ACDC News – Issue 03-16

Canada’s first “consensus conference” on food biotechnology.

An article that we added recently from Science Communication analyzed the first such application in Canada (March 1999) on the issue of food biotechnology. Two University of Calgary researchers analyzed this interactive technique involving “a small group of citizens who go through a learning process on a given technological issue, engage experts, and develop an assessment of the key issues they identify as critical.”

Authors observed that consensus conferences are “imperfect models” and “not the only means of opening up the technology process. However, this model and other tools like it represent the continuing efforts to expand the range of voices participating in science and technology.”

Reference: Use a title search (Consensus conferences as deliberative democracy) or author search (Einsiedel) for the full citation.

The 85:15 formula – advice for communicators in education.

It came from Alice Blinn, associate editor of Ladies Home Journal, at a 1949 meeting of the American Association of Agricultural College Editors (ACE). “Whenever I hear what women want discussed,” she said, “I always remember the precept laid down by Professor Burrit, director of extension in New York in my early days.”

“It was his advice to give people 85 percent of what they want and not more than 15 percent of what you think they should have. It seems to me that this is still sound advice.”

Reference: Use a title search (Alice Blinn tells) for the full citation.

Future of telecom in rural America.

“Well, I don’t pretend to be clairvoyant,” a representative of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration said recently, “but I’m pretty sure it’s going to involve broadband.” Speaking to the National Exchange Carrier Association, Jack Zinman observed that thousands of new jobs could result from greater broadband deployment.

“Not surprisingly, then, broadband is an important potential source of growth and investment for rural America, our country, and for others around the world,” he said. He noted the unique challenges in rural America, with low population density and long loop lengths, and offered advice to the rural telecommunications carriers.

Reference: Use a title search (Future of rural telecommunications) or author search (Zinman) for the full citation. The speech was posted online at:

Farmers being left in the dust?

That was part of the title of a recent FarmWeek article about expansion of the “ag superhighway.” Author Doug Yoder, market education specialist of the Illinois Farm Bureau, cited a “proliferation of farm tools on the web.” He noted, however, that without Internet speed the web is of little use as a farm marketing tool.

“A lot of producers were telling us that it was one thing to get information over a slow connection, but if they’re expecting to conduct business, they need a much better, safer, more secure, faster connection.”

Reference: Use a title search (Ag superhighway expanding) or author search (Ross) for the full citation.

The future of agriculture-related communicating?

It’s a tidal wave of information in the important agribusiness sector of this field. Tom Taylor, president of AGRIS Corporation, highlighted some expanding dimensions of it during a presentation at InfoAg 2001. He said that information management is becoming increasingly complex and important for agricultural producers and retailers because of:

  • More specialized crops
  • More detailed records of applications of various fertilizers, chemicals and other inputs
  • More source verification and traceability of crops and livestock
  • More regulatory monitoring
  • More responsiveness to consumer demands and preferences

Taylor reported that four of every five agribusiness merchants had made a major upgrade or had totally replaced their information management systems in the previous two years.

Reference: Use a title search (Efficiencies, e-business) or author search (Taylor) for the full citation. This conference paper was posted online at:

And too many warnings in everyday life.

“Enough already!” pleaded Shulamit Reinharz in a commentary on the pervasiveness of warnings in everyday life. “Do I buy margarine or butter, knowing, as I have learned, that both are bad? Is it better to be overweight or risk the ‘serious health consequences of dieting and yo-yoing weight’?”

This thought piece highlighted some types of warnings and examined ways in which prevention itself “intrudes on the quality of life, foregrounds danger, and makes it harder to enjoy everyday experiences.” The author also suggested four reasons for the pervasiveness of warnings.

Reference: Use a title search (Enough already) or author search (Reinharz) for the full citation.

Welcome to our new associate in ACDC.

We are delighted to welcome Elena Padilla into the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center as webmaster and academic coordinator through an assistantship. She also begins graduate studies in library and information science this semester with an excellent background of education and experience.

Elena holds bachelor and master of arts degrees in English from DePaul University and the College of William and Mary, respectively. At both institutions she was a part-time library assistant, so she has had seven years of experience in university libraries. Since 1997 she has worked with Lucent Technologies as a customer technical support engineer. In that responsibility she gained experience not only in serving customers but also in working with varied information technologies.

“They don’t come much smarter than this group,” 

Said Stephen Wilbers after conducting a writing workshop for cooperative communicators. He did so at the recent 50th Anniversary Institute of Cooperative Communicators Association (CCA) in Madison, Wisconsin.

He put mischievous challenges such as these into a writing skills assessment:

  • “The list is (comprised of)(composed of) 75 common errors.”
  • “The last thing I want to do is (persuade)(convince) you that I never make mistakes.”
  • “Good communication skills can help managers (affect)(effect) change.”

Did you nail all three?

Reference: You can see sample columns, writing resources and exercises on his web site:

Professional activities approaching

September 26-28, 2003
Fall meeting of the North American Agricultural Journalists Association (NAAJ) in Omaha, Nebraska.

September 28-30, 2003
“Media relations made easy.” A superworkshop of Agricultural Communicators in Education (ACE) at New Orleans, Louisiana.

October 1, 2003
Deadline for research papers and professional papers to be considered for presentation to the Agricultural Communications Section of the Southern Association of Agricultural Scientists.
SAAS meets in Tulsa, Oklahoma

February 14-18, 2004.
Submissions open to all members of Agricultural Communicators in Education (ACE).

Best regards and good searching.

Please pass along your reactions, questions and ideas for ACDC. Feel free to invite our help as you search for information. And please suggest (or send) agricultural communications documents that we might add to this unique collection. Send

  • hard copies to:
    Ag Com Documentation Center
    510 ACES Library
    1101 S. Goodwin Avenue
    Urbana, IL 61801
  • or electronic copies to:

September 2003

Updated on