I’ve missed one week of posting a blog as I experienced the best science and technology has to offer and the frustrations of technology these past 2 weeks.

The best science and technology has to offer occurred as my daughter Liz had spine surgery to correct her progressive scoliosis. She spent 6 days in Gillette Specialty Children’s Hospital in St Paul for the surgery and initial post-operative recovery. She now has 2 titanium rods fused to her spine and grew 3-4 inches as a result of the corrective surgery. While it is never fun to sit in hospital rooms with one of your children, my wife and I can attest to the care beyond words that the nurses and staff in the pediatric intensive care and the young adult orthopedics ward gave to Liz. She is back in her group home and the rapid pace of recovery is strong testament to the wonders of today’s science and technology.

The frustration of technology occurred this weekend as I picked up a new computer. For those of us of the ‘older generation’ we don’t need all of the bells and whistles of the next generation of computer software. We’re looking for something reliable and predictable. I bought my replacement laptop from a local vender and I’ve got to give them credit – they went overboard on assisting with the data/program transfer and setup. Frustrations are still occurring this morning as I find out all of the ‘little things’ that got missed.

All of this leads me to thinking of how our industry is adapting to new technology. We’ve seen many service providers come up with new methods of data capture and display for our facility and animal management software. In many cases it hasn’t caught on because the people using the technology in the facilities have been frustrated by the either the learning curve involved in using the technology or by the technology itself.

As our industry moves forward with more intensive data capture, we can’t forget the ‘frustration’ factor that will be a limit to its implementation and usage. Just because a computer ‘geek’ can have a ventilation controller do something 5 different ways, it’s important to realize that the people doing the daily tasks associated with animal care don’t come from a background that lets them appreciate the 5 options.

As I work with training barn level employees on a host of new technology associated with production facilities – while the idea might be great – keep in mind the KISS principle if you want rapid adoption by the industry –‘Keep It Simple-Stupid’!

2 thoughts on “KISS

  1. Thanks for you comments — I agree — Then there is the whole issue of data quality. Just because we can collect it doesn’t mean it is worth anything. If a temp probe is placed in front of the heater, the info it sends to the controller is not too valuable. If piglet death loss and fosters are not accurately recorded or gilt entry dates are wrong then PSY numbers are wrong. I think that much combine yield monitor data is flawed, and while not worthless, cannot be used for many tasks. All this makes the people who understand the technology and can communicate about it to the users in the field very valuable people, both to the users and to their employers.

  2. Well said and so true. Pigs do not read computers. When they are cold they simply huddle together to stay warm and comfy regardless of what the computer readout may say: “right temp”

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