Read for Later - Connected Toys, K-pop Masculinity, and a Kickstarter Economy

This week brought out some of my favorite topics. An interesting piece on interactive and web-connected toys. A string of articles on hotels (Marriott), retailers (Sephora), and grocery stores that shows how relationships with customers are changing. A look at how our traditional notions of masculinity might be upended – in this case, by the growing popularity of K-pop bands. A shout-out to Phoenix, where new efforts to increase tree shade likely won’t have materialized by the time I head there in a few weeks. And, once again, a lot of news about content distribution – Amazon, CBS, Twitter – indicating more options to view but perhaps more isolated channels for access.

Another reminder: The Center for the Future of Libraries is happy to be working with San Jose State University’s School of Information and The Learning Revolution on this year’s Library 2.016 Mini-Conferences, including the October 6th  Library 2.016: Libraries of the Future. A call for proposals and free registration are now available.    

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, Media, and Publishing

NBC will share part of its exclusive Olympics coverage with Facebook, publishing up to 20 Olympics highlights per day on Facebook and Instagram, a two-minute daily recap show exclusive to Facebook, and use of Facebook’s livestreaming feature to create videos with athletes and NBC’s on-air talent – but it will not share live game or event footage on Facebook or any other partner platform, saving that for ad-sponsored television coverage (ReCode “You’ll be able to watch Olympics highlights on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter”). 

Amazon will double the amount it spends on video content during the second half of 2016 compared to the same period last year, nearly tripling the number of new Amazon original TV shows and movies compared to last year (GeekWire “Amazon will double spending on video content for second half of 2016 in battle with Netflix”). 

CBS is making headway with its standalone streaming service, with a million subscribers to its CBS All Access, which offers a mix of live and on-demand programming, and another million subscribers using its Showtime service (Vocativ “CBS’s Great Streaming Experiment Is Working”).  See also Engadget

Apple’s music streaming service, Apple Music, has ordered 16 episodes of Carpool Karaoke, an expanded version of the popular segment from The Late Late Show with James Corden (CNET “Apple Music orders up 16 episodes of 'Carpool Karaoke' series”).  See also The Daily Dot, Engadget, Gizmodo, Mashable, ReCode, TechCrunch, The Verge, and Vocativ .

Twitter has reached agreements with Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League for once-per-week live streams of out-of-market games, subject to local TV blackout restrictions (Variety "Twitter to live-stream MLB, NHL games for free in latest sports plays"). See also Consumerist and TechCrunch.  

And add to that sports line-up e-sports, as Twitter will also live-stream the ELeague semifinals and championship, featuring pro video gamers competing in front of live audiences (CNET "Twitter to live-stream e-sports league championship").  

After talk about an e-sports bar last week, a closer look at the emerging spectator sport with a global viewership of over 220 million, increasing coverage on traditional outlets like ESPN, and potential value of up to $1 billion by 2018 (Real Life "Jocks Without Borders").

The Washington Post and BuzzFeed News experimented with bots for their coverage of this summer’s political conventions – The Washington Post partnered with Twitter and Double Robotics for a roaming tablet on wheels that distributed Periscope streams and interacted with attendees and BuzzFeed’s BuzzBot used Facebook Messenger to integrate attendees’ photos, reactions to speeches, and opinions (MediaShift “Meet the Bots Reporting on the Republican and Democratic Conventions”). 

A growing global market for ebooks, the legitimacy of indie authorship and self-publishing, and the continuing influence of Amazon are among several self-publishing trends to watch (Publisher's Weekly "10 Self-Publishing Trends to Watch"). 

Cities and Government

A shout-out to my home city. A plan in Phoenix would have 25% of the city covered by tree canopy by 2030, part of a push for downtown development, more walkable neighborhoods, business growth, and general aesthetics (The Los Angeles Times "In Phoenix, an ambitious plan aims to cover 25% of the metropolis with tree shade").

Estonia, one of the smallest countries in Europe, is making a push for e-residents, a category of digital affiliation that gives citizens of any nation the opportunity to set up Estonian bank accounts and businesses using a verified digital signature and operated remotely and online, an outgrowth of the country’s digitization of government services that helped save money on the staffing of government offices (MIT Technology Review "This tiny country thinks virtual citizens will make it rich").  


Pew Research Center shared some interesting findings about American’s perceptions of biomedical technologies like gene editing, brain chip implants and synthetic blood – the majority of US adults would be “very” or “somewhat” worried about gene editing (68%), brain chips (69%) and synthetic blood (63%) and majorities of Americans believe these enhancements would exacerbate the divide between haves and have-nots (Pew Research center "U.S. public wary of biomedical technologies to ‘enhance’ human abilities")

A deep dive into K-pop and the way that the musical genre’s male stars broadcast a new form of masculinity by wearing makeup, sporting longer hair, and foregoing traditionally masculine fashion silhouettes for scoop-necked tees and long, flowy sweaters (The Daily Dot "How male K-Pop idols are redefining masculinity"). 


The British government will work with Amazon to test drones for parcel delivery, part of an Amazon-funded initiative to determine options for regular drone delivery that are safe and respectful of citizens’ privacy (BBC “New trials for delivering goods by drones”). See also CNET, Consumerist, Engadget, New Scientist, ReCode, TechCrunch, and The Verge.

The Economy

Ethan Mollick, an assistant professor of management at the Wharton School of Business, surveyed 61,654 successful Kickstarter projects, finding that, in the six years studied, Kickstarter has helped employ 283,000 part-time collaborators and has created an estimated 8,800 companies and nonprofits and 29,600 full-time jobs; that every dollar pledged to a successfully-funded project garnered $2.46 in additional revenue for the creator; and that 37% of respondents said their Kickstarter projects helped advance their careers and 19% reported that they found a new job opportunity after launching (Mashable “The Kickstarter economy: 29,600 full-time jobs, $5.3 billion in activity”).  

Amazon announced that it will now help successful Kickstarter products reach more customers through a dedicated section on Amazon’s website, an expansion of its Launchpad platform (TechCrunch “Amazon debuts a dedicated shop for Kickstarter products”). See also Engadget and Mashable


Even as universities and colleges continue to build new facilities in the hopes of attracting future generations of students, they collectively face a shortfall of $30 billion for what is referred to as deferred maintenance or “deferred renewal” to deteriorating buildings and other infrastructure – all of which could further complicate attempts to make college more affordable (The Hechinger Report “Long-neglected maintenance threatens to further escalate the cost of college”). See also The Atlantic.

Babson Survey Research Group’s  "Opening the Textbook: Educational Resources in U.S. Higher Education, 2015-16" shares results from a survey of more than 3,000 full-time and part-time professors, finding that only 6.6% of them are "very aware" of free or openly licensed educational resources, including textbooks and other teaching materials, and that many professors have been deterred from adopting open resources because there were not enough resources in their subject areas, it was too hard to find what they needed, or there was no comprehensive catalog of resources (The Chronicle of Higher Education "More professors know about free textbook options, but adoption remains low").  

22 million students receive free or reduced-price lunch in U.S. public schools (all but 3.9 million of them lose access to those meals over the summer) – as if those numbers weren’t cause enough for concern, consider that high school graduates lose access to school cafeterias when they trade in their high school textbooks for college ones, making food insecurity an increasing concern on college campuses across the country (Education Dive "Measuring the Impact: Food insecurity hits schools nationwide, stretches into higher ed").  

The Internet

Facebook acknowledged that an algorithm accident may have briefly blocked links to Wikileaks files containing internal Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails, another instance of the platform influencing access to news stories (Gizmodo "Facebook admits it blocked links to Wikileaks DNC emails"). 


A new breed of interactive toys – including Dino, a cloud-connected, Wi-Fi-enabled plastic dinosaur that uses speech recognition technology and IBM’s Watson to “listen” and respond to a child’s words, and Mattel’s Hello Barbie, which also uses speech recognition and uploads voice recordings to the cloud – have raised concerns over children’s privacy and the effectiveness of regulations like the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) to manage a wide and growing range of technological change in today’s toys (MIT Technology Review "Connected Toys Are Raising Complicated New Privacy Questions").  

Instagram will let users decide what’s acceptable or not in their own comment streams, letting users specify terms that are offensive and should be excluded from their comments or even completely turning off comments on selected posts (The Washington Post “Instagram will soon let you filter comments on your own account”). See also ReCode.

Spaces, Retail, and Restaurants

Marriott Hotels is using a Charlotte location as its innovation lab, scattering "beta buttons" and “beta boards” on walls, tables, and iPads to gather guests’ instant feedback to a range of minor changes throughout the hotel experience (Fast Company "Marriott is preparing for Gen Z with an innovation lab hotel").  

A new study from the Harris Poll finds that 31% percent of Americans have ordered groceries online in the past six months, with city-dwellers and parents among those most likely to shop for groceries online – one more example of the tendency to spend less time together in what had previously been common spaces (Vocativ “Online Grocery Shopping Is Going Mainstream”).

Possible tech trends that will influence our home lives - 3d printing of household items and even the house itself; virtual and augmented reality that will allow residents to visualize decor and layout; and an internet of things and voice activated platforms that will simplify our decisions and efficiencies (TechCrunch "Tech trends that will impact your home"). 

Sephora continues to explore new ways for customers to search and explore products, this time with two new web features—"swipe it, shop it," which uses Tinder's popular design to show a series of looks that can be swiped left (not interested) or right (interested), and "beauty uncomplicator," a three-step questionnaire that helps shoppers whittle through thousands of makeup and beauty options to find what they're looking for (AdWeek "Sephora is driving mobile sales with Tinder-like features and digital Mad Libs"). 

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

Facebook has provided the blueprints and software for the Surround 360, the 17-lens stereoscopic camera that facilitates the recording of spherical videos, hoping to encourage others to build a wider market for 360-degree immersive video (Wired “Facebook frees its VR camera to push 360 video everywhere”).  See also Engadget, ReCode, and TechCrunch