One of the big stories this week – accusations that Facebook manipulated its trending stories section to exclude conservative news – has fascinating implications for the information work we all do every day. One of the smaller stories – two friends who surveyed a coffee shop full of individuals working on their computers – has some fascinating implications for the community work that we all do every day. It was one of those weeks that helped me think about the inspiration we can take from lots of things happening in our 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.
Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines
A very interesting look at what may be the next direction for artificial intelligence - “affective” or “emotional” systems that recognize, interpret, process, and simulate human feelings (The New Republic “Flirting with humanity”).
Books, Media, and Publishing
Amazon announced a new service designed for “professional video producers,” but open to any users producing high definition and close-captioned videos, that will allow individuals to post videos on its website and earn money from advertising, royalties and other sources, brining it into competition with YouTube (Bloomberg “Amazon targets YouTube with new online video posting service”). See also Business Insider, CNET, Consumerist, Engadget, Fast Company, Fortune, Gizmodo, Re/Code, Reuters, TechCrunch, and The Verge.
Spotify announced a dozen new original video series – it already makes TED Talks and clips from The Daily Show with Trevor Noah available on mobile devices – focused on live performances, artist interviews, and music culture (Engadget “Spotify is making its own video shows”). See also Bloomberg, CNET, The Daily Dot, and The Verge.
YouTube and the National Football League will expanded their partnership to feature more NFL previews, highlights, and recaps as well as three of the most memorable games from each of the 32 NFL teams (Engadget “YouTube will offer classic NFL games as part of a new deal”). See also Re/Code and The Verge.
Google News has implemented a "Local Source" tag to highlight local news reporters’ and sources’ reporting on national stories (Engadget “Google News highlights big stories from local news outlets”). See also Mashable and The Verge.
Cities and Government
National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis, faced with an $11 billion maintenance backlog, proposed possible corporate donations to national parks in exchange for logo placements and naming rights on visitor centers or educational and youth programs (Grist “Coming soon to a national park near you: Corporate sponsors”).
A group of Google developers have proposed a new set of Unicode emoji that would show both men and women in very well-known industries, ranging from tech to farming to rock stars (Engadget “Google wants emoji that give working women their due”). See also CNET, Mashable, Motherboard, Vocativ, and The Verge.
The Pew Research Center’s analysis of government data finds that the share of adults living in middle-income households fell in 203 of the 229 US metropolitan from 2000 to 2014 (Pew Research Center “America’s shrinking middle class: A close look at changes within metropolitan areas”).
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report that cyber-bullying affects 7 - 15% of young people, with even higher frequencies among LGBT youth and those with disabilities (The Daily Dot “Cyberbullying declared a serious public health problem”).
The Obama administration directed public schools and most colleges and universities that receive federal funds to provide transgender students with access to suitable facilities — including bathrooms and locker rooms — that match their chosen gender identity (Washington Post “Obama administration directs schools to accommodate transgender students”). See also The Daily Dot, NPR, and Vocativ.
The unemployment rate among young high school graduates is 17.8% – and jumps to 33% when underemployed individuals who can only find part-time work or have given up on searching for work – leading many economists, employers, and educators to advocate for improving job prospects for people without college degrees (The New York Times “It’s a tough job market for the young without college degrees”).
Materiable, from MIT's Tangible Media Group, is a shape-changing interface that lets you see and touch physical simulations, using motor-driven blocks that respond to touch and give haptic feedback in return (Engadget “Shape-shifting interface lets you touch computer simulations”). See also CNET.
One of the big stories of the week – reports that Facebook suppressed conservative news stories (about the right-wing CPAC gathering, Mitt Romney, Rand Paul) in the platform’s “trending” topics section even though they were organically trending among the site’s users (Gizmodo “Former Facebook workers: We routinely suppressed conservative news”). See also CNET, Digiday, Engadget and again, Fusion and again, The Guardian, Gizmodo, Mashable, The New Yorker, Wired and again, and The Verge.
Among other responses, Senator John Thune, chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, has asked Facebook’s Chairman and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, to answer questions about the reports (U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation “Thune seeks answers from Facebook on political manipulation allegations”). See also CNET, The Daily Dot, Engadget, Gizmodo, Re/Code, Slate, TechCrunch, and Vocativ.
Google has changed its advertising policy, banning ads for payday loans and related products (loans where repayment is due within 60 days of the date of issue or with an APR of 36% or higher) and citing research that these loans result in unaffordable payment and high default rates (Fusion “When Google is more powerful than the government”). See also ArsTechnica, Engadget, Mashable, and Vocativ.
A look at the migration from an Information Age, when we shared information and statuses, to an Experience Age, where users share their points-of-view through videos and photos in an exchange for attention (TechCrunch “The Information Age is over; welcome to the Experience Age”).
A new survey 41,000 U.S. households who use the Internet, conducted by the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration, found that nearly one in two Internet users say privacy and security concerns have stopped them from posting to social networks, expressing opinions in forums, buying things from websites, and doing other basic things online (Washington Post “Why a staggering number of Americans have stopped using the Internet the way they used to”).
Spaces, Retail, and Restaurants
The Amazon@Penn retail space lacks shelves, standing inventory, and checkout, but it provides a media center with couches couches, conference tables, and TVs (set to Amazon Prime) and a convenient pickup and drop-off space for students, faculty and university staff, with millions of items available for same- or next-day pickup (CNET “Only Amazon can open a college bookstore with no books”).
Walmart’s Amazon Prime competitor, ShippingPass, will reduce its delivery time from three days to two days (TechCrunch “Walmart begins testing 2-day shipping service to take on Amazon Prime”). See also CNET and Consumerist.
Tipping’s future has been an ongoing conversation in the restaurant world, but Joe’s Crab Shack, one of the early experimenters in eliminating tips, has decided to revert to accepting tips after finding that 60% of customers disliked the change, wanting to inspire good service with their tips and not trusting management to pass on the additional revenue from increased menu prices to its employees (The New York Times “Joe’s Crab Shack tried getting rid of tips. It didn’t last long.”). See also Consumerist and Vocativ.
I have referenced this post twice today. Two friends decided to ask everyone at their local coffee shop what they were doing – and 88% of them said that they had always wondered what everyone else was working on (Life Learning “What are people working on in coffee shops?”).
Oculus announced that over 1 million people have used Gear VR in just the past month, encouraging developers to create more content for the platform (Engadget “Oculus highlights over 1 million Gear VR users with new content”).
Google’s project Tango seeks to digitally 3-D map the interiors of buildings to use in virtual reality (Bloomberg “Google plans to map the interior world in 3-D”). See also Mashable.
Facebook’s feeds will soon include 360-degree photos, viewable by dragging your finger around on a device’s touch screen or tilting a device, by using a computer’s mouse, or with the Oculus 360 Photos app to view in a true 360-degree environment (Fast Company “Facebook will soon be showing 360-degree photos in your stream”). See also Engadget and Mashable.