Read for Later – “People reserve deliberation and conscious decision-making for novel situations and for when new problems arise in old situations”

This week’s headline quotes John Thøgersen's 2012 paper, "The importance of timing for breaking commuters’ car driving habits," and while the paper was cited this week as part of a consideration for the future of city streets and car culture, it’s summation is applicable to so many things happening in our world today. (The Atlantic “The pandemic shows what cars have done to cities”)

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.

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.

Stay safe and healthy.

Five Highlights

The Verge "US patent office rules that artificial intelligence cannot be a legal inventor"
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has ruled that artificial intelligence systems cannot be credited as an inventor in a patent – the decision is based on U.S. patent law references to inventors using humanlike terms such as “whoever” and pronouns like “himself” and “herself” and stands in line with decisions by the U.K.’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and the European Patent Office (EPO).

Governing "Absent Fed help, state budgets will be the worst in decades"
Around the country, states, cities, and counties are seeing revenues fall, even as the demand for unemployment insurance and other services is rising fast – financial research firm Moody’s Analytics predicts that the shrinking economy could translate into a revenue drop for states of between $158 billion and $203 billion, or 18% to 23%. See also Slate "The states are toast"

The Atlantic “The pandemic shows what cars have done to cities”
Current stay at home orders have demonstrated how much room American cities devote to cars, especially as pedestrians nervously avoid one another on sidewalks and in parking lots – as cities and communities emerge from these orders, many are exploring new options for creating more space for people. See also Fast Company "How cities are reshaping streets to prepare for life after lockdown" and NextCity "Getting around after COVID-19 could get better — or it could get worse"

GeekWire "CVS and UPS team up for drone deliveries to retirees amid coronavirus outbreak"
UPS’ drone subsidiary Flight Forward will partner with the CVS pharmacy chain to deliver prescription medicines to The Villages, one of the nation’s largest retirement communities with more than 135,000 residents in Central Florida.  

CNET "Whole Foods will provide free, disposable masks to customers"
Amazon-owned Whole Foods said it would be asking all customers to wear masks in its stores to protect against the spread of COVID-19 and would begin offering free, disposable masks to all customers when they shop – Amazon anticipates spending more than $800 million in the first half of 2020 on COVID-19 safety measures by purchasing things like masks, thermometers, hand sanitizer, and gloves. See also CNN Business "Exclusive: Uber will soon require drivers and riders to wear face coverings in the US"  

Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines

CNET "Google Duplex learns to make calls in Spanish, debuts in Spain"
A Spanish-speaking version of Google Duplex, the AI chat algorithm that was pitched as a way for the Google Assistant to call restaurants and book reservations on users’ behalf, is launching in Spain to advance Google’s initiative to gather information about stores’ hours during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Cities and Government

Slate "A City in Oklahoma ends face mask requirement after store employees threatened"
Stillwater City, Oklahoma, which had required residents to wear a face mask when going inside a business, has decided to change that rule after store employees were threatened with violence by people who refused to cover their nose and mouth.

The Verge "NYC will halt subway service overnight to disinfect trains"
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will suspend subway service for four hours every evening to disinfect trains and deal with an uptick in homelessness – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the change was necessary to protect transit workers who have been especially hard hit by the virus and that the city and state would provide alternative travel for essential employees who need to get to and from work during those hours.


CNET "FCC calls for all carriers to extend their Keep America Connected pledge"
Federal Communications Commission chair Ajit Pai has asked all carriers and internet service providers to extend their Keep Americans Connected pledge to waive late fees and disconnections amid the coronavirus pandemic until June 30.

TechCrunch "As COVID-19 misinformation grows, YouTube brings video fact-checking to the US"
YouTube announced that it will bring its fact-checking information panels to the U.S., displaying in relevant search results using information pulled from third-party publishers, including The Dispatch,, PolitiFact, and The Washington Post Fact Checker.

TechCrunch "The quarantine is driving record usage growth at Facebook"
Stay at home orders are driving a record number of users to Facebook’s products, with more than 3 billion internet users logging onto a Facebook service in the past month, including its central app, Instagram, Messenger, or WhatsApp. See also CNET "Twitter's user growth soars amid coronavirus, but uncertainty remains"

CNET "Google's Zoom rival, called Meet, is now free to consumers"
Google will make its teleconferencing service Google Meet free to users with a Google account – the free version will have a 60-minute cap (which will not be enforced until after September 30), allow up to 100 participants, and include features such as screen sharing and real-time captions.

Mobility and Transportation

Slate "There’s something about scooters"
As more cities seek solutions to car congestion, some are focusing in on the promise of smaller vehicles, introducing plans like Atlanta’s Action Plan for Safer Streets that call for increased bike lanes and space for pedestrians. See also TechCrunch "Lyft ends electric scooter operations in Oakland, Austin, and San Jose" and The Verge "Lime reportedly plans to lay off as many as 100 employees"


Scientific American "Will Americans be willing to install COVID-19 tracking apps?"
As many governments and technology companies promoted tracking apps as tools to monitor the spread of COVID-19, there was concern that the technology could infringe on rights and freedoms, but now there are also concerns that not enough people will use the apps to make them effective. See also BBC "NHS rejects Apple-Google coronavirus app plan" and Reuters "Germany flips to Apple-Google approach on smartphone contact tracing" and Reuters "India makes government tracing app mandatory for all workers" and The Washington Post "Most Americans are not willing or able to use an app tracking coronavirus infections. That’s a problem for Big Tech’s plan to slow the pandemic." and The Washington Post "Cellphone monitoring is spreading with the coronavirus. So is an uneasy tolerance of surveillance."

Spaces, Retail, and Restaurants

Variety "Texas movie theaters reopen with health, temperature checks"
As Texas and other states begin to reopen public spaces, some movie theaters that are planning to open will introduce new measures similar to “airport security-style check-in,” where attendees will have their temperatures screened and be asked if they or anyone in their household have had flu symptoms in the last 14 days.

Bloomberg "Tim Cook Says Austria, Australia Apple Stores to Reopen in 1 to 2 Weeks"
Apple CEO Tim Cook said that the company plans to reopen its retail stores in Austria and Australia beginning in the next one to two weeks and that he believes that “just a few, not a large number” of stores in the U.S. will re-open in the first half of May, making decisions “city by city, county by county, depending on the circumstances in that particular place.”

The Verge "Airbnb’s new cleaning protocols include 24-hour vacancies between bookings"
Airbnb is introducing a new “enhanced cleaning initiative” that will take effect in May and include a 24-hour vacancy period between bookings – the new cleaning protocol is not required for property hosts, but guests will be able to see which hosts are participating in the cleaning initiative in search results on the platform.

Streaming Media

CNET "Spotify subscribers jump to 130M, but listening drops in coronavirus areas"
Streaming music service Spotify revealed that it had 130 million subscribers at the end of March, up 31% from a year earlier, but noted that listeners aren't spending as much time on Spotify in countries hit hard by coronavirus, as listening has dropped in cars, on wearables, and on web platforms – Spotify also said that 286 million people now use its service (including its free tier) at least once a month, up 31% percent from a year earlier.

Engadget "Streaming-only movies will be eligible for awards at the 2021 Oscars"
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences approved a rule change that will make digital-only movies eligible for Oscars, but just for the current awards year – Academy leaders Dawn Hudson and David Rubin maintained that there was “no greater way” to experience movies than at a theater and that this was meant to support “members and colleagues during this time of uncertainty.”

CNET "YouTube announces free global film festival starting May 29"
YouTube announced a free 10-day We Are One: A Global Film Festival to begin May 29 and run through June 7 on YouTube – the festival will bring together films, shorts, documentaries, comedies, music, and conversations from twenty of the world's most famous film festivals.