Read for Later - NerdCon, 3D Coloring Books, and Disappearing Digital Content

This week’s news scan featured a lot about Amazon's Etsy competitor, Handmade at Amazon, Disney's 3D coloring book research, and Google and Mattel's VR View-Master. I think we can officially report that the holiday gift-giving season is upon us - and it's not even November. More interesting, to me at least, articles exploring the dangers of disappearing digital content and two new education initiatives that will likely advance connected learning

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.

Assorted Interests

  • Hank Green’s two-day NerdCon: Stories debuts in Minneapolis, centered not around specific brands or genres of entertainment, but around storytelling
  • A Disney Research team has developed technology that projects coloring book characters in 3D while you're still working on coloring them
  • Coverage everywhere, including MotherBoard and The Verge
  • University of Connecticut’s Daily Campus reported that “the number of packages received by the university for residential students has been increasing drastically in recent years, in large part due to the rise in online purchases…As a result, there is a growing need to find long-term solutions beyond hiring more staff”
  • Amazon debuts Handmade at Amazon, a direct competitor to craft site Etsy, that Amazon describes as selling only hand-made or factory-free items  
  • Part of Amazon’s growing collection of services, including access to service providers through Amazon Home Services, on-demand delivery through Amazon Flex, and a possible live online TV service
  • Covered everywhere, including GeekwireGizmodoGrist, MotherBoard, The New York TimesTechCrunchThe Verge, and Wired
  • By storing information that records all transactions ever done through the network and  allowing both the existence of assets to be traded and the ownership to be validated, blockchain technology could have potential use in financial markets for trading shares, art copyright and trading, and even personal identification
  • Backlash against open offices may give rise to intermediary solutions, like designer Dymitr Malcew’s Treehouse office pods that offer a smaller, more private working space for employees in open office or co-working environments, and can double up to form impromptu meeting spaces
  • Using deep web analysis, Vocativ analyzed more than 5,225 Twitter and Instagram posts that used the hashtag #comingout or other #nationalcomingoutday variations to find that family response remains a common concern, but coming out online allows many people to find like-minded people
  • McDonald’s, in increasingly stiff competition against “fast casual” chains, hopes to boost its position by promoting healthful approaches to food (removing human antibiotics from its chicken supply, shifting to cage-free eggs, and using milk from cows that are not treated with artificial growth hormones), artisanal selections (a new chicken burger), and customizable menu options
  • Fast Casual leaders like Starbucks have focused on incorporating consumer tech into marketing strategy - wi-fi in stores, app store “pick of the Week” promotions, mobile apps, and the new Mobile Order & Pay 


  • Eight of the ten cities leading in domestic migration are in the South and most lure new residents with strong job growth and affordable housing prices that are less than half those in coastal California, New York, and parts of New England
  • Tech industry may change Seattle in ways similar to its effect in San Francisco, including rising housing costs and the loss of artists, teachers, and counterculture
  • Cities like Portland, Ore., Boulder, Colo., and Austin, Texas may also contend with a changing economy brought on by tech growth

Digital Content

  • Two key differences between buying media in a physical format versus a digital one - first, maintaining long-term access to a file requires a hard copy of it (downloading, not just streaming), software, and specific devices; second is the distinction in law that has shaped digital rights - a limited right to do things on a limited number of devices without the right to resell or give it away
  • Technology and viewing habits (weekly, time-shifted, or binged) have changed viewers’ expectations, pushing television series developed for week-to-week viewing to carefully mange the mystery of their plot and allowing bingeable shows to accommodate dense plotting while discouraging the guessing-game aspect of weekly TV viewing
  • Tribeca Shortlist is a new subscription video on-demand service launched by Lionsgate and Tribeca Enterprises that will feature films collected and curated by contributors, not algorithms
  • Users can’t stop digital product from disappearing and as updates to operating systems become more common, many apps may be de-listed by their publishers, no longer appearing in users’ purchase histories and prohibiting users from downloading them again, even if they’ve already been paid for
  • LibriVox, a community site dedicated to creating free audiobooks for public domain texts, leverages volunteer readers (anyone from professional stage actors to people practicing English as a second language) to read through texts and post them for free.


  • A diverse coalition of labor representatives, charter school proponents, district representative, and business leaders has launched Education Reimagined, naming five core elements crucial to transforming education: Competency-based; Personalized, Relevant, Contextualized; Learner Agency; Socially-Embedded; Open-Walled
  • The MacArthur Foundation and a large coalition of partners announced LRNG, which hopes to use badges to track all forms of student achievement, wherever it happens, and create an ecosystem that prepares kids for tangible career paths within their interest areas

Internet of Things and Wearables

  • Wearables right now are on the fringe of a few areas that could impact the way we interact with computers on our bodies - authentication, voice interaction, and medical diagnostics

Virtual and Augmented Reality

  • Facebook’s interest in Virtual Reality focuses on an immersive experience while their pursuit of Augmented Reality will enhance experiences with data and overlays to do more with the world around them
  • This fall will see the new $99 Gear VR and the new View-Master, a $29.99 VR headset compliant with Google Cardboard’s standards and created by toy-maker Mattel that harkens back to the miniature slide projectors from many of our childhoods
  • Also covered in Gizmodo