This may not go well. As many of us have likely observed, the violence and tragedy that dominated much of this past week’s news cycle intersected with many of the trends that this newsletter has been following – live streaming, citizen journalism, robotics, and the ethical responsibilities of social media platforms. It is impossible to read through the news without thinking of the people whose lives have been lost and those who have been physically and emotionally injured – and so we read through this with an eye towards how our world is changing, but also with a sense of how we can work to bring people together in the present.
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
Dallas police used a “bomb robot” to kill one of the snipers that killed five officers, an unprecedented act in the history of American policing that raised concerns about due process and the use of remotely triggered (not autonomous) lethal force by law enforcement (Motherboard "Using a bomb robot to kill a suspect is an unprecedented shift in policing"). See also CNN, Gizmodo, Mashable and again, Motherboard (again), NBC News, The New York Times, Slate, The Verge and again, Vocativ and again, Wired
Starship Technologies will use self-driving robots to deliver food, groceries, and packages in several European cities – the robots use nine cameras, two-way audio, obstacle detection, and an alarm that sounds if someone interferes with them, to deliver within a two- to three-mile radius (Vocativ "Self-Driving Robots Are About To Start Delivering Lunch"). See also Consumerist, Mashable, and The Verge
Books, Media, and Publishing
The Pew Research Center’s and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s report on the modern news consumer finds that clear majorities of Twitter (63%) and Facebook users (63%) now say each platform serves as a source for news about events and issues, but just 4% of web-using adults trust the information they get there a lot, and only 30% trust it some (Pew Research Center "Key findings on the traits and habits of the modern news consumer" and "The Evolving Role of News on Twitter and Facebook"). See also Columbia Journalism Review, Mashable, Nieman Lab, and ReCode.
Twitter quietly launched its sports live-streaming tool with coverage of day nine of the Wimbledon tennis tournament – the layout provided a view of the video coverage with a Twitter timeline to the right on desktop devices and the bottom on mobile devices (TechCrunch "Twitter started its live coverage of Wimbledon today"). See also The Daily Dot, Geekwire, Mashable, ReCode and again, and Vanity Fair.
Another surprise launch on Twitter – the much-anticipated Season 2 premiere of Mr. Robot appeared on the show's official Twitter account Sunday evening – the first time an entire episode of a popular television show has been premiered exclusively on the platform (Mashable “Mr. Robot Season 2 premieres on Twitter”).
The lag from first broadcast to streaming may begin to shorten as Netflix reached a new deal with the CW to be the exclusive streaming service for past seasons of the network's shows and, with the 2016-2017 season, to provide the full season of new shows only eight days after the season finale airs (The Verge "Netflix signs deal to exclusively stream CW shows eight days after season finale"). See also The Daily Dot and Engadget.
The mobile app for the Republican National Convention will support both live streaming and 360-degree video (The Verge "Republican National Convention app includes live streaming and 360-degree video").
Ten states, including Arkansas, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wyoming, have filed a joint lawsuit challenging the federal government's policy mandating that transgender students be given equal access to restrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their gender, arguing that the Department of Education and the Department of Justice have included “gender identity” in the place of the term “sex” in Title IIV and Title IX (The Daily Dot "10 states sue to keep trans students out of gender-identifying bathrooms").
Even as the economy improves and with growing number of women of child-bearing age, the United States continues to experience a declining birth rate – the number of households with their own children in 2014 was 33 million, down from 35 million in 2005 (New Geography "The meaning of the baby bust").
Some colleges and universities are collecting information about students’ accessing of online course materials like readings, syllabi, and online forums, to help predict academic success, stage interventions, and push for higher graduation rates – raising ethical questions about whether this data collection invades students’ privacy (Business Insider "Colleges can now figure out which students will be successful — even before classes start").
As the nation mourns a week of violence and loss – in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Texas – many have noted the changing role of social media as a tool for communities that can no longer appeal to authorities and must instead share their realities directly with the public. Diamond Reynolds, the girlfriend of Philando Castile, documented the aftermath of her boyfriend’s shooting on Facebook Live, reminding us that, with no other authorities to call, the victims of police shootings use social media as a real-time call for help – “an outlet for outrage, fear, and mourning” (Wired "For Philando Castile, social media was the only 911"). See also Ars Technica, CityLab, CNET, The Daily Dot, Engadget, Fusion, Gawker, ReCode, The Verge, Vocativ, and Wired (again).
Reynolds’ use of Facebook Live reflected a growing trend toward citizen journalism, where citizens and those directly affected by news events leverage digital technologies, mobile devices, and social publishing platforms to quickly disseminate breaking news (Columbia Journalism Review "Philando Castile, Facebook Live, and a new chapter for citizen journalism"). See also Mashable and Poynter.
The responsibility of these social publishing platforms to their users was also tested as Facebook clarified that the video of Philando Castile’s death was temporarily unavailable due to a technical glitch that was Facebook’s fault, contradicting early theories that the video’s disappearance was a result of Facebook’s decision on whether it should stay up, a high volume of reports of it containing violent content, a deletion by police who’d taken possession of Reynolds’ phone and Facebook account, or a request from police to remove it (TechCrunch "Facebook explains censorship policy for Live video"). See also Mashable, Motherboard, ReCode.
Deray McKesson, a prominent voice in the Black Lives Matter movement, was one of more than 200 people arrested while marching down the side of a road in Baton Rouge – McKesson was taken into custody while filming and broadcasting the protest on Periscope (TechCrunch "Black Lives Matter activist Deray McKesson arrested while Periscoping"). See also CNET, The Daily Dot, ReCode, and The Verge.
A recent comScore report shows that Snapchat is experiencing a rise in adult users – 38% of 25- 34 year-old smartphone users (up from 5%) and 14% of smartphone users over age 35 (up from 2%) now use the service – even as it continues to see popularity in the 18-24 year-old demographic, where usage has risen from 24% to 69% (Forbes "Snapchat Use Rises Among Adults (To The Chagrin Of Teens)"). See also CNET, Geekwire, Mashable, The Verge, The Wall Street Journal.
Snapchat Memories allows users to save snaps within the app for posterity, upending the ephemeral nature that was central to the app while providing a more practical option for those interested in saving snaps versus saving them to a phone that might be lost or that backs up to another service’s cloud storage (Wired “Snapchat saves your snaps now because hey, memories can be nice”). See also CNET, Consumerist, The Daily Dot, Digiday and again, Gizmodo, Mashable and again, ReCode, The Verge, and Vocativ.
A class-action lawsuit brought against Snapchat argues that a 14-year-old was easily able to access adult-themed content on “Snapchat Discover,” the section of the app featuring content from various media companies, due to inadequate warnings provided by the mobile app as required under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, though provisions in that Act have provided protections for other websites and services to operate without fear of being sued for libel or violating other laws (Ars Technica "Mom alerted to adult content on her teenage son’s Snapchat, so she sues"). See also CNET, Consumerist, Engadget, Geekwire, Mashable, and The Verge.
The Prince Online Museum provides a comprehensive look at the artist’s use of the internet to promote his music, including 17 working versions of his websites (Vocativ "Visit The Free Online Museum Devoted To Prince Websites"). See also CNET, Engadget, Mashable, and The Verge.
3D printing has been made more accessible through the affordability of machines, but the hurdle of 3D modeling software may be limiting the technology’s use for everyday manufacturing and prototyping (TechCrunch "Whatever happened to 3D printing?").
The Bay Area Discovery Museum (BADM) launched an early childhood “fab lab” for children as young as three, promoting hands-on STEM learning and creativity into children’s early encounters with technology (The Hechinger Report "Five-year olds and laser cutters—perfect together? Welcome to the first early childhood fab lab").
Facebook’s “secret conversations” feature, an opt-in option for end-to-end encryption within its Messenger product, will be available to a small percentage of users for testing before all users have access later in the Summer or early Fall (Wired "‘Secret Conversations:’ End-to-end encryption comes to Facebook Messenger"). See also CNET, Consumerist, Engadget, Gizmodo, Mashable, Motherboard, The New York Times, and The Verge.
Ride-sharing app Uber leveraged its reach to encourage a moment of reflection on gun violence in the wake of last week’s events in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Texas – pausing the app for one minute at midnight, replacing some of the car tracking icons with peace signs, and showing a "minute to reflect on gun violence” in the place of the normal countdown for pick-up wait time (The Verge "Uber asks riders to 'reflect on gun violence' as it pauses app for one minute"). See also The Daily Dot, Gizmodo, and ReCode.
Spaces, Retail, and Restaurants
As part of the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s Reformation and to reinforce the idea of churches as gathering places for communication, all churches in the former East Germany will offer free Wi-Fi to guests (Gizmodo "Churches offer free Wi-Fi to lure back young people").
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
Pokémon Go uses augmented reality to encourage players to explore their surroundings and find Pokémon creatures to catch, train, and battle against other Pokémon (The Daily Dot "Pokémon Go: A beginner's guide for getting started" and "8 ways Pokémon Go has already gotten way too real").
A look ahead to how 360-degree cameras will become an important everyday technology for sharing images and experiences with friends and family (Fast Company "Why you’re going to want a 360 camera").