Future Tense Newsletter: Mapping the Library of Tomorrow

How will libraries change as they face their future?

Photo by Daniel Garcia/AFP/Getty Images

Howdy Slate-liens,

If you think the weather’s been strange lately, you’re not wrong: 2015 has been the warmest year in millennia, and it’s also exhibited baffling and frightening climatological patterns. As Eric Holthaus suggested in Future Tense, it may be time to step up environmental fights, especially now that the Keystone XL pipeline is finally dead. In one positive step, the EPA is developing tests that will make it harder for automakers to cheat on emissions tests. Another, less direct development may be found in global library initiatives that can, proponents claim, organically encourage climate activism, public health, and more.

Libraries have other civic roles to play, including protecting the data of their patrons as they begin to provide more and more digital services. And in other privacy news, federal lawmakers pushed to further regulate cellphone surveillance technology at the state and local levels. Of course, we already know what you’ll be doing on your cellphone in the future: streaming endless hours of video, which T-Mobile now won’t be counting toward data allotments, at least if you’re using the right services.

Here are the other stories that we were tempted to post on President Obama’s new Facebook page this week:

  • Gaming: So long as you set goals for yourself, video games can help players stave off depression.
  • Empathy: A new study shows that we exhibit empathic responses to robots in apparent pain.
  • Drones: Fighting fires just got a little easier thanks to a drone that shoots fireballs. Seriously.
  • Artificial intelligence: Researchers at Facebook announced some exciting developments in computer vision and other machine learning technologies.


Waiting until tomorrow comes,

Jacob Brogan

for Future Tense