Media and demographics. That’s where the news seemed to align this week. And some interesting pieces about the internet, including the dark web, the evolution of Snapchat, and challenge of web site annotations.
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.
Books, Publishing, and Media
Several television networks, including basic cable and premium channels, are following streaming platform’s strategy of binge releasing new programs as a way to set their product apart in a too-much-TV era (Variety “Networks Challenge Netflix With New Binge-Streaming Strategy”).
Fullscreen, an independent YouTube network targeting millennials, will launch its subscription service on April 26th and feature more than 800 hours of content (The Daily Dot “Launch Date Set for Fullscreen SVOD Service”).
The music platform SoundCloud is joining the ranks of subscription-tier streaming services, allowing subscribers to listen offline and access new music from major labels (Vocativ “SoundCloud Launches New Subscription Streaming Service”).
A look at how streaming content plays into Amazon’s and other platforms’ battle for consumers’ attention, combining user data, reviews, and a future when platforms might add a layer of clickable data onto screens to bring advertising and purchasing options to the viewing experience (Wired “Video Is Turning Amazon Into Much, Much More Than the Everything Store”).
The New York Times will expand its podcast offerings with a new audio team charged with launching news and opinion podcasts in 2016 and 2017, part of an effort to pull in revenue and attract listeners (Nieman Lab “The New York Times Launches a Podcast Team to Create a New Batch of Wide-reaching Shows”). See also The Daily Dot.
The American Press Institute analyzed more than 400,000 news stories to find general patterns in what works to attract and hold the attention of digital readers – long stories are read thoroughly on phones and other devices; photos (and audio or visual clips) boost engagement by 19%; and major stories are highly valued, scoring 48% better in engagement even as they account for just 1% of content produced (Poynter “Shorter Isn’t Better, Photos Aren’t Always Alluring and Deep Digging Pays Off, Recent Report Concludes”).
Musicians including Christina Aguilera, Katy Perry, and deadmau5 have signed petitions to the U.S. Copyright Office asking for a revamp of the Digital Millennium Copyright act (DMCA), arguing that tech companies (YouTube, Tumblr, etc.) have "grown and generated huge profits" on the backs of material that's illegally hosted and that make the notice-and-takedown system ineffective to help musicians retain the value of their work (The Verge “The Music Industry Is Begging the US Government to Change its Copyright Laws”). See also Mashable.
The Pew Research Center provided a nice list of ten demographic trends that will change the U.S. and the world, including increasing racial and ethnic diversity, growing immigration from Asia, the rise of women’s in the labor force and leadership positions, a growing frequency of blended families, the shrinking of the middle class, and more (Pew Research Center “10 Demographic Trends that Are Shaping the U.S. and the World”).
New York University School of Law's Brennan Center for Justice released findings from a survey of 1,006 people over the age of 18, finding that millennials face numerous obstacles to voting, including increased likelihood for having to wait in line at polls; exclusion from primaries (as more states adopt closed primaries that excluded independent or unaffiliated voters); and voter ID requirements that might be particularly restrictive to college students and low-income people without a permanent address, transgender people whose gender identity may not match their state-issued ID, and people who simply don’t drive (Mic “New Report Shows Millennial and Minority Voters Face Huge Obstacles at the Polls”).
Research from J.D. Power and Associates finds that millennials (defined as those born between 1982-1994) lodged more customer complaints about wireless and utility services than their boomer counterparts and have more customer service problems overall across industries, leading researches to conclude that the generation has greater expectations for products and services to work correctly, with little tolerance when things go wrong (Quartz “Millennials Are Even Grumpier than Boomers When It Comes to Customer Service”).
And yet another study, this time published in The Gerontologist, showing that inequality is higher after age 64 and especially apparent after age 74, a culmination of cumulative advantage or cumulative disadvantage, the decisive benefit of early economic, educational, and other advantages that increase over a lifetime (Futurity “For Older Americans, Divide Between Rich and Poor Gets Bigger”).
The work of economist Jed Kolko, examining Census information from 2000 to 2014, finds that the vast majority of people who have moved back into dense, urban neighborhoods are affluent, college-educated, white, and childless, confirming an urban gentrification trend that many people have witnessed and experienced (Gizmodo “The People Moving Back Into Big American Cities Are Mostly Rich White People").
A report from the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), finds multiple points of concern with Title IX, the 1972 federal law that prohibits gender discrimination in any U.S. education program receiving federal assistance, including instances where college professors have been criticized or investigated for not delivering “trigger warnings” when delivering potentially objectionable material (Associations Now “Study Says Harassment Rules Stifle Campus Speech”).
EdTech and privacy have been a source of concern before. This article looks at one instance with the program GoGuardian, which helps school leaders restrict certain web site (porn, hacking-related sites, and "timewasters" like online games, TV, and movie streaming), but also track and monitor students' browsing and searches, which took a particularly complicated turn when a school official was alerted that a student appeared to be in severe emotional distress (NPR “Software Flags 'Suicidal' Students, Presenting Privacy Dilemma”).
The Center for International Governance Innovation surveyed more than 24,000 individuals in 24 countries to determine opinions of the dark web, finding that 71% of respondents (and 72% of Americans) believe that the “dark net” should be shut down (Wired “Dark Web’s Got a Bad Rep: 7 in 10 People Want It Shut Down, Study Shows”). See also Vocativ.
Genius, a social site that allows users to annotate and add notes to any page or website on the internet, is caught between two categories of users, those that view the web as public and therefore critique from strangers as part of its nature, and those that don’t believe their content should be copied and then critiqued without their permission (Fortune “Genius: Where Does Commentary End and Harassment Begin?”).
Snapchat announced a Chat 2.0 update, pushing a vibrant communications platform where Snapchat Stories now auto-advance, Video Notes that let users record and send 10-second thumbnail-sized GIF-like loop reactions, and Audio Notes that can send short voice snippets (TechCrunch “A Rant About Why Snapchat 2.0 Is No Disappearing Teen Fad”). See also Engadget, Fortune, Gizmodo, and Re/Code.
Video continues to grow, as Instagram announces that user videos can now be up to 60-seconds long, up from the 15-second videos the app used to support (Re/Code “Instagram Videos Are Getting Longer”). See also Geekwire.
A new study from Adobe found that 66% of device owners grew frustrated when content was not synched across devices and 90% of millennials reported switching devices mid-activity, indicating that the push for seamless, personalized experiences across devices will likely only become more important (AdWeek “Study: Customers (Especially Millennials) Hate When You Fail to Deliver Cross-Device Experiences”).
A new Amnesty International report encourages the use of encryption tools as part of international human right obligations to protect the privacy of people’s communications, opinions, access to information, and rights to organize (Electronic Frontier Foundation “Amnesty International: Encryption is a Human Rights Issue”).
Chariot for Women will be a ride-hailing app just for women, addressing some of the unsafe realities for users and providers in the sharing economy (Next City “For-Women-Only Uber Alternative Set to Launch”).
Yet another cultural institution is available in virtual reality – Abbey Road Studios have created a virtual reality tour with Google (Mashable “Step Inside Abbey Road Studios in Virtual Reality”). See also CNET and Engadget.