In considering the future of technology in our daily lives, and the rise of “The Internet of Things,” my first thought is, what about the people who can’t afford to buy products or internet connections to facilitate using these products? Will they be left behind, as people are already being left behind today, in the digital age? I work at an urban public library in a low-income neighborhood, and today (during our state-wide Covid-19 Shelter-in-Place situation, in which all public libraries in the region are closed) I wonder daily how the people who usually visit the library to file for unemployment, print out required documents needed to apply for affordable housing, etc. are coping right now. Some of these people simply do not have an internet connection at home, or a computer, but many of them also require assistance navigating a computer or a website. In my community, the public library is one of the few places where people can turn to for this kind of help.
In looking to the future, in which theoretically many of us will rely more on everyday assistance from tools and technologies (“The Internet of Things”), what role might libraries play in making such technologies available to those who lack access? Raine (2014) points out that the more we rely upon the “Internet of Things,” the more likely it is that “dangerous divides between haves and have nots may expand, resulting in resentment and possible violence.”
Raine, L. (2014). The Internet of Things and what it mean for librarians.
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