Read for Later - “It’s a gorgeous ghost town”

This week’s headline quotes author and journalist John U. Bacon, a graduate of the University of Michigan and a lifelong resident of Ann Arbor, one of several college towns projecting financial losses as a result of pandemic-related closures and stay at home orders. (The Hechinger Report "Little-noticed victims of the higher education shutdowns: College towns")

We continue to update the Center’s Coronavirus page with additional information about the near- and long-term changes that may result from the current pandemic – and we welcome your contributions for how libraries and library professionals can plan for the possible futures that may unfold.

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

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Five Highlights

The Hechinger Report "Little-noticed victims of the higher education shutdowns: College towns"
Stay at home orders and college and university shut downs have had a devastating effect on the college towns in which campuses are situated, with major losses for community services such as public transportation, freezes on projects including hospital expansions, and lost revenue to hotels, restaurants, and other businesses.

BuzzFeedNews "Twitter will allow employees to work at home forever"
In an email to employees, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced that many positions would be allowed to work from home permanently, even after the coronavirus pandemic lockdown passes – Dorsey had announced the company's intent to work in a “distributed” way before the virus, but the pandemic forced the company to move the timeline up.

The Verge "Google brings its Grow with Google classes online"
Google is bringing its Grow with Google courses online for everyone in the U.S. and Canada – an initiative through which Google partners with libraries, schools, and other organizations to provide digital literacy workshops and one-on-one coaching, the workshops focus on business skills, including job applications and resume building as well as marketing and management.

Bloomberg "One-quarter of American restaurants won’t reopen, OpenTable says"
According to restaurant booking service OpenTable’s newest State of the Restaurant Industry research, as many as one in every four U.S. restaurants could go out of business due to the stay at home orders that have limited the food-service industry – total reservations and walk-in customers from OpenTable’s network were down 95% on May 13 from the same day a year ago.

The Christian Science Monitor "The world's two-wheel future"
Retailers are reporting increased demand for bikes as weather warms up, stay at home orders wear on, and people look for new options to get outside and get around – the boost in bike riding could have a lasting effect as cities plan more accommodations for cyclists and residents remain wary of public and shared transportation. See also The Verge "Cities are transforming as electric bike sales skyrocket" and The Guardian "Large areas of London to be made car-free as lockdown eased"

Cities and Government

TechCrunch " founder launches VoteAmerica, a nonprofit using tech tools to help Americans vote by mail"
A new voter mobilization project, VoteAmerica, seeks to boost voter turnout by helping people vote by mail.

Economics and the Workplace

Slate "The workplace-surveillance technology boom"
While there has been concern about overreach from the government and private tech companies offering surveillance-based solutions to the current pandemic, less attention has been paid to the potential for enhanced surveillance by employers, ranging from remote activity and productivity trackers to infrared camera temperature checks and apps to track staff’s health conditions and possible virus exposures.

Vox "Jeans before masks, cookies before sneeze guards: Corporate America is failing workers during the pandemic."
Federal guidance offers some guidelines for protecting essential workers, but companies have largely been left on their own to navigate how they compensate and reward workers during the pandemic, and a new survey from the Shift Project finds that workers at major companies report basic safety protections on the job are lacking and the process for supporting workers has been slow.


The Hechinger Report "Another pandemic-related threat to universities: Falling numbers of graduate students"
Until recently, graduate students had generally remained a bright spot in higher education, continuing to show up at colleges and universities and helping institutions balance their books even as undergraduate enrollment dramatically declined, but the coronavirus pandemic could further strain graduate student enrollment by adding additional risk for international students coming to the United States.

The Hechinger Report "Without more federal funds, half of all child care centers could close forever"
Across the country, local foundations, organizations, and city officials have stepped up efforts to support home-based child care centers, many of whom have been unable to obtain funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act – an estimated 50% of licensed child care centers in the nation are at risk of closing permanently, a loss of more than 4.4 million child care slots, according to a report by the Center for American Progress

Health and Wellness

CNET "Google's Nest cameras will help monitor coronavirus patients at Mount Sinai Hospital"
Google will work with Mount Sinai Hospital in New York to develop a system that uses Nest cameras to help monitor coronavirus patients – more than 100 hospital rooms will be fitted with two Nest cameras to be used to communicate with patients and monitor vitals and live-stream directly to a console at the Mount Sinai nurse station in an effort to help healthcare workers save time and personal protective equipment (PPE). 

The Verge "Headspace is now free for people who are unemployed in the US"
Meditation and mindfulness app Headspace is making its premium service free for people experiencing unemployment in the U.S.

The Internet

Vox "Twitter now labels misleading coronavirus tweets with a misleading label"
Twitter has announced another update to its policies regarding conspiracy theories and fake news – tweets making potentially harmful claims disputed by experts will now come with a more direct warning message based on a three-pronged approach depending on whether the company deems the claims as “misleading,” “disputed,” or “unverified.” See also Engadget "Facebook deploys AI in its fight against hate speech and misinformation" and The New York Times “Get ready for a vaccine information war”

The Verge "Facebook will pay $52 million in settlement with moderators who developed PTSD on the job"
In a landmark acknowledgment of the toll that content moderation takes on its workforce, Facebook has agreed to pay $52 million to current and former moderators to compensate them for mental health issues developed on the job – each moderator will receive a minimum of $1,000 and will be eligible for additional compensation if they are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder or related conditions and Facebook will roll out changes to its content moderation tools to reduce the impact of viewing harmful images and videos.

Restaurants, Retail, and Spaces

Bloomberg "Uber approaches Grubhub with takeover offer"
Uber has reportedly made an offer to acquire Grubhub, a move that could combine two of the largest food-delivery apps in the U.S. as the coronavirus drives a surge in demand, even as food delivery services struggle for profitability.

The Verge "Uber’s response to COVID-19: Face masks, selfies, and fewer people in the car"
New rules from Uber will limit the maximum number of people allowed in each vehicle to three, restrict passengers to travel in the back seat only, and require drivers and riders to wear face masks – the company will spend $50 million on supplies for drivers, such as face masks, hand sanitizer, and bleach wipes.

Streaming Media

The New York Times "Jeffrey Katzenberg blames pandemic for Quibi’s rough start"
Designed around five- to 10-minute entertainment and news programs to be watched on the go by people who are too busy to sit down and stream TV shows or movies, Quibi launched just when millions of people came under stay at home orders across the United States – downloads have been anemic, despite a lineup that includes producers and stars like Jennifer Lopez, LeBron James, Idris Elba, Steven Spielberg, and Chrissy Teigen; of the 2 - 3 million users who have installed the app, the company says 1.3 million are active users; there has been a scramble to let users watch programming on televisions; and the service is working to let users share more content on social media platforms.

TechCrunch "Spotify Kids app rolls out blocking, listening history features for parents"
Spotify is expanding the capabilities of its parental controls on its Spotify Kids app, allowing adults to review listening histories and block specific content from their child’s account.