Read for Later - Messenger Bots, Tenure in Higher Education, and Water Scarcity

Facebook’s F8 developer conference shared new products and tools from the social network, including the integration of bots into its Messenger product, something that got a lot of news coverage. This week’s publishing and media coverage seemed to tip toward trends in video and audio and additional news about teen social media preferences seemed to confirm those trends. There’s also additional info on water scarcity, trends in higher education, and the announcement of the 2016 Knight Cities Challenge winners.

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

IFPI's Global Music Report confirmed that digital music (45% of all purchases in 2015) outsells physical formats worldwide while also warning that a “value gap” is developing as the amount of revenue paid to rights holders, labels and artists declines (Engadget "Digital music now makes more money than physical media worldwide").

Audible is launching a new set of podcast-like content featuring original programs and news that can only be accessed by subscribers, a distinct shift from the generally open podcast environment where anyone can download podcasts to a range of devices (Geekwire "Amazon takes on podcasting with Audible Channels, featuring original audio content").

Video domination continues as Instagram launches a new explore feature for video channels including videos on specific topics and videos the user might like (Mashable "Instagram now has 'featured' video channels, of course").

Vine was already all about video and now its “Watch” feature will allow users to binge watch a user channel, auto-starting video after video to create minutes or even hours of viewing (Mashable "Vine's new 'Watch' feature turns channels into binge-worthy content streams").

Facebook reports that users open Instant Articles 20% more frequently that mobile web articles, share 30% more Instant Articles, and are 70% less likely to abandon an Instant Article immediately “because they’re not stuck waiting for it to load” – all important notes for publishers and content providers experimenting with the Instant Articles platform (The Wall Street Journal "Facebook says users show preference for Instant Articles over mobile web articles").


The Knight Foundation announced 37 winners for its Knight Cities Challenge, addressing urban issues from bicycling and transportation, street signage, and entrepreneurship – and a project from the Lexington Public Library (The Knight Foundation "2016 Knight Cities Challenge winners").

Following a 90-day review, New York City announced a new plan for serving people experiencing homelessness, with an emphasis on streamlining management agencies, better data analysis to drive services, increasing prevention and rehousing initiatives, and improving street outreach and shelter conditions (Next City "NYC announces overhaul of services for homeless").


2015 research from the Child Trends research center reveals that 1 in 14 American children, more than 5 million individuals, have had a parent in prison or jail – causing significant immediate (post-traumatic stress disorder, homelessness) and long-term (career, education, criminal justice, and family) problems (Quartz "One in 14 Americans will grow up with a parent in prison").

A very interesting look at Minecraft, its broad adoption by a generation of young children, and the possible effect it might have on future skills, problem solving, and technology development (The New York Times "The Minecraft generation").

The latest "Taking Stock With Teens" report finds that Snapchat (28%) has risen to become the most important social network for teens followed closely behind by Instagram (27%), as interest in pictures and videos over text-focused media continues to grow (Mashable "Snapchat is now the most popular social network among teens, according to new study").


The Delphi Project at the University of Southern California’s Pullias Center for Higher Education promotes a vision of new models in faculty hiring that improve student success and build support for improving the work lives of non-tenure track faculty, a particular challenge as the shift away from tenured faculty produces many negative consequences including impacts on graduation rates, first-year retention, transfers from two-year to four-year college, and student GPAs (Education Dive "Tenure is disappearing, much to the detriment of higher ed").

A multi-country (Argentina, Brazil, India, Poland, South Africa and the United States) research project explored student behavior and attitudes toward piracy and found that while students use a combination of print and digital learning resources in their classes, only a fifth of them report acquiring their resources legally, downloading files unaware of how the materials were legally obtained (Campus Technology "Only 1 in 5 Students Obtain All Learning Materials Legally”).

The Environment

Driven by global warming, increasing meat consumption, and a growing population, water scarcity is becoming a major concern for world leaders and a growing cause for regional destabilization (Reveal "We’re running out of water, and the world’s powers are very worried").

The Internet

At its F8 developer conference Facebook announced new tools for building bots inside Facebook Messenger, hoping to make the messaging app a primary channel for commerce and customer support for businesses and information sharing for publishers and content providers (The Verge "Facebook launches a bot platform for Messenger"). See also The Daily DotEngadgetGeekwireGizmodoMashableMIT Technology ReviewReCodeTechCrunch, and TechCrunch.

The announcement focused a lot of attention on the potential for bots to change brand communication (The Verge "There will be a bot for everything"), consumerism (Motherboard "Facebook Messenger is the new Facebook"), and customer service (Digiday "Fashion brands embrace bots as modern concierges").

Bots could also change our relationship to mobile apps, allowing users to interact with service providers in a single platform instead of through individual, dedicated apps (Ars Technica "Facebook’s bots are already revolting" and Engadget “Facebook's Messenger bots are a compelling alternative to apps").

There are also implications for publishers and content providers (Digiday "Publishers rush to get their bots on Facebook Messenger", Motherboard "Facebook Still Controls the Future of Online Media", and Nieman Lab "Here are the important announcements for publishers at Facebook’s F8 keynote").

And quite a bit of commentary on the messy side of bots (Motherboard "Why the first wave of chat bots are a bit of a mess" and Gizmodo "Facebook chatbots are frustrating and useless").

Facebook lined up several big-name partners (Bank of America, Burger King, CNN, and The Wall Street Journal) to make the launch immediately available to users (Engadget "Facebook is poised to take the chatbot world by storm"). Engadget also produced a list of Facebook Messenger bots as of April 13th.

Spaces, Retail, and Restaurants

The Fillery, a proposed grocery store in Brooklyn, would have customers bring their own containers into which different products could be dispensed and weighed and priced at the counter, eliminating the waste of pre-set packaging (PSFK "Bring your own container to this future grocery store").

More people (32 million in 2014, according to Nielsen) are traveling greater distances (average of 903 miles) to attend a growing number of music festivals, which, while hosting very similar artist lineups, provide a counter-trend to the cold sameness of music streaming (Quartz "Why the sweaty, crowded summer festival became the last sacred space in music").