Wednesday, September 21, 2011

That Cheer You Hear in the Background: "If AT&T can't do it, nobody can!!"

What Do Rural People Need Broadband For Anyway? (Digital Communities, 9/6/2011)

Robert Bell asks the question with tongue in cheek.  He does some well-deserved skewering in his opening paragraph.

Answer #1. It turns out, according to the USDA, that 70% of farms with sales of at least a quarter million dollars use the Internet for farm business. Slightly over 40% of smaller farms are also online. "The Internet is such an integral part of doing business in agriculture," Dan Errotabere told the Associated Press, "If the power goes off, everything on the farm seems to stop."

Answer #2. Another California farmer, Alec Smith, says that one of the most important advances available online is in pest control. When plants show signs of disease, Smith's staff snaps photos and emails them to plant disease specialists at universities, who email back advice on combating the disease.

Answer #3. Mike Smith, who runs a small, 40-acre  farm in the same area, sells his crops directly to customers online. He posts photos of his farm on Facebook, updates the farm Web site weekly with available crops and runs a blog. Customers email their orders. "The Internet means survival to a lot of small farmers," he told the AP. "If you don't have a Web site, nobody's going to know about you."

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