This week’s headline comes from New Republic’s “Voices of America” feature exploring the rising popularity of podcasts as highbrow, intellectual content that can just as easily lend themselves to binge-able entertainment or even background soundtracks of information. The line seems to ring true in a world of overwhelming information – and of overwhelming trends and innovations with varying degrees of application for the future of libraries.
One item to highlight from our friends at the Knight Foundation – their new “Developing Clarity: Innovating in Library Systems” report is available, bringing together ideas and insights from more than two dozen library leaders.
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 as you scan through these articles, consider dropping me a line to let me know what you've read this week to help prepare for the future.
Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines
Wired "This delivery robot isn’t just charming. It’s stuffed with pizza"
Domino’s customers in Germany may soon receive their pizza delivery via robot through a partnership with Starship’s fleet of six-wheeled robots, navigating the world via cameras, ultrasonic sensors, and high resolution maps. See also Engadget.
The Verge "Uber’s self-driving cars are back on the road after Arizona accident"
Uber will resume its pilot for self-driving cars in Tempe and Pittsburgh after temporarily suspending the service following an accident involving one of its vehicles in Arizona. See also Vocativ.
Wired "Elon Musk isn’t the only one trying to computerize your brain"
Elon Musk’s launch of Neuralink, a company that aims to implant tiny electrodes in the brain, has refocused attention on efforts to merge computers with human brains to create “neural tools” in hardware and software. See also ArsTechnica, The Drum, Inc., Mashable, ReCode, and The Verge.
Cities and Government
Wired "Innovation can fix government, sure. Either that or break it"
The White House announced a new Office of American Innovation to be led by President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and charged with bringing fresh business ideas to government. See also TechCrunch.
Next City "Lyft is testing a new shuttle service in two cities"
Lyft’s new Shuttle pilot in San Francisco and Chicago will have riders pay a fixed-rate fare to pick up a ride from a specific location, ride along a set route, and get off at any of a number of drop-off points – yes, that sounds a lot like a bus, but anything in the name of innovation and user interest. See also CNET, The Daily Dot, Engadget, Mashable, and TechCrunch.
The Daily Dot "Trump administration strips LGBTQ questions from 2020 Census, prompting outrage"
A Census Bureau report sent to Congress reveals that questions on sexual orientation and gender identity will not be included in the upcoming 2020 U.S. Census, reversing efforts by advocacy groups and several federal agencies to provide more accurate estimates for LGBTQ citizens in order to improve law enforcement relations with the LGBTQ community and develop legislation and programs reflective of the changing population.
Motherboard "The number of heroin users in America grew five times in a decade"
A new study from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health finds that heroin use increased around five-fold, from .33% of the population between 2001 and 2002 to 1.60% of the population between 2012 and 2013 – with single white men in their 30s and 40s who had either no degree or just a high school degree among the most vulnerable population for heroin use and disorders.
FiveThirtyEight "Americans’ shift to the suburbs sped up last year"
Analysis of the Census Bureau’s latest population estimates for the more than 3,000 counties in the U.S. shows that the fastest growth was in lower-density suburbs while growth in big cities slowed for the fifth-straight year, running counter to an urbanization narrative driven by the urban preferences of younger, wealthier, and more educated populations.
Motherboard "Indigenous peoples in Canadian cities want their own radio stations"
A number of Indigenous media organizations are vying for radio licenses to broadcast news and entertainment in their ancestral languages in major urban centers like Toronto and Calgary where more than 50% of Canada's Indigenous population lives.
Engadget "There are over 770,000 registered drone owners in the US"
FAA Administrator Michael Huerta announced that over 770,000 drone owners have registered to fly in the US since the FAA made it mandatory in December 2015 – the FAA has also issued 37,000 Remote Pilot Certificates that let drone owners do filming, inspection, and other commercial operations.
The New York Times "Equal pay for men and women? Iceland wants employers to prove it"
Iceland became the first country to introduce legislation requiring employers to prove they are paying men and women equally, requiring the biggest companies and government agencies to undergo audits and to obtain a certification of compliance with equal pay rules.
The Atlantic "Selling what they preach"
An interesting look at the business world’s use of empathy in advertising, driving home messages of civility, equality, diversity, and inclusion to sell an idea of human connection over stuff or individual benefits.
Campus Technology "An open invitation to innovation: Lone Star College-University Park"
Lone Star College-University Park is the newest of seven community colleges that make up Lone Star College, envisioned as a new type of college built as a "Mall of America for education and careers" – a single place for any type or level of education, including an early learning academy and preschool, an on-site high school, advanced degree programs all the way through the doctoral level, and even a corporate college that provides customized workforce programs.
TechCrunch "MasterClass raises $35 million for celebrity taught classes"
MasterClass, which offers subscription online video-based courses from celebrities and leaders in various fields and disciplines, raised over $35 million in its latest funding round.
NPR "As Congress repeals internet privacy rules, putting your options in perspective"
U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to sign into law a decision by Congress to overturn rules requiring Internet service providers to receive explicit consent from consumers if sensitive data were to be shared or sold – the rules had been passed by the FCC in October, but had not yet gone into effect. See also ArsTechnica, CNET, ReCode and again, Slate, TechCrunch and again, The Verge, Vocativ, and Wired.
ArsTechnica "ISP privacy rules could be resurrected by states, starting in Minnesota"
Even as legislators at the federal level relax these rules, state legislators could drive change, including in Minnesota where an amendment to a budget bill restricts ISPs' ability to "collect personal information from a customer resulting from the customer's use of the telecommunications or Internet service provider without express written approval from the customer" – ISPs might be forced to change their practices if enough states enact similar state-level rules.
The Verge "FCC chief says no broadband subsidies for the poor until states get a say"
FCC chairman Ajit Pai says the FCC “will soon begin a proceeding” to rework Lifeline’s expansion so that states get to decide which companies can offer its broadband subsidies for low-income households. See also ArsTechnica, Consumerist, and Engadget.
The Verge "Snapchat Stories are now searchable by content"
Snapchat Stories available through the Our Story group montage will now be searchable as new machine learning features help categorize stories by analyzing caption text, time, and visual elements. See also Advertising Age, CNET, Quartz, and TechCrunch.
Mashable "You can now book fitness classes on Google"
Google will expand its Reserve with Google service to allow users to reserve exercise and activity classes by pulling together Google Map and Search information into a new booking site.
Mashable "Facebook's fundraisers now help you raise money for yourself and friends"
Facebook is expanding its fundraisers tool to allow users to create personal fundraiser pages to raise money for themselves, friends, and people or things not on Facebook, even if not associated with a registered nonprofit on the platform. See also Engadget
Journalism and News
The Drum "BuzzFeed to expand news operations in Mexico and Germany ahead of elections"
BuzzFeed News will open local-language bureaus in Mexico and Germany as it works to attract a global audience and distribute locally-covered world news across the BuzzFeed portfolio.
Spaces, Retail, and Restaurants
Fast Company "Can this hipster hangout get red & blue America talking?"
Part of an ambitious project funded by The Participation Agency (The PA), a New York-based marketing firm, the five “Outposts” are situated in smaller cities (Boise, Lancaster, Asbury Park, Omaha, and El Paso) where touring musicians can temporarily recharge (eat, do laundry, shower, and sleep) in exchange for engaging with the community and helping to bring people together in a new public space – oh, and it also helps the branding agency better understand the “Middle America” consumer.
GeekWire "Amazon keeps adding pop-up stores in malls across U.S. as it expands physical presence"
In addition to new brick and mortar stores, Amazon has launched 29 “pop-up” kiosks in 15 states, offering a full complement of Amazon devices from the Alexa-powered Echo speaker, to Dash buttons, to various Kindle models, and providing a point of first exposure for the new tech that the company hopes will drive future sales.
Mashable "You might soon be able to order and pick up Starbucks without talking to a single damn human being"
Starbucks is testing a store exclusively for mobile orders, situated side-by-side with a standard store in Starbucks' headquarters, but designed to relieve some of the mobile order business that has frustrated in-store customers.
The New York Times "Amazon’s ambitions unboxed: Stores for furniture, appliances and more"
In a broad look across Amazon’s retail ambitions, notes about augmented or virtual reality’s use in stores selling furniture and home appliances to allow people to see how couches or stoves would look in their homes and stores modeled on Apple’s retail locations with a heavy emphasis on exposing customers to Amazon devices and services.
Bloomberg "Siri and Alexa are fighting to be your hotel butler"
After Alexa-powered Echo devices were introduced into rooms at the Wynn Las Vegas, Amazon and Apple are competing for a place in Marriott’s Aloft hotel brand to help guests turn on lights, close drapes, control room temperature, and change television channels via voice command.
Variety "The reckoning: Why the movie business is in big trouble"
An in-depth look at the future challenges for the movie industry stemming from two major problems – younger audiences more interested in streamable content that is accessible on mobile devices and depleting sources of capital as investors turn to surer bets in Silicon Valley and foreign investors face restrictions on foreign investment.
New Republic "Voices of America"
As podcasts flourish, a look at how the format has been popularized in comfortable, educated, middle-class households of America as a new highbrow format that can easily lend itself to binging or serve as a new source of background information fed throughout the day.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
CNET "Facebook widens 360-degree live-streaming to all"
Facebook will allow all users to live stream in 360-degrees after first launching the feature on National Geographic's Facebook page in December. See also Engadget and TechCrunch.