This week’s headline quotes Anant Agarwal, CEO of edX, on learners’ growing interest in micro-credentials as they seek new educational paths to get back into the workforce. (Wired "More students are ‘stacking’ credentials en route to a degree")
As we move further into June, please consider joining ALA’s Community Through Connection Virtual Event (June 24 – 26, 2020) – registration is open now. While we will miss the opportunity to gather for the ALA Annual Conference, we appreciate all of the presenters and colleagues who have helped build this exciting virtual event.
What new information has sparked your interest? Drop me a line to let me know what you're reading or discovering that helps you consider the future of libraries.
Slate "There’s been a run on anti-racist books"
In the wake of nationwide protests against racism and police brutality, recommended reading lists to help individuals better educate themselves about racism have led to a wave of anti-racist books climbing the best-sellers lists — titles like White Fragility (Robin DiAngelo), How to Be an Antiracist (Ibram X. Kendi), and The New Jim Crow (Michelle Alexander) have led sales at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
NPR "Millions of Americans skip payments as tidal wave of defaults and evictions looms"
Help from the U.S. Congress and leniency from lenders were designed to keep impending financial disaster at bay for millions of people as they defer payments on mortgages, auto loans, and other bills, but many are finding that they do not qualify for programs or have been given wrong or misleading information from lenders – according to the latest available numbers from the credit bureau TransUnion, about 3 million auto loans and 15 million credit card accounts are in some kind of deferral program and, according to the analytics company Black Knight, 4.75 million homeowners (9% of all mortgages) have entered into forbearance plans.
Wired "More students are ‘stacking’ credentials en route to a degree"
The economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic could give micro-credentials a boost as people seek new educational paths to get back into the workforce – programs from Western Governors University, edX, and BYU Pathway Worldwide have all experienced significant growth since the start of the pandemic.
The Verge "Facebook tells group admins to consider adding people of color as moderators"
Facebook published new recommendations for Facebook groups administrators in an attempt to help them facilitate conversations about race and inequality – many Facebook groups have struggled to moderate discussions about the Black Lives Matter movement and injustice in the U.S., with many admins and moderators deleting posts they consider “political.” See also The Verge "Facebook groups are falling apart over Black Lives Matter posts"
Quartz "Signal app downloads spike as US protesters seek message encryption"
Daily U.S. downloads of the encrypted messaging app Signal have tripled, as experienced protestors and privacy-focused organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation urge demonstrators to communicate with each other with encrypted apps like Signal. See also Singularity Hub "Facial recognition and digital surveillance are ending anonymous protest"
Cities and Communities
USA Today "Americans' perceptions of police drop significantly in one week as protests continue, survey finds"
Amid nationwide demonstrations focusing on systemic racism and police brutality experienced by Black Americans, perceptions of police have declined according to a new survey of 6,000 Americans from the Democracy Fund and the UCLA Nationscape Project – among Black Americans, only 38% find the police very or somewhat favorable; about half (51%) of Asian and Pacific Islanders find police very or somewhat favorable; 52% of Latinos find police very or somewhat favorable; and 61% of white Americans have a very favorable or somewhat favorable impression of police officers.
Fast Company "The Walker Art Center officially cuts ties with Minneapolis police—will more museums follow suit?"
The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis became the first major museum to cut ties with the police, announcing that it will no longer use the Minneapolis Police Department for special events until “meaningful change” is in place, including demilitarization of training programs, officer accountability for excessive force, and communities of color being treated with dignity and respect – the Minneapolis Institute of Art followed the Walker’s lead and the Minneapolis Park Board and Minneapolis public schools have also ended their contracts with the police.
Economics and the Workforce
The Washington Post "The next big problem for the economy: Businesses can’t pay their rent"
Nearly half of commercial retail rents were not paid in May as even large companies like Starbucks say the financial devastation from the shutdown has left them unable to pay their full property bills on time – delays in payment could create a chain reaction, placing landlords at risk of bankruptcy, threatening jobs at property management companies, and leaving city and local governments without taxes from business properties.
CityLab "Stockton extends its monthly $500 UBI payment experiment"
The city of Stockton was scheduled to wind down its universal basic income experiment this summer after 18 months, but Mayor Michael Tubbs announced that the project will instead be extended until January 2021 thanks to a new philanthropic donation – in the winter of 2018, researchers randomly selected 125 residents of high-poverty neighborhoods to participate in the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED) and receive monthly payments of $500, funded by the Economic Security Project.
TechCrunch "Snapchat no longer promoting Trump’s posts"
Snap announced that it would no longer promote content from U.S. President Donald Trump’s Snapchat account in its Discover tab following statements from Trump on Twitter which threatened that protestors could be met with “vicious dogs” and “ominous weapons” – Snapchat users will still be able to access content from Trump’s feed if they subscribe to it or search specifically for the account, but Snap’s decision will limit his account to organic reach and strip him from their curated feed.
CNET "Trump's social media executive order faces lawsuit"
The nonprofit Center for Democracy and Technology has filed a lawsuit against U.S. President Donald Trump alleging that his social media executive order violates the First Amendment and the right to free speech.
The New York Times "Facebook employees stage virtual walkout to protest Trump posts"
Hundreds of Facebook employees protested executives’ decision not to act over posts from U.S. President Donald Trump over the past week – many of the employees, who said they refused to work in order to show their support for demonstrators across the country, added an automated message to their digital profiles and email responses saying that they were out of the office in a show of protest. See also The Verge "Former Facebook employees forcefully join the chorus against Mark Zuckerberg" and Engadget "Zuckerberg says he will 'review' policies after employee backlash"
The New York Times "TikTok (yes, TikTok) is the future"
TikTok has grown in popularity through the current pandemic, becoming a place for entertaining distraction and, more recently, a unique home for grieving and activism during protests against systemic racism – unlike American platforms like Netflix or YouTube, which built their business on existing forms of media distribution, TikTok’s 60-second limit on videos means users don’t need to create much filler and there are often common threads across videos set to the same song or riffing on a “challenge.” See also Reuters "TikTok has its Arab Spring moment as teen activism overtakes dance moves" and TechCrunch "Kids now spend nearly as much time watching TikTok as YouTube in U.S., U.K., and Spain"
Journalism and News
Engadget "Facebook finally delivers on its promise to label ‘state-controlled’ media"
Eight months after Facebook said it would begin labeling state-backed media, it is finally applying those labels to media outlets that are wholly or partially under the editorial control of their government – Facebook worked with more than 65 experts on media, governance, and human rights to determine what makes a media outlet “state-controlled,” considering each outlet’s mission statement, ownership structure, editorial guidelines, and funding.
The Washington Post "After staff uproar, New York Times says Sen. Tom Cotton op-ed urging military incursion into U.S. cities ‘did not meet our standards’"
New York Times’ journalists and staffers participated in a Twitter campaign to display their outrage over the newspaper’s decision to publish an opinion column by Sen. Tom Cotton calling for military intervention in U.S. cities wracked by protests over police violence – while the outcry reflects the tensions that have long existed between news and opinion sections of newspapers, after 24 hours of debate, the paper announced that Cotton’s op-ed was the result of a “rushed editorial process” and “did not meet our standards.” See also Nieman Lab "The Philadelphia Inquirer’s journalists of color are taking a ‘sick and tired day’ after ‘Buildings Matter, Too’ headline"
Wired "Schools turn to surveillance tech to prevent Covid-19 spread"
As elementary and high schools consider re-opening plans for the fall, some are considering surveillance technologies as a way to track students’ locations, interactions, and adherence to social distancing guidelines – the American Federation of Teachers has already issued guidelines for reopening schools that warn about vendors potentially using the public health crisis to expand data-mining practices.
Restaurants, Retail, and Spaces
RetailDive "Brick and mortar's next chapter"
Online sales have proven vital for retail stores during stay at home orders (e-commerce sales rose 28% and captured 19% of overall retail sales), but many retailers still need brick and mortar locations to supplement often lackluster and inefficient online shopping experiences – looking ahead, many retailers with large numbers of physical locations may need to shrink their footprint, while e-retailers like Warby Parker and Amazon will likely continue to open physical locations to give their brands presence.