A place for web 2.0 in Agricultural workforce development?

I am reminded of the raid by the feds on some Vt farms last year.  The search for laborers for farms has always been a challenge.  Does the WIB have a solution to this?  What kind of strategy could galvanize the community to support farmers and their workers?  Is there a place for 'investing' in this kind of laborer? What would it look like and what would 21st Century literacy's have to do with farm hands? User generated content, free access to the the worlds knowledge, eradication of isolation, sharing of best practices in an interactive environment–all web 2.0 characteristics apply as profoundly to the immigrant worker, or isolated rural farm worker as they do to school children, unemployed youths, adults, etc. 

Lamoillevt is not alone in this quandary.  World wide there has been tremendous steps forward in e-Agriculture that empower workers a the bottom of the pyramid.  For example e-Agriculture in India is having a huge impact on farmers incomes, eliminating the middle man, providing up to date info on prices, weather, seeds, etc. e-Agriculture.org has its own youtube channel

This Slide share "E-Agriculture: From Cutlass to Cutting Edge – Practical Solutions for the Knowledge Age" presentation contrasts nicely the old and the new agriculture and its relation to ICT and by inference, to workers. It starts with Vermonter John Deere's invention of the cutlass plow.  We need new innovators in our agricultural workforce if we are to be a sustainable and viable economy in the 21st Century.

In the States, and in Vt, we are very fortunate to have the Extension Services. UVM Extension is right on the cutting edge with their Facebook Page.  This offers a way to interact and get real time advise and insight into challenges.  But what about CSA's?  If I want to buy a share and I live in Johnson where is the closest CSA and what is available for my share this month/week? I could go to Ecobusiness links and find the CSA locator. But can't I find out my choices, what others think, what needs the farmer has?  The networks are emergent and still very underdeveloped.  There is no component of career awareness or professional development.  The many reasons the young give up farming (apart from the mono culture of dairy) is that there is so little awareness of the possibilities. They don't see how Facebook is relevant to agriculture. And yet consider the farms using methane for producing electricity–does the migrant worker have a role to play in this paradigm shift?  How about the typical farm hand?  I would say we are missing the opportunity to harvest these human resources sustainably.

Hardwick is doing an excellent job of reinventing their economy based on organic and specialty foods.  This is the model to follow and the partnership that the WIB needs to invest  in.  For the upcoming event- Supporting Agriculture in Lamoille, we need to have participation and collaboration from the people behind the efforts in Hardwick, from the Organic farm here in Johnson (I invited them but haven't heard back) from CSA farms and everyone else–especially someone from Black River Produce.  A recent article in "Green Living"?? I can't seem to find the magazine/paper at the moment- looked into how campuses are going local.  It found that our local college's–JSC and Sterling–use Black River Produce.  So it is these kinds of connections and synergies that should be aggregated in a comprehensive e-Ag 2.0 site that could develop the sector and provide workforce training by creating a sustainable network.

Using Virtual Worlds and Web 2.0 for ICT4ED and Eco-Tourism

A recent article in 3DTLC 3D Training, Learning and Collaboration reported:
“Lauren Papworth, a social networking strategist, told the Australian Tourism Futures conference that travelers will increasingly use virtual worlds to help plan their next vacation according to the Brisbane Times. The talk was targeted at the Australian tourism community, but has relevance to the entire global business.”

I have been working on a virtual worlds and web 2.0 strategy in the Dominican Republic. Some of the uses we are looking at are directed at eco-tourism. From a top down supply side perspective virtual worlds used for tourism is just another version of colonialism. But my idea is directed at the web 2.0 phenomenon of user generated content. In other words, the suggestion is, that as part of a content creation strategy (and unique intellectual property is a value proposition, and one way to create wealth, in a knowledge society) locally created content based on stewardship of the biome, is a way to develop an eco-tourism infrastructure. But if content is developed locally in an immersive and rich way, the interest of tourists would be aroused. Furthermore, those who cannot physically go–for political, logistical or financial reasons–virtual tourism and rich content created locally–can provide a way to generate income as part of a eCommerce strategy. Community supported conservation, or Local Stewardship of the biome is a sustainable eco-tourism strategy. Building an infrastructure of destinations devoted to this goal can contribute a wider support and help transition economies to one based on content creation instead of resource extraction or exploitation. Fundamentally this is a Creative Economy idea that leverages Information and Communication Technology for Development. I prefer to add “Emergent” development to the concept to re phrase the proposition to include the immersive internet and Bottom of the Pyramid wealth and knowledge creation strategies.
The Galapagos are a case in point. Tourism–even so called eco-tourism–is killing the very attributes that make the Galapagos a destination. But think about the volume and quantity of information that could be available–and most likely exists, horded by scientific institutions world wide– If this was generated, maintained and developed locally it would provide a solution to the onslaught of tourists, while providing income to the local people. Then, serious eco-tourists and tour companies could properly protect the heritage of the site, finding more equitable ways of allowing visitors to the delicate ecosystem.
Even this stage of virtual tourism that we are discussing is quickly morphing into augmented reality. A data rich environment, created and maintained by local people will be providing a new frontier to monitoring the planet and its resources and ecosystems. The sooner local communities can get aboard the sooner they will be in a position to generate wealth and provide a sustainable future.

Information, Communication and Technology for Emergence (ICT4E)– An Immersive Learning Community Blended with Virtual Worlds and Web 2.0

There is an urgent need to transform our educational ecosystems and address the rapid transformations occurring in our world, especially the crisis confronting our survival. Are these needs linked and can we address them together? Educators around the globe are discovering and embracing virtual worlds, such as Second Life, for immersing their students and reinvigorating their pedagogy with 21st Century Literacy’s and Learning Skills–But how do we make our classrooms immersive? What will it look like to shift our pedagogy from one based on teaching and specialties to one based on student centered learning– pluralistic, hyper-individual, eclectic, diverse, and emergent? ICT4 Emergence and the International Telecenter movement offers an opportunity to leverage this transformation.
I’d like to suggest a scenario for transforming our classrooms and learning institutions. We can achieve this by creating a learning community that blends the engaging and transformative power of virtual worlds, with immersion in practical hands-on experiential learning for sustainability and prosperity. Participating in a massively multiple on-line virtual world such as Second Life, or creating your own community specific virtual world through the open source community of Open Sim–educators are provided with an evolutionary step unparalleled in media ecology. Using social networking tools like Facebook, Twitter and nings–free, open source platforms–global interaction and collaboration tools are available to every classroom, spurring innovation and emergence.
What I am suggesting is moving into a blended learning methodology that leverages the emergent technological platforms of the immersive internet–virtual worlds, web 2.0 and serious gaming–while addressing the urgent needs facing us as humans and as educators. Estimates are that world wide we will need to build a major university every day for the next 3 decades to accommodate the growing population and learning needs of our young. In that time span much, if not all, of the polar ice will have melted. Virtual worlds offer a 24/7/365 synchronous and asynchronous model of learning without the need for bricks and mortar. As for the bricks and mortar, these energy consumptive, water wasting, and unsustainable facilities offer the ideal laboratory to transform our learning applications into concrete, practical and life giving learning communities.
How then, do we transform our schools? Consider that the community is the curriculum: the whole systems which sustain the local biome– food, water, waste, energy, culture, government, the environment, the economy–are the topics we address, investigate and may redesign for a sustainable future. Apply systems thinking and ecological, synergistic practices to our curriculum. This is the vision of a design science formulated by Buckminster Fuller that sees nurturing our innate creative and design prowess as the answer to solving our dilemmas. By applying these techniques to the systems which sustain life, students are empowered with the tools and opportunities to transform their communities. In the process they develop the 21st Century Literacy’s so essential to their success and offer solutions to our most pressing global challenges.

Satori: Evolutions of Nous

Viewer Supplied Content changes everything. This is a mantra for understanding the seismic changes occurring. The ages of glaciers is over, the time of Tsunami upon us. The Nous is responding, can you tell?
In his article A Seismic Shift in Epistemology Chris Dede opens a fissure in one of the leading indicators of change: epistemology: first defining Web 2.0–
“The term Web 2.0 reflects a shift in leading-edge applications on the World Wide Web, a shift from the presentation of material by website providers to the active co-construction of resources by communities of contributors.” He goes on to say: “the Web 2.0 definition of “knowledge” is collective agreement about a description that may combine facts with other dimensions of human experience, such as opinions, values, and spiritual beliefs.”
Contrary to Alexis de Tocquville’s worry in Democracy in America about the dumbing down of America through egalitarianism run amok, crowdsourcing is pushing the bar ever higher. This is somewhat counter intuitive and seems to be the case because of the self organizing attributes of an emergent phenomenon. Indeed, this is what Wikipedia is all about after all, and the reason its level of accuracy and usefulness is increasing, just as entombed encyclopedias are becoming that, entombed. Read ‘textbooks’ please.

In a presentation I heard recently a leading lawyer in the IP field looking at Viewer Supplied Content noted that recent attempts to craft legislation for this area had moved to abandoning this direction and instead was retuning to custom. This is a very profound development because what it means to me, anyway, is that the decentralizing effects of web 2.0 have put the process back into one of transition and flux, essentially an emergent situation. This is evidence of a self regulating system at work and why I would characterize this as the world mind, represented by the internet and its collective contributions, taking steps to evolve.

Viewer Supplied Content is, by definition Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP), (okay, the WHOLE pyramid) and has embedded within it a paradigm shift equal to the seismic shift alluded to. It has to do with wealth creation as well. This is the deeper meaning behind the collapse of the financial system and a foreshadowing of things to come as institutions in the old paradigm collapse. So returning to the idea of a knowledge economy reflected in the entries to Wikipedia, an earlier post of mine, we can see some emergent characteristics related to wealth creation through web 2.0 phenomenon; namely micro enterprise at the BoP.

One last observation along these lines. The Obama administration is not naive about this paradigm shift. Efforts to re craft government into
a more participatory and web 2.0 environment are in the works. See this interesting article:
Facilitating an environment for emergence is the key to survival, sustainability and wealth creation. This is a reflection of a shift to a meritocracy and away from an oligarchy, for which we just voted.

Changing a paradigm

How do you change a paradigm? When our entire economy and population is based on fossil fuels, considering a move to a renewable life style and energy sources are daunting. The alternatives are out there, and evolving every moment.  But none of these are presenting themselves in a timely fashion and at the scale we need to really change things. Speaking of scale I found this awesome site:http://www.globalwarmingart.com/ The displays have some wonderful qualitative displays of quantitative information–

This one of the Last 5 Glacial terminations:http://www.globalwarmingart.com/wiki/Image:Deglaciation_png

is interesting because what it shows is that temperature preceded rises in CO2 historically.  Yet todays rise in temperature is following rises in CO2.  What this suggests to me is that we haven’t seen the temperature rises that we can expect with this amount of rise in CO2.  Well, I’m not a scientist.  And what i want to try and point out is the urgency of addressing the rise in CO2, as many of us are discovering and discussing.  But how? So this brings me back to the issue of a shift in the dominant paradigm–a power shift if you will. How do you initiate it?  What does it look like? I’m discovering that it happens one step at a time through our experience.  In other words it is a consciousness issue that we all participate in.  I like the Global warming art site because it ties in the role of art.  And I think every sector of the educational universe needs to be involved at an intimate level in order to change our awareness.  It falls upon the youth in an unprecedented way. Our youth have the opportunity to change the dominant paradigm by raising consciousness in every aspect of their studies and activity. Every discipline can contribute–has to contribute in order to reduce our CO2 emissions. The youth represent one third of the population of the planet.  With social networking technologies and aggregation of opinions and resources a tremendous impact can be made by a relatively few visionary leaders passing along their passion and vision into the everyday reality of people.

     One of the things that interests me about this process is what is called ‘ecoequity’.  I’m trying to understand this in the context of decentralization of power–energy.  So in other words, renewables are micro in many applications: solar cells on your roof, a micro wind turbine on your school. This by passes traditional, centralized, massive corporate monopolies on the availability of power.  The symbolism is obvious. Interesting in that this dispersed power grid is analogous to Web 2.0 networking.  So I see parallels in what is occurring in cyber consciousness or the world mind–and what is occurring on the earth with our power structures–both civic and mechanical.  

      So one last thought for now, perhaps an invitation of sorts. Cyber networking permits a lower carbon footprint than travel and face to face meetings.  If you imagine the price of gas at $100 a gallon how will we be able to continue to meet and transact business, or effect change? Social networking offers an alternative like this wonderful site.  But even more powerful is the power of virtual worlds and emerging technologies like Second Life: http://www.Secondlife.com/

By leveraging virtual worlds we can continue to aggregate our tremendous resources of ideas and action in ways not even imagined–all with a remarkably low carbon footprint. So think about it.  Thanks for reading this. 

Evolving Lateral web 2.0 Architectonic

Web 2.0 for now

Media Ecology Musings

The media is the message. How very apt for Second Life. I’m just begining to graple with these things and feeling like I’ve been asleep at the wheel. Since i’m new to blogging, the blogosphere is overwhelming. I’m one of those people for whom 1 + 1 = one.

So muddling along, what I wanted to add to the discussion from the other night with Bob Logan, is a comment ascribed to St. Augustine. Namely, that he was aware for the first time that he could read without speaking–that he could do what we call ‘reading to ourselves.’ This comment really blew my mind in the context of evolving consciousness. It seems a necessary precursor to the famed subject/object dichotomy in Western thought. Has anyone else ever heard of this comment by St. Augustine? I wonder. If we cast our minds back to a world where the word = the thing, naming as a human act of spontaneous creation, how far we have travelled! Witness the proliferation of words and blogs. Here we are in numerous ecologies. We are becoming aware of ecologies and out interdependence within them. We are creating new communities. We are synthesizing anew our compartmentalized reality.
Going back to the discussion with Bob, and the moveable type printing press, which appeared shortly after St Augustine, a suggestion of the democratization of knowledge accompanied this paradigm shift. The oral traditions passed from the mystic past were codified and subject to manipulation and monopoly by the Church. Now with books the many could have access, potentially, to what was the domain of the few. The vestiges of this monopoly remain today in the cult of the faculty–but it is changing fast!

—I know this is somewhat muddled, i warned you.

Bob Logan mentioned we are on the cusp of something. Clearly something is occuring in terms of this new media of the internet, blogging, web 2.0. If this media environment is the message, as I struggle to comes to terms with its meaning, another paradigm shift is upon us. Because I am in an educational environment, I feel it in the need of my pedagogy to evolve. The realization that students are no longer consumers–as the catch word goes (one that always bothered me)–but now are contributors, changes everything.

So I have to take this the next step, –most likely way too much for one blog–it follows in my non-linear thinking that the ultimate contribution of an individual would be their reality, i.e., virtual reality. So when i stumbled upon Second Life what impressed me most was the creative prowess of the platform.


So in some way the circle has come round reinvesting our naming facility with the power to create in this new environment.
This is what I call ‘virtual being.’

I have one last part to add to this. Working in a rural impoverished college I am concerned with equity. That’s why the ‘democratization of knowledge’ is of interest. My responsibilty to my students (and myself) is to prepare them for a better, more enlightened future. A certain urgency accompanies this given the state of the world ecology. Socially the implication reverberates around the world in terms of class and opportunity. Richard Florida’s apt characterization of the emergent ‘creative class’ could not be more relevant. Here a separation is occuring before our very eyes. Social networking consists of contributors. The consumers are passivley receiving, watching television if you will. The emergent creative class is contributing.