This week’s headline comes from an article about the Living Rooms Projects from nonprofit organization Camerados, which seeks to end social isolation by providing flexible spaces where people can gather together, engage in dialogue, seek support from community members, or do nothing at all. If it sounds a lot like a library, that’s probably by design as the project started in a public library in England. It’s another sign of the many ways that traditional library models and services can be revived and repurposed as new innovations.
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.
Books and Publishing
Mashable “Why Emma Watson is hiding books on the London Underground”
Emma Watson is helping make feminist literature more discoverable by depositing books on London’s subway as part of a collaboration between her feminist book club initiative, Our Shared Shelf, and Books on the Underground that has users find books, read them, and then return them to the subway for others to find and read.
Mashable “Amazon has a new plan to get kids reading more”
Amazon Rapids is a $2.99 per month reading app aimed at 7-to-12-year-olds that contains hundreds of stories, all told in dialogue animated to look like text messages, encouraging kids to continue reading as they swipe back and forth through the story. See also Engadget, GeekWire, Vocativ, and Wired.
Cities and Government
The Verge “How the White House will hand over social media accounts to Clinton or Trump”
The White House has provided details for the digital transition from the Obama administration to the incoming 45th president of the United States, including social media accounts (@POTUS, @FLOTUS, and @VP), planning to maintain followers while clearing the Obama administration’s posts and copying content onto newly-created accounts that will make the content available on the platform where it was originally posted – social media activity will also be made available for download (via .zip archives) so that “people who are interested in building something for the public" can make content "useful and available for years to come." See also CNET, GeekWire, Mashable, ReCode, TechCrunch, and Wired.
Engadget “Code.gov is the US government's open-source software hub”
Code.gov will be the new home for over 50 projects from 10 different federal agencies, including the White House’s Facebook chat bot, Data.gov, and the "We the People" petitions API, part of a new policy to encourage government open source software projects that can help agencies share resources and citizens access to the code as well.
NextCity “What 43 city officials say about participatory budgeting”
Participatory budgeting, a process that has citizens participate in the budgeting of public money, has been used by 47 cities or city council districts in 2015-2016, but a new report from Public Agenda notes that the process is dependent on elected officials’ long-term commitment and its appeal as a way to engage and educate constituents about local affairs.
The Daily Dot “Nearly 5 percent of TV characters are LGBTQ—but many are being killed off”
GLAAD’s annual “Where We Are on TV” report calculates that almost 5% (43 of the 895 characters) of regular TV characters on the major networks and streaming providers were identified as LGBTQ, the highest percentage GLAAD has ever noted – but over 25 “lesbian and bisexual female-identifying characters” died on scripted series since the beginning of 2016, part of a decades-long trend of killing LGBTQ characters. See also Mashable and The Verge.
The Daily Dot “CoverGirl's latest brand ambassador is a hijab-wearing Muslim”
CoverGirl continues to embrace diverse identities as its brand ambassadors, this time featuring beauty vlogger Nura Afia, a Moroccan Muslim woman from Denver who wears a hijab.
The New York Times “For helping immigrants, Chobani’s founder draws threats”
The founder of Chobani yogurt has become the focus of criticism and online racist attacks for his support of immigrants and refugees – employing more than 300 refugees in his factories, starting a foundation to help migrants, and traveling to the Greek island of Lesbos to witness the crisis firsthand. See also The Daily Dot.
Mashable “Drones could soon deliver vital medical transplants in rural areas”
The Australian RPAS Consortium (ARC), made up of eight groups with interests in the hardware, security and legal aspects of drones, will launch the Angel Drone project to trial a drone able to carry blood samples in remote and rural parts of Australia.
EdSurge News “Why Udacity and EdX want to trademark the degrees of the future—and what’s at stake for students”
Education entrepreneurs are trademarking terms like nanodegree, micromasters, and microdegree, hoping to get a lock on the words for the next generation of education certification, bring on business partnerships, and work around traditional forms of regulation or accreditation.
TechCrunch “Coursera’s new monthly subscriptions could monetize procrastination”
Coursera has launched a monthly subscription payment option to promote learners’ ongoing educational activity around pay-per-course bundle specializations in programming languages, data science, and investment and valuation.
The New York Times “How the internet is loosening our grip on the truth”
Online news was supposed to advance democracy and the exchange of ideas, but as psychologists and other social scientists have repeatedly shown, users avoid diverse information choices and create closed-off, self-affirming online communities.
Quartz “The internet has been quietly rewired, and video is the reason why”
Video accounts for a growing share of internet traffic – 70% in 2016 and expected to grow to 90% by 2020 – and content delivery networks (CDNs), private networks owned by big tech companies like Facebook, Google, Apple, and Netflix, help deliver this content uninterrupted and allow them to exert more power over how content reaches users.
The Sharing Economy
Motherboard “Uber and Lyft drivers discriminate against African-Americans and women”
A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) found that passengers with “African-American sounding names” were more than twice as likely than those with “white sounding names” to have their ride canceled by Uber drivers and had to wait 35% longer than passengers with “white sounding names” for rides from Lyft and that female passengers were often taken on longer, more expensive routes than necessary when riding with Uber – adding to growing concerns about bias and discrimination in the sharing economy. See also Engadget, GeekWire, TechCrunch, The Verge, Vocativ, and Wired.
Fusion “Airbnb is enforcing a strict new anti-discrimination policy for hosts”
Home-sharing platform Airbnb is addressing bias and discrimination through a new “Community Commitment,” requiring all Airbnb users to “treat everyone in the Airbnb community—regardless of their race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or age—with respect, and without judgment or bias.” See also Engadget.
Spaces, Retail, and Restaurants
GeekWire “Amazon charges non-Prime members more at physical bookstores, hinting at new retail strategy”
Amazon has implemented a new pricing structure at its physical bookstores, offering Amazon Prime members the product prices equal to those on Amazon.com while non-Prime customers pay list price, leveraging Amazon’s physical stores as a way to attract more Prime members. See also ArsTechnica, CNET, Consumerist, Engadget, and The Verge.
Mashable “Instagram has found a new way to make money”
Instagram announced new features that will let users tap on an icon to see what products are featured with more information and links to take users to company websites or apps where they can purchase the products. See also ReCode, TechCrunch, The Verge, Vocativ, and Wired.
CityLab “Fending off loneliness with cups of tea”
Nonprofit organization Camerados will expand its Living Rooms project that seeks to address social isolation by providing neutral spaces that can be centers for conversation or seeking support, first launched in a public library in Blackpool, England, and expanding to two locations in New York City.
Business Insider “McDonald’s is finally catching up to other fast food chains in one big way”
McDonald's will finally launch mobile order-and-pay technology, helping customers and locations cut down on customer wait times and improve order accuracy. See also Engadget, Mashable, The Verge, Vocativ.
Mashable “Netflix downloads could be here soon, but not for everyone”
As Netflix works to expand into new markets with different levels of broadband speeds and wifi access, it has considered the options for downloading content to watch offline – though in the more “developed world,” streaming will continue to be the mode. See also Engadget.
Nieman Lab “The New York Times is launching a daily 360-degree video series”
The New York Times will launch The Daily 360, a daily series of 360-degree videos produced with equipment from Samsung, which will also publish The Daily 360 videos on its own platforms. See also Engadget, TechCrunch.
TechCrunch “The NFL is launching a virtual reality series on YouTube & Daydream”
The NFL and Google will partner on an exclusive virtual reality series focused on the behind-the-scenes work of players, coaches, executives, cheerleaders, and fans, airing on YouTube only available to Daydream users, not rival VR platforms. See also: ReCode and The Verge.