Letter from Blacksburg by Way of Nairobi

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 9:13 AM on September 24, 2013:

By Anne Giles

Excerpt from a letter I received yesterday from my father, Robert Giles. Shared with his permission.

I was just in Nairobi four weeks ago!

Robert Giles in Uganda, August, 2013

From my home office in Blacksburg, Virginia where I work on starting Rural System, Nairobi is 8,000 miles away, the length of the earth's diameter.

I was just there with Risa and our small group as we flew into the Nairobi airport, temporarily restored after a recent fire. Now I imagine the uncertainties and horrors of the people beset by the crises related to the attacks of September 21.

Nairobi is a volcano-crater distance away from our destination, Uganda, where we traveled to consider whether the Rural System startup might have a role there and to assist Kissito with its poverty and health projects in southeast Uganda.

I returned with more information and ideas than I can process. Now, even the beginning shapes of my conclusions have to be recast.

I’ve spent most of my life studying and teaching ecology and thought that my studies of a systems approach might lend assistance in relating improved land use and rural environmental functions to needs that seemed clear in the stressful conditions of the people of the region.

Those relations I carefully studied and noted are now changed. New and complex political, social and economic relations resulting from the Nairobi attack - as usual for such "events" - will be many and probably go very far, ricocheting throughout the countries of the region, cutting already slack tourism significantly, impacting aid organizations, safari businesses, transportation, food services, and health and emergency services.

Everything is related!

I have little knowledge of the full intent of the attacks but I suspect they were more harmful to the people of the region, more regressive in gaining support and encouragement for their missions, and more intense in building security and retribution than intended. Personally discouraged by the gigantic problems of the region and my miniscule list of solutions, I now return to appeals for teams of combined wisdom, clusters of lands and waters managed as new time-space units of lasting production, new uses of equator-sun energy, computer aids to socio-economic and environmental decision-making, and profoundly comprehensive near-total concern for parents and parenting for our near-future.

Photograph taken August, 2013 in Uganda of Robert Giles, teacher, by Risa Pesapane 

Robert H. Giles, Jr. is the founder of Rural System, Inc. Rural System, Inc. is a client of Handshake Media, Incorporated, the parent company of Handshake 2.0.

Small Is the Big Problem

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 8:30 AM on August 6, 2010:

From Robert H. Giles, Jr., founder of Rural System:

After years of research and much thought on how to solve the rural problems of the eastern United States, I finally have a solution. I shared it with a half dozen people and invariably got the response: “Start small.”  So, in my introductions I began to omit “Small is the rural problem."
 
Small parcels of rural land are a big problem for optimal land management. The mid-Eastern US farm is too small to produce a crop or enough livestock regularly for a corporate grocer to buy. If sold (with large middleman extractions), profits are not enough to pay the mortgage. Only inherited land can stay in farms. There is little time left for rural land owners, for the average farmers are about 55. Their expertise is limited and farming problems are unlimited and many require expert action, not average action. Their few helpers are leaving for the cities. The urban population of the US is now 80%. The remaining 20% is smaller than 50 years ago, too small to wield voting power. 
 
Unaware urbanites increase rural land tax making lovable lands unlivable. Prime farm lands are converted to suburban housing tracts for city workers who can pay the costs of housing, mowing, and travel to and from work. They discount the large impacts of the move on county services, family, land, health, and future fuel-shortage risks.
 
The “meat processing” centers have disappeared. Too few animals could be processed with adequate payment for the processor. Dairy herds are lost; milk collection and processing declines. The concern for future milk seems lost. The family farm of legend is too small in the present. The land continues to be abused by survivors. The once-helpful farm agencies decline in budgets and staff. The geo-normous consequence-cloud of coal running out in Central Appalachia makes everything look small.
 
There is no time to start small.  "Small" implies time for growth and grown-up is what we need now. 

No, small is the problem.

***

Robert H. Giles, Jr.,is the founder of Rural System, a corporation providing proprietary advanced plans, management services, and diverse enterprises for large rural lands and waters of absentee owners.  RRx, a dynamic prescription system for optimal use of owned land, GIS-based and GPS supported, is under development by Rural System and InteractiveGIS. This expert system generates unique prescriptive reports for parcels of land through analysis of hundreds of factors to the precision of 10 m x 10 m units. RRx optimizes information from the owner, the land, GIS, markets, and more, and provides actions to implement for sustained, long-term profits.   

Open Angel Forum Finalist Will Pitch Rural Revolution

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 10:13 AM on March 15, 2010:

Robert H. Giles, Jr., founder of Rural System, will be pitching RRx as a Live Open Angel Forum finalist on April 8, 2010, the second day of the the two-day VT KnowledgeWorks Second Annual Entrepreneurship Summit on April 7-8, 2010 at the Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center in Blacksburg, Virginia.

RRx is web-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) under development by Rural System, a corporation providing proprietary advanced plans, management services, and diverse enterprises for large rural lands and waters of absentee owners. A dynamic prescription system for optimal use of owned land, GIS-based and GPS supported, co-developed with InteractiveGIS, this expert system generates unique prescriptive reports for parcels of land through analysis of many factors to the precision of 10 m x 10 m units. RRx optimizes information from the owner, the land, GIS, markets, and more, and provides actions to implement for sustained, long-term profits.   

RRx is the brain or engineof Rural System, a developing land management corporation. Offered soon, five tiers of diagnostics and prescriptions of increasing importance and detail are offered to customers for improving their land profits for the long term. The first tiers of Internet-based, site specific prescriptions arise from owners’ answers to questions and analyses of GIS data and maps. Subsequent, more costly tiers of the dynamic system are offered to improve significant land profitability leading to regional employment, community stability, and environmental health.  

For the pitch Bob Giles will make for RRx on April 8, 2010 at the E-Summit, here's the RRx Executive Summary (.pdf) and here's a slideshow of the larger vision, Rural System.

Registration for the Entrepreneurship Summit is open for attendees, advertisers and vendors as long as space is available until March 31, 2010.

Here's more about Rural System / RRx on Handshake 2.0.

***

VT KnowledgeWorks, Rural System (RRx) and InteractiveGIS are clients of Handshake Media, Incorporated, the parent company of Handshake 2.0.  Robert H. Giles, Jr., founder of Rural System and Professor Emeritus at Virginia Tech, is the father of Anne Giles Clelland, founder of Handshake 2.0.

Entrepreneurs Take the Stage

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 6:05 AM on March 12, 2010:

Entrepreneurs will pitch their companies to angel investors at Alumni Asssembly Hall at the Inn at Virginia Tech

Company founders pitch for offers and investors consider whether to make them during popular reality television shows like Shark Tank and Dragon's Den.

Attendees of the Second Annual Entrepreneurship Summit can see that process live.

During the Open Angel Forum, a select group of company founders will pitch their ideas and funding requests to an amphitheater full of angel investors and spectators on April 8, 2010, the second day of the the two-day VT KnowledgeWorks Second Annual Entrepreneurship Summit on April 7-8, 2010 at the Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center in Blacksburg, Virginia.

In alphabetical order by company name, the companies selected to present are:

Actifity.com - Frederick Cook

LimbGear - Tyson Daniel

Maxtena- Dr. Stanislav Licul

NewCityLabs- David Poteet

RRx - Robert Giles

Part of multiple Angel Funding events at the E-Summit, the Open Angel Forum features ready-to-fund companies from the Roanoke/New River Region of Virginia. Company founders will pitch to a panel of locally focused angel investors and an assembly hall full of educators, business leaders, researchers, investors, and entrepreneurs.  The Open Angel Forum session provides audience members with a unique opportunity to see how raising capital is done with real companies and real investors.  After each company pitch, the panel will provide feedback to the entrepreneurs on how to polish their business models to increase the chance of receiving funding now.

Registration for the Entrepreneurship Summit is open for attendees, advertisers and vendors as long as space is available until March 31, 2010.

On Handshake 2.0, you're invited to read about about LimbGear, Maxtena, NewCity, and Rural System / RRx.

***

VT KnowledgeWorks, LimbGear and Rural System (RRx) are clients of Handshake Media, Incorporated, the parent company of Handshake 2.0.

Tech Showcase - Gotta Have GIS

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 6:11 AM on December 15, 2009:

Layers of GIS data "Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges."
- Mexican bandit, Blazing Saddles

"GIS? We don’t need no stinking GIS."
- Companies without GIS

When I was a child, my father, Robert Giles, spoke of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) with reverence.  In the 1960s, he was one of the pioneers of GIS, using a light board with his team of graduate students to painstakingly digitize a map by hand with an attribute, then another map of the same place by hand with another attribute, so that layers of data resulted about one particular area.  He and his students then wrote lines of code and used punch cards and the mainframe computer to analyze all those layers of attributes and prescribe optimum locations for power lines in Virginia.

Today, personal mobile devices with Global Positioning Systems (GPS) are ubiquitous, using GIS to analyze only a few attributes - a location map, satellite date, and time - to tell a person where he or she is.

When my father was using GIS, computers were still tools, essentially large calculators, so their limited power limited the number of layers of attributes that could be analyzed to a couple dozen.  Computers are now so powerful they can take into account and analyze hundreds of layers of attributes almost instantaneously and in relation to each other. 

What if my mobile device had its own personal GIS, not just GPS?  What if my mobile device would answer not just, “Where am I?” but “What is best for me to I do?”

I don't think it's an original question or idea but it came to me from discussing GIS with David Bradshaw and Jeremy Rasor of InteractiveGIS, serving as project manager for my father’s new venture, a rural land management system, Rural System - a component of which uses GIS - and the site designed for Rural System by Automation Creations.

This post features a screenshot of the cool animation made by Automation Creations that can be clicked on to show how the attribute layers accumulate. 

What if the layers weren’t about roads, ponds, and trees, but all about me?! 

What if I were standing on a street corner with my own personal GIS on my mobile device and it “knew me" enough to analyze what I value in attribute layers - houses with cats asleep on the porch, tea shops serving scones if it’s 3:00 PM, restaurants serving grits if it’s 8:00 AM, jewelry stores with sales?  And what if, based on what it had "learned" about me from data I had entered and from queries it had tracked and weights I had assigned, or it had assigned, it recommended the next step, perhaps not just to physically put my right foot in, but philosophically?

As a person and a consumer, GIS might show me my own personal power line.

As a company owner, what we offer and what our potential clients value might show up in their personal power lines.

Where do we sign up?!  I gotta have GIS.

***

InteractiveGIS was featured in another edition of the Tech Showcase on Handshake 2.0Interactive GIS, Rural System, and Automation Creations are clients of Handshake Media, Incorporated, of which Handshake 2.0 is an enterprise.

***

Venture Counsel - a law firm for entrepreneurs This edition of the Tech Showcase on Handshake 2.0 is sponsored by Venture Counsel, a law firm for entrepreneurs located at the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center in Blacksburg, Virginia. Ken Maready, head of Venture Counsel, reviewed Handshake 2.0's Social Media Authenticity Policy - Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials, helping to create a document about which Mark Schaefer - author of the blog {grow} and the post The World's First "Authenticity Policy"? - stated, "As far as I know, this is the first published, legally-validated 'authenticity policy.'"

Ken Maready's "Legal Concerns for the Web 2.0 Business" was accepted for inclusion in volume one of the new series, Enterprise 2.0: How Technology, E-Commerce, and Web 2.0 Are Transforming Business Virtually, by Tracy Tuten, Ph.D.  The Enterprise 2.0 series is scheduled for publication by Praeger Publishers, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Company.