Tag Archives for social media
June 12, 2011 | Writing
An abstract and outline for a new presentation I’m giving this week with @ciscogiii. The audience is primiarily the researchers at my office, and anyone else interested in tuning in. The talk is part of a series that is offered monthly, every third-Thursday, on varying topics. The talks are all broadcast live via WebEx, so by all means, if you’re interested, tune in this Thursday at 1pm PT. The link, when ready, will be here.
This is obviously a very rough outline, but if you have any ideas of how it might be improved between now and then, let me know.
Two things just came to my attention about the nature of online life and interaction therein.
The first was published yesterday in the New York Times, entitled The Twitter Trap:
The most obvious drawback of social media is that they are aggressive distractions. Unlike the virtual fireplace or that nesting pair of red-tailed hawks we have been live-streaming on nytimes.com, Twitter is not just an ambient presence. It demands attention and response. It is the enemy of contemplation. Every time my TweetDeck shoots a new tweet to my desktop, I experience a little dopamine spritz that takes me away from . . . from . . . wait, what was I saying?
My mistrust of social media is intensified by the ephemeral nature of these communications. They are the epitome of in-one-ear-and-out-the-other, which was my mother’s trope for a failure to connect.
I’m not even sure these new instruments are genuinely “social.” There is something decidedly faux about the camaraderie of Facebook, something illusory about the connectedness of Twitter. Eavesdrop on a conversation as it surges through the digital crowd, and more often than not it is reductive and redundant. Following an argument among the Twits is like listening to preschoolers quarreling: You did! Did not! Did too! Did not!
Balancing this is a presentation at last week’s fab social media conference at UBC, Northern Voice. The title of the talk was “Stop Apologizing for Your Online Life.” It was given by a digital media director named Alexandra Samuel, and based on an article she wrote earlier for her Harvard Business Review blog:
Still, the fact that life online can occasionally surprise and delight us points us towards the truth: it’s not the Internet itself that leads to pathologies like cyber-bullying, spam and identity theft. Rather it’s our decision — individually and collectively — to separate the Internet from the context, norms and experience that guide human behavior. It’s our decision to engage in online interaction as if it were fundamentally different from offline conversation. It’s our decision to label the Internet as something — anything! — other than real life.
There’s no denying the differences between life online and off. In our online lives we shake off the limitations of our physical selves, perhaps even our names and consciences, too. What remains are the fundamentals: human beings, human conversations, human communities. To say that “reality” includes only offline beings, offline conversations and offline communities is to say that face-to-face matters more than human-to-human.
Who do you believe? Are your online interactions and relationships real for you? Or do you view Twitter merely as distraction? What I do know is that part of the challenge (and potential) of social media lies is shifting your online life into something more than just epehemera. It takes time, practice, and meaning, to find reality in online life.
I spent the evening, like many in North America, watching news reports and my Twitter feed fly by with the news and reactions to death/killing of Osama bin Laden. It’s interesting to me to watch the way these things go, because I’ve found for a while that people, including myself, complain about cable news. And how in spite of being on 24 hours a day, never seems to be quite up to speed. And how social media can help break those barriers.
Twitter doesn’t break news for me often in the sense that hours before an event is reported I know about it. It is my central channel for news, though, so what I like about social media is its ability to provide me with things that are easy to miss through all the pundit and questionable-expert-commentator babble.
RT @xenijardin CNN reporting fact that tipped off ops: mansion valued at over $1M but "had no phone or Internet access"
— Bora Zivkovic (@BoraZ) May 2, 2011
Additionally, @whitehouse was live-tweeting Obama’s speech, which is good because I was able to revisit the soundbites I didn’t record while watching. Like this one:
Obama: “the US is not – and never will be – at war with Islam…Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims”
— The White House (@whitehouse) May 2, 2011
Other social media are important in the evolution of the news cycle, beyond Facebook and Twitter. Don’t forget to check out the creation cycle of our modern encyclopedia, too:
love watching Wikipedia articles evolve at times like this http://is.gd/HGSBji #binladen
— Alec Couros (@courosa) May 2, 2011
Outside of the actual breaking news, tonight gave an important insight into why it is important to be authentic on social media. If you schedule your tweets in advance and news breaks, well, you might seem a bit out of place!
Times like these make auto-tweets really silly!
— Alicia C. Staley (@stales) May 2, 2011
It’s strange to have been out of the States for major political events in the past three years. I don’t miss the gross celebratory enthusiasm that accompanies military success; however, that is balanced by the recognized need for Obama and his nation to get a “win” under their belts.
Couldn't say it better RT @timbray: The world is better without OBL but the celebration outside the White House nauseates me.
— Daniel Hooker (@danhooker) May 2, 2011
Impromptu celebrations show me just how much we've needed a reason to. We've not celebrated as a nation in too long.
— Simon S. Lee (@simonslee) May 2, 2011
My Twitter stream was also filled with jokes. Jokes about TSA security (“does this mean I can take X on a plane now?”), jokes about Donald Trump. But, my two favorites I’ll share here were unique (at least in my stream).
sudo rm -rf /bin/laden
— Matt Drance (@drance) May 2, 2011
I'm just glad it wasn't the "there's an asteroid we can't stop" speech.
— Alec Sulkin (@thesulk) May 2, 2011
Finally, I’ll leave you with a thought from outside the USA, and looking ahead to tomorrow’s big night in Canada: the federal election. This is shaping up to be quite a week. Goodnight, Twitter. Thanks for the memories.
Excited to see Canada's pro-Net-Neutrality, pro-fair-copyright, anti-surveillance NDP is in the running for tomorrow election!
— Cory Doctorow (@doctorow) May 2, 2011
April 27, 2011 | Writing
In response to the Wall Street Journal reporting on the results of some preliminary clinical research done by Patients Like Me refuting the effectiveness of lithium to treat ALS, e-Patient Dave tweeted:
— Dave deBronkart (@ePatientDave) April 26, 2011
@seattlemamadoc replied quickly:
@epatientdave I think of patientslikeme as a network. A social network. Don’t you?
— WendySueSwanson MD (@SeattleMamaDoc) April 26, 2011
I replied as well, with my initial thoughts:
@epatientdave interesting thought. Would you say it isn’t? I feel Pts like Me has many similar functions and affordances as other soc media
— Daniel Hooker (@danhooker) April 26, 2011
But by then it was too late. The premise had struck me: what if patient communities like Patients Like Me are somehow inherently different from other social media?
Social media is defined on Wikipedia as: “media for social interaction… the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue… a blending of technology and social interaction for the co-creation of value.”
Though I haven’t left behind the idea that the basic functions (profile, public/private messaging etc.) and affordances (seeking/finding people, networking, friendship, community) are similar between the two, what are some areas of difference between Patients Like Me and Facebook?
- User Intent. Does the reason why someone joins a network matter?** Is it acceptable to examine a network through qualities about which we may have no direct knowledge? In this context, is it different to be a patient than a tennis enthusiast or a knitter? Don’t we call those networks social media? Does the nature of the community’s users change its definition?
- Data usage (i.e. a network’s reason for being). My second thought about the separation of Facebook from Patients Like Me is the usage of the demographic information collected. As evidenced by the clinical trial, Patients Like Me is somewhat of a clinical experiment. They are using the voluntarily provided patient information to be able to create a data set used to support (or challenge) other medical evidence. Do the scientific goals of Patients Like Me have an impact on its definition? But in that light, Facebook’s sale of demographic data to their marketing partners may seem an even more sinister experiment. At least Patients Like Me is generally open about it.
I am still working through the areas of difference between the two networks and their significance. And though these distinctions may seem pedantic at this point, I have a sense that seeking deeper definitions of these platforms may increase in value as the critical discourse around social media advances. As more people become aware of these tools for use in a health care context, we will require ever more robust ways of describing what, exactly, they do and why, exactly, they are having such a profound impact on so many people’s lives.
**Not to go all English-major on you here, but in a similar way that reader-response critics responded to formalism by allowing room for the “user” experience in the interpretation of a work, so formally examining a social (net)work solely as a functional piece of software may be seen as insufficient in describing its true value or experience.
The title of our workshop was “Consumer Health 2.0: Using social media to find and share health information.” In my mind, there are really two phases to the patient information lifecycle from the users’ perspective: 1) the challenge of finding relevant and high-quality information; and 2) sharing that information not only with those who need it most, but also with an undefined audience who may find it of use. Our contention is that the true value of social media for patients is that you can provide not only your own story (for moral support or catharsis) but also that the lessons you can share with a network, the “insider” information, may help someone who would truly be lost without it.
Overall, I think our workshop was effective, I really enjoyed hearing and learning from the audience, and I hope they learned from us as well. We created slides to guide our lecture portion of the afternoon, as well as a handout to support the reflection activities that we planned. These are embedded below in Slideshare.
- We used a video to open the day that is a somewhat striking portrayal of two e-patient stories. How Sheba and I interpreted the video (one woman who successfully used online information to overcome her cancer, another who succumbed to misinformation) was not ultimately the way that the audience received it. Though I believe we listened and responded to the criticism appropriately, I was initially caught off guard by the unanticipated reaction.
- The call for workshop proposals wanted high interactivity in their sessions and so we spent a fair amount of time planning activities for the audience to engage with the themes of health information sharing and social media. Ultimately, we went short on time and I offered the participants the choice or whether to engage in the scenario activity, or continue with a discussion of how patients and health organizations were using social media. They chose the latter, which really opened my eyes to how much talks like these are still needed at a “building awareness”-level.
- I spent some time discussing statistics of ‘x amount of patients searching for health information’ that were simply less engaging than I had hoped. I will pare that down next time.
- The audience guided the workshop to great effect. I was so happy to lead a group discussion on social media that was only loosely based on the outline we prepared. This is such an important topic, and the interest was obvious from the amount of both solicited and unsolicited participation we received throughout. I would much rather have half the workshop go un-presented, than get through everything having made no impact.
- Plan early. Participants had to pre-register for sessions, so we were able to conduct a pre-survey that was a wonderful tool for gauging the skills and knowledge of the room. I would like to continue to tweak this tool for future use, as I am not sure we gained as much as we could have. We did use the results heavily in the planning process and it was an essential tool in crafting the final product.
- Plan less. We wanted to show them everything, but in doing so, I think we may have diluted some of the messages. We were able to shift some of our content following the results of the pre-survey, but an absolutely killer focus would have been better than then comprehensive abstract and presentation we developed originally.
- Plan better. Even from the very first proposal that we submitted, I think we could have done a better job of defining the scope and deliverables of the workshop. Our goals were broad. I am very glad that a session was delivered on this topic at the conference, but in biting off too much, we may have only been able to scratch the surface.
- Do more, in smaller chunks. Based on the feedback during the workshop, I think what this group needed was an interactive session introducing them both to the concepts and issues of a single, specific social media (patient blogs, patient communities, twitter, Facebook) and some hands-on training using and exploring that one platform. This would enable the wide range of skill sets in the room to benefit from one another better, and to provide the smaller scope we needed.
Overall, crafting the workshop with Sheba and her expertise in health literacy and patient advocacy was a great working experience that I sensed would work well since we met back in 2009. Additionally, it was a distinct pleasure to meet with such an engaging (and engaged) group of patients. It was clear that they are all poised to change health care from the inside, and I truly hope we were able to show them the potential for creating networks and becoming champions not only for their own health, but for others. I hope I have the pleasure of working with these patients and others in the future.
As we move forward as a collective community of health professionals on social media, I have been thinking a lot of what a major role Twitter plays in the connection and collaboration of such an incredibly large amount of people.
Communities of Practice are defined by Wenger as
groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.
And even though now that Twitter (and many communities of practice within it, including #hcsm/ca/eu) has matured and is being used effectively by so many people, I am growing concerned about its future and about the deep reliance that we have on it for much of our day to day practice. The paradox of social media is that we are currently slave to the tools at our disposal. The more we espouse Twitter’s revolution on communciation practice, the more deeply we become inextricably tied to its specific solution for our broader desire: simple connectivity to a broad community of people “who share a passion.”
In a 2002 book, Wenger, McDermott & Snyder describe the 5 stages of the Community of Practice lifecycle . Consider for a moment where you consider Twitter to be in the stages below:
- Potential (informal network of people with a commmon interest)
- Coalescence (Value seen from connection)
- Maturity (Focus and roles are clarified, active and dynamic enagagement)
- Stewardship (Organically evoloving and growing, CoP maintains relevance)
- Transformation (Radical transformation, dispersal, or death)
Here is how I think Twitter fits into this model:
- Potential. 2006-2007: Twittr launches as primarily SMS-based status tool, tech geeks at SXSW sign up.
- Coalescence. 2008: Membership moves beyond tech community as users begin to see promise in sharing more than just a status, and on more devices than simple cell phone. TinyURL, bit.ly, is.gd and other link shorteners bloom.
- Maturity. 2009-2010: Active communities form as membership mushrooms and communication and collaboration protocols are ironed out. First hashtags, then lists, continue to foster collaborative growth. Recognizing the ability to connect directly with their customers, businesses and celebrities invest heavily in their Twitter presence.
- Stewardship. 2010-2011: Twitter’s value beyond “what you had for breakfast” is no longer up for debate. It is finally OK to ignore the naysayers, and get to the meat of demonstrating and advocating for Twitter’s presence in a professional and collaborative context. Promoted Tweets appear. Increased pressure for Twitter’s monetization looms large as critical mass has been acheived in nearly every aspect of professionals, consumers, news outlets and advertisers.
- Transformation. 2011-?: The pressure for Twitter to become a business and not a collaborative tool grows too great. Maturing CoPs within Twitter (eg #hcsm/ca/eu) begin to look for other ways to collaborate and grow their practices beyond one platform. Businesses, advertisers, mass media outlets, and celebrities finally consolodate their hold over Twitter’s userbase.**
The importance of this model lies in the ability for us to evaluate our evolving use of Twitter as it fits into our work lives. Many of the people who read this blog I anticipate as being involved in health care, which is a field that is, in many ways, only beginning to incorporate social media into its professional practices and communications efforts.
Strategy is everything these days. Of course the broader concepts of information access and changing paradigms of online collaboration take precedent over any specific technological or software solution like Facebook or Twitter. But the extent to which the strategic conception of social media is incorporated into our on-the-ground work is still unstable. By that I mean, it is not unheard of to recommend Twitter to literally every organization that declares an interest in social media without a second thought. Today this is a safe bet. Next year or three years from now, we may be thinking twice.
But framing Twitter as a transforming Community of Practice may help to contextualize the position that we are all in as we build and invest our communications strategies on top of tools that are often less interested in freedom of information and communication than we may care to think. Because I believe in the collaborative power of social media, however, I look forward to seeing Twitter and the communities within it transform. And I also look forward to whatever it is that comes next.
**Excuse me while I digress as I truly don’t want to speculate as to the “future of social media” beyond this, but I feel the need to say: I have a feeling that blogging may see a resurgance as people grow weary of “promoted tweets” and ad-spam (I am already there and it has barely begun), and as they begin to seek ways to exert more control over their social media presence. Those who were on the social web before Twitter may return to their roots; Twitter natives will explore both the newest and oldest forms of online identity. And as for Facebook… well, who knows.
February 25, 2011 | Writing
We had a great turnout last night for the first-ever pan-Canadian #hcsmca tweetup. Conversation was buzzing across the country from Halifax to Victoria and several other cities in between. I was lucky enough to be part of the Vancouver meetup along with 23 other people (I counted sometime around 7pm PST). The following are some of my reflections about the night that came to me in an inspired fit when I woke up this morning.
Social Media Takeaways:
- Major conversation threads included how best to target health professionals using social media (I’d be curious to hear from @robynsussel if her group came up with some solutions to this problem) and strategies for convincing management that social media is worthwhile (success stories, demonstrations, champions, external people).
- Most organizations actually have someone designated as their online community/communications person. This is a big step forward from even last year, which is reflected in the fact that many of these communicators are new in their positions. We are all still “learning by doing” which is great, and also a lot of fun!
- Excellent anecdote: box of condoms refilled at a downtown bar via Twitter. I know sometimes old tweets are hard to find, but if someone could dig this up it would be great
- @CIHC_ca is run on a distributed model. Around seven(?) volunteers have access to the social media platforms for CIHC, and all can tweet or blog. I didn’t know this was how it worked, but it is such a great case study for how to not only spread the work around, but also how to engage your community closely.
- @Michael_YouthCo and I talked around the balance of personal-professional. This is a perennial topic at social media events, I find, and it is embodied in his Twitter handle (name and organization in one). His experience is that the younger community YouthCo targets won’t bother if you are not completely yourself at all times, so YouthCo social media folks blend their personal/professional roles heavily on Twitter at all times. Right now, my impression is this is not the norm across many organizations, but I think it’s where we’re headed more and more everyday. The problem for organizations doing this is you need incredibly dedicated people who are willing to sacrifice some of their “personal” space online. Clearly, this is not YouthCo’s problem, and they are lucky to have the dedicated staffers that they do.
- The HIV research and non-profit community showed up big. Great to see them proportionally represented at the meetup, since HIV is such an important research focus in Vancouver and BC.
- Some HIV organizations have recently taken up the idea of changing their names if they include ‘AIDS’. Treatments have become so effective in recent years, that many patients do not progress into AIDS, so the orgs are trying to connect with their populations understanding that most are living with HIV, rather than AIDS.
- Additionally, HIV orgs have by and large been very successful in reducing the stigma of living with HIV. So much so, that at least a couple attendees last night working in mental health are hoping to replicate that success for their populations living with a mental health issue. This is a really needed push, and I hope they made some connections last night that will help inform their practice moving forward.
For next time:
- Many people mentioned using different platforms for different populations. The talk was very Twitter-focused, though, and I would be interested in branching a bit if we want to talk about other social media platforms and the success/challenges there
- Everyone agreed that we should meet again, and perhaps have some people involved get up to speak about their organization in a little more organized fashion. This sparked the idea that we could have a pecha kucha night with several different people giving short talks and then mingling afterward. I, for one, am very excited about this.
I really can’t put into words how great it is to have this community of people online and now in-person as well. We are truly building a community of practice not only in Vancouver, but across the country, and I am very impressed and happy with how social media has made this possible. We owe thanks to Colleen for fostering #hcsmca into a reality, and for dreaming up this crazy idea of a national meeting night. I can’t wait for the next one!
February 11, 2011 | Writing
Here are the draft slides and accompanying resource manual for our upcoming workshop at the Cochrane Canada Symposium on February 16.
Feedback is welcome (/essential).
January 25, 2011 | Writing
As I keep telling you, we’re busy developing content for a workshop on “Using social media for evidence-based practice” at the upcoming Cochrane Canada Symposium. Our three content areas of focus will be blogs, wikis and Twitter. As we develop a “manual” to hand out to participants, I put together a one- 0r two-pager on Twitter. Just the basics. Take a read, and let me know if it’s clear or if there’s anything, as a beginner, you’d wished you’d known. What do you need to know to get started on Twitter?
Twitter: a primer
Definition: Twitter is a “microblogging” (“tiny” blog) service that allows networks of users to send short updates to each other in less than 140 characters. Initially used to share personal information, Twitter is now a platform for global information dissemination, social networking and real-time communication.
Background: Twitter was launched in 2007 as a tool where personal updates were shared by cell phones but has expanded in popularity due to its simple, accessible way to connect with others. It is estimated that Twitter has 190 million users, generating 65 million tweets a day and handling over 24 billion search queries per month . Today, Twitter allows for updates to be sent using SMS but has expanded to include software for the Web as well as smartphones (e.g. iPhone, Android, Blackberry).
Key characteristics of Twitter:
- Platform for sharing short updates called “tweets” of less than 140 characters
- Tweets often include links (URLs) or “mentions” of other Twitter users
- Personalized profiles include updates from people you choose to “follow”
- By including a topic keyword preceded by a ‘#’, users can find and track only those tweets related to a specific topic (e.g. #ehealth) or event (e.g. #ccsymp11)
- All tweets are public by default (i.e. other users can choose to follow you) but may be made private if desired
Uses of Twitter:
- Sharing links and opinions about online content (e.g. blog posts, literature) .
- Short conversations with other users and sharing of personal/professional opinions and expertise. (“Don’t underestimate this platform” )
- Collecting a broad view of current news and important events in real-time .
- Detailed conversations/debate are difficult to carry out effectively in 140 characters .
- Tweets are meant for consumption by the public; some may be uncomfortable with the “broadcast” nature of the tool .
- Spam and fake accounts are common. Requires proactive maintenance of your followers
Recommended Twitter Users:
- @cochranecollab: The Cochrane Collaboration: Working together to provide the best evidence for health care
- @DrVes: Assistant Professor at University of Chicago, Allergist/Immunologist, Internist. Former Cleveland Clinic Assistant Professor and NEJM Advisory Panel Member.
- @Berci: Medical doctor, founder of Webicina.com, health 2.0 consultant, blogger; Second Life resident, Wikipedia administrator doing PhD in genetics
- @laikas: Medical Librarian, scientist, mom, wife and human
- #ccsymp11: Cochrane Canada Symposium, 2011
- #hcsm: “Health care and social media”
- #hcsmca: Health care and social media in Canada
- Other hashtags to explore: #ehealth, #healthlit, #pharma
- Mandavilli A. Peer review: Trial by Twitter. Nature. 2011 Jan 20;469(7330):286-7. doi:10.1038/469286a
- Chew C, Eysenbach G. Pandemics in the age of Twitter: content analysis of Tweets during the 2009 H1N1 outbreak. PLoS One. 2010 Nov 29;5(11):e14118. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0014118
- Cunningham AM. What I have learnt about Twitter [blog post]. 2011 Jan 23. Available from: http://wishfulthinkinginmedicaleducation.blogspot.com/2011/01/what-i-have-learnt-about-twitter.html
- Hawn C. Take Two Aspirin And Tweet Me In The Morning: How Twitter, Facebook, And Other Social Media Are Reshaping Health Care. Health Aff. 2009 Mar;28(2):361-368. [link to abstract]
January 18, 2011 | Writing
In preparation for my (and Dean Giustini and Francisco Grajales’s) workshop at the Cochrane Canada Symposium entitled “Using Social Media to Promote Evidence-Based Practice“, we have been pouring over literature, past presentations and other resources to figure out the best way to deliver a current and relevant workshop to the Cochrane community.
We met last night to discuss the various planning ideas that we had gathered so far for the workshop, and ended up having a great discussion on the biomedical blogosphere in general, and what, if any, roles the reflective learning and collaboration that blogs are so good at fostering play in the promotion and improvement of best evidence.
It’s true that in some fields, the amount of bloggers seriously taking a critical look at reviewing and synthesizing research literature may be thin (not every article gets the same treatment as the IBS/placebo study in PLoS One). No blogger can hope or aspire to replace the work that systematic reviews do in assembling, reviewing and appraising the state of the biomedical literature on a given research question. But they can promote discourse, even if it does not always bear directly on the improvement of a clinical treatment for a certain condition.
As we know, no evidence from a single source is complete. Certainly not from a celebrity blogger, but also not even necessarily from a world-renowned journal. One of the purposes that blogs serve is to equalize the publishing field, allow a commentary on certain (or any) topics and foster an overall engagement with evidence and practice that is simply not possible on another medium. Letters to the Editor may be the closest analogue but there are only so many published in any given issue, and, perhaps worse, they often face the same access restrictions that the full-text articles do. (Also, and this is an honest question: without a paper issue to flip through, do people read those anymore?)
I know we touched on more during our meeting, but I thought I would jot down these notes for now, leave them up to marinate for a month or so and see if my own or other reactions have changed at all between now and February. As we continue planning and I work this week on a one-pager about Twitter and EBM, there will likely be more ideas floating around.
- Laika’s MedLibLog. The Web 2.0-EBM Medicine split.  Introduction into a short series. April 1, 2009.
- Palepu A, Kahn N. Keeping up with the evidence. [PDF]. Canadian Society of Internal Medicine Annual meeting. October 27-30, 2010.
- Sciencebasedmedicine.org [great evidence-based blog]
- Workshop planning wiki page.