Wow .. it's been quite a while since I've made an entry. Here's why:
- I'm busy. Yeh .. I was always busy .. so .. no excuse
- There are hundreds of other weblogs now. Many are very good. The reasons that I started writing this were:
- Put annotated bookmarks up on the www so that I could find interesting and important information again .. once I had found it.
- Expose some of the human side of the physician's world. Much of what we do is mystery to our patients. I wanted to reveal some of that .. and openly reflect on what I do .. and why.
- In the context of #1 and #2 above — both are now being done rather well by others. In the 4+ years since I started writing the weblog, many other physicians have gotten on board and are in fact doing this just as well as I was. Perhaps better. I don't feel the ned to write a post today on the availability of influenza vaccine and the panic of OVERsupply that is now occurring. Many others have commented on this already .. and I agree with many of the opinions. There are a handful of weblogs that I continue to read (Kevin, Sydney, Dr Bob, Enoch). And of course I see who's writing what by checking medlogs.com every day.
So the weblog isn't so important for me anymore. I will still use to to put up links to things that others may not have found yet.
Today's tidbit: Audio Digest is giving away some free MP3 CME programs. When I was a resident – I would listen to an Audio Digest tape every day. I had a 30 minute drive to work .. so .. "Side A" on the way to work and "Side B" on the way home. This was an extraordinary adjunct to my residency education. With a 5 minute commute these days … I don't do this anymore. Too bad. I enjoyed it. Perhaps with the growing presence of MP3 players .. we'll all get in to this … and I can do CME on the treadmill at the "Y" … and of course it makes an ipod tax deductible now .. doesn't it!?
I think that the next wave in medical blogs will be the merging of traditional medical publishing and weblog-like information sharing. They won't be called blogs, but they will borrow from the technology and in fact from the techniques quite a bit. I've already posted (a bit too much) about this in the past. Here's an abstract overview of what's going to happen: Both traditional medical publishers and web-based medical publishers will recognize that the way that a weblog communicates and retains information is valuable to physicians. There are a few principles that we might usefully apply to such communication:
Editorial Integrity. the information that is selected for today's "news" must be selected because the editors believe this to be important to me.
They need to know who I am – and they need to know what I'm going to consider useful. Yes – if Yahoo knows what books to show me on their "login" page .. I DO expect the medical publishers to know what kind of physician I am .. and therefore what information I would find most useful. I'll blab about usefulness later.
Integrity also means that the advertising never influences the content. Never never never. I understand that advertising may be necessary. Physicians will tolerate SOME of it – but not much.
Usability. Easier said than done. Medical information needs to be delivered to me in a form that makes it usable. Not too many graphics. Don't make me click a billion times. Don't make me log in to click-through a big Flash advertisement. Use words sparingly.
Usefulness. I've written about this before – so I won't bore you too much this time. The key is that the user will get the most value with the least effort.
Transparency & Personality. Perhaps these two are not the same .. but they're related enough that I think they can live in the same paragraph. Transparency means that the readers know who is speaking to them – and why. If we're talking about medical information – and perhaps even medical news – there is still an author of the story – and an editor – and if I know a little about them – I am better prepared to judge what it is that I am reading. "Personality" may be the means to the "transparency" end. Humor, even in "news" is appropriate and maintains the attention of the reader. Makes everyone more human. Sometimes when the author says WHY something is important – or offers an editorial summary – they are providing a framework for the reader. Ever read Robbins' Pathologic Basis of Human Disease? No? Too bad. It's a wonderful medical textbook – with wry humor sprinkled throughout. 2nd year medical students — trapped in at their desks for hours at a time will stumble on these gems of humanity and remember that they are human. Medical news sources should do the same.
Maybe there's more .. but that's all I've got for today. Experimenting with a wiki for the FMDRL project. Fun.