2021 MN Broadband Day Three: Reflections on “Farm Fresh Broadband: The Politics of Rural Connectivity”

Dr. Christopher Ali, Associate Professor of Media Studies, University of Virginia
Introduced by Adrianne B. Furniss, Executive Director, Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

In his new book, Professor Ali offers an analysis of the failure of U.S. broadband policy to solve the rural–urban digital divide and a proposal for a building a better broadband future. Ali will describe what it would look like to create a multistakeholder system, guided by thoughtful public policy and funded by public and private support.


Chat from session:

Christopher Ali

09:38:39 From  Bernadine Joselyn (she/her)  to  Everyone: and not only because of his fabulous haircut!

09:44:53 From  Mary Ann Van Cura  to  Everyone: I know where that green giant statue is located lol

09:48:49 From  Mary Magnuson (she/her)  to  Everyone: Feel free to use the chat for questions and comments!

09:53:11 From  Ida Rukavina  to  Everyone: Thank you!

09:56:06 From  Bill Coleman  to  Everyone: Christopher, what can community champions do to convince reluctant electric cooperatives to solve their region’s broadband issues?

09:57:56 From  Ann Treacy  to  Everyone: a network is only as strong as its weakest node!

09:58:00 From  Ida Rukavina  to  Everyone: Electric cooperative boards are elected members- elect members who understand and champion broadband

09:58:23 From  Bernadine Joselyn (she/her)  to  Everyone: The need to look at all of these aspects of broadband “in one breath” is the reason why Blandin Foundation uses the Intelligent Community Framework, that encourages folks to hold in their minds the full “wheel” – infrastructure, knowledge workforce, innovation, digital inclusion, advocacy and sustainability.

09:59:44 From  Katie Malchow  to  Everyone: Is there a preferred place to purchase Christopher’s book?

10:00:19 From  Bill Coleman  to  Everyone: Ida, I have encouraged region’s to consider this as a strategy.  Those boards do tend to be very entrenched with long-standing membership and low voting enthusiasm

10:00:42 From  Adrianne Furniss  to  Everyone: https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/farm-fresh-broadband

10:00:56 From  Ida Rukavina  to  Everyone: Bill- its a good idea= to encourage members who care to run for these positions

10:01:26 From  Bernadine Joselyn (she/her)  to  Everyone: Thanks, Adrianne for that guidance on the preferred place to buy Christopher’s book.

10:02:51 From  Calla Jarvie  to  Everyone: The Rock County Community Library owns a copy of Christopher’s book! There’s a chapter on Rock County 🙂

10:03:15 From  Mary Ann Van Cura  to  Everyone: even in Minneapolis where there is an affordable private-public internet service, trees and leaves prevent the signals from getting to some homes. [mine included!]

10:03:16 From  Christopher Ali  to  Everyone: Hi Calla! Great to see you again!!

10:05:21 From  Bill Coleman  to  Everyone: I also think that farmers can help provide significant capital for broadband expansion.  I was on a call in Illinois where a Farm Bureau representative said that the average farmer could net approximately $70,000 annually from the use of precision agriculture which requires broadband.

10:07:40 From  Christopher Ali  to  Everyone:@Ida – there’s a great example of how member-owners of electric cooperatives have mobilized to encourage their co-op to offer retail broadband: https://www.myrec.coop/work-underway-expand-broadband-rec-member-owners-louisa

10:07:58 From  Ida Rukavina  to  Everyone: Thank you!


Info on Speaker:

In his new book, Professor Ali offers an analysis of the failure of U.S. broadband policy to solve the rural–urban digital divide and a proposal for a building a better broadband future. Ali will describe what it would look like to create a multistakeholder system, guided by thoughtful public policy and funded by public and private support.

Dr. Christopher Ali is an Associate Professor of Media Studies at the University of Virginia and Knight News Innovation Fellow with the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University. His research and writing focus on broadband policy, planning, and deployment, particularly in rural communities. He is the author of the new book Farm Fresh Broadband: The Politics of Rural Connectivity, and has written for The New York Times, The Hill, Realtor Magazine, and Digital Beat.

Adrianne B. Furniss is Executive Director and board member of the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society. For 40 years, the Benton Institute has helped strengthen communities by advancing communications policy in the public interest while providing day-to-day support and resources to the community of people who care about “broadband for all.”

Currently, Adrianne serves on two additional boards — the Board of Advisors for the Coalition for Local Internet Choice (CLIC), which represents a wide range of public and private interests who support the authority of local communities to make the broadband Internet choices that are essential for economic competitiveness, democratic discourse, and quality of life in the 21st century; and as Secretary and Executive Committee member of the Board of Directors for PC’s for People, a national nonprofit based in St. Paul, Minnesota. Through electronic reuse, PCs for People provides the opportunity for all low-income individuals and nonprofits to benefit from the life changing impact of computers and mobile internet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s