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April 28, 2008

Strategies for searching for health info - Google, MedStory, Cochrane, Pubmed

I just answered a blog comment on a different blog about searching for information about tooth whitening using a variety of resources to gradually get to better and better information.

Tooth Whitening and How to Find Out About It: http://mblog.lib.umich.edu/dentlib/archives/2008/04/tooth_whitening.html

Posted by pfa at 08:50 PM | Comments (0)

April 27, 2008

Work Productivity in Second Life

Friday was one of those days when once I got into Second Life, it seemed like I couldn't get back out again. Some folk might assume that this relates to playing and a lack of personal discipline, but instead it is rather the reverse.

I spent my morning working on email and blogs, then came into Second Life for a meeting of our local Second Life community (which will be described at the SLUM blog). Immediately following that meeting was the regular Metanomics session, followed by a special extra Metanomics session with Larry Pixel of NMC. Somewhere around that time there was another meeting for Immersive Education, but I was too worn out to stay around for that.

During these 3.5 hours of meetings, I had separate private conversations with one of the presenters, a professional colleague from the UK, one of my SL neighbors, a local SL community member, and the Metanomics host. I also took notes of key points from the presentations and participated in the audience discussion (called "backchat"). At the same time, in real life, I periodically tried to make sure my sick son was drinking his fluids, eating lunch, and taking his meds.

This is one of the things I like and dislike about working in Second Life - multitasking. I find I can be so incredibly productive and efficient, but I also find the juggling a bit overwhelming and sometimes stressful. Mostly, though, I appreciate being able to maximise the effective use of my time.

The conversation with the professional colleague was, in part, about the issues of whether or not Second Life is useful for professional productivity, and specifically whether having professional meetings in Second Life is useful.

A Sexual Health Sim in Second Life: Web conferencing: 2D vs. 3D (or both), or ‘Why conduct events and meetings in Second Life?’: http://sl-sexualhealth.org.uk/?p=140

For myself personally, this is a no-brainer. I cannot imagine being as productive and professionally engaged without virtual worlds as I am as a resident of Second Life. (Note: Second Life is one of many virtual worlds, and seems to be currently the most productive one for professional engagement in my areas of interest.) This is not so obvious to people who are not active in a virtual world or Second Life specifically. So let me step back a minute and try to show why it is useful for me.

Firstly, I am a single parent of a special needs child. When I became a single parent, my son asked me not to travel for a while. "A while" became about five years. Traveling is a hardship both financially and even more so for parenting and trying to provide a stable home environment for my child. Being able and willing to travel is essential for many if not most professional positions, and is often a requirement for promotion.

Travel is important for very good reasons. Professional meetings provide opportunities for engagement with other professionals, continuing education, professional acculturation and support, discussion and learning about core issues and trends in the profession. Without a rich foundation in all of these one is at risk of becoming not just socially isolated as a professional but of losing touch with the current standards of practice, and eventually losing what it is that really makes the difference between a professional and someone who isn't.

In Second Life, I participate in professional meetings on a variety of topics on a weekly basis. I engage with other professionals in education, librarianship, technology, science, and healthcare at these professional meetings. I see the same people over and over, know who they are and why they are important to know. I engage with these same professionals outside of the meetings as well. The "hallway conversations" of geosynchronous meetings become conversations in chatrooms, via twitter, by email, on wikis and social networking sites, and other media.

Geosynchronous meetings (meetings to which someone travels) have common outcomes that contribute to your professional productivity. You gather information to apply in your home environment, have useful and enjoyable discussions with like-minded folk, find and share solutions to common problems, are invited to present or publish, are invited to partner on research projects, discover that someone else has already done what you were just about to start, etcetera.

There is not one of these outcomes that does not also happen with Second Life meetings. For myself, I have given two professional presentations in Second Life, taught classes, been invited to partner on grant proposals in collaboration with other institutions, and had many of those interesting and productive conversations that lead to useful outcomes or resources for my parent institution.

Geosynchronous meetings, however, have significantly different costs embedded in the events. Just on a personal level, the costs of the actual travel, hotel, food, and meeting fees are significant. The additional costs and inconvenience and risk of arranging childcare, petcare and home security are also items that decidedly get my attention.

When those costs are extrapolated to all attendees, and extended to include the costs of planning and coordinating the physical arrangements of the meeting, well, frankly it is baffling to me that more organizations don't define virtual worlds as an institution priority as a cost savings mechanism! IBM is one example of a major organization that has indeed made virtual worlds an institutional priority. IBM has at least 26 islands in Second Life, of which one is open to the public and the rest are reserved for the use of IBM employees on IBM business. That says something to me. IBM is far from being the only significant corporate presence in Second Life, but to detail out the corporate landscape of SL should be saved for another post.

Alright, so for the sake of the argument, let's say we've established sufficient cause for shifting some or many professional meetings to an online environment as a cost savings mechanism. There are other ways to have online meetings. Why not just have a web conferencing system? What is special or better about having meetings in Second Life or another virtual world? What are the barriers to having meetings in virtual worlds? Good questions, that can be better answered by others, but I will make a small attempt.

What are the barriers to having meetings in virtual worlds, Second Life in particular? The barriers have mostly to do with the technology itself and learning to be comfortable with that technology. This, too, could be a whole blogpost by itself, easily. To touch on it superficially, software-hardware compatibility is a problem for many folk. If you are buying new computers, make sure they have the video cards currently preferred by most virtual worlds.

What is better or special about having meetings in Second Life. The two words the come up with overwhelming frequency are IMMERSION and ENGAGEMENT. For myself, I have attended and presented at professional meetings in Second Life. Feels an awful lot like doing the same thing in real life. I have attended presentations on web conferencing systems. Perhaps my experiences were atypical, but what I recall most is the awkwardness and technical challenges.

So, perhaps I am prejudiced, but for me, speaking personally, this seems like an obvious choice to make and an obvious direction for institutions to explore. Given the choice, check out virtual worlds for your next big meeting or seminar series.

Posted by pfa at 10:52 AM | Comments (0)

April 26, 2008

Reading & Reacting: The Wisdom of Patients (CHCF Report)

"Social media on the Internet are empowering, engaging, and educating health care consumers and providers. While consumers use social media -- including social networks, personal blogging, wikis, video-sharing, and other formats -- for emotional support, they also heavily rely on them to manage health conditions."

The Wisdom of Patients: Health Care Meets Online Social Media
Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, THINK-Health
April 2008

Thursday, after the a2b3 meeting, several of us were discussing this very concept. Many folk are worried about the privacy issues of social media for support communities as well as for personal health records and tracking. Despite this, there seems to be an overwhelming drive to make personal use of the empowerment and flexibility offered by social media.

More and more, I find examples of social tools designed specifically for the use of health care consumers and professionals, but mostly for consumers.

DailyStrength: http://dailystrength.com/

ICYou: http://icyou.com/

ReliefInSite: http://www.reliefinsite.com

More and more, I find articles and examples of how more general social media tools and resources are being used for personal health management or interventions.

SugarStats & Twitter Help You Keep Track of Your Diabetes: http://linuxchic.net/internet/sugarstats-and-twitter-help-you-keep-track-of-your-diabetes/

Tweet What You Eat: http://tweetwhatyoueat.com/

Twitter for Health: http://www.social-marketing.com/blog/2008/02/twitter-for-health.html

In my slideshow on e-health last summer I gave examples of patients building their own custom applications in general social media tools (such as Google Docs) as well as other examples of tools and applications.

This report provides an overview of the current state of social media in healthcare. At this moment, it seems to be more a direction for the future. Ten years ago the public had just really discovered the Web but only a percentage were making active use of it for health information. That percentage has grown to become a majority. Signs are pointing toward social media being the next evolutionary step toward the personally empowered patient who partners in their own clinical decisionmaking.

The Wisdom of Patients report also looks at trends and patterns for the future, and how the concepts of social and community are playing out in the online environment. Particularly interesting sections of the report are those that examine the concept of collaborative decisionmaking with healthcare professionals and consumers ("Platforms that Make Health Consumers and Clinicians Peers"), the dynamics of the social communities ("Knitting Communities Together" and "Disruptions Through Collaborations"), and the very significant "New Patient Opinion Leader".

What I am observing is that, whether it is encouraged or not, the person with a need and accessible tools is likely to find creative solutions for their needs. Healthcare consumers are now using, and will continue to use, a variety of online tools and resources to seek information, to seek support, to manage and share their personal health information, and much more. I hope that both the healthcare and information professions will anticipate these directions, and plan to meet the healthcare consumer at their virtual home, wherever that might be.

Posted by pfa at 09:13 AM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2008

Cool Toys Conversation April 22

On April 22nd, we had the first Cool Toys Conversation with staff of the Health Sciences Libraries. A group of us got together, ate lunch, and talked about what new cool tools and resources we've found online lately. Some of these have been previously been highlighted in this blog, some will be forthcoming. Here are the highlights of the conversation.

University of Michigan - iTunes U
The University of Michigan health sciences schools are collaborating on putting course lectures online as podcasts through iTunesU as a partnership with Apple.

ChaCha is a new reference service that will answer reference questions received through the web, text/chat, or by your mobile phone. Fast answers, too. Imagine going for a walk in a new city and sending a message asking, is there a good sushi bar near my location? and getting the answer in 2 minutes.

Open Source Alternative
Can't get your tech admin to buy you a copy of some application you want for your computer? Here is a searchable database of open source (and FREE) software alternatives. Why pay if you can get it free?

LifeHacker is a kind of blog/journal/tech/self-help site with all kinds of tips (both 'hot' and useful) to help make your life easier. All your life -- work, home, you name it. Worth checking out.

This is a tool for a build your own genealogy. We started thinking it would be interesting to use this to create visualizations of evolution of genetic profiles, plants, animals, ideas, memes, etc.

See http://mblog.lib.umich.edu/etechlib/archives/2008/02/xtimeline.html


MBlog: ETechLib
This blog. Where I sometime mention cool new online toys and trends in emerging technologies.

MBlog: Web 2.0
Another blog highlighting new toys their applications.

EBHC Strategies Wiki
A wiki about evidence-based search and searching strategies. The more the merrier!

There was so much talk about Twitter, I've put it at the bottom to group the longer discussion and various tools.

Twitter is referred to as a microblogging tool, and is the most prominent and popular of this group of social tech tools. Personally, I consider it an example of Web 2.0 and social tech in a microcosm. You know how much research is done with other organisms before human research in part because of the shorter lifespan? Twitter would be the "mouse" of the social tech sphere -- everything that happens in social tech happens there, just faster!

Here are some of the Twitter accounts, tools and concepts we discussed.


TwitterCycle: http://cogdoghouse.wikispaces.com/twittercycle


A2Snooze - local news / police blotter on Twitter

APHA - public health on Twitter

ChaCha - reference on Twitter

GetReady - disaster preparedness on Twitter

PubmedBootcamp - teaching on Twitter
MORE: http://mblog.lib.umich.edu/etechlib/archives/2008/04/pubmed_bootcamp.html

Posted by pfa at 09:20 AM | Comments (0)

April 24, 2008

RSS Feed Selection for Librarians

This is a repost from the HSL Staff blog.

If you want more resources beyond those listed in the slides, feel free to explore these two link collections.



Posted by pfa at 03:30 PM | Comments (0)

April 23, 2008

Red Letter Week

This is my 441st blog post in MBlog. Of course, that doesn't count blog posts done at other places, but still, quite a chunk of work there! I figure with ones I've done other places I'll just call it a round 500. Sounds good, doesn't it?

Also today I posted the 45th slideshow in our shared Slideshare account:

Slideshare: UMHealthSciencesLibraries: http://www.slideshare.net/umhealthscienceslibraries/slideshows/

Earlier this week I hit a few other social tech landmarks.

I hit 2100 tweets and over 600 followers in Twitter.

Red Letter Week: 2100, 600+

Now, since then I have a hundred new followers, with no idea why.

One of my early slideshare presentations hit 10,000 views.

Red Letter Week: 10,000+

I now have over 13,000 links collected and organized in my del.icio.us account.

Red Letter Week: 13,000+

And Flickr - let's not forget Flickr, which is where I started with all this "Web 2.0" jazz. 45,000 views of my photostream, and will likely hit 12,000 images in the next week.

Red Letter Week: 45,000+

Last but not least, the YouTube video I made with Sharon Grayden and Dan Bruell of the School of Dentistry recently hit 8,000 views (although I'm not sure when).

Red Letter Week: 8,000+

Ed Vielmetti of SuperPatron fame has been heard to ask what is the point of social technologies if it doesn't make people want to connect face to face? So I found the also remarkable in that the following tech-to-face events happened.

1) Someone sat down on the bus, looked at me, and said, "Excuse me, but are you RosefireRising? Of Flickr?" (Let me tell you, that created a bit of a conversation in my Twitter crowd!)

2) I had lunch at Angelos with a woman I know from Second Life. (hey, Diva? /me waves)

3) I got this postcard from a Twitter pal.

Twitter Postcard via Tojosan

What does all this mean? I'm not sure, but it looks like someone somewhere thinks I'm doing something useful. A nice feeling. :) And it is nice to have friends. :)

Posted by pfa at 04:22 PM | Comments (0)

April 22, 2008

PubMed Bootcamp - Twitter for Education

It all began a little over a week ago, when I posted a link to a Pubmed search in response to a reference question that came out via Twitter. A reply came back that started the ball rolling.

Twitter: Pubmed Bootcamp - Where it all began

This turned into a conversation including several folk about why, as a single parent of a special needs child it is hard for me to commit to doing a Medical Library Association CE course, and then whether or not we could do something like a CE actually using Twitter.

Twitter: Pubmed Bootcamp - Summize Search

It actually wasn't my idea, but it sounded intriguing and I was definitely interested in trying it out. So this past Monday we actually started trying to do a ... well, a class, of sorts.

I set up a wiki to hold some of the content, but defined it broadly enough it can hopefully grow into a much larger and more useful resource than simply one course. I set up a Twitter account for the class, and a GroupTweet account so that everyone interested can post a shared dialog to one place.

Twitter: PubMed Bootcamp

Although it is pretty quiet so far, and not a lot of folk involved in the dialog, that makes it easier starting out. I am frankly thrilled with the dialog that is happening, and excited about the potential.

Tomorrow, we are going to try having our first "in class" game via Twitter.

Twitter: PubMed Bootcamp

You would be welcome to join us. :)

Posted by pfa at 03:40 PM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2008

Healthcare in Second Life

Today's presentation to the School of Pharmacy.

I also promised to send them the link to this video (Science Learning Opportunities in Second Life), which just broke 8,000 views!

Posted by pfa at 04:36 PM | Comments (0)

April 02, 2008

Howard Rheingold at ISTE Island

Video and blog info about Howard's presentation over at the SLUM blog.


Second Life: ISTE: Howard Rheingold - Cyberspace is Social

Posted by pfa at 11:42 PM | Comments (0)