This week’s (or past two weeks’) mix includes insights from Mary Meeker’s 2016 internet trends report, two interesting reports from Pew Research Center (addressing social media as a news source and 18-to-34 year-olds living at home), and some really great recognition for libraries and librarians.
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.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Facebook’s artificially intelligent language processing engine, Deep Text, applies deep learning to understand human language and could be used across products to power chat bots in Messenger, to filter space and abusive comments from News Feed, and to better understand topic areas and content of users’ posts (Slate “Facebook's new AI engine, Deep Text, is learning to understand your posts.”).
Facebook’s artificial intelligence systems now report more offensive photos than humans do, preventing obscene content from reaching News Feed and from having humans have to review and report offenses (TechCrunch “Facebook spares humans by fighting offensive photos with AI”).
Books, Media and Publishing
A new survey conducted by Pew Research Center and the Knight Foundation finds that 62% of American adults get news on social media – an increase from 49% in 2012, based on a slightly different question (Pew Research Center “News use across social media platforms 2016”). See also The Daily Dot, Fusion, Nieman Lab, Poynter, and TechCrunch.
The European Commission has released proposals requiring streaming services (Netflix, Amazon) operating in Europe to provide at least 20% of their content produced from European sources, aiming to promote the European film industry and ensure that European citizens have access to homegrown content (CNET “Netflix and Amazon face 20% European content quotas in Europe”).
As recreational reading declines, many educators have turned to reading logs, which require kids to reach for a certain amount of time each day – but could such required activities undermine people’s interest in doing the activity for its own sake and reduce the enjoyment and creativity that comes from reading (The Atlantic “How reading logs can ruin kids' pleasure for books”).
Chance the Rapper's album, Coloring Book, will be the first streaming-only album to appear on the Billboard 200 chart, after being available exclusively on Apple Music for its first week of release – as it expands to other streaming channels, there are no announcements regarding a physical album release (CNET “Take a Chance: Coloring Book is the first streaming-only album to crack Billboard 200”).
As online book sales have grown, the importance of a book cover’s color has increased, with blaring yellow covers proving the most noticeable and versatile (The Wall Street Journal “Book covers see yellow to attract online shoppers”).
Swipe, a new, free British magazine, curates articles and photos from over 70 online media partners and prints them as a news and lifestyle magazine, bridging the Internet and print (Mashable “New magazine turns the 'best of the Internet' into print”). See also Digiday.
Mid-decade Census Bureau data shows big-city populations growing, doubling the average annual growth rate from 2000 and 2010 and growing faster than surrounding suburbs (Brookings “Mid-decade, big-city growth continues”).
YouGov’s report “The decline of the Manly Man” surveyed 1,000 American men to find where they fell on a spectrum of “completely masculine” to “completely feminine” and found that less than a third of 18-to-29 year-olds reported feeling “completely masculine” compared to 65% of those approaching retirement age (The Washington Post “The stark difference between millennial men and their dads”).
An interesting look at Crisis Text Line, a volunteer service that uses an SMS-based platform to support individuals (74% between the ages of 13 and 25 and 6% under the age of 13) through personal or mental crises (The Daily Dot “How texting is saving the lives of teens in crisis”).
More from Pew Research Center, this time reporting that in 2014, for the first time in more than 130 years, slightly more 18-to-34 year-olds were living in their parents’ home (32.1%) than were living with a spouse or partner in their own household (31.6%), further evidence of significant changes in how and when young people settle into relationships (Pew Research Center “For first time in modern era, living with parents edges out other living arrangements for 18- to 34-year-olds”). See also Quartz and The Washington Post.
Without significant research funding, large endowments, or out-of-state tuition to insulate them from declining state allotments, regional public universities struggle to serve their student bodies, nearly 30% of Americans who attend a four-year college including many low-income and first-generation students (The Chronicle of Higher Education “Where does the regional state university go from here?”).
“Blended learning,” a mix of online and teacher-led instruction, drives Salt Lake City’s Innovations Early College High School, where students show up when they like, work with a mentor teacher, set their own goals, and move through self-paced online lessons (Education Next “Cutting-edge model capitalizes on blended learning to take personalization further”).
A look at fourteen innovative schools, including a school where Native American students learn about sustainability and agriculture and a New York City school for LGBT youth (Tech Insider “The 14 most innovative schools in America”).
One of the most anticipated trend reports, Mary Meeker’s internet trends presentation, featured new data about slowing growth of Internet users and smart phone sales, increases in Internet and especially mobile advertising, and the expanding role of images (Snapchat, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp) in communicating (Quartz “Mary Meeker’s 2016 internet trends report: All the slides, plus highlights”). See also Fast Company, Fortune, Geekwire, Re/Code and again, TechCrunch, and Wired and again.
Meeker also highlighted WeChat, China’s “everything app,” a messaging service that allows users to do everything from hail a ride to book a movie right within the app – and connected that to the growing interest in bots that could remember a user’s identity, preferences, and provide all inclusive services (Wired “Yes, bots really are going to take your homescreen’s place”).
And Meeker addressed the growing importance of voice assistants, with 65% of smartphone owners reporting using voice assistants like Apple’s “Siri,” and Meeker anticipating that half of all web searches might be conducted through voice and image searched within the next four years (Vocativ “Shouting at your computer is the future of search”).
Snapchat, with a reported 150 million daily active users, would exceed Twitter in popularity, which had once been the second largest social network after Facebook (Bloomberg “Snapchat passes Twitter in daily usage”). See also CNET, The Daily Dot, Gizmodo, Nieman Lab, and The Verge.
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Microsoft are pledging to cooperate with new EU regulations calling for the removal of overt hate speech from social media platforms within 24 hours of it appearing, leveraging existing systems that allow users to flag offensive content and cooperating with civil society organizations and “trusted reporters” to identify hate speech effectively while respecting free speech (Vocativ “Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter pledge to ban hate speech”). See also CNN, The Daily Dot, and The Hollywood Reporter.
Facebook is adjusting its Safety Check tool to allow users to invite friends to check in as safe during crises, instead of relying on on-call engineers to parse through real-time data about disasters and incidents (Mashable “Facebook now lets you ask friends in crisis areas if they're safe”).
Some nice recognition of libraries this week, including a great op-ed from Linda Johnson, president and CEO of Brooklyn Public Library, reminding readers of the continuing role libraries play in changing people’s lives (NextCity “Modern public libraries can help bridge the digital divide”).
Brian Bannon, commissioner of the Chicago Public Library, was recognized as one of Fast Company’s “Most Creative People 2016” for his initiatives around portable Wi-Fi hot spots, robotics, neighborhood-driven “learning circles,” and interactive early-childhood centers (Fast Company “Most Creative People 2016”).
The Center for an Urban Future released a new data brief documenting how New York City’s public libraries help citizens develop important technology skills, providing tech training to more than 150,000 New Yorkers in 2015 (Center for an Urban Future “Libraries teach tech: Building skills for a digital world”).
Publishers Communication Group’s (PCG) Annual Library Budget Survey found uneven growth expectations for libraries worldwide, with North American libraries expecting only a 1% increase in budget spending, European libraries expecting 0.1% decrease, and growth among Middle East and African libraries (4.2%), Asian libraries (2.8%), and South American libraries (2.1%) (Flavorwire “How are libraries doing around the world?”).
Select Pizza Hut locations in Asia will feature Pepper, a robot designed to greet and engage customers with basic questions and directions while sensing emotions and reacting accordingly (Vocativ “Pepper, Pizza Hut’s robot pizza waiter, is not creepy at all”). See also Engadget.
Airbnb’s beta program City Hosts will connect private tour guides with visitors to provide customized, activity-focused tourist experiences, expanding the platform’s reach beyond lodging (TechCrunch “Airbnb begins testing City Hosts program to give guests guided one-of-a-kind experiences”).
Spaces, Retail, and Restaurants
Retail analytics firm Consumer Intelligence Research Partners found that 73% of consumers who sign up for the 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime stay on after the trial to become full paying customers, 91% those subscribers extend into a second year, and 96% of those who retain a second year of Prime service extend to a third year (Consumerist “If you’ve got Amazon Prime, you’re probably keeping Amazon Prime for years”).
Virtual reality could prove particularly useful as an informational/educational tool that could support everything from real estate, to medicine, to classroom use (TechCrunch “What’s the point of virtual reality?”).
As publishers seek opportunities to monetize virtual reality content, The Economist and The Guardian are launching their own VR apps which will offer 360 video as well as a scaled down VR experience that can be viewed with or without Google Cardboard (Digiday “Why The Economist and The Guardian are betting on their own VR apps”).