If the Millennials Won't Come to the Mountain...

New  Edge  As recently noted here in The Exchange, as many as 25% of U.S. households have cut the video cord, going without pay TV service altogether. Many of these households tend to skew toward the younger side of the demographic scale.

In a novel attempt to attract these cord cutters, NBC News is courting them where they live: Snapchat. Last week, the network debuted a twice-daily news show entitled “Stay Tuned,” which will appear on Snapchat’s Discover platform.

The program will cover national and international news, politics, sports and pop culture. It will be hosted by NBC News’ Gadi Schwartz, and Savannah Sellers of MSNBC.

Travelogue: Washington, DC

  I travel through Washington, DC, each day on my way to work, but I rarely have much opportunity to walk the well-known parts of the city. With no offense to the FCC, its offices, just across the street from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, are not high on the list of tourist sites. By contrast, Capitol Hill, close to historic Union Station, the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress, and various Congressional office buildings, is a far better attraction, even in 95+degree heat.

Maggie Basgall of NexTech (Lenora, Kan.) discusses rural 
telemedicine at a Congressional panel on July 18, 2017.

This week, I went to the Hill twice, both times to see NTCA members appear on panels. On Tuesday, Maggie Basgall of Nex-Tech (Lenora, Kan.) discussed the value of telemedicine and the need for rural network infrastructure to support it. Ms. Basgall referred to USF and other Federal programs as critical inputs to ensuring not only broadband but all of the benefits that it enables. Ms. Basgall appeared with representatives from the telehealth industry and Microsoft.

Scott McCloud (seated at left) of Bluegrass Cellular discusses 
5G deployment for rural Kentucky at a Congressional panel.

"It's Nice to Be Important..."

New Edge  “….but it’s more important to be nice.”

That was just one of the many pearls of motherly wisdom imparted to me in childhood. And to my mother’s great credit, I have found it to be almost universally true. As time went on, however, I learned that the primary exception to the rule was a space that didn’t exist in my childhood: the cybersphere.

A recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center has sought to quantify the overall lack of online manners. Pew found that 41% of survey respondents reported that they had at one time been the subject of online harassment. Some of the alleged offensives ranged from relatively minor: offensive name-calling (27%), or purposeful embarrassment (22%). Others were considerably more concerning: physical threats (10%), sustained harassment (7%), stalking (7%), and sexual harassment (6%).

Travelogue: Lovington, Illinois

  I travelled recently to Lovington, Illinois.

Before my departure, a friend asked, “What’s in Lovington?”

Downtown Lovington: Hardware State Bank moved into this corner building in 1885.
A new library is next door, and Moultrie is across the street.

I replied, “When I get there, one-thousand, one-hundred, and one people.” I thought that I had been to small towns (in Kansas once, my cab driver called for another car after he was in an accident; the “other cab” was a Toyota Corolla driven by his wife, and we shared the ride with their daughter and baby granddaughter), but Lovington may be among the smallest to which I have been.

You Don't Say...

New  Edge  There was a time when talking to inanimate objects was a sure sign of mental instability. No longer—voice control and voice-based technologies have seen a tremendous gain in acceptance over the past five years, according to a new report recently released by Parks Associates.

In the report, entitled “Impact of Voice on Connected Consumer Markets,” Parks finds that at the end of 2016, 45% of U.S. broadband households used a voice-enabled personal assistant through an application or dedicated device.

Parks looks a three specific types of devices: intelligent personal assistants, software agents that performs tasks or services for an individual; smart speakers with personal assistants, which have an interface where the primary input and output are voice, and the intelligent personal assistant is embedded within the device or in the cloud; and smart home devices, which connect to the Internet and allow users to access, monitor, and control the devices as well as receive alerts.

That Short, Meaningless Conversation You Have with a Cashier Could be Saving Your Life

  The internet has conditioned us to short news cycles, so there is a certain nostalgia to seeing last Friday’s Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report of tumbling Kroger shares and mention in that article of similar pressure on other grocery chains, including Whole Foods. Of course, within hours, Amazon announced that it would offer $13.7 billion for the grocery giant.

Corn Pops in Harlem

  Neighborhoods have a way of changing. When I first lived in New York for school, my neighborhood enjoyed the second highest homicide rate of all NYPD precincts; anything above West 98th Street was considered sketchy, at least until you entered the Columbia University campus at 116th Street; and, Harlem had earned a reputation for some rough edges.

But, it had not always been that way. Harlem’s historic buildings offer silent testimony to how people and communities move around within their cities; numerous churches exhibit stonework and carvings that evidence their past use as synagogues (and, several of those buildings were originally churches in their first iterations). As the neighborhood gentrifies, it is not without the stress that often accompanies such evolutions. And, yet, the neighborhood is evolving, as are my old college stomping grounds. Silicon Harlem is a not-for-profit venture aimed at fostering tech development, and my old neighborhood now sports a Starbucks (regrettably, the old-time butcher with the reliable $5 rotisserie chicken is gone).

Cyber-Seniors on the Rise

  A 2014 Smart Rural Community (SRC) white paper reported a significant age gap in the adoption of broadband technologies: 43% of Americans age 65 and older subscribed, compared to 80% of those between 18 and 29, 78% of those between 30 and 49, and 69% of those between 50 and 64.

New data from the Pew Research Center shows that seniors have made significant strides since then. Pew reports that today, the majority—51%--of those age 65 and older have broadband service in their homes, and two-thirds—67%--use the Internet on a regular basis.

While still below the average for all adults—73% of which have broadband at home and 90% of which use the Internet on a regular basis—the results are encouraging.

College, Without the Debt: A Path to Middle-Skill Jobs

  Recent articles and studies indicate that U.S. manufacturing jobs are being affected more by technology than cross-border competition. These data underlie a growing need to consider a new “extraction strategy” for rural America.

To begin, it is useful to consider the three broad categories into which American jobs fall: low, middle, and high skill. According to sources cited by the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey Institute, low-skill jobs generally require a high-school diploma, less than a year of related experience, and less than one month of “on the job” training; high-skill jobs require at least a college degree; and, middle-skill jobs require at least one month to a year of “on the job training” or an apprenticeship, vocational degree, or one-to-five years’ experience in a similar job. “Middle-skill” jobs may include electricians or medical assistants.

According to the Carsey Institute, rural workers are more likely than urban workers to hold middle-skill jobs. And, according to the National Skills Coalition (NSC), 53 percent of U.S. jobs in 2015 were middle-skill. It is expected that demand for middle-skill jobs will remain strong over the next decade. But, the NSC, relying on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau, finds that training for middle-skill jobs lags about ten percent behind demand.

The Internet Told Me, “You Can’t Go Home Again.” The Wall Street Journal Winked, “You Can.”

  (New York City) I recently discovered that my childhood home in Ohio is on the market, so I took a tour of the house via the internet.

Over the course of more than 50 photos and a video, I approached the front porch of the house my parents closed on more than a half-century ago (it seems the 89 year old wooden storm door is still there). I viewed the living room (the mirror above the fireplace is gone), the dining room (mostly the same), and the kitchen (the breakfast nook has been taken over by a large refrigerator and cabinets). Upstairs, bricks in one chimney had been exposed, while bricks that had been exposed in other rooms were now covered over. And, in acts of disruptive fenestration, some windows had been closed off while new windows were opened.