BY WALKER MILHOAN, YPC Leadership Board
THE INTERNET AGE
Hadoop, Mustache, Java? Exabyte, Zettabyte, and Yottabyte! Excuse me, but did you just say, “Crazy Horse and a creature from Star Wars, were drinking from a Hadoop, and Crazy Horse got coffee on his mustache?” You’ve gotta be kidding me, right?
Have you ever pondered the thought of “what exactly, is the internet?” It’s location, it’s infrastructure, how much it weighs? This “Twilight Zone” phenomena can strike fear into the imagination. To others, a simple blue and black, Linksys router with dual antennas, nestled dust-covered and blinking behind a couch comes to mind. All physicalities aside, what the internet really is, is life. Without it CattleFax and risk management would cease to coexist, Safeway and Cargill couldn’t produce Rancher’s Reserve branded beef, and the screens of Superior Livestock would look like millions of diminutive marching ants. Yet we as a nation, as individuals, know so little about the single most intrusive and important aspect of our lives.
I recently read an article by Tom Friedman in the New York Times aptly named: Need a Job? Invent it. From within the neatly formatted web page, Friedman notes “My generation had it easy. We got to ‘find’ a job. But, more than ever, our kids will have to ‘invent’ a job.” Sound like an accurate prediction? I’d bet the farm on it! With modern technology controlling the show at every corner of the ranch, simply “finding” a job will become harder and harder to do as we compete against more and more technology. Smart tractors will replace the need for an operator, precise data accounting systems will eliminate office receptionists, and advanced algorithms will lock in profit margins at a predetermined price point, eliminating both the cell phone call to your broker, and eventually the broker himself.
In 2011, after graduating from TCU Ranch Management I yearned for more education, which lead me to The University of Montana. It was at Montana that I was introduced to Management Information Systems, a degree I’m certain will change my life forever. Over the last three semesters I have learned how to program computers, talk to databases, create amazing videos for YouTube (the second largest search engine behind Google), optimize websites with Search Engine Optimization, and precisely target Facebook users with Analytics.
But by far the most interesting project that I have had the opportunity to work on while studying at the U of M is creating a disruptive innovation with a team of four other classmates. Our current technology project couples cloud-based data systems and search engine algorithms into a ranch management software suite that will help producers manage their resources more efficiently. We are very hopeful that this new product will be given a trial run this summer on ranches in Ghana, Panama, Brazil and France. Talk about inventing a really sweet job for yourself!
What’s in store for the youth of agriculture in America? Personally, I would argue an extreme amount of opportunity, especially if those youth are open-minded enough to learn about computer technology, world travel, and getting involved with groups like Collegiate Stockgrowers and the YPC. Tomorrow’s leaders in agriculture will be required to harness a very broad and deep set of skills, and having a solid understanding of how to manage massive amounts of information with computer science technology coupled with a knowledge of how to make things grow, will dovetail nicely into feeding 9 billion people.