This week’s headline quotes Cindy Ball, Oculus' education program manager, from a statement announcing a new program that will place 100 Oculus Rift headsets and VR-ready PC systems in 90 libraries throughout California.
If you are attending the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago, please consider joining us for four sessions that help explore what’s coming for the future of learning spaces, search, innovation, and data privacy.
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're reading this week to help prepare for the future.
Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines
Mashable "Lyft announces a brand new partnership to bring its first self-driving cars to Boston"
Lyft will partner with startup nuTonomy to put self-driving cars on the streets of Boston. See also CNET and Consumerist.
Books and Publishing
The New York Times "New York Today: A city library, on the subway"
The New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library, Queens Library, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and Transit Wireless will offer commuters six weeks of free downloadable books from the city’s public libraries through SubwayLibrary.com.
The New York Times "Audible creates $5 million fund for emerging playwrights"
Audible will create a $5 million fund to commission new one- and two-person works from emerging playwrights to be produced and made available through the audiobook platform.
TechCrunch "Epic! raises $8 million to keep kids reading in a digital age"
Epic!, an on-demand digital library that includes 25,000 different books and videos appropriate for kids in elementary school, has raised $8 million in new funding as it seeks to expand its role in schools where, according to the company, 87% of K-5 schools in the U.S. use Epic! for reading time in English language arts and other classes.
Cities and Government
TechCrunch "Facebook inserts itself into politics with new tools that help elected officials reach constituents"
Facebook introduced three new tools to help elected officials connect with their constituents – Constituent Badges that allow Facebook users to identify themselves as a person living in the district the elected official represents, making it easier for elected officials to determine which Facebook comments, questions, and concerns are being shared by those they actually represent; Constituent Insights help elected officials learn which local news stories and content are popular in their district; and District Targeting helps elected officials gather feedback from their constituents through Facebook directly, using either posts or polls that are targeted only towards those who actually live in their particular district. See also Mashable and The Verge.
The Dallas Morning News "Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Cook to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott: Don't pass discriminatory laws"
CEOs from 14 technology companies, including Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon, sent a letter to Texas Governor Greg Abbott urging him not to pass discriminatory legislation targeting the transgender community. See also Engadget and The Verge.
The New York Times "The Silicon Valley billionaires remaking America’s schools"
A look at technology leaders’ investments in education, reshaping the very nature of schooling by influencing the subjects that schools teach, the classroom tools that teachers choose, and the roles of students, teachers, and parents as beta testers for their ideas. See also Quartz.
Edutopia "When your school is a museum"
The Grand Rapids Public Museum School houses 120 students in sixth and seventh grades, allows educators to regularly incorporate the museum’s collections into curriculum, and focuses student learning on real-world problem solving in the community – the Museum School is one of Grand Rapids’ 15 “theme” and partnership schools, which include a school in a zoo and one in a nature center.
Bloomberg "Why aren’t American teenagers working anymore?"
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, teens are likeliest to be working in July, with 43% of 16- to 19-year-olds either working or looking for a job in July of 2016, but that is 10 points lower than in July 2006 and significantly lower than in 1988 and 1989 when the July labor force participation rate for teenagers hit nearly 70% - among the theories for declining participation in summer jobs, an increasing focus on education as school districts lengthen both the school day and the academic year, academic loads increase, and more demanding courses require additional study time. See also The Atlantic and Consumerist.
The Los Angeles Times "Trump quits the Paris climate accord, denouncing it as a violation of U.S. sovereignty"
U.S. President Donald Trump announced the U.S.’s withdrawal from the Paris accord on global warming, stating that the climate agreement would “undermine our economy, hamstring our workers, weaken our sovereignty … and put us at a permanent disadvantage to the other countries of the world” – under the terms of the agreement, the withdrawal will not fully take effect for almost four years. See also Ars Technica, The Daily Dot, Engadget, The Huffington Post, and The Verge.
Wired "Bailing on the Paris Agreement leaves no cure for climate change"
While individual cities and states, coalitions like C40 and R20, and businesses align to uphold the efforts of the Paris climate agreement, there is concern that these efforts will not help solve climate change, but might only insulate select groups from its effects. For cities’ and states’ responses, see also Engadget, The Huffington Post, Mashable, and Wired; for businesses’ responses, see also CNET and again, Consumerist, The Daily Dot, Gizmodo, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, Mashable, The New York Times, ReCode and again and again, Variety, The Verge and again, and Wired.
BBC "London terror: Theresa May calls to regulate web further"
Following recent terror attacks in London, Prime Minister Theresa May called for new international agreements to regulate the internet and “deprive the extremists of their safe spaces online.” See also Independent, Mashable, Motherboard, New Scientist, The Verge, and Wired.
Gizmodo "Tech companies and activists set date for Net Neutrality 'Day of Action'"
Fight for the Future is setting July 12th as a day of action for net neutrality, recruiting Amazon, Reddit, Vimeo, GitHub, Kickstarter, and Etsy to help focus attention on the issue. See also Ars Technica, CNET, Engadget, and Motherboard.
Wired "The end of Net Neutrality could shackle the Internet of Things"
A look at how current net neutrality provisions ensure users’ rights to connect to the internet using any device they choose – and how changes to those net neutrality rules could limit the potential for the Internet of Things, as providers could create fast and slow lanes for particular devices and services.
The New York Times "The secret social media lives of teenagers"
An always helpful look at how teens use social media, this time focusing on the growing use of real accounts (for wider audiences) and friends-only accounts (for use by the closest of social circles) and the sometimes-false sense of confidence that these friends-only accounts create and allow teens to say and do things they might not want a wider audience to see.
The New York Times "The internet is where we share — and steal — the best ideas"
An illustrative look at how the internet allows users to intentionally or accidentally contribute to the creation of culture and how that content, when it goes viral, illustrates the growing schism between those driving cultural conversations online and those profiting from them.
Journalism and News
Advertising Age "WaPo is testing audio articles with Amazon tech"
The Washington Post will use Amazon Polly, a technology that reads words and synthesizes speech, to provide audio versions of four articles daily across business, lifestyle, technology, and entertainment.
The Huffington Post "The New York Times is eliminating the Public Editor role"
The New York Times will eliminate the position of public editor, an accountability role the paper created in 2003, as that position’s role “has outgrown that one office… [as] followers on social media and readers across the internet have come together to collectively serve as a modern watchdog” – new reader-focused efforts, including a “Reader Center,” are planned to help increase accountability. See also Mic, Nieman Lab, Poynter and again, and The Verge.
Restaurants, Retail, and Spaces
Quartz "Walmart is turning its employees into delivery drivers to compete with Amazon"
Walmart will pilot a program to shave costs out of the “last mile” of distribution by giving store employees the option to deliver packages on their way home after work in exchange for extra pay. See also CNET, Consumerist, Engadget, and TechCrunch.
TechCrunch "Bumble is opening a physical space in New York for dates to meet up"
Bumble, the female-led dating app, will open a pop-up location in New York City as a space for dates as well as a community gathering place for Bumble users – there will also be a series of events focused on relationships, female entrepreneurship, and more. See also PSFK.
Engadget "Walmart takes on Amazon's grocery pickups with automated kiosks"
Walmart is testing a kiosk in Oklahoma City that allows customers to pick up online grocery orders at any time – a pickup code prompts the system to automatically fetch the order from bins inside. See also The Verge.
Consumerist "Amazon offers discounted monthly Prime membership for some low income customers"
Amazon will reduce the monthly Prime membership cost from $10.99/month to $5.99/month for customers who have an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, offering the membership's full benefits including free two-day or two-hour shipping and access to video, music, photo storage, and select free e-books. See also CNET, The Drum, Engadget, GeekWire, Mashable, NextCity, NPR, ReCode, TechCrunch, and The Verge.
The Sharing Economy
The New York Times "Airbnb hosts more likely to reject the disabled, a study finds"
A Rutgers University study based on more than 3,800 Airbnb lodging requests sent by the researchers finds that travelers with disabilities are more likely to be rejected and less likely to receive preapproval, or temporary clearance, for a potential stay – hosts granted preapproval to 75% of travelers who made no mention of a disability, but that rate fell to 61% for those who said they had dwarfism, 50% for those with blindness, 43% for those with cerebral palsy, and just 25% for those with spinal cord injuries – raising concerns that physical inaccessibility could exclude users with disabilities even as services like Airbnb expand access to services over all.
TechCrunch "Taylor Swift embraces streaming, brings full catalog to Spotify and more"
After removing her catalog from most streaming services in 2014, Taylor Swift has made her full back-catalog available on all streaming services – new licensing deals between record labels and streaming services have made it easier for artists to withhold new releases for a defined period. See also CNET, Engadget, Inc., Mashable, and ReCode.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
Mashable "Oculus installing free VR systems in nearly 100 California libraries"
Oculus will place 100 Oculus Rift headsets and VR-ready PC systems in 90 libraries throughout the state, hoping to expose more users to the potential benefits of virtual reality – the sets will come pre-loaded with educational VR titles including Google Earth VR, The Body VR, Apollo 11, Mars Odyssey, and Through the Ages, as well as various nature and gaming VR titles. See also Engadget.
The Drum "Google launches the Grand Tour of Italy as part of arts and culture platform"
Google has partnered with Italian cultural institutions to create the Grand Tour of Italy, a virtual reality experience featuring high-resolution images of artworks housed in partner museums and 360-degree tours of some of Italy's most iconic landmarks.
The Verge "Walmart is training employees with a Black Friday VR simulator"
Walmart’s “Walmart Academy” training centers will incorporate virtual reality to help employees enter different real-world scenarios during which they’ll be asked to make simple choices based on what they see.
The Verge "Breaking down Apple’s new augmented reality platform"
Apple’s ARKit will help app makers draw on detailed camera and sensor data to map digital objects into 3D space, identifying points in an environment, tracking them as the phone is moved, and pinning objects to one point so that scale and perspective can change realistically. See also CNET, Gizmodo, Mashable, and TechCrunch.
Wired "Apple’s HomePod puts Siri in a speaker"
Apple’s new HomePod speaker integrates voice assistant Siri into a high-quality speaker for the home – while the early promotion emphasizes the device as a tool for music, Apple is working on optimizing Siri to be an in-home assistant, offering things like podcasts, messages, weather, traffic, sports, and alarms. See also Ars Technica, CNET and again, The Daily Dot, Engadget, Fast Company, The Huffington Post, Mashable, Motherboard, PSFK, TechCrunch and again, and The Verge and again.