Is the Digital Divide in Rural America Because of News?

Small Town America, the true backbone of our country is quickly falling behind the Digital Divide in using New Media and Social Networks for business- is part of it because of lack of news coverage?  I have been finding that there is little to no coverage of Tech & Social Media in small town America and I am starting to believe this is one reason many small town businesses, organizations and local government have so little understanding of Technology and using this as a tool for communication and marketing…

So often those in large or major cities take for granted what they have around them…
Until they get a flat tire while on vacation out in the country and don’t get reception for their cell phones, or try to ask where an internet café is while on vacation…

Many small towns don’t have a large magazine/newspaper shop to buy Tech Magazines or an Internet Cafe…  Yes it is covered in many Business and Tech magazines and hard to ignore, but if you don’t have those magazines articles to read, it is hard to know about it…  Yes it is covered some on TV news; they refer to it almost every day now…  Many watch the nightly news while families are sitting having supper…  But do they really talk much about the Internet relating to business and how it can help?

In many small towns, the local café or restaurant is a main gathering point for small business owners…  Read the local newspaper, have a coffee, talk some with fellow business people, then go to work, then stop back for lunch or maybe supper on the way home if there is carry out…  If that local Newspaper doesn’t have a section that talks about Technology, what news of Technology or Social Media’s with it’s use in business is a small town local business person going to hear about?

It isn’t like the local Walmart has a good Tech magazine or book area…  And lets be honest, how many small business people really read much about Technology in Small Town America?  In my home town without a stoplight, if I ask local Business Owners if they use Social Media for their Business and ask if they have a website, many don’t even have an e-mail account, let alone know how to add an attachment to it…  They are business owners just trying to keep their heads above water in making enough money to get by month to month as if they are still using the same methods of marketing as where used in the 50’s-70’s…

Small Town America tends to be way behind the curve for cable TV in the past- now they are struggling to even attempt to catch up with Cable Companies offering this new found information technology…  Even now, many in rural areas still don’t have cable or DSL as a choice to get online…  A friend of mine on Twitter said that 26% of America still doesn’t have high bandwidth as a choice, with dial-up being their only method of getting online…

Recently I wrote to ask some local Newspapers if they might be interested in my reporting about some of the largest New and Social Media Conferences in the country, and they just weren’t interested…  I offered to interview some of the best people in Social Media and Marketing online adding the use of Twitter and Facebook for Business… Two of the newspapers are part of the Gannett News conglomerate and they where just going to rely on the reporters the Gannett News has covering the Event…  So there will be no articles about these major business marketing and advertising conferences or the people that are respected in the industry they considered to be news worthy for their readers in Social Media…  So much for local news papers informing their readers…

I am sure from reading this newspaper my whole life, an article might be printed of the numbers of people and a few tech devices that where the buzz of the convention, but nothing about how it could help small town business…  Doing a search I wasn’t able to find any mentions of the large Social Media Events like South by South West Conference or Blogworld Expo- two of the largest New Media and Social Media Conferences in the country…  So Small Town America near me received no news to read about these events…

There has been no articles about how 54% of Business Websites get more sales if they have a Blog connected to their website…  Only articles about user base is reported of major Social Media services like FaceBook or Twitter, but even that is rarely covered in small town newspapers…  There was nothing about Foursquare or Gowalla- location-based social networking services covered in the local newspapers in my area in…

One such newspaper in a city that has over 30,000 College students in it and a county population of 101,136 people…  I just did a search in this local city newspaper 20 miles from my town, where close to half my town population works…  I searches for the words “Social Media” and got a result of 9 articles with these words in it in the past year…  Twitter had 19 articles and 46 articles with Facebook in them, the iPad had three articles, the iPhone had eight articles- these words where searched in their archives over the last year…  So with so few articles and many having only a reference to someone else using Social Media, how do small Business Owners learn about this amazing form of Marketing, Advertising and Communications and E-Commerce?

So maybe part of the problem of the Digital Divide in Small Town America is really the lack of news coverage the local news agencies give to Social Media and what news the local Business owners receive… With local News not covering Social Media, it is costing our local Businesses the needed information about using New Media in business, costing them jobs and money…

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Windsor and Newton Mornings…

I wake to another morning of what I call a “Windsor & Newton Morning”, the fog that hovers over valleys and surrounding the hills that my hometown is located within- the Finger Lakes Region of Central New York State…  I call it a Windsor & Newton morning due to the classic water color styles of Europe that shows scenery and landscapes that fade into the mist and fog, where buildings, hills and trees turn to gray shadows that fade away and only the images up close are clear…

My Barn on a foggy morning

It is mornings like this that I sit sipping my espresso, missing so deeply the smell and feel of the sweet smell of pigments, stained rainbow colors of fingertips from watercolors and inks and washing out my Windsor & Newton watercolor brushes…  How the touch of the edge of watercolor paper in its hot or cold press texture under my pencil sketches or the speedy quick rhythm of doing stipple with my Kohinoor Radiograph pens as I listen to the sounds of birds that sing their morning songs…

Foggy morning view in the valley

My studio is in boxes at the moment, blankets covering my drawing board and ten-drawer unit, as I do some renovation work and rebuilding to it…  A storm with 70 MPH winds took a large Tree down, dropping a large limb that was 2 feet thick in the middle of the sidewall, just over where a window had been that met the roofline…  So I need to take the whole wall out, and rebuild it…

So till I finish this renovation on my studio, I will be only taking photos for future reference of the sights and images I normally enjoy working on within my studio for those cold days and nights of winter, when there is no color outside but white…  The foggy images of Windsor & Newton Mornings…

A Paper, a Pen, a Table to Sit at…

A paper, a pen, a table to sit at and a window to look out of that sheds it’s light within, opening it to let the smells of summer in…

Crunch, crinkle, crack, tip pity tap, tap, tap, as an idea gone astray is crumbled up to find the floor missing the basket, a newer and better thought begins to be shared upon a new piece of paper…

Chirp-chirp, tweet- tweet softly flowing through the window as birds singing their morning songs of good mornings that flow through the open window…  The slow movement of white, orange, purple and pinks that seem to have been painted on an blue background, as if mountains of clouds that ever move, grow and change of landscapes like mountains that float in the sky…  Soft breeze that send trees slowly swaying, leaves shimmering, shifting in the windows view outside…

I wonder of how many artisans of the past have enjoyed such simple things to create with… Thinking to photos of other artists, writers, musicians who have done the same, allowing the creativeness of thoughts to be shared, filling an empty sheet, then maybe another and another after… Painting with words, notes, pencil lead that grays the hand, and pigments that stains the fingertips through creation… Letting the creative juices of ideas and thoughts stain and shade the parchment allowing them to share their own insights…

This day of technology, electric paper, screen’s like portable TV’s that fill our lives…  Tap, tap, tap, tip pity tap, click, click- tap, tap, tap, the sound of the keyboard under fingertips without inks, no pencils, no erasers or white out needed, missing what so many artisans of history have used to create the great works of old of so many years of creativity…. Electric sketch pads, notebooks with batteries that hold libraries and file cabinets, exchange of ideas in an instant over wires and cables, fans a buzzing, sometimes wondering if this is truly natural…

Are we forgetting the simplicity of creating that so many in histories enjoyed?  If you agree, then give the computer a rest…  Clear off a table near a window, upon it put some blank paper in a pile, a pen or pencil, an eraser and opens the window…  Sit enjoying the simple sounds and the view of the clouds that race across the sky, just sit there watching, listening- hear the whispers of creativeness fill you mind, and let it be shared on paper…

For Business Websites, Add Interesting Employee Profiles!!!

I was looking for information about Etsy.com when I came across this web page that highlights all those who work at Etsy.comhttp://www.etsy.com/about.php This “About” page is very informative and inspirational in their description of what Esty is: “Our mission is to enable people to make a living making things, and to reconnect makers with buyers. Our vision is to build a new economy and present a better choice: Buy, Sell, and Live Handmade”. Included next to this description is a great video about Esty.com that includes Robert Kalin, Esty Founder of this great online Arts and Crafts online selling tool… He explains how he came up with the concept of it being an online Community for selling Arts and Crafts that are truly unique… I love the way he highlights that the Core of Esty is the ability to Human to human relationships…

For those of you who don’t know, Etsy.com is a social commerce website focusing on handmade

Etsy Screenshot

Etsy.com Screenshot

and/or vintage items as well as art and craft supplies, allowing people to sell their items and products online through the website… The company charges users a flat listing fee (of 20 cents per items), and takes a commission of 3.5% off all items sold… The site received 20,820,503 Visits and 5,154,574 Unique Visitors in June 2010… Over 70% of Etsy users are in the US and Canada…. Etsy has a number of great features for users who are looking for items to buy… There is even a “Geo-locator” making it very easy to find items by location. The site also allows sellers to customize their virtual storefront pages to display their items to possible buyers….

The “About Page” is not only is it an informative page about Esty.com, this page has an area that

Screenshot of Etsy Employee's

shares photos of all that work at Esty and is split into the different departments of the business… This is something should add to their Business Websites!!! It gives more of a human touch to online business, not just cold sales and dry information about a business…

I found this page GREAT, it gives the name and a photo of each person that works at Esty.com… Then to make it even BETTER, many of the photos have a link to a page that has a bio of that person, with each person’s page being different… What is really interesting is it isn’t your normal Bio Page of Information like a resume or highlighting their responsibilities… Some highlight hobbies, some basic backgrounds or what ever that person wanted to post on that page about them selves… Other Bio’s have pictures when they where young, some have artwork and some added video to these pages- making them all very unique and very personable… Most of the people who work there are also Artisans and Craft people whom have an Esty account and add with a their Esty User name with a description of their own artistic interests… They might even talk some about their own artwork they sell within this great website that sells Arts and Crafts online…

The end of the page is called “Fun Facts”… This area is filled with interesting views, history, statements of the person and even what others might say of the person at work or what they might view of someone else at work…

Highlighting the employees of a business is a great way to highlight the people that work within a small business!!! Giving the viewer- be it a client or possible client, a way to get to know better the people working there, a personable touch…

In relating, sharing and become more personable, small businesses that do business online could attract more customers by being nicer, relating to them with interests, treat them like they wanted to be treated and making them feel comfortable… In doing this in a small business, you will be able to attract more clients and make it easier to connect with adding Social Media to your Online Advertising plan…

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