This week’s head line is excerpted from President Obama’s remarks a few weeks ago regarding fake news and its effects on democracy. It’s a powerful reminder that trends and societal changes force us to consider our values and the values we seek to promote in our communities and proceed with those values in mind.
A little housekeeping. If you are attending the 2017 ALA Midwinter Meeting, please consider joining us for the Symposium on the Future of Libraries. The three days of sessions are included with full registration and will feature plenary sessions with civic, education, and social innovators as well as a growing schedule of concurrent sessions exploring the many futures for academic, public, school, and special libraries.
Also, I owe readers an apology for last week. In my head I thought I had included a note that I would be skipping the US Thanksgiving holiday week, but it seems that I did not. So please accept my apologies for that oversight. If it’s any consolation, I spent last Sunday and Monday learning about the future with some great Michigan librarians. And, yes, a lot of this is to say that it's a long read this week - scan accordingly.
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 if you have a chance, drop me a line to let me know if any of the articles we’ve featured in this newsletter have really grabbed your attention, made you think, or inspired a great conversation at work.
Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines
Google’s DeepMind and the University of Oxford trained an artificial intelligence system using 5,000 hours from six different BBC programs, creating a lip-reading system that was able to annotate 46.8% of all words in a data test compared to 12.4% of words annotated by a professional lip reader. See also The Verge.
Books and Publishing
Eighteen journalism associations provided an open letter to President-elect Donald Trump urging a full press pool, regular press conferences, and a more responsive approach to fulfilling freedom of information act requests. See also Mashable.
A new generation of writers are turning to poetry – fusing writing, music, art, and technology – as a tool to respond to civic concerns, online news, memes, and videos. See also Wired.
The BBC, the UK’s national media organization, has launched an ambitious goal to reach an audience of 500 million people by 2022, expanding the BBC World Service to 11 new languages, creating video content for what will be 40 different languages, and pledging to hire more journalists on the ground in some regions with the aim of creating original content and analysis.
Breitbart News Network will expand its U.S. operations and launch sites in Germany and France, seeking to capitalize on the anger and anti-immigrant sentiment that helped fuel the US presidential elections. See also Digiday and The Verge.
The New York Times announced that it recorded a net increase of 41,000 print and digital subscriptions in the seven-day period following the US presidential election. See also Advertising Age, Nieman Lab, and Poynter.
Cities and Government
There’s a growing focus on the role cities will play in shaping policies during the Trump administration, including a list of major American with lenient policies on illegal immigration that have already pledged to fight Trump on the issue of deportation. See also Brookings, CityLab and again, New York Magazine, NextCity, and Quartz.
Dating app Tinder worked with GLAAD and other transgender rights groups to develop several new features, including an inclusive "gender" field that allows users to select from a long list of common non-binary gender identification terms or simply enter their own, options to display or withhold gender information from profiles, and new instruction language aimed at educating users who may be unfamiliar with transgender issues and encouraging civil, respectful conduct between users. See also The Daily Dot, Engadget, and Gizmodo.
The urbanization of many countries, including the United States, is driven by the flow of young people with college degrees leaving struggling regions for denser metro areas that produce more jobs and make workers more productive, but this leaves certain regions at a disadvantage with fewer young college graduates to spark new growth.
A federal judge in Texas concluded that the U.S. Department of Labor had exceeded its authority and ignored the intent of Congress in issuing a rule that would have extended overtime pay by raising the salary cutoff below which workers would be eligible for overtime pay to about $47,000 from about $23,000 – an order that had moved many employers to make adjustments to salaries and budgets.
A new study from Stanford’s Graduate School of Education evaluated students' ability to assess information sources, finding that many students were not able to effectively evaluate the credibility of information and were often deceived by the appearance of legitimacy (photos, charts, details). See also Engadget, Geekwire, TechCrunch, and The Wall Street Journal.
Oxford Dictionaries' "word of the year" is "post-truth," defined as an adjective "relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief" – first coined in a 1992 essay from The Nation magazine, the term has been increasingly mentioned in light of Brexit and the US presidential election. See also CNET, The Daily Dot, The Guardian, and Quartz.
Some US college admissions officials are worried that Mr. Trump’s election as president could portend a drop in international students, especially as Canadian universities have already detected a postelection surge in interest from overseas.
Turning Point USA, an Illinois-based non-profit whose mission is to educate “students about the importance of fiscal responsibility, free markets, and limited government,” launched Professor Watchlist to “expose and document college professors who discriminate against conservative students, promote anti-American values, and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom” – the site temporarily crashed as social media users flooded its submission form with fake content and circulated the hashtag #trollprofwatchlist. See also The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Oxford University will partner with online learning platform edX for a course titled, "From Poverty to Prosperity: Understanding Economic Development," marking the university’s first free massive open online course (MOOC)
BuzzFeedNews "This analysis shows how fake election news stories outperformed real news on Facebook"
In the final three months of the US presidential campaign, 20 top-performing false election stories from hoax sites and hyperpartisan blogs generated 8,711,000 shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook while the 20 best-performing election stories from 19 major news websites generated a total of 7,367,000 shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook. See also Engadget, Gizmodo, and The Washington Post.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted a message detailing how the company plans to address the fake news issue, outlining seven strategies, including cutting off income for fake news sites, making it easier to report fake news stories when they pop up, and strengthening the criteria for posts that pop up in "related stories." See also Advertising Age, ArsTechnica, CNET, The Daily Dot, Gizmodo, Inc., Mashable, ReCode, Reuters, and The Verge.
At the same time that Facebook’s CEO explores official solutions, it is reported that Facebook employees have formed an unofficial task force to question the role Facebook played in promoting fake news and to eventually make a list of recommendations to Facebook’s senior management. See also CNET, Engadget, Mashable, Gizmodo, and The Verge.
And there are reports that as part of Facebook’s high-level discussions about its role as a news distributor, officials were briefed on a planned News Feed update that would have identified fake or hoax news stories, but that the update was shelved. See also CNET, Engadget, and The Verge.
During a visit to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Barack Obama addressed concerns about fake news– “If everything seems to be the same and no distinctions are made, then we won’t know what to protect. We won’t know what to fight for.” See also CNET, The Daily Dot, Engadget, Mashable, Nieman Lab, ReCode, and The Verge.
Two teams of independent researchers found that Russian-based botnets, teams of paid human “trolls,” and networks of websites and social-media accounts exploited American-made technology platforms to influence US voters and promote fake news, further complicating Facebook’s and Google’s efforts to address this issue. See also Gizmodo and The Verge.
The Project on Computational Propaganda found that Twitter bots accounted for nearly a quarter of all postings from November 1 through November 9 that included hashtags related to the US election and pro-Trump hashtags got five times as much traffic from automated accounts as hashtags that were pro-Hillary Clinton. See also Engadget and The New York Times.
Google took action to ban websites that distribute fake news from using its online advertising service while Facebook updated the language in its Facebook Audience Network policy to include fake news sites among those on which it will not display ads. See also ArsTechnica, The Daily Dot, Gizmodo and again, Mashable, Quartz, Reuters, The Verge and again, Vocativ, and The Wall Street Journal.
AppNexus, a major advertising technology provider, barred Breitbart News from using its ad-serving tools over violations of their hate speech rules – AppNexus is second to Google in the automated ad serving market for publishers. See also BBC.
Three current and former Facebook employees provided information on a confidential tool that would suppress posts from appearing in people’s news feeds in specific geographic areas, a feature reportedly created to help Facebook expand into China, likely with the partnership of a Chinese company that would manage the software and monitor popular stories and topics and decide whether those posts should show up in users’ feeds. See also Advertising Age, CNET, Engadget, Gizmodo, Mashable, TechCrunch, and The Verge.
Data & Society Research Institute’s and the Center for Innovative Public Health Research’s latest report finds that most U.S. internet users have witnessed online harassment and almost half have personally experienced it, with young people, women, and lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) Americans most likely to experience online harassment and more likely to self-censor online postings over concerns about attracting harassment. See also Vocativ.
US President-elect Donald Trump has included Mark Jamison and Jeffrey Eisenach on his transition team to specifically focus on the FCC, indicating that some of the Commission’s recent efforts will likely be rolled back in favor of minimizing government intervention and maximizing freedom for businesses to choose their own courses of action. See also ArsTechnica, Engadget, Gizmodo, Mashable, and TechCrunch.
Twitter suspended several high-profile alt-right and white supremacy accounts as part of a crack down on hate speech, citing rules prohibiting targeted abuse and harassment. See also Engadget, Inc., Mashable, The Verge, and Vocativ.
Twitter provided new features to mute keywords (words, phrases, usernames, emoji, or hashtags) in notifications and to mute any conversations that a user has been dragged into against their will, shielding users from some of the worst harassment they face on the platform. See also Advertising Age, BuzzFeedNews, CNET, Fusion, Mashable, The New York Times, and Wired.
The Internet Association, composed of tech companies including Facebook, Google, and Twitter, issued a letter to President-elect Donald Trump encouraging him to protect encryption, reform immigration policy, and curtail surveillance during his administration.
The Sharing Economy
Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky announced Experiences, which will offer paid tours and outings for users including single-day or multi-day experiences such as food tours, classes, or guided hikes. See also Engadget, Mashable, ReCode, and TechCrunch.
Instagram announced two new features for Instagram Stories - Instagram Live will let users broadcast video to followers in real-time, but only viewable while the content is live streaming (i.e. no replays), and Instagram Direct Ephemeral will let users send an ephemeral Direct message to select users that can only watch the message twice before it disappears. See also Mashable and ReCode.
Spaces, Retail, and Restaurants
Patagonia announced plans to donate all of its Black Friday sales to environmental charities, focusing on “grassroots organizations” that work in local communities and continuing its commitment to environmental causes as a core part of its business.
A profile of Sweetgreen, the fast-growing salad chain that maintains an unwavering commitment to their farm-to-counter ethos even as they expand to over 100 locally-focused outlets.
Google will expand its Popular Times feature, which indicates how busy a restaurant, coffee shop, or bar typically is at any given time of the week, to feature real-time results using anonymized location data and searches. See also The Guardian.
McDonald's will expand table service in a bid to improve customer satisfaction, encouraging customers to order from kiosks and await an employee to bring their food to their table. See also Advertising Age, Consumerist, and Crain's.
New York-based creative design studio C&G Partners has installed a digital guestbook in several facilities including the new National Museum of African American History and Culture – the touchscreen kiosk provides a digital-physical hybrid that captures guests’ signatures digitally, as well as comments, opted-in email addresses, and even where guests are from, which can feed into an interactive map of all past signers.
Verizon sponsored a live-stream of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade shot in 360-degree video, allowing viewers to pan in any direction as they watch. See also CNET, Engadget, TechCrunch, and The Verge.
Users can now explore a virtual reality version of Google Earth on the HTC Vive platform, exploring reconstructed cultural treasures and landmarks, flying freely around a topographical reconstruction of the globe, or taking guided tours of places like Manhattan and Monument Valley. See also ArsTechnica, Engadget, Gizmodo, and TechCrunch.
Apple is reportedly exploring digital glasses that would connect wirelessly to iPhones, show images and other information in the wearer’s field of vision, or use augmented reality. See also Engadget, Gizmodo, and The Verge.