Tad Hirsch, moderating
Tap: Avaaj Otalo
- organic certification is NOT about standardization
- small farmer's voices need to be heard in global supply chains
- using text and structured data is like "threading an elephant through the eye of a needle"
-- difficult to have grounding happen in the context of standard data
- voice is a better medium for expression and engagement
- communications, not data integration
Phoebe's research in Newfoundland
Tad: underlying thematics
- situatedness of food production, but at the same time involved in global commerce of trade
Q: additional thoughts about balancing those things? what are the key problems? esp if urban consumers are driving changes in farming communities. How can HCI play a role in mitigating that discussion?
Phoebe: John Thackara on sustainable fishing practices. The dispersal of information about where fish comes from into supply chains. So for example there are sustainable populations of cod, but you don't know whether YOUR cod comes from those populations. It probably doesn't just look like a "technology." there are policy issues.
Richard: locavores -- certain things you might want to do, like support farmers in emerging economies are more difficult then. so thinking about how and where we buy. it's a different side of the same problem but a different thing
Tap: intermediary organizations that control chokepoints have little incentive to change -- how do you deal with that? they don't respond to emails. maybe create intelligent backchannels for the exchange of information and money. proposing to push a lot more information through the pipe. certification works because it doesn't require a lot of attention. so as we push more information we may be hitting the limits of people's attention and capacity for empathy.
Tad: representation of communities in agriculture -- from Farmville to the Deadliest Catch
Richard: "Paying back" farmers for the risks they take in farming partially (in the US) through higher costs
Tap: exactly. the life of a small farmer is about risk. what we do is often a bandaid to try and get farmers a little more sustainability
Q: policy issue here about how to incentivize healthy eating -- isn't in the best interest of the insurance companies to advocate for a tax on soda?
Phoebe: not eating processed food is probably better for your health. but it's not clear that it's better for the fishermen. It's not enough to talk about producers; you also talk about food distribution.
Eli Blevis: Leo Bonanni's talk. Ben Rosenberg at ?. technologies to track where food comes from.
Q: role of information technology. Are there places where it makes more sense NOT to do something?
Phoebe: here comes the true confessions! I'm interested in a lot of things that are not IT related, and I have tenure and so it's okay for her to do history of technology and not make new technology. The tenure mechanism is one way people can do these things. Building IT for fisheries in Newfoundland was never the purpose of this project -- it's there to provide a frame for critical research. We don't have to apply the "technology hammer" to everything.
Tap: not feeling inclined to build complicated technology -- in CS there's an implicit idea you should build something fancy and complicated. Never written about his organic certification project in CS because it was essentially a fancy spreadsheet.
Eli: it is as interesting!
Q: discourse of labor involved in production and distribution -- global and local. what is our role in changing those patterns?
Richard: Interested in how training and certification for high tech jobs is actually not going to get a job for most people who do them. There are 100x as many agriculture jobs as high tech jobs. If we want to think about sustainability at the country or local level for maintaining or improving lifestyles, we need to figure out how farmers can make more money. Which is why locavorism needs to shift a bit.
Q: tangential strategies -- victory gardens and guerilla gardening -- commentary on ownership. draw rhetoric from nonfarmers into farming dialogue through street farming?
Eli: guerilla style gardening brings you closer to a sustainable lifestyle
Richard: then you realize how difficult it is and how much risk is involved.
Tap: working with farmers in Central Valley. farmers started farming because they didn't want to work in front of a computer, so there's a tension between getting farmers to publicize their work online and why they got into farming in the first plce.
Richard: FarmIgo - a tool for CSAs.
Q: from SAP, on sustainability projects at SAP. Janaki Kumar
Q: describes a project she went into with "naivete." Everything you attempt to do is so politically charged, and so complex. What they haven't worked out is how to deal with the naivete of the farmers, it took 9 months going up the chain in the supermarket to talk to the importers, to talk to the suppliers, to talk to the farmers -- BEFORE they started the project. how do you work with very different values?
Q: studying ufarm.org -- analyzing type of usage going on. types of posts very quickly changed from question and answer to a small but very dedicated group of farmers blogging about their experiences.
Phoebe: there's no community supported fishery, but our experience on the ground is not that fishers have no digital savvy. Especially in Iceland, fisherpeople pride themselves on their high tech skills. So we need to be careful about stereotyping farmers.