osewalrus (osewalrus) wrote,
osewalrus
osewalrus

Link Harvest: Broadband and Precision Farming

More reasons we need broadband in rural areas.
http://www.wsj.com/articles/to-feed-billions-farms-are-about-data-as-much-as-dirt-1439160264

Ten years ago, I got asked by older farmers why the heck they needed broadband when dial up gave them email and that was all they ever needed. Now you can't even repair a tractor without a broadband connection.

Ten years ago, I had civil rights orgs ask why they should even care about accessibility to broadband when they had so many pressing needs and broadband was a mere luxury.

Now, getting broadband to rural communities and affordability for communities of color is a major issue. And look -- it was deployed unequally! Why didn't anyone do anything about that!

(Shall I even bother with the fights we had in 2009 to get community groups to push for fiber to public housing as part of the stimulous, which we *lost*. Now the same groups are upset that children in public housing can't do their homework because they can't get affordable access to high speed broadband. "Why didn't anybody warn us? Why didn't anybody structure this so we didn't fall behind again?")

It teaches me some depressing lessons about advocacy. (1) people are generally very bad at understanding why they need something they haven't previously needed; (2) as a result, the window to prevent inequality before it happens usually closes before the relevant constituency even knows that it cares; and, (3) It is a lot easier to solve inequality before it happens from a policy and cost perspective -- the chief problem is a political economy problem.

Which is what makes spectrum policy so useful. Like the Computer Inquiries in the 1970s and 1980s that produced the Internet and the capability to do dial up, spectrum policy is wonky and out of the way. But it creates the capacity for revolutionary good stuff later on.
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