Read for Later - “People have been trying to bring the primacy of sidewalks back for almost 30 years, and here are these agents that might make that change much faster because of the commercial considerations”

This week’s headline quotes Anat Caspi, director of the Taskar Center for Accessible Technology at the University of Washington, on Washington’s and other states’ decisions to legalize bot deliveries to help companies pilot their services (Slate “Delivery bots could make cities more accessible for everyone”). These new business opportunities may finally push cities and states to invest in more accessible urban design, creating more navigable public spaces for everyone – just as these new wheeled vehicles threaten to overwhelm public infrastructure and make pedestrian traffic more difficult.

A quick note as we prepare for the 2019 ALA Annual Conference. Our friends at Awesome Libraries and Awesome DC are hosting a collaborative, live pitch event on June 22nd at Open Gov Hub. They are looking for creative and inspiring library projects that will have an impact on communities in Washington, D.C., and across the globe. Six finalists will be chosen to pitch their idea to a panel of judges and members of the D.C. and library communities with two winners receiving $1,000 for their project. You can submit a Pitch Proposal by Saturday, June 1, 2019, to be considered for the contest. If you are interested in attending the pitch event and learning more about Awesome Libraries and Awesome DC, register by June 21, 2019.

You can always check out the Center's trend collection to see how this scanning comes together to identify trends relevant to our futures.

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.

Five Highlights

Slate “Delivery bots could make cities more accessible for everyone”
A consideration for how the profit-driven push for wheeled robot delivery might motivate cities to finally invest in making sidewalks, curbs, and curb cuts more accessible, just as they are introducing new wheeled vehicles that will overwhelm public infrastructure and make pedestrian traffic more difficult.

Pew Research Center “Misinformation and fears about its impact are pervasive in 11 emerging economies”
A recent Pew Research Center survey finds that exposure to false or incorrect information is a key concern for people in 11 emerging economies, with many social media users reporting being regularly exposed to misinformation when using online platforms.

TechSpot “Two in three American adults now play video games”
The Entertainment Software Association’s (ESA) 2019 Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry survey finds that roughly 65% of American adults play video games and 60% of those adult gamers play on mobile devices.

CityLab “The problem with D.C.'s new Apple Store”
Apple’s selection of a former Carnegie library to house its newest D.C. location ensured the renovation and preservation of the building and the relocation of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., the longtime tenant of the building, but it still represents a city’s decision to turn over a prominent cultural asset and the continued privatization of once public space. See also Bloomberg “How the Apple Store lost its luster”

Vox “The big business of loneliness”
A growing network of services – everything from WeWork and WeLive to rival co-living spaces like Tribe and apps like Hey! VINA and Bumble BFF – trade on the promise of providing a premade social fabric, helping adults make new friends, and ensuring that younger people avoid loneliness.

The Environment

The Washington Post “One million species face extinction, U.N. report says. And humans will suffer as a result.”
A new United Nations report finds that one million plant and animal species are on the verge of extinction, undermining food and water security as well as human health – the report directly links the loss of species to human activity.

The Internet

The Verge “Google is adding augmented reality to search” and “Google now lists playable podcasts in search results”
Two new changes to Google search will integrate 3D augmented reality models into its search results (allowing users to examine 3D objects on their screen or overlay on a camera feed, letting them “see” the object in the real world) and podcast-focused search results that show the three most recent episodes which can played directly in Google’s web player on

Journalism and News

Nieman Lab “The New York Times launches its (evidence-driven, non-judgy) Parenting vertical, with an eye toward making it a subscription product”
Having followed a similar model for its Cooking product (consolidating recipes from its archive of news stories into a website and app), The New York Times is planning a new Parenting product that brings together news, guidance, and advice for new and expectant parents – a weekly Parenting newsletter launched last month.


Wired “The CIA sets up shop on Tor, the anonymous internet”
The CIA announced its own Tor "onion service," so that people around the world can browse the agency's website anonymously – the U.S. agency joins Facebook, The New York Times, and others in providing a dedicated version of their website accessible through the Tor anonymity network.

Restaurants, Retail, and Spaces

The New Yorker “Is noise pollution the next big public-health crisis?”
A look at how sound pollution poses health challenges beyond just hearing – studies have shown that people who live or work in loud environments are particularly susceptible to many alarming problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, low birth weight, and all the physical, cognitive, and emotional issues that arise from being too distracted to focus on complex tasks and from never getting enough sleep.

Voice Control

Vox “Amazon’s smart speaker for kids reportedly stores sensitive information — even after parents delete it”
Children’s data privacy advocates have filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission calling for the federal agency to investigate the “Kids Edition” of Amazon’s Echo Dot smart speaker over concerns that the device’s FreeTime service, which promises that parents would have control over their children’s data, violates children’s privacy law. An Amazon spokesperson responded that “FreeTime on Alexa and Echo Dot Kids Edition are compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).” See also CNET “Amazon Alexa transcripts live on, even after you delete voice records”

TechCrunch “Google’s Project Euphonia wants to make voice recognition work for people with speech impairments”
At its Google I/O event, the company unveiled Project Euphonia to explore how artificial intelligence can better recognize those with speech impairments and other types of speech patterns so that they might take advantage of speech recognition technologies.