ACDC News – Issue 09-11

It’s more than link rot. How about data rot? Thanks to Paul Hixson for introducing that broader question in response to our ACDC News item about the ephemeral nature of live links to agricultural information on the Internet. He alerted us to two recent reports from David Pogue, one in the New York Times and one on CBS Television:

Pogue’s reports examine two aspects of data rot. One involves problems with the medium on which the information is stored (e.g., storage conditions). The other involves obsolescence of storage platforms (e.g., wire recorders and 8-track tape players).

What’s to be done? “…it’s something you have to take responsibility for yourself. No one is going to do it for you,” suggested one of Pogue’s resource specialists.

Farmer-to-farmer video – better than workshops in sparking innovation. A 2009 report in the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability concluded that “farmer-to-farmer video has great potential to enhance sustainable agriculture by encouraging local innovations.” Researchers reported these findings from a study among 200 women farmers in central Benin:

  • About 92% of those who viewed farmer-to-farmer learning videos and took part in hands-on training workshops developed creative solutions to rice processing based on improved parboiling methods.
  • 72% of those who learned only through video did so.
  • 19% of those who learned through workshops did so.

Thanks to Catherine Mgendi of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) for calling our attention to this report. Other materials in the ACDC collection confirm that implications extend beyond the settings of studies such as this.

Read a summary at:

Food shoppers bombarded and bamboozled. We recently added to the ACDC collection a research summary that raises a caution flag about information overload. Joanne Denney-finch, chief executive of IGD, United Kingdom, reported: “Shoppers tell us they are being bombarded by a variety of issues, day-in, day-out from a variety of sources…and they say that too much information bamboozles them.”

According to reported research findings,” only 21% are very confident that they understand all the information they receive about food, while 19% don’t mind how much information they get – because they usually ignore it anyway.”

Citation: Information overload is industry opportunity
Posted at

Part 3. Preparing agricultural journalists/communicators for the 21st Century.

Here are suggestions from Douglas Starr, professor of agricultural journalism at Texas A&M University, about how to design an undergraduate agricultural journalism/communications program for the 21st Century:

  • “Today’s agricultural journalism/communications students need a Collegiate dictionary, a grammar book and an Associated Press Stylebook, and they need to learn how to use each…”
  • Know, be aware of and be knowledgeable about officials and news sources in various fields of agriculture.
  • “I strongly advocate [education in communication theory and research] because it will stand them in good stead regardless of where their careers take them.”
  • “With the advent of the Internet and the World Wide Web, Ag Comm students should know how to write a second-day story because the Web page gets the first story.”

Read more of Professor Starr’s suggestions and reasons he offers for emphasizing them.

Students produce winning rural-urban videos . You can view three honored videos that college students produced recently to clarify how our food gets from the farm to the dinner table. These videos topped the Alpharma Ag Student Video Contest sponsored by Alpharma Animal Health:

  • “OatS” Produced by a team from the University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • “Today’s Agriculture” Produced by a team from the University of Florida
  • “Beef: Our Priority” Produced by a team from the University of Arizona

Posted at:

Lots of mid-year communicator activities

June 25-27, 2009
“Free rein in the Big Easy.” Annual seminar of the American Horse Publishers (AHP) organization in New Orleans, Louisiana.

July 31-August 4, 2009
2009 Congress of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) in conjunction with the Agricultural Media Summit in Fort Worth, Texas USA.

August 1-5, 2009
“Saddle up, catch the cowboy spirit.” Agricultural Media Summit in Fort Worth, Texas USA. Joint meeting of Livestock Publications Council (LPC), American Agricultural Editors’ Association (AAEA), International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ), Livestock Publications Council (LPC) and the National Association of Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT).

August 23-27, 2009
“Worldwide trends in open access to agricultural information.” Agricultural libraries discussion group at the World Library and Information Congress, Milan, Italy.

August 26-28, 2009
“Information and communication technologies for sustainable development.” 4th World IT Forum in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Yes, a new winner in agricultural fiction. We have been delinquent in reviewing results of the 2008 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. You may recall it as an international literary parody contest hosted by the Department of English and Comparative Literature at San Jose State University. The goal of the contest is “childishly simple: entrants are challenged to submit bad opening sentences to imaginary novels.”

So get ready. Here is the runner-up entry in the “Vile Puns” category. Michael L. VanBlaricum of Santa Barbara, California, entered it:

“The Jones family held their annual family reunion on Easter going through over six dozen spiral-cut, hickory-smoked hams and several bottles of a fine Australian shiraz, before Farmer Jones, the head of the family, took the leavings back to Manor Farm to slop Napoleon and his other champion hogs but the seventy-six ham bones fed the pig’s tirade.”

Best regards and good searching. Please pass along your reactions, suggestions and ideas for the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center. Feel free to invite our help as you search for information. And please suggest (or send) agricultural communications documents we might add to this unique collection. We welcome them in hard copy (sent to Ag Com Documentation Center, 510 LIAC, 1101 S. Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801) or in electronic format sent to .

Get in touch with us when you see interesting items in the ACDC collection and can’t gain full-text access through information in the citation, or through online searching. We will help you gain access.