Read for Later - Coding Education, Trusting News, and Changing Spaces

I’m a day late, but hopefully not content short. It was a bit of a scramble this week to scan and synthesize some very interesting news on everything from new live streaming options to new coding and computer science education sources in between meetings and programs at ALA's Annual Conference in Orlando. I'm hoping to get back on schedule next week.

I will try to find some space in next week’s release to cover some good finds from the conference, but for now I did at least want to highlight one announcement from Orlando - The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced 14 winners of their Knight News Challenge on Libraries (Knight Foundation "Knight News Challenge awards $1.6 million for ideas that help libraries serve 21st century information needs").

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, as always, let us know what you're reading this week to help think about later.

Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines

Because algorithms learn by being fed data and content, their functions are subject to the decisions of engineers and the systems that develop the models upon which they learn – leading to concern that sexism, racism, and other forms of discrimination are being built into machine-learning algorithms developed by a technology sector that lacks diversity (The New York Times "Artificial intelligence’s white guy problem").

Books, Media, and Publishing

How does the growth of digital- and social media-accessed news affect the way that people remember the sources that produce their content, the trust they have in information, and the authority of new and media brands (Columbia Journalism Review "Why we trust, and why that’s changing online")?

Facebook has signed 140 contracts with celebrities and news organizations worth a combined $50 million as part of a push to have its most popular users provide live video content for the platform (Poynter “Here’s why Facebook is paying news organizations millions of dollars”). See also Digiday and Engadget.

YouTube Red, the video platform’s paid streaming service, will come into closer competition with Netflix and other streaming services with the acquisition of a new 10-episode scripted series based on Step Up, the dance movie franchise (The New York Times “YouTube Red Buys ‘Step Up,’ Its First Big-Budget TV Drama”). See also CNET, Engadget, Mashable, and The Verge.

Fewer and fewer of us are watching the same things at the same time – except for sports – as subscritpion streaming services edge into more and more homes, displacing live television and even DVR recorded viewing (Vocativ "Streaming is killing DVR along with live TV"). See also CNET.

James Patterson will release over 38 e-books in 2016, driven largely by his new BookShots series, featuring titles that are 125 to 150 pages, affordably priced, featuring characters from popular franchises, and designed to read more like fast-paced movies (Good eReader "James Patterson will publish 38 e-books in 2016").

The rise of video continues.

YouTube’s mobile app will integrate features to allow users to immediately broadcast what they’re seeing, bringing live streaming to one of the most popular video platforms (TechCrunch “YouTube can still win the livestreaming war”). See also ArsTechnica, CNET and again, Engadget, and The Verge.

Tumblr will integrate live video, introducing a series of live broadcasts and user generated content that can be viewed as it is broadcast or archived to be played back after the livestream (TechCrunch "Tumblr to launch live video on Tuesday"). See also Fast Company.

Twitter will allow all users to directly post videos up to 140 seconds in length, up from the previous limit of 30 seconds; while on their Vine platform, a select group of users/creators will be able to share 140-second-long videos, up from the current 6 second limit (Motherboard "Your Twitter timeline will soon be filled with much longer videos").

An independent bookstore in Singapore utilizes two vending machines as a tool to promote, market, and distribute local authors’ works to residents and tourists (PSFK “Singapore Introduces Vending Machines Of Books”).

The Magnus app uses digital recognition technology and a comprehensive database of contemporary art to allow users to scan a piece of art with a camera to discover the title, artist, price, and even exhibition history (PSFK “Learn About Artwork With The Touch Of A Button”).

In advance of the September 24th opening of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, The Washington Post has launched "Historically Black" on Tumblr, a crowdsourcing model for collecting photos of objects that show the history of black lives in America (Poynter "The Washington Post is launching a crowdsourced Black history project on Tumblr").


New Census Bureau estimates indicate that Generation Z (or the post-millennial generation) are just slightly majority white, with 49% of the population of children under 15 from what are termed minority populations – while the population of those under 1 year old to five years old are already majority minority, with 51% of the population from what are termed minorities (Washington Examiner “Census: Post-millennials nearly majority-minority”).

While academic studies document increased occurrences of casual sex – or sex outside of committed relationships – and critics debate casual sex as an indicator of lax social mores or a sign of social progress, researcher Zhana Vrangalova’s Casual Sex Project is building a user base of stories that might be used for significant research and also allowing people to share stories, answer questions, and leave replies (The New Yorker "Casual sex: Everyone is doing it").

Apple appears to be focused on making its software more accessible – simplifying watchOS, integrating Siri into Mac, introducing the “app store” in Messages – in way that underscores how accessibility can improve experiences for all users, not just those with disabilities (TechCrunch “Accessibility was all around this year’s WWDC”).

The Economy

A look at the cities where manufacturing has returned – driving a growth of over 828,000 jobs since 2009 (Forbes "The U.S. cities where manufacturing is thriving").  


Apple will expand its Apple Camp sessions to include a new course that teaches 8- to 12-year-olds the basics of coding – the 90 minute sessions take place in Apple’s retail locations while parents stay in the store where the classes are held (TechCrunch “Apple launches coding camps for kids in its retail stores”).

Google’s computer science education initiative, Google CS First, will partner with the Queens Library’s 26 locations to teach 300 kids how to code with the block-based Scratch programming language (THE Journal "Google to bring free coding clubs to 26 New York libraries").

Google’s Project Bloks is an open hardware platform that allows developers, designers and educators to build physical programming experiences that can help kids learn to code (TechCrunch “Google launches Project Bloks, a new open hardware platform for teaching kids to code”). See also CNET, Engadget, and Mashable.

Civilization V, the latest version of one of my favorite games, will include a modified version of the historical strategy game meant for use in high school classes to "provide students with the opportunity to think critically and create historical events, consider and evaluate the geographical ramifications of their economic and technological decisions, and to engage in systems thinking and experiment with the causal / correlative relationships between military, technology, political, and socioeconomic development" (The Verge "Civilization V is coming to North American high schools next year").  See also ArsTechnica and Engadget.

The Environment

Something I hadn’t thought about – the world’s urbanization, and the concrete required to fuel that building boom, has strained the world’s sand supply and damaged ecosystems (The New York Times "The world’s disappearing sand").


Paramount and CBS hope to control fan-created Star Trek content by issuing a set of rules for what fans can and can’t do in order to prevent legal actions against unauthorized derivative content (Gizmodo "The official Star Trek fan film guidelines are here and they are onerous"). See also  CNET, The Daily Dot, and Engadget.

The Internet

Google’s TL;DR Chrome extension offers small, medium, or large summaries of highlighted portions of text, complete with the original story length and the number of sentences to which it has been reduced (PSFK “Let Google quickly summarize articles for you”).

YouTube, Facebook, and other technology platforms are deploying systems that will block or rapidly take down Islamic State videos and other extremist content, using automation technology that was originally developed to identify and remove copyright-protected content (Reuters "Exclusive: Google, Facebook quietly move toward automatic blocking of extremist videos").

Google will now provide health symptom searches with results including lists of related conditions, overview descriptions, and even information on self-treatment options, and what might warrant a doctor’s visit, allowing users to more easily explore health conditions and thoroughly consider their healthcare options (Slate "Google helps patients search for symptoms without hypochondria via Knowledge Graph."). See also The Daily Dot.

Instagram will integrate translation options for posts and bios written in languages other than the user’s own, creating features similar to Facebook’s "See Translation" button (Mashable "Instagram to start offering translations next month").

Facebook will integrate a human-curated “featured events” list for users in ten cities, including New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, utilizing a curation and selection strategy similar to newspapers and magazines (Re/Code “Facebook employees will soon suggest events for you to attend off of Facebook”).

The Sharing Economy

Mayors from some of the world’s largest cities will work towards clearer and standardized policies for sharing economy companies like Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb (Bloomberg “City mayors worldwide forge alliance in response to Airbnb, Uber”).

Internal Uber calculations from data spanning more than a million rides and thousands of drivers in Denver, Detroit, and Houston indicate that drivers earned less than an average of $13.25 an hour after expenses (BuzzFeedNews “Uber data and leaked docs provide a look at how much Uber drivers make”).

Spaces, Retail, and Restaurants

Barnes & Noble will open four concept stores in 2017 with an increased focus on food and drink, including expanded dining spaces with beer and wine, hoping to keep shoppers in the spaces for longer amounts of time (Fortune “Cheers? Barnes & Noble Is Getting Into the Bars and Restaurant Business”). See also The Daily Dot.

Workplaces of the future will be inspired by the collaborative feeling of the educational campus, the freedom and flexibility of start-up cultures, the independence of the artist’s studio, and the comfort of hotels and restaurants (Fast Company "The Workplace Of The Future: Brought to you by art, education, travel, and startups"). 

An interesting look at the changing farmer’s market space, from places for buying ingredients to places for younger residents to socialize and eat and drink prepared foods, becoming more of lifestyle choice than an opportunity to support local agriculture (The Washington Post “For some growers, farmers markets just aren’t what they used to be”).

Whole Foods’ 365 store concept is meant to appeal to a younger demographic more inclined to shop Trader Joe’s or Aldi, both of which offer lower prices, easy-to-navigate stores, and a rotating selection of inventive items – filling a gap between the grocery store as experience brand that Whole Foods had created without the artisanal and fresh-produce focused approach associated with its traditional stores. (Bloomberg “Whole Foods is getting killed by Aldi. Is a millennial grocery chain the fix?”).

New York City startup Spacious converts nighttime hotspots into daytime coworking spaces, providing monthly members ($95) with unlimited wifi, water, coffee and tea, good lighting, and fellow coworkers (PSFK “Nighttime restaurant turns into a coworking office by day”).


A new survey from Intel finds that 49% of millennials are willing to enjoy unplugged vacations – abstaining from internet use or making phone calls – while just 37% of those in their 40s and 50s would do the same (Geekwire "Study: Tech-savvy millennials are more likely to unplug on vacation"). See also CNET.  

Yondr produces lockable cases that can be used by performers or popular venues to control audiences’ access to mobile phones – the case or pouch automatically locks if inside a “phone-free” zone and can be unlocked as soon as the audience member steps outside the zone (PSFK “Alicia Keys Fans Experience Her Concerts Phone-Free”). See also Washington Post.

Virtual Reality

Google’s #PrideForEveryone virtual reality experience provides panoramic footage from 25 pride festivals around the world, allowing viewers to ride floats, march in parades, and dance along to marching bands (The Daily Dot “You can now ride on a pride float without leaving your couch”). See also CNET.

Oculus will integrate Facebook’s five emoji reactions into 360 Videos within Gear VR’s video app, helping to make virtual reality a more social experience without the difficulty of typing text (TechCrunch “Facebook brings emoji to VR with 360 Reactions”).

Will there be unintended consequences – distracted targets for burglars; physical injuries from navigating imagined worlds; ignored dietary needs or sedentary lifestyles; increased isolation – that accompany our growing obsession with immersive virtual reality (PSFK “Cannes Report: Virtual Reality And Its Unintended Consequences”).