ACDC News – Issue 11-19

Guide to evaluating your website .  The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research has published an 87-page guide for CGIAR Centers. It may hold interest for agricultural communicators in other settings as well. Major sections of “Evaluating the impact of your website” feature:

  • Where the website fits into your strategy
  • Measuring usage (web analysis technologies, analytics)
  • Measuring usability (when to measure, methods to use)
  • Measuring usefulness (user surveys)

You can read the guide here:

The exultant ark: a pictorial tour of animal pleasure .  That is the title of a new book we reviewed recently from the University of California Press.  “It is meant for humans to enjoy,” explains author Jonathan Balcombe.

In addition, the strong images in this 214-page book can be a creative sparkplug for agricultural journalists who photograph animals. Through narrative and photographs, the author examines these dimensions of animal life:  play, food, touch, courtship and sex, love, comfort, companionship and other pleasures.

You can read the publisher’s description here:

Check with us at for help in gaining full-text access.

Social media – mixed blessings in health epidemics. We have added to the ACDC collection a news brief to this effect from the World Health Organization.  Director-General Margaret Chan explained that the rise of social media makes it extremely hard for any country to hide a public health threat of international concern.  However, “I can assure you that with the rise of social media, the background noises for rumours have become much louder and making it so much harder to detect the really important segments.”

Assistant director-general Keiji Fukuda reported that during the H1N1 scare in 2009-2010 the Internet was rife with rumours about how to build immunity against the disease.  “You have a lot of miscommunication mixed in with correct information.”

You can read the news brief here:

How “rural” fits into policy thinking about the digital divide. We have added to the ACDC collection a New Media and Society article about framing the digital divide.  Researchers examined eight key U.S. and European Union policy documents to identify the similarities and differences in how they defined the digital divide between 1995 and 2005. Among the findings:

  • U.S. documents tended to define “digital divide” in terms of access to equipment and infrastructure. They referred to distinct demographic segments such as “Hispanic,” “children” or “rural population.”
  • EU documents defined this issue as access to information and services, using more homogenizing terms such as “society,” citizens” or “public.”
  • The word “rural” was among the 40 most frequent words in U.S. policy documents, but not in EU documents.
  • In U.S. documents, “rural” dropped in ranking from 3rd in 1995 to not among the top 40 words in 2002.

You can read the abstract of this article here:

Check with us at for help in gaining full-text access.

More on the fragility of digital data .  Our recent item in ACDC News about “when the digital data die” prompted agricultural journalist Fred Myers to write:

“What’s alarming is that most aren’t aware all digital media must be copied or they will be lost. The National Archives considers copying every five years as being ideal and necessary within 10 years regardless of what storage medium is used, be it internal or external hard drives or CDs.  At the minimum, there will be millions of families who will never see pictures of their relatives because the present masses haven’t a clue that digital isn’t film and that the days of discovering a shoebox full of priceless images is rapidly coming to a close.”

What are your thoughts about this subject, especially in terms of helping assure effective communications for the food, agriculture and natural resource needs of the future?  What approaches are you using, or hoping to use? Please get in touch with us at .

Lots of uncertainty about how much salt to eat. A survey report of research for the UK Food Standards Agency reveals how adults across the United Kingdom remain uncertain about salt in their diets. Here is a summary of replies when respondents were asked what they thought to be the recommended maximum daily intake of salt that adults should eat each day:

6 grams (recommended maximum)                 9 percent

More than 6 grams                                          About 17 percent

Less than 6 grams                                           About 32 percent

Do not know                                                   40 percent

You can review these and other findings at:

Congratulations, thanks and best wishes to Devi Annamalai , who has served as an able, congenial associate in this Center during the past three years.  Devi recently completed her PhD in the Department of Plant Biology, with an active side interest in communications.  She helped us identify communications literature in the plant sciences that we probably would not have found without her expertise.  She is now a post-doctoral associate at Rockefeller University, New York City, working in the Laboratory of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry.

Communicator activities approaching

  • January 23, 2012
    Deadline for submitting research papers for presentation at the 2012 annual meeting of the International Association of Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences (ACE) in Annapolis, Maryland USA. Special Interest Group in Research invites papers relevant to agricultural communications.  A companion recognition program for graduate student papers also is available. Information: Prof. Courtney Meyers at
  • March 22-23, 2012
    Annual meeting of the Agricultural Relations Council (ARC) in Charleston, South Carolina. Information:

Feeling rushed, pushed and harried? We close this issue of ACDC News with a thought from Howard Nemerov:

“Praise without end for the go-ahead zeal
Of whoever it was invented the wheel;
But never a word for the poor soul’s sake
That thought ahead and invented the brake.”

Maybe his insight resonates with communicators working hard to advance agricultural and rural well-being. In all our countries, we have sometimes seen the sad and costly trail of rush-ahead, unfettered, ill-planned efforts, however well intended.

Share your thoughts with us at

Best regards and good searching.

Please pass along your reactions, suggestions and ideas. 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 Comm Documentation Center, 510 LIAC, 1101 S. Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801) or in electronic format sent to .