Robotic Milkers and an Automated Greenhouse: Inside the High-Tech Small Farm, by Steve Lohr, The New York Times.  Farming in America is increasingly a high-tech endeavor. Combines guided by GPS, drones, satellite imagery, soil sensors and supercomputers all help the nation’s food production. Yet that technology is mainly tailored for big industrial farms, where fields stretch as far as the eye can see. Technology for giant farms is all about increasing yields and cutting costs. For smaller farms, too, efficiency is paramount. But technology can also eliminate a lot of tedious, routine labor — a lifestyle payoff that can help persuade a younger generation to stay put on family farms rather than sell out.  MORE

Spread the Digital Wealth: There are plenty of ways to deliver tech jobs to rural communities - One key question for the United States in the 21st century is whether noncoastal towns and rural communities, including many communities of color, will be able to participate in the digital revolution. We know that almost all Americans are avid consumers of technology, but many lack the opportunity to do the creative work that fuels our digital economy. At stake is the dignity of millions of people. MORE

When It Comes to Broadband, Millennials Vote with Their Feet - By Dr. Roberto Gallardo, Robert Bell and Dr. Norman Jacknis. Republished from the Daily Yonder. Cities are the future and the countryside is doomed, as far as population growth, jobs, culture and lifestyle are concerned. Right? As the digital age continues to unfold, conversations around the impacts it has and will have on the socioeconomic landscape intensify. Some pundits and researchers argue that the digital age will result in a “decentralization” and a more leveling playing field between urban and rural. MORE

Mississippi ICF Institute Publishes First Ever Digital Divide Index - Dr. Roberto Gallardo of the Mississippi State University Extension Intelligent Community Institute has published a 50-state Digital Divide Index using data provided by the FCC. The DDI is a county-level index score (from 0 to 100) measuring the digital divide. MORE

A Virtual Metropolis in the Countryside? - By Dr. Norman Nacknis. People who live in big metropolises, like New York City, London or Hong Kong, often say that they can always find someone within a few miles who has a special skill they need to complete some project or build a business. I’ve pointed out that the close proximity of millions of people with so many different skills is part of what has made cities successful economic engines during the industrial era. MORE

The Last Big Barrier To A Rural Renaissance: Healthcare - By Dr. Norman Jacknis. I’ve written before about the ways that small towns and rural areas can take advantage of broadband Internet connections to gain access to global economic opportunities, educational and cultural resources, even the virtual equivalents of coffee shops that used to be only available in big cities. Perhaps the biggest remaining barrier to a 21st century rural renaissance is access to world class health care. MORE

Is this the Golden Age for the World’s Small Places? - By Robert Bell. Today, the 50 most prosperous cities in America produce 34% more economic output per person than the national average. Their populations are growing at 3 times the national rate. That’s because they are magnets for ambitious and talented workers and the companies that need their services to power growth. MORE

ICF Institute at Mississippi State University Issues Rural Broadband Research Reports - Last year, the ICF Institute at the Mississippi State University Extension Service issued a competitive call for research papers focusing on the impact of broadband on small rural communities. Three papers were recently chosen for publication on the Institute’s Web site. MORE

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