ACDC News – Issue 10-13

“The largest Last Supper.” That’s how researchers B. Wansink and C. S. Wansink titled their recent journal article about research that revealed how the trend toward larger portion sizes of foods is nothing new. They analyzed the relative size of servings portrayed in 52 of the best known paintings of the Last Supper over the last millennium (1000-2000 AD/CE). Relative sizes of the main dish, the bread and the plate used in history’s most famous meal increased linearly.

You can read their International Journal of Obesity article here .

Simple information technologies BUT complex interaction and adoption. Tapan Parikh emphasized that dilemma in a 2009 article, “Engineering rural development.” Writing for readers interested in computing equipment, Parikh emphasized that the engineering process needs to involve social and human dimensions such as:

  • Understanding of local users and their objectives
  • User studies and ethnography used for decades to study human-computer interaction
  • Rich learning from field tests and pilot deployment of varying scale and duration

Note: Thousands of documents in the ACDC collection reinforce this call for close collaboration between science/technology and the human and social dimensions of rural progress and wellbeing.

You can read the article here .

How to fail in using mobile phones for rural development . For more than five years, staff members at have covered information technologies for development. “We have seen our share of failures,” they explain in a recent report we have added to the ACDC collection. “For every great project that changes how a community benefits from technology to improve the lives of its people, there seem to be twice at many projects that fail, and end up wasting time, money and maybe worst, goodwill.” staffers offer 10 suggestions in their “definitive guide to failure.” You can learn more about them here .

Country-city antagonisms revealed in country music . “A common theme prevails in country music that explores the antagonistic relationship between the country and the city,” John F. Stanislawski reports in a thesis we have added to the ACDC collection. A master’s degree candidate at the University of Illinois, Stanislawski analyzed songs from the subgenre of honky-tonk in terms of lyrical content, style and sound to learn how the rural-urban dichotomy has evolved. They included:

“Oh, how I want to go home”
“I sold the farm to take my woman where she longed to be”
“It ain’t nothin’ but a concrete jungle”
“Big city turn me loose and set me free”
“I’m going back to a better class of losers”
“Shuttin’ Detroit down”

The author observed that the current rural-versus-urban theme often tends to reflect an increasingly modern and urbanized world. “The larger implications of these analyses ultimately help us to understand what the ‘country’ is and stands for to country music culture.”

Read this thesis here via Illinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship (IDEALS).

Retail food marketers scrambling to serve shoppers using smartphones. How can a consumer roaming the supermarket aisles use her/his smartphone to check on products, prices, locations and other matters of interest within that store? Food marketers are scrambling to find ways to answer that question, according to a report we have added from Food Systems Insider. The report cites these findings from a recent survey by among online customers:

  • 53 percent own a smartphone
  • 22 percent are using their phones to check prices
  • 21 percent are using them to research products

You can read the news item, “Got milk?” here .

Congratulations to TEEAL at the 10th Anniversary . The Essential Electronic Agricultural Library (TEEAL) is observing 10 years of providing quality scientific content to support agricultural development in countries where it would not otherwise be affordable. This digital “agricultural library in a box,” provided through a program coordinated at Cornell University, is available to public sector and not-for-profit educational and research organizations in 100 of the lowest income countries.

Content includes about 2.5 million pages of full-text articles from more than 140 journals. They are stored on a 500 gigabyte external hard drive for use either in a stand-alone computer or local area network, with a searchable database of citations. Subscriptions are available at a fraction of the cost of individual subscriptions and include annual updates. TEEAL serves a special need because internet and broadband access often is limited in these countries.

You can learn more about the agricultural information services of TEEAL here .

Communicator activities approaching

August 26-29, 2010
Annual Conference of the National Market News Association in Portland, Oregon USA.

September 1-3, 2010
Annual Conference of the Association of Food Journalists in Santa Fe, New Mexico USA.

September 30-October 2, 2010
“Big land. Big sky. Big business.” Annual conference of the Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

Reporting on impressive snake tracks. We close this issue of ACDC News with a J. Frank Dobie story that might impress any sharp-eyed agricultural journalist. Van Sickle appeared two hours late for a court summons, explaining to the judge that he was delayed by the track of a rattlesnake. “Your honor,” he insisted, “it is the most enormous track a man ever laid eyes on. The sight of it held me spellbound. I followed it in hopes of getting a glimpse of the snake that made it.”

“Ridiculous,” the judge replied in assessing a fine. But a lawyer and two other men expressed interest in seeing this enormous track. Van Sickle was delighted to take them several miles out of town to a sandy hillside near Ferber’s Branch. “Look at that,” he exclaimed. They weren’t impressed. “Why, that snake track is not wider than lots of snake tracks we have seen.”

“That may be true,” Van Sickle replied, “but, great goodness, look how long it is!”

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.