ACDC News – Issue 14-13

Season’s greetings

All of us in the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center send special greetings and best wishes to you during this holiday season. We also hope you enjoy and find value in some of the research and professional insights coming into the ACDC collection as 2014 winds down.

Understanding the appeal of farmers’ markets

Findings reported recently in the International Food and Agribusiness Management Review shed light on who attends farmers’ markets and why. Here are a few highlights of research involving nearly 1,500 attendees at 16 farmers’ markets in Nevada and Utah:

  • Consumers attended primarily to buy fresh produce, followed by social interaction.
  • Those wanting mainly to buy fresh produce tended to be married females at higher income levels, persons with strong diet or health concerns, and those who are supportive of local farming and agriculture open space.
  • Participants were not strongly motivated to buy ready-to-eat foods, packaged foods, arts and crafts.
  • Those attending for social interaction tended to be unmarried males or larger families attending events.

You can read the research paper at:

Lessons from a PR disaster with Mary the Elephant

Have you heard of anyone hanging an elephant? If not, you may share our surprise and interest in an article we discovered recently by John Brummette in a 2012 issue of Public Relations Review . This case study highlights perils of the press agentry model of public relations, mixed with elements of animal welfare, crisis communications, and community trauma.

The story traces back to 1916 when the Carolina, Clinchfield, and Ohio Railroad Company “performed its civic duty by assisting an angry public in hanging a murderer in Erwin, Tennessee. The murderer, a two-ton circus elephant named Mary, was convicted, sentenced, and hanged from a railroad derrick for causing the death of her trainer in a horrific public spectacle.” This fascinating, instructive story holds enduring lessons from the infancy of the public relations profession.

You can read the abstract at:

Check with us at if we can help you gain access.

How changes in U.S. phone networking affect rural areas

We have added to the ACDC collection a brief report from Public about possible effects of the move from traditional (TDM-based) technology to Internet Protocols (IP). The report identifies four risks facing rural areas and people:

  • Universal service rules that have helped rural Americans obtain broadband phone service may no longer apply.
  • Fixed wireless services can have significant restrictions and limitations compared to the landline service.
  • Next-generation networks may not necessarily provide internet access.
  • In the transition to IP, carriers’ use of least-cost routing systems has led to an increase in incomplete calls to and from rural areas.

You can read this item at

Science – more than a catalog of facts to be memorized

A bright green truck, “The Think Tank,” is helping put a new face on science for promising high school students with under-represented backgrounds. Tyler Alterman and Daniel Casasanto of the University of Chicago co-founded this project. The “Think Tank” visits local Chicago schools to address “a disconnect between how science is presented in schools and how it’s practiced.” It engages students in the nuts-and-bolts of neuroscience – how the mind works – and fosters curiosity for research.

Coordinators also plan to take the “Think Tank” to festivals, museums, and large public events “to get the general public excited about our current understanding of the brain.”

You can read a report of this new education project in the May-June issue of the University of Chicago Magazine at:

Cautions about using IT to build global markets

A new book by researcher Anita Chan sheds revealing light on the complexities and impacts of digital media in rural communities. It is Networking Peripheries: Technological Future and the Myth of Digital Universalism (MIT Press). At one level, it features a case analysis of government efforts in Peru to optimize global market potential for the traditional, handmade ceramics of artisans in the rural town of Chulucanas. Troubling effects on the artisans and community illustrate risks in viewing information technologies as simply new and direct means to economic and social development. Instead, outcomes illustrate a dynamic interplay of good intentions and unintended results.

At another level, it highlights the cultural complexities and political life of digital media at the “peripheries,” well beyond the recognized “centers” of IT innovation. At a third and more basic level, it follows in the tradition of concern about Western-centric framing of “innovation,” “science” and “development.”

An abstract from the publisher is at:

You can read the table of contents at:

Comparing the online networks of dog and cat owners

Researcher Jennifer Golbeck found many differences when she investigated the behavior of dog and cat owners in pet-oriented social networks. For example:

  • Cat owners tend to make their pets’ profiles have many more friends than do dog owners.
  • Dog owners tend to use the features of the sites that let them share pictures and express their connection with their pets.
  • Cat owners are much more prolific users of the community-oriented features of the sites.
  • Rural dog owners have about the same average number of friends as have urban dog owners (about 39).
  • However, rural cat owners have nearly twice the average number of friends (98) as have urban cat owners (51).

You can read the article in First Monday journal at:

International communicator activity approaching

April 27-May 1, 2015Annual conference of the Association for International Agricultural and Extension Education (AIAEE) in Wageningen, The Netherlands.Information:

How’s that again?

Hearty holiday appetites – and seasonal concerns about winter weather – prompt us to close this issue of ACDC News with several ponderisms, including a couple about food and nature:

  • I used to eat a lot of natural foods until I learned that most people die of natural causes.
  • All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.
  • How is it that one careless match can start a forest fire, but it takes a whole box to start a campfire?

Best wishes and good searching

Please pass along your reactions, suggestions and ideas. Feel free to invite our help as you search for information. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @ACDCUIUC (which we are becoming increasingly active on). 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, Room 510, 1101 S. Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801) or in electronic format sent to