Public libraries are hubs for innovation and community engagement. Library workers must listen closely to community needs to design programs and services responsive to continuous changes in technology and fluctuations in funding. This free webinar showcases two examples of collaborative design events used in public libraries to generate ideas, build community, and solve problems.
Engel and Resnick are part of Google Magenta—a small team of AI researchers inside the internet giant building computer systems that can make their own art—and this is their latest project. It’s called NSynth, and the team will publicly demonstrate the technology later this week at Moogfest, the annual art, music, and technology festival, held this year in Durham, North Carolina.
It’s truly amazing, the wealth of information we all have at our fingertips — that is, of course, unless your fingertips are how you have to access that information. An innovative new tablet that uses magnetically configurable bumps may prove to be a powerful tool for translating information like maps and other imagery to a modality more easily accessed by the visually impaired.The tablet, unnamed as yet, has evolved and improved over the past few years as part of Europe’s BlindPAD project, which aims to create a cheap, portable alternative to touchscreen devices. READ MORE: BlindPAD’s tablet makes visual information tactile for the vision-impaired | TechCrunch
The New York Public Library is one of the largest public libraries in the world, with 18 million visitors yearly, a budget of nearly $300m, and 93 branches. It serves vastly diverse populations…
Library leaders knew that given the immense changes brought on by digital innovations, as well as shifts in the communities that the Library served, it would need to evolve. How to transform such a huge, iconic institution, wrapped in history, into a nimble player? How to provide hyper-local services tailored to the diverse needs of its patrons while also upholding a consistent and high standard of service?
The World Economic Forum’s annual list of this year’s breakthrough technologies, published today, includes “socially aware” openAI, grid-scale energy storage, perovskite solar cells, and other technologies with the potential to “transform industries, improve lives, and safeguard the planet.” READ MORE: The top 10 emerging technologies of 2016 | KurzweilAI
Brazil’s Ticket Books, which are exactly what they sound like—books that work as subway tickets, designed with the minimalist care that major transit systems do so well. L&PM gave away 10,000 books for free at subway stations across São Paulo. Each book came with ten free trips. Riders could then recharge them and use the books again or pass them on to others to encourage more reading, an important public service given that Brazilians only read two books per year on average. READ MORE: Brazil Gives Out Books That Double as Subway Tickets, Promoting Literacy & Mass Transit at Once | Open Culture
After two years of prototyping, tweaking, and building, Martin Molin of the Swedish band Wintergatan finally debuted his enormous musical marble machine. The melody is primarily carried by a vibraphone whose bars are hit by falling marbles, but it also includes small percussion and cymbals, as well as a bass guitar neck. It even has a “breakdown” arm, which is a literal brake that kills the instrument’s flywheel—that huge spinning circle that’s primarily responsible for the marble machine keeping time accurately. Maybe most importantly, the song Martin programmed it to play is actually really freaking great. READ MORE: Wooden Hand-Cranked Instrument Runs on 2,000 Marbles | Gizmodo
Chicago’s first-ever Architecture Biennial served as a staging ground for wild pavilions, exhibits, and installations. The fair also coincided with the debut of a major new artwork: the Stony Island Art Bank. Theaster Gates bought the Prohibition-era Stony Island Trust & Savings Bank building from the city of Chicago for $1. Yes, there was a catch: The artist had to raise the $3.7 million it would take to rehabilitate the building and put it to new use. Gates did the thing that you’re never supposed to do with a historic building: He started pulling it apart, piece by piece. READ MORE: Chicago Artist Theaster Gates and the Stony Island Art Bank | CityLab
The tiny, Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has a unique national aspiration that sets it apart from its neighbors, China and India. (And certainly the United States too.) Rather than increasing its gross national product, Bhutan has instead made it a goal to increase the Gross National Happiness of its citizens. There’s wealth in health, not just money, the Bhutanese have argued. And since the 1970s, the country has taken a holistic approach to development, trying to increase the spiritual, physical, and environmental health of its people. And guess what? The strategy is paying off. A 2006 global survey conducted by Business Week found that Bhutan is the happiest country in Asia and the eighth-happiest country in the world. It’s perhaps only a nation devoted to happiness that could throw its support behind this — postage stamps that double as playable vinyl records. READ MORE: Postage Stamps from Bhutan That Double as Playable Vinyl Records | Open Culture
Libraries aren’t just for books, or even e-books, anymore. They are for checking out cake pans (North Haven, Conn.), snowshoes (Biddeford, Me.), telescopes and microscopes (Ann Arbor, Mich.), American Girl dolls (Lewiston, Me.), fishing rods (Grand Rapids, Minn.), Frisbees and Wiffle balls (Mesa, Ariz.) and mobile hot spot devices (New York and Chicago). Here in Sacramento, where people can check out sewing machines, ukuleles, GoPro cameras and board games, the new service is called the Library of Things. READ MORE: These Public Libraries Are for Snowshoes and Ukuleles | The New York Times