Read for Later - “It’s frustrating; you just can’t make any plans.”

This week's headline quotes Illinois resident Dan Dhooghe on the difficulties of planning his family vacation to neighboring Wisconsin – the difficulties of planning a vacation during a public health crisis could pose significant challenges for resort towns and tourist destinations. (CityLab "For resort towns, this could be a cruel summer")

As you begin making plans for your summer, 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.

You can always check out the Center's trend collection – including our Coronavirus page – 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

CityLab "For resort towns, this could be a cruel summer"
With summer vacations in limbo, towns that rely on tourism face an unprecedented economic challenge as the loss of tourism income ripples across industries, into lost taxes, and into a possible second wave of unemployment. See also CityLab "When the cruise ships stop coming"

Education Dive "U of California eliminates SAT, ACT as admissions requirement"
The governing board of the University of California (UC) voted unanimously to largely abandon the SAT and ACT as a condition for admission – the move may accelerate the elimination of entrance exams, whose detractors have long contended that they disadvantage certain students, citing racially biased questions and a proliferation of exhaustive tutoring, which many low-income students can't afford.

CNET "Your face mask selfies could be training the next facial recognition tool"
As the COVID-19 pandemic creates a surge of people wearing face masks, facial recognition companies are scrambling to train their technologies on photos where key details are obstructed – thousands of face-masked selfies are now being made available in training data sets, with pictures scraped from social media platforms. 

Engadget "Instagram introduces 'Guides' for wellness tips"
Instagram is introducing a new Guides post format that will allow publishers, nonprofits, and other organizations to create article-like posts that combine photos and videos, along with original text, into a single “Guide” – the format will first be available to a small group of influencers, publishers, and organizations to focus on wellness Guides amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Reuters "As coronavirus crushes small restaurants, big chains see room to move in"
As economic fallout from the coronavirus permanently shutters some small businesses, big retailers and fast-food brands are making plans to grow, or continue pre-existing expansion plans, after the pandemic subsides.

Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines

Gizmodo "Boston Dynamics' robodog roams New Zealand countryside with a new purpose: Sheep herding"
New Zealand software firm Rocos announced a partnership with Boston Dynamics to use their Spot robotic dog for herding sheep – Rocos specializes in developing software for remote robot operation and said its cloud platform will enable Spot to offset strain from worker shortages caused by the coronavirus outbreak and help make food production in the country more efficient.

Business Insider "Roughly half the Twitter accounts pushing to 'reopen America' are bots, researchers found"
A new report from researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that of 200 million tweets that were discussing COVID-19 and related issues, roughly half of the accounts appeared to be bots – the researchers used artificial intelligence systems to analyze accounts' frequency of tweets, number of followers, and apparent location and found that among tweets about "reopening America," 66% came from accounts that were possibly humans using bot assistants to spread their tweets more widely, while 34% came from bots.

Cities and Government

The Washington Post "The pandemic may forever change the world’s cities"
Sustained social distancing may significantly alter urban centers, accelerating the promise of remote work (and in turn re-distributing high-wage jobs outside of cities), jeopardizing local retailers and businesses that help distinguish cities and neighborhoods, and threatening cuts to public services in the coming year as tax revenue plummets. See also Curbed "Slow streets are the path to a better city"


The Atlantic "The nightmare that colleges face this fall"
As universities wind down a spring semester that pivoted to online learning, they must look ahead to a fall semester that will incorporate a range of approaches – the University of Notre Dame announced plans to reopen its campus two weeks earlier than normal and to forego fall break so that students finish the term before Thanksgiving; the California State University system has said that it will keep most classes online this fall; the University of Kentucky is considering having freshmen and sophomores come to campus while juniors and seniors take their classes online; and many universities are developing contingency plans to guide what will remain an uncertain future. See also The Guardian "Cambridge University moves all lectures online until summer 2021" and The New York Times  "College calendars in the pandemic: No fall break and home by Thanksgiving"

Employment and the Workforce

The Verge "Facebook says it will permanently shift tens of thousands of jobs to remote work"
Facebook joined a growing list of technology companies planning to allow most of its employees to work remotely – CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in an interview with The Verge, “We need to do this in a way that’s thoughtful and responsible, so we’re going to do this in a measured way. But I think that it’s possible that over the next five to ten years — maybe closer to ten than five, but somewhere in that range — I think we could get to about half of the company working remotely permanently.” See also Fast Company "Here’s an ever-growing list of companies that will let people work from home forever"

The New York Times "What role should employers play in testing workers?"
As communities reopen, employers are looking into how to safely bring back their workers and to what extent they should invest in testing for the new coronavirus – Amazon plans to spend as much as $1 billion to regularly test its work force and even develop its own testing lab; Las Vegas casinos are testing thousands of employees as they prepare to return to work; and while public health experts and government officials have emphasized that widespread testing will be critical to reopening, there is little clear guidance from state and federal agencies on the role employers should play in detecting and tracking the coronavirus. See also MIT Technology Review "Prepare to be tracked and tested as you return to work"

Health and Wellness

The Verge "Three US states have signed on to Apple and Google’s exposure notification system"
Apple and Google have rolled out support for their coronavirus exposure notification system, as implemented in an update to iOS and Android, opening the door for public health apps to use the framework and the enhanced Bluetooth access that it enables – while there are no available apps making use of the framework, three U.S. states (Alabama, South Carolina, and North Dakota) have come forward to announce projects that are in development. See also Slate "The Apple-Google contact tracing system won’t work. It still deserves praise."

The Internet

Engadget "Twitter test lets users limit who can reply to their tweets"
Twitter is testing a new feature that will allow users to place limits on who can reply to their tweets, allowing users to limit replies to everyone, followers only, or only those mentioned in the tweet – the feature is meant to prevent harassment and improve conversations, but the feature could prove controversial with users, particularly if public figures begin limiting their replies. See also Engadget "Twitter says disappearing ‘Fleets’ are reported less often than tweets"

Restaurants, Retail, and Spaces

TechCrunch "Apple reopens some stores with temperature checks and other safeguards in place"
In a message from Retail SVP Deirdre O’Brien, Apple detailed plans to reopen more locations while “focused on limiting occupancy and giving everybody lots of room” – face covers will be required for both employees and customers; temperature checks will be conducted at the store’s entrance, coupled with posted health questions; and curb-side pick and drop off have been added for those who would like to avoid the in-person experience.

The Washington Post "The need to go is a big barrier to going out. Why public bathrooms are a stumbling block for reopening."
The idea of a return to life in public is unnerving enough for many people, but one of the biggest obstacles to dining in a restaurant, taking in a concert or movie, or going back to the office is the prospect of having to use a public restroom – business owners are contemplating assigning employees as bathroom monitors; touch-free sinks are growing in popularity; and new standards for cleaning bathrooms are being implemented. See also Vox "How safe is it to use public bathrooms right now?"

Streaming Media

Mashable "Joe Rogan's massively popular podcast is moving exclusively to Spotify"
Spotify announced plans to make the massively popular Joe Rogan Experience podcast available exclusively on its streaming platform – while Rogan noted that the program would remain free, the migration to Spotify will be a loss for other podcast hosting services.

TechCrunch "Netflix to start cancelling inactive customers’ subscriptions"
Netflix announced that it will begin asking customers who have not watched anything on the on-demand video streaming service in a year or more if they wish to maintain their subscription and will cancel their membership if it does not hear back – the inactive accounts only represent a few hundred thousand users, or less than half of 1% of the service’s overall member base.