E-Agriculture

Jim Cory

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Jim Cory
Jim CoryHorizon MappingUnited States of America

In the area of planning and management, the toughest challenges may be in identifying the target group of farmers where these efforts can make the most difference and in determining the best form of communication to provide access to the information within budgetory constraints.

In terms of risk management, determination of areas at risk must be followed up with information about availability of tools (seeds, fertilizers, machinery). This should include product catalogues of suppliers and comparitive reviews of products based on sustainability models.

Jim Cory
Jim CoryHorizon MappingUnited States of America

If we agree that there are multiple levels (stars) of sharing standardization and that we need to facilitate capacity building at all levels, perhaps we also need to recognize that the progress towards capacity will proceed at different rates. Capacity will be greatest amongst the global system participants and lowest at the most local level of system integration.

In order for globally shared data to reach the local level and local data to reach the global level there is a need to focus on the intermediate level as passthrough systems where global standardized data is accessed and locally standardized data is collected and shared. The intermediate level will need to involve IT developers and systems that have sufficient capability to understand and process both ends of the spectrum.

The intermediate, localized data sharers will be a critical link in connecting advances in agriculture with people who can put it into practice. If this is so, perhaps capacity building at the intermediate system level should be the focus in the near term and provide the biggest bang for the buck.

Jim Cory
Jim CoryHorizon MappingUnited States of America

We have talked about systems for sharing data within a broad group of users. Perhaps we need to think about these systems as a hierarchy. At one level are a set of systems that fully support global standards and provide automatic semantic matching.

At an intermediate level are a group of systems that are more localized and which understand the global standards and intake and output data to and from global systems, but are focused on incorporating and sharing local data gathered in less formal ways. These intermediate systems work with local developers to provide access to global and local information in a format that is relevant to local practitioners.

At the practioner level there are flexible delivery and reporting tools that provide current, localized, market oriented data and also incorporate crowd sourcing methods for gathering information from individual practitioners.

All levels may not support the same standards, but there could be localized methods for taking data in and then translating them into global standards as the data moves up the hierarchy.

Jim Cory
Jim CoryHorizon MappingUnited States of America

Thinking is good. That's why any of this is happening. It is also inevitable. It is one of the things we are good at. In regards to that, I have been thinking...

I agree with you that there can be things we do to facilitate the adoption and use of standards rather than letting things take there own course. You mentioned education which is something that needs to happen at all levels of the information spectrum, from data/tool producers to information consumers. One way of spreading the word might be to come up with a set of recommendations for different categories of interaction that are tailored to the needs of specific user groups. Are there different technical requirements for research groups as opposed to community farmers and can those information tool kits be adjusted to accommodate different cultural expectations?

Possible criteria for the tool kits might include ease of implementation, affordability, robustness of the standard, current level of adoption, flexibility, extensibility, infrastructue opportunites and limitations. Development of new and better standards will continue, but for putting tools in place now we need solutions that work out of the box.

Jim Cory
Jim CoryHorizon MappingUnited States of America

Interoperability seems more like an irresistable force than a strategy. People want information and providers wishing to be accessed, provide it in several usable formats. As standards become commonly available, major data managers, document publishers and content streams adopt them in order to remain competitive or viable. This is a natural progression and can be observed as one looks back on the evolution of information technology.

Data sharing standards are inevitably accompanied by open access tools that form the glue to tie separate bits together. Information consumers follow after, looking to create new analyses and perspectives. On an as needed basis, the pieces are arranged and connected in a freeform construction of content and functionality. Each of these unique triangles are designed for a subset of information consumers. Each of the triangles can in turn be linked to other information networks by using standards to create yet more community specific applications.

There is no one-size-fits-all. Standards and flexible linking provide for all the uses one can imagine. They are also constantly evolving to provide the next great trend in information sharing.

Jim Cory
Jim CoryHorizon MappingUnited States of America

One of the main questions I had in reading the intro doc was "Is it important to share social networking data?" It is easy to agree that research publications and field data are important areas to focus on for sharing, but in order not to spread ourselves too thin, do we need to set some limits on how much is enough.

I know from working with CrisisCommons that there are structured tweets, email chains and skype chats that are important to capture for future reference. Forums are perhaps more formal ways of capturing discussions, but in some cases the immediacy of chat is necessary. Do we rely on the conversation participants to capture the info into more traditional forms (wikis, summary papers) or do we need to somehow tap into live discussions? What does this entail when older chats/emails may be archived?