Greetings from Phoenix. Yes, that is code for “I’m on vacation and should have let you know there would be no newsletter this week, but I did not and so here it is."
Actually though, some good stuff, including new drone registration guidelines, lots of info on content and media trends, and some interesting pieces on the future of work.
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. As I said last week, I’m going to try to spend some time over the next few weeks to get the collection in order to reflect some of the stuff we’ve been reading – wish me luck.
And let us know what you're reading this week to help think about later. Or, if you are going to be on vacation, enjoy your time off and send us your thoughts later once you’re back at work.
In Germany, big web companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter, will have 24 hours to remove instances of hate speech after they have been first reported (ArsTechnica “Germany Makes Facebook, Google, and Twitter Remove Hate Speech Within 24 Hours”). See also CNET
XPrize may not qualify as traditional philanthropy, but its another example of how big societal challenges are being solved in new ways. This week, XPrize announced a new $7 million contest to advance the “autonomy, scale, speed, depths and resolution of ocean exploration” (Gizmodo “New XPrize Encourages Robotic Ocean Exploration”). See also ArsTechnica, GeekWire, and Scientific American. XPrize also extended the deadline for their Tricorder challenge, a $10 million competition to advance precision diagnostic technologies (Next Big Future “Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE has been extended to early 2017").
Books, Publishing, and Media
Last week it was Netflix, this week it’s Amazon – announcing five orders for new original series (The Verge “Amazon Is Making a Big Original Content Push with Five New Series”).
As more online platforms invest in original streaming “television” series, they may be creating a new genre (The New York Times “Streaming TV Isn’t Just a New Way to Watch. It’s a New Genre.”) that is immersive, user-directed (play next episode), and even competitive.
Is this a golden age for podcasts? Ready access to a laptop, a microphone, web servers, and a cohort of talented audio producers is driving content (Wired “If Podcasts Are the New Blogs, Enjoy the Golden Age While It Lasts”). Some see this rise tied to the three central drivers - technology that makes listening to podcasts easy and convenient; a cohort of talented professionals, many veterans of NPR; and podcast-focused businesses that are working to covert content into revenue (Vox “Podcasting Is Getting Huge. Here's Why.").
Looking ahead to 2016, a really interesting collection of important trends in journalism and digital media looks at the growth of big platforms, the importance of trust, frictionless video, and more (Nieman Lab “Predictions For Journalism 2016”).
Nielsen BookScan reports that as of early December, around 571 million paper books have been sold in the U.S., a 10 million unit increase over 2014 (Quartz “Against All Odds, Print Books Are on the Rise Again in the US”).
Most conversations about the sharing economy and cities focus on regulation, but a four-part series from Government Technology (Government Technology “Learning to Share: How Cities Are Benefiting from the Sharing Economy”) considers the benefits of sharing in cities, including shared housing for disaster relief, equipment sharing, and ride sharing to bolster transportation. And yes, libraries get a shout-out for being one of the most trust-worthy sharers in government services right now.
I enjoyed this feature on Marcus Westbury, founder of the nonprofit Renew Newcastle, which has helped improve the city of Newcastle by exploiting policy loopholes and supporting artisanal butchers, brewers, and designers (New Republic “Hacking The City”).
If drones prove to be one of the more popular gifts of the holiday season, libraries may need to help patrons tackle these gadgets’ new registration requirements. The Federal Aviation Administration announced that all units weighing between 0.55 pounds and 55 pounds must be registered by February 19, 2016 (The Verge “FAA Announces Drone Owners Must Register by February 19th, 2016”). Part of that registration will require providing name, home address, and e-mail address, some of which will be publicly available (Forbes “FAA Finally Admits Names And Home Addresses In Drone Registry Will Be Publicly Available”). See also ArsTechnica, CNET, The Daily Dot, GeekWire, and Gizmodo
We’ve talked about the importance of higher education as an incubator for innovation. Now the University of California is following through with a $250 million fund for startups emerging from the UC system, with a particular emphasis on startups in the life sciences, technology, energy, agriculture, and materials sectors (TechCrunch “University Of California Investing $250 Million In Startups”). See also The Los Angeles Times
The Internet of Things
Lighting could be one of the key elements of the internet of things and smart buildings (TechCrunch “How Intelligent Lighting Is Ushering In The Internet Of Buildings”). Intelligent, networked, sensor-laden lights cold help track students’ alertness, customer movements in stores, and living patterns in homes.
On-Demand, Gig, and the Future of Work
Second tier cities, nano degrees and nano jobs, selective job seekers, and the rise of entrepreneurship could all change the future of work (Fast Company “The Four Trends That Will Change The Way We Work By 2021”).
As companies compete for the best workers, student loan repayment could become a coveted benefit (Fast Company “Is Offering Student Loan Repayment The New 401(k)?”), especially as recent grads confront rising student debt.
Some of those most desirable workers might graduate with a Master of Science in Data Science program from the University of Washington’s new program (Gawker “University of Washington Adds Data Science Master’s Program to Meet Demand in Job Market”). Designed by faculty from six departments with input form likely corporate employers, the program in responsive to an explosion in cloud computing, machine learning, and other technologies and an expected shortage of individual with data-savvy backgrounds.
The second annual Freelancing in America Survey reports that over a third of workers did some freelance work in 2015, up 700,000 from 2014. Not without its skeptics, some noted that the study may overestimate the number of individuals deriving their primary income from freelancing (Fast Company “Is The Freelance Economy Not Growing As Much As We Thought?”).
Amazon’s ‘Flex’ package delivery service could add to the opportunities available for freelancers. After experimenting with the Uber-style delivery service in Seattle, it plans to expand the option to other cities and could create a platform to let everyday people earn extra income delivering Amazon packages (Gawker “Amazon Has Big Plans for Uber-like ‘Flex’ Package Delivery Service, Job Postings Reveal”).
The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 (CISA) was included in the House’s the omnibus budget deal. The bill makes it easier for companies to share user information with the government and other companies (The Verge “Congress Snuck a Surveillance Bill into the Federal Budget Last Night”). See also The Daily Dot, Gizmodo, and Motherboard
The big draw at the 2015 International Robot Exhibition (IREX) were “emotional” robots, that are built to relate to people rather than to just be productive (Motherboard “Robots Don’t Just Want to Be Your Helper, They Want to Be Your Friend”). These might be especially important for a growing population of older adults.
A nice look at virtual reality across four industries – healthcare, architecture, journalism, and defense (The Telegraph “How Virtual Reality Is Going to Change Our Lives”).