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over-reliance on technology?  RSS feed

 
Burra Maluca
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Tj Jefferson
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Booo. Bad Burra.

I'm sharing this.
 
Nicole Alderman
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It is facinating, though, how quickly we rely on technology, without even thinking about it. We've gone years without a cellphone, but got a prepaid phone for a long drive to see family (in case of car trouble). We stayed at my cousins house, and they'd left and let us lock up. In the course of leaving, my little baby's diaper leaked poo on the bedsheets.We were at a loss for how to tell them what happened, so we called their cellphone and left a message. I thought at the time, "Thank goodness we have this cellphone, I don't know how I would have told them without it!" .... It didn't occur to me until much later that we could have just gotten a piece of paper and written a note and taped it to the door. But, since we had a cellphone, that was what we thought of, rather than the old fashioned way. Humanity lived without these "amazing" cellphones for centuries, but now people can't think of how to live without one...because they don't live without one!
 
Travis Johnson
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I have farmed my whole life so I kind of have an issue with this stuff. Maybe I am just getting old (43) and getting disgruntled.

For starters I do not have a cell phone, and honestly I don't need one. I had my car break down one time, and since 93% of the population does have one, I had so many people stop, and offer theirs that I would never have the need for one. Someone even called the police, so as I waited on a cold day, we had the greatest conversation about foster care, kids, and society and when I was done I said, "jeesh I am glad I broke down and had this great conversation with you." As for cell phones though, since I am among 7% of the population that does not have one, I just joke that I am 6% closer to being a 1%'er! Considering the cost of cell phone plans, it is not far from the truth.

As for farming, technology wise it is just getting bad. I call it "paralysis by analysis" and that is where farming just comes to a complete stop because people think they must do x, y and z to farm. Nonsense! People having been raising sheep for 9000 years, and a person can continue to raise sheep the same way...green grass in, brown poo out, along with white liquid out to the lambs, and bang...green grass converted to delicious red meat. Yep it is just that easy. Been that way for 9000 years.

One of the keys to understanding technology and how it plays into farming is to consider what the type of farm can handle. A sheep farm has low cash flow since lambs are only sold a few times a year. This dictates that a sheep farm be very low tech in order to be cost effective. This is in stark contrast to dairy farming where the farmer gets a milk check every two weeks. Because of that, they can be high tech and still be viable.

There is a joke like this: A person who sees a glass tumbler half filled with milk is called an optimist, and one who sees it as half empty is called a pessimist, but the person who sees the glass as being too big is called an engineer. I have always said on here "it is just a guess unless you test", but really that is only half true. What testing does is allow you to put the exact amount of something on to cure a problem.

Here is a case in point. Last night I spent $15 on a soil test for a field that is way down in production. It cost another $4 to send it, so that is $19 for a soil test. It will give me exact amounts to cure my yield problem so that has merit. However because the sword is showing an inverted yellowing pattern, I already know it is a nitrogen deficiency problem, and a lack of Smooth Bedstraw tells me it is NOT a low PH problem. So in this case technology (soil testing) is not telling me something I don't know, it is just telling me exact amounts. By not over-apply nitrogen, and only applying the lime I need, the soil test will pay for itself. This is in contrast to my vet who wants to ultrasound sheep after breeding season so we can feed the sheep according to singles, twins and triplets. That would be cool information to know, but the cost of doing that is far more expensive then the cost of feed of feeding every sheep as if it had triplets. Or alternatively, feeding every sheep as if it had twins and having a slightly higher mortality rate on the ones who do get triples.

So it is not that technology is always bad, it is not calculating its return on investment that can really get a farmer into trouble.

A Total Station for land survey will set a person back by $5,000, where as a string and a line level will do the same thing for $15. Either way it is the farmer's choice. Me; I stayed away from technology for the most part and use my noggin as workarounds. Has it worked? I retired at age 42, you be the judge.



 
Nicole Alderman
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Dale Hodgins
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When I was a kid, we had a neighbor named Gerald, who used a rather small tractor that he bought in the 1950s. His neighbor bought an absolutely huge tractor, and was able to plow his 200 acres in a couple of days. He crushed in much of his drain tile and soil compaction became a problem. His new tractor and implements were worth about the same amount as his farm. Farms were pretty cheap at that time. The farm was eventually sold, when he couldn't get out from under all that debt.

Gerald continued to use that small tractor, into the 1980s when he retired. He did all of his own maintenance. It took longer for him to complete each step, but he could get on the ground a little earlier in the spring, and he could go a little later in the fall. He didn't destroy his soil through compaction, or mash in his drain tile, and he didn't dig himself into crippling debt.
 
Travis Johnson
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Dale, thanks for the story. Sadly I know of one similar which was my family's own 1200 cow dairy farm, now bankrupt and no longer kicking milk on the national food chain. However this is not a big farm only issue, here we have "Kubota Farmer's" as we call them, people with 3 acres and 80 HP Kubotas. I shake my head. They make some nice two wheel tractors and the price is really good. Why pay $30,000 for a tractor when $4000 will do the same job? The one thing I try to do is not get lost in the "get the job done" mentality, but rather "I am so glad I am farming right now". So many people have the dream...full-time or part-time, and no matter if it is a few acres or a lot...WE are living the dream. Enjoy it, don't rush through it!

 
Bryant RedHawk
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Technology is probably the root of all the problems we have today, increased crime, frequency of "accidents" and rising costs of most everything can be traced back to a populace so entrenched in "technology" that they think using artificial means of communication (not face to face) is the way to do things.
It is convenient yes but is it necessary, no. When it costs as  much as a house to buy a car because it has all the latest computer do-dads that take our eyes off the road, it is not a good thing.

The electrical grid is computerized, the gas pumps the grocery store (ever see some one trying to calculate change without the register doing it for them?), every part of everyday life is now computer dependent.
A massive solar flare event can now shut down everything, ships, airplanes, police, fire, stores (all of them), you think of what doesn't run on computers today instead of what does run on them.

One good Electromagnetic pulse would send the world into total chaos, no electronic devices would work.

Albert once said that his greatest fear was that humans would become so dependent on technology that without it they would be paralyzed. Well Mr. Einstein, your fear has come to pass and you were right.

I go to any store or even sit down to eat at a restaurant and anyone I see has their attention focused on their phone.
I have seen people walk out into traffic because their phone was the center of attention, it causes far to many wrecks every day on all roadways.

I have one of the smart phones but I use it like a phone, for calling people, I have facebook but don't use it, except for seeing what the kids and grandkids are up to.
I can text, but we only use that for selling extra hogs on craig's list.

I'm trying to come up with a way to get rid of my jeep's computer or at least cut out most of the control it has over my vehicle.

 
John Weiland
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:

Albert once said that his greatest fear was that humans would become so dependent on technology that without it they would be paralyzed.



At least one science fiction writer (Clifford D. Simak?) proposed in one tale that humans might become so attached to their gadgets that they stop reproducing.

But at the very least the reliance and interfacing will prove to be an example where humans, like all other creatures, evolve to fill resource niches.  Those niches are places that I'm glad I will be long since gone to ever see, but I suspect they are on the way.  Heard a rather chilling story via radio interview about "robot pets" that are beginning to be used as "therapy animals" in nursing homes and elsewhere.  Within the discussion during the interview, one member of the scientific panel working on design of these robots proposed that humans and other animals are just highly evolved machines, so one should be able to produce a machine animal that might evolve.  After a commercial break, and by means of introducing the attending audience to another aspect of robot animals, a segment from a fictional futuristic TV show was played whereby a man, becoming somewhat frisky across from his female companion, asked her if she was a robot.  Her response: "If you can't tell the difference, does it matter?"

Although clearly fitting into the realm of subservient technology in its own right, I've really never had a problem with the robot concepts like 'C3PO', 'R2D2', ..... 'Gort', from "The Day the Earth Stood Still".  But when the fascination becomes directed to "Replicants"....i.e., duplicating naturally occurring life forms..... it gets rather creepy and you have to wonder at the motivation for these endeavors.
 
Kyle Neath
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I tend to see it both ways… people seem to be at once over-reliant on technology and under-reliant on technology. There is most definitely a lot of people who can't seem to pry themselves away from their phone and miss out on a lot that happens in the now. Out at my ranch we have satellite internet (no cell service for 5mi), but it's rarely turned on. Visitors are often relieved to experience a day or two without any of the anxiety of being connected. I think that's the struggle with being over-reliant on technology: you don't perceive yourself to be reliant on it until it's gone, at which point you realize that everything's fine without it.

That being said… try digging a pond by hand for a week in the depths of summer (when the ground is hard) and then try out a backhoe. Try cutting down a tree with an axe, then use a chainsaw. Too often see people going out of their way to not use machinery, often at the expense of safety, higher cost, and even more fossil fuels than the machine would have incurred! I often go backpacking out here in the Sierras, which involves a lot of hiking through 5-10ft of sun-cupped, dirty snow in the summer. I cannot even begin to describe how much GPS + digital maps helps. I spent my childhood doing the same and our trips were often cut short because we spent half the hike finding the trail. Because of technology, I can throw some photos from my phone onto my parent's TV so my Dad & Grandpa (who are unable to do outdoor activities due to disabilities) get to share in my adventures. A few years earlier, that would have only been possible with slides and a projector — something people just didn't do. This site itself has taught me a ton — material I just wouldn't have otherwise learned without technology.

For myself, I try and remember what technology is: a tool, a machine, a thing to be used in order to do more. If the thing doesn't allow me to do something previously impossible or at least 10x faster than before, I try not to use it. I also try and practice not using it on purpose. Too much technology today optimizes for use: the idea that the more people use it, the more valuable it is. I subscribe to a philosophy of utility: the more people are able to do with the least amount of interaction, the more valuable it is.
 
Mark Tudor
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Tech as a tool can be a good thing, but when we succumb to marketing or laziness it devolves into a crutch and distraction.

As I daydream (from the comfort of my couch with laptop in hand) about possibilities of retirement to some timbered land and contemplate building my own place and planting various plants and trees based on "if this, then that" scenarios, I wonder about the tools/tech I'll use. The thought of digging out a space for an Oehler-type structure with a shovel and post hole digger at age 50 doesn't hold much luster... renting an excavator for a week to not only dig but also move posts and beams and add swales or even some ponds seems like an outstanding use of tech.

Having a good chainsaw to fell large trees would certainly be quick and handy (until it broke) but perhaps a good hand saw will fit the bill. If it takes me more time and a lot more effort, perhaps I'll think a bit more about working with what the land already has, instead of trying to force it to change to my whims.

Of course having access to the internet to leverage all the knowledge others have shared is invaluable. I think about developing a homestead in the 21st century and I picture Charles Ingalls sitting at the table in Little House, trying not to swear in front of the kids as he labors to connect to his WiFi...
 
Thyri Gullinvargr
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:I go to any store or even sit down to eat at a restaurant and anyone I see has their attention focused on their phone.
I have seen people walk out into traffic because their phone was the center of attention, it causes far to many wrecks every day on all roadways. 

I have to admit when I was a kid (pre-cell phone) I would do the same thing with a book. Come to think of it, although I don't typically walk down the street with my nose in a book anymore, it's not all that unusual for me to read one in a restaurant. Same thing for my partner.
 
Mark Tudor
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"All those young folks these days, noses stuck in a paper and ignoring everyone around them, oblivious to their surroundings!"



I think new technology will always catch the attention of many. 
 
Deb Rebel
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We had a taste of that yesterday. At 10:28 pm a very close lightning strike hit the communications tower in town. This holds all the tech for the cellphones and the cable service. (if you have internet in this town it's either through cellular data plan OR a cable modem to your house. Cable TV is delivered by cable modem too). It fried some of the equipment and internet went down. Now we don't have cable tv so I don't know if that went down or not.

I called the phone company # and asked for tech support. The fellow checked, they 'pinged' the tower, and it didn't answer. oops. They tried a reset and it still didn't answer. They sent a crew out. Some stuff fried rather crispily. Everyone had to deal with no internet unless you wanted to burn your dataplan bandwidth. (I did hook my computer up briefly through my phone's hotspot). Back to entertaining yourself not surfing the web. Heh.

It's all nice but not really needed. Still getting the reminder once in a while helps.
 
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