Happy Wednesday, everybody! I’m working from home today, trying to treat a sinus headache with “Game of Thrones” screeners, so I want to know: What’s your favorite sick day pop culture? Do you treat colds with television marathons and flus with noisy action movies?
• “Google Might Finally Have a Plan to Save You From Spoiler Hell,” by Sean Fitz-Gerald: You’ll probably never be able to shake me from my position on so-called spoilers. But for those of you who are sensitive to learning about plot points from your favorite pop culture ahead of time, Google may have a solution for you.
“The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday awarded Google a patent for content processing that might finally save you from the senseless depravity of book, TV, and movie spoilers,” Fitz-Gerald writes. “In the patent, Google details a plan for an app or program that would essentially track the type of content you consume, as well as your progress with that content. Using your data, the app would then blur out posts in your social feeds if they contained spoilers and give you a pop-up warning to save you and your sanity (much like those graphic-content warnings).”
• “Why livestreaming apps like Meerkat and Periscope will be a huge boon for cops,” by Brian Fung: I’ll have more thoughts on video and the shooting of Walter Scott later this afternoon. But for now, my colleague Brian reminds us that the ability to stream video easily will have advantages for the police as well as for citizens.
“It’s easy to see why services like Periscope — and its slightly older rival, Meerkat — are taking off,” Fung reports. “They let us experience viscerally — and anonymously — what’s happening to other people as though we’re behind the camera ourselves. The last generation of social media could only hint at that kind of engagement through short snippets of text and pretty pictures. But as empowering as these apps are, expect them to grant even greater capabilities to law enforcement — who, through watching live videos of people screwing up, will gain an unprecedented ability to catch criminals in the act and gather embarrassing evidence of wrongdoing. ‘There’ll be thieves showing off their goods’ on these services, said Stephan Balkam, president of the Family Online Safety Institute. ‘That’s as stupid as it gets.'”
• “Arts Education Poised for Comeback in Nation’s Largest School Districts,” by Doug Israel: In an era of standardization and high-stakes testing, it’s nice to hear that at least some cities are embracing the idea that the arts have a real role to play in education.
“The tide may be turning, and arts education may be making [a] comeback. Take New York for example,” Israel writes. “This past July, after a multi-year campaign organized by The Center for Arts Education and the release of a ground-breaking report by the City Comptroller that revealed major inequities in the delivery of arts education in city schools, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council agreed to a four-year $92 million investment to improve and expand arts education citywide. In the first year alone, the initiative has led to the hiring of arts teachers in 84 city schools that were underserved in the arts. Over 120 schools have also received grants to partner with the city’s rich array of arts and cultural organizations to address pressing educational priorities, including engaging English language learners and students with special needs, and fostering parent engagement through the arts. And over $8 million has been committed to purchase instruments and technology and to refurbish neglected arts spaces in city schools.”
• “RadioShack, back from the dead, wants to become a bodega for batteries,” by Drew Harwell: I’d noticed the Radio Shacks in my neighborhood going dark, so it was interesting to read this piece about the franchise’s attempt to reinvent itself in a way that actually makes s lot of sense.
“After the increasingly irrelevant gadget mart waved the white flag of Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February, its biggest creditor, Salus Capital Partners, fought to liquidate the Shack and squeeze out whatever value the brand had left. But Standard General, a hedge fund, pushed to keep open 1,740 of RadioShack’s 4,000 stores, and a Delaware court last week approved the fund’s takeover proposal,” Harwell explains. “In its new life, the surviving Shacks plan to drop the unprofitable big-name gadgets — like cameras, laptops and tablets, which shoppers increasingly scooped up online — and rebrand itself as ‘the premier community destination for consumer electronics,’ a national bodega of batteries and earbuds. Think of the new Shack like the modern equivalent of a small-town corner store: Instead of milk and medicine, it will have cellphone chargers, headphones and all the other little easily forgotten doodads that keep our Web-connected lives running. (One of the Shack’s biggest bestsellers: Hearing-aid batteries.)”