A long time ago, I was traveling in Tennessee and I ran across a sage of a man who worked with us on a mission trip in the Cumberland Mountains. He was a poet, and a designer of beautiful homes made with rustic local wood that would be perfect as cabins or homes anywhere in the country. He was a real craftsman.
In one conversation with him, he started talking about the use of "appropriate" technology. A long-time resident, and this was before cell phones became standard stuff for us all, this local poet talked about how we want technology that enables us, not disables us.
His point was that we should grasp those tools that give us a true advantage, without tying us down. And I took it to heart.
I try to use the things I need and use my brain when I don't. For example, I'm probably not going to get a GPS unit for my car. If I turn over the directions to new places to the computer, will I ever know (really know) how to get anywhere? And I know a lot of our readers use these in-car tools to get around, I just don't want to let go of that direction-finding chore yet. I plan to stick with battery free maps - and perhaps a cheat every now and then with Google Maps on my smart phone when necessary (more of a battery-powered map).
Same goes for a smart phone. I shied away from having e-mail in my pocket for a long time. Wanted to keep a little distance between the office and my off-time, but over time I saw how that technology could enable me to be better at working with editors here at Farm Progress and keep in touch with farmers even when I was away from the office. What was judged "inappropriate" became appropriate - and I think more farmers will find that's true about a lot of new tools they see both in farm technology, and general technology today.
Why all this blather about tech and enablement? I'm stepping up to a fuller-featured smart phone with more tools I can use. I'm hopeful it'll also carry my music, give me the ability to capture a little Web video (which I'll share) and I can use it for other purposes too.
As you look at the tools you use on your farm, consider how they enable you to be better at what you do. And if there's new technology you're considering, ask a question: Will it allow me to do more, but not hinder me in some other way?
Enjoy investing in new tools. Equipment makers are doing their best to make sure we have tools we can use to improve productivity - I've seen a few that you'll get a look at starting with the Farm Progress Show, Sept. 1, 2 & 3. I think you'll like what you see.
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