”).
Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines
Google’s AI team, DeepMind, having already made news playing Go, will now venture into healthcare with the launch of DeepMind Health, an initiative to create apps to help medical professionals identify patients at risk of complications like acute kidney injury (The Verge “Google AI Group that's Mastering Go is Now Taking on Healthcare”).
Another Google program, PlaNet, uses deep-learning techniques to recognize locations based on photo details gathered from over 90 million geotagged images, and not just distinctive landmarks but also random roads and houses (The Verge “Google's Latest AI Doesn't Need Geotags to Figure Out a Photo's Location”). See also Geekwire.
Books, Media, and Content
So the headline is that Amazon is raising the minimum order for free shipping for non-Prime members from $35 to $49 (on items other than books), but behind that price increase might be a drive to have more people join Amazon’s Prime program, which provides free two-day shipping and access to an increasing catalog of streaming content (Geekwire “Amazon Raises Free Shipping Minimum to $49 for Non-Prime Members”). See also The Daily Dot, Engadget, TechCrunch, and The Verge.
Even as they push for Prime, Amazon is still exploring other options for sharing content, including releasing a new season of The Fashion Fund, a 10-episode reality show produced by Conde Nast Entertainment, available for free to anyone, but presented with commercials (Re/Code “Amazon Debuts Its First Original Show With Ads, Hinting at a New, Free Video Business”). See also Geekwire, The Verge, and Wired.
Facebook continues to invest in its Live product that lets people broadcast video to friends, part of a movement across providers (Twitter, Periscope) to make social media a space for people to talk about what’s happening in real time (Re/Code “Mark Zuckerberg Is ‘Obsessed’ With Livestreaming, Making Live a Top Priority at Facebook”). See also CNET and TechCrunch.
Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages, which speeds mobile page loading time while using less data than traditional pages, will begin appearing in Goolge search results (The Verge “Google's Answer to Facebook Instant Articles is Now Available on the Mobile Web”). See also CNET.
A new national newspaper in the UK will target “time-poor” readers, providing them with content edited to just “what they need to know” and can access if they “only have 30 minutes” (BBC “New Day Newspaper Targets 'Time-Poor' Readers”).
We talked about bite-sized reading app Serial Reader last week and now more bite-sized news, including apps The Pigeonhole, which digests classic works; Simon & Schuster-backed Crave, that lets you subscribe to your favorite romance author and receive bite-sized updates of new novels every 24 hours; and Rooster, a new company that charges users a monthly subscription to access serialized content (GoodReader “Bite Sized e-books are Taking the World by Storm”).
Another app, Anchor, lets users share short audio clips, hoping to make social media less visual and textual and more audial – something that has caught the attention of radio and podcast producers at WNYC (Nieman Lab “Using the New App Anchor, WNYC is Experimenting with Social Audio”)
Libreria, a new bookstore in London, designed by Spanish Architects José Selgas and Lucía Cano of SelgasCano, encourages readers to focus exclusively on the printed word by employing a strict ban on mobile phones and other electronics (TreeHugger “New London Bookstore Celebrates Paper Books in Tech-free, Universal Library”). See also Gizmodo.
Simon & Schuster announced a new imprint dedicated to publishing children's books that feature Muslim characters and stories, the first of its kind at a major publishing house (Mashable “Salaam Reads, New Imprint for Muslim Children's Books”).
Seattle’s mayor has signed an executive order enacting new standards of governance and policy around open data across all city departments, requiring that all Seattle data be “open by preference,” after privacy and security have been accounted for, in machine-readable formats (Government Technology “Seattle Calls for its Data to Be ‘Open by Preference’”). See also Geekwire.
The Ontario Liberal Party has announced plans to investigate a basic income pilot project as part of the 2016 budget, which means that every person in one Ontario community could receive pay from the government for doing nothing at all, but at the cost of “savings” in some social services currently provided by the government (Motherboard “The Ontario Government Is Investigating Giving Everyone Free Money”).
The finalists in HUD’s third annual Innovation in Affordable Housing Student Design and Planning Competition propose integrating family opportunity and education centers, a health and wellness living lab, food co-ops and mixed purpose housing, and community gardens (Next City “HUD Announces Finalists in Affordable Housing Innovation Competition”).
The Knight Foundation announced the eleven recipients of its Knight Prototype Fund, tackling projects around media and data consumption, including new tools for civic engagement and representative decision-making, access to information about legislation and legislators, and support for newsrooms to improve website performance (Government Technology "11 Risky New Ideas Score Funding from Knight Foundation's Prototype Fund").
In 2009, the proportion of American women who were married dropped below 50%. The number of adults younger than 34 who had never married is up to 46%. And just 20% of Americans ages 18–29 are married. Rebecca Traister previews her forthcoming book, All the Single Ladies, with a look at the growing population of independent female adults who have grown up knowing that it is okay not to be married and have achieved fulfilling professional, economic, social, and parental lives on their own (New York Magazine “Single Women Are Now the Most Potent Political Force in America”).
An important call to encourage young women to be brave and resilient, building off research showing how parents caution and assist their daughters significantly more than they do their sons, who are encouraged to face their fears with instruction on how to complete tasks on their own (The New York Times “Why Do We Teach Girls That It’s Cute to Be Scared?”).
It would be easy to read news of millennials’ declining interest in breakfast cereal (because it’s an inconvenient choice that requires cleaning up after eating it, supposedly) as some indicator of that generation’s habits, but just as important might be insights that more people are eating breakfast away from home (more work, busier schedules), are planning meals for one instead of for a family, and are prioritizing convenience over affordability (The Washington Post “The Baffling Reason Many Millennials Don’t Eat Cereal”).
Duke University’s Child Well-Being Index Report looks at how US children fare in family economic well-being, risky behaviors, social relationships, emotional/spiritual well-being, community engagement, educational attainment, and health – and the most recent results show overall child and youth well-being returning to levels near those in 2007 and 2008, before the Great Recession had its impacts (Futurity “Kids in U.S. are finally recovering from Great Recession”).
A program from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and the Community College of Philadelphia will provide individuals convicted of nonviolent crimes the chance to complete 27 college credits within a year, instead of serving time (University Business "Hitting the Books Instead of the Cell Block"). To participate in the Future Forward initiative, students must be at least 24 years old, hold a high school degree or GED, be eligible for admission at the community college, and finish the credits and remain arrest-free during the school year.
Starting with next school year’s class of freshmen (class of 2020), computer science will now be a graduation requirement for all high school students in Chicago Public Schools (TechCrunch “Computer Science Is Now A High School Graduation Requirement In Chicago’s Public School District”).
That computer science emphasis is obviously a big part of higher education as well, including liberal arts colleges that are introducing computer science and technology-focused programs and concentrations into their offerings – and using such programs to create cross-disciplinary partnerships (Inside Higher Ed "Computer Science as Liberal Arts 'Enabler'").
While talking about the liberal arts, a look at the movement to reward public colleges and universities for graduating students in fields seen as important to the economy – usually STEM – at the expense of the humanities (The New York Times “A Rising Call to Promote STEM Education and Cut Liberal Arts Funding”).
Using “nudge” systems to influence the choices people make and a microfinance strategy to help make larger expenses more affordable to individuals that might not otherwise have access to funding, San Francisco start-up Raise.me partners with colleges to provide incremental scholarships and make admissions criteria clearer to high school students, especially first-generation college-goers (The New York Times “Got an A in Algebra? That’s Worth $120”).
Spaces, Retail, and Restaurants
Copenahgen’s WeFood only stocks food that is past its official expiration date or that cannot be stocked at other supermarkets due to imperfections or damaged packaging, hoping to lure shoppers at deep discounts (30 – 50% cheaper than standard supermarkets) and reduce food waste (The Washington Post “The Most Interesting Supermarket in the World”). See also Grist and Quartz.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
A unique view of the benefits of virtual reality – providing all people with a better life by making the desirable experiences of the wealthy virtually accessible for a much broader range of people (Wired “VR Will Make Life Better—Or Just Be an Opiate for the Masses”).