Information Storage – Medical Knowledge

In a post on Dave Winer's Scripting News today, Dave brings up the issue of information storage.  He seems to be discussing hierarchic thinking.  Dave has written outlining software for years.  He's added complesity to the outliners  . beginning with More in the dinosaur ages .. and forward to Frontier and Radio.   I don't think that we all function so well with outliners.  Not everyone THINKS that way .. even if one can DESCIBE what we're doing in a hierarchy.

So what?

I teach at a medical school.  So I teach medicine.  I also teach Medical Informatics to physicians.  And I study medicine.  And I study Medical Informatics.

These topics are vast.  Many (?most) searches on the internet are related to medical information.  In the early days of the internet, many "directories" were created to help people find the informationthat they were looking for. Yahoo was one of the first, of course .. and it was successful because it was well implemented.  Medical Matrix was a great early resource for medical information — for both physicians and patients.  Yet in the practice of medicine, the information resources are so vast .. and the temporal pressure to find the RIGHT information NOW is so great that a directory simply falls apart.

My pal Dave Kauff came up with a hypothesis a few years ago .. he recognized that physicians don't really use the internet to find medical information very often .. even if they know that what they are looking for is "out there" somewhere.  If I learned about a certain condition from a certain book when I was in medical school and I know that the information I'm looking for is on the page on the left-hand side about 2/3 of the way tthrough the book in the chapter on such-and-such and the book is on the bookshelf on the 3rd shelf up on the right hand side of my desk. …. then .. that's where I'll find it 1st.   So Dave K says .. "if the docs can put the books on the bookshelf .. then maybe they can organize links to the data that they want if we make it easy for them.

So we teach people to use "MYHQ" .. which is STILL the best URL/Bookmark utility on the internet, and still free free free.

It works well, but not everyone likes it.  Not everyone thinks that way. 

Where am I going with this? 

Dave Winer can superimpose a hierarchy of thoughts on how many people organize their homes.   So long as we learn good searching strategies . (yes .. hierarchies again .. I hear you coming, Dave!) .. and maintain good search engines . it doesn't matter at all.  We physicians have strugges for years to develop nomenclatures that describe medicine.  ICPC, SNOMED and ICD-9 are all examples of such attempts.  ugh. 

I guess today's post is a work-in-progress.  We'll see if I can make more sense of all of this later.