Clay Shirky on publishing

Saw this on Twitter (thanks Brian):

I retweeted it, but sometimes a retweet is not enough.


Publishing is not evolving. Publishing is going away. Because the word “publishing” means a cadre of professionals who are taking on the incredible difficulty and complexity and expense of making something public. That’s not a job anymore. That’s a button. There’s a button that says “publish,” and when you press it, it’s done.

–Clay Shirky

It’s so good I think I will publish it, and by that I mean press a button:

Live Tweeting lectures

Social media in health care is a fascinating and rapidly mutating field. One of things that makes it so interesting is that just as we start to master one set of tools, new ones arrive. Twitter is the latest tool to catch fire in the Healthcare Social Media arena. The real time nature of Twitter and the ability to have conversations with colleagues around the world is one of the most globe-shrinking experiences in which I have ever participated.

Twitter is great for exchanging single ideas and single sentences, but as the thought becomes more complex, the elegance of Twitter breaks down. People are forced to send tweet after tweet to express an idea. As the tweet stream begins to lengthen, it should becomes obvious that Twitter is not the right tool for the job. We do not live in a world with only hammers.
The quintessential example of this is the trend to “Live Tweet” meetings. Sometimes this is appropriate. For example when the meeting contains breaking news. This happens at the Late Breaking Clinical Trials session at Kidney Week. Here the presenters are providing the world with its first glimpse at new information. I remember live tweeting the Bardoxolone results 6 months before they were published in the NEJM. That however is not what we tend to see with people live tweeting a meeting. Usually it is a string of hopelessly unintelligible tweets trying to express the words, images, references and ideas of a presenter in 140 characters (actually it is never 140 characters because no live tweet is complete without the obligatory meeting hashtag, #KidneyWeek12)
I have heard people defend live tweeting as a way of keeping notes for a meeting. It’s great that you are taking notes but if you think that twitter is as good way to archive information, you must be new here. Old tweets regularly disappear from the Twitter database or become functionally unobtainable within a few weeks. Writing your notes on the back of a business card that you stick to the coffee house bulletin board would be a more reliable way to archive your thoughts. Additionally, if you are taking notes, why go through the overhead of parsing them into 140 character thoughts and posting them?
In the end, live-tweeting a meeting seems intellectually lazy. I think it is great for participants to take notes, think about the speakers and post their summaries or conclusions to the internet. I just feel that Twitter is a terrible way to do it. If you want to post longer thoughts, careful notes or thoughtful conclusion, it sounds like you might like blogging.

On the other hand if you want to make snarky side comments about the use of Comic Sans in the presentation Twitter is the perfect tool.

Pot meet Kettle. Kettle meet pot:
I have agreed to live Tweet Med 2.0’12 in September for eAJKD. I am going to try and filter my tweets and use the tool rationally. I want to pair a modest bolus of tweets with short individual posts for each session in which I participate.

Nephrology blog-together at Kidney Week

Next week is ASN’s Kidney Week in Philadelphia. Some of the kidney bloggers are going to be getting together to clink glasses and talk blogging, kidneys, MedEd and whatever else spills from our lips. We are meeting at McGillin’s Olde Ale House.

When you get there look for the nerdy guys who look like they spend too much time staring at an screen.

Friday, November 11th at 8 pm
McGillin’s Olde Ale House
1310 Drury Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Hope to see some of you there, and remember when you are tweeting about Kidney Week use the hashtag #kidneywk11

Blogging as an academic endeavor

From Skeptical Scalpel (twitter)

Since I dropped out of the business of training residents, I have been actively blogging and not cranking out mindless publishable research. Here is an interesting fact. I have no doubt that far more people have read what I have written in my blog for a year and a half than ever read all of my 95 published works combined.

Sing it brother! It takes me about a hundred hours to prepare a de-novo talk for grand rounds. I will then deliver it to an cohort of 50-80 docs with a collective GCS of 10. After the last audience question the lecture video will be filed in the medical library never to be found again. The lecture is not searchable or discoverable and the work is largely lost.

An average post at PBFluids will get more views than the grand rounds in the first few days and if it is linked by RenalWeb other aggregator it will get enough page views to fill one of the great conference halls of the national meetings. After the first week the post continues to be an eternal flame of searchable and discoverable data. To me the relative impact tips way toward blogging as a more significant form of academic communication but to the powers that grant career advancement it is a meaningless toy.

cyberNephrology, what a piece of cyberCrap–updated

I was browsing the Renal Fellow Network and saw a link to a website I hadn’t previously heard of, cyberNephrology. It had a prominent position on the list of Other Nephrology-Related Blogs, so I went to check it out. The prefix cyberis very 1990’s and cyberNephrology does not disappoint it. It has that a few years after the zombie apocalypse  feel.

Starting at the top the What’s New page links to a pair of talks from 2009.

The three large banners are role overs that open to text based pages. The communication page is essentially a link to an E-mail discussion group. In today’s world of Twitter and Facebook are e-mail discussion groups relevant? Hint: No.

According to cyberNephrology, e-mail discussion groups are not only a relevant form of communication, they are the only forms of communication.

The additional resources includes a link to the Highlights of the Nephrol e-mail discussion list, last updated in 2000. A link to a Nephrology Internet Bibliography, last updated in 2002.

The nephrology related websites is a page of links to a couple of dozen large institutions and a handful of defunct links to smaller sites, The Catalan Transplant Foundation (now a squatters site) KidneyWeb (a site that brings back memories of the worst of GeoCities), (now behind a paywall). Amazingly this page claims it was updated in January 2011, though they don’t show any link-love back to the Renal Fellow Network.

The Education link on the home page leads to a page that is similarly outdated with links to NKF’s spring meetings up through 2008. The funniest part is that 2008 is considered next years meeting, as there is a separate link to Past meetings.
The other trip down memory lane is the link to “New Technology–Palm OS, PDA.” Unfortunately, for nostalgia’s sake, the link is broken.
The last target on the home page is a new vision. This leads to more gobbley gook but does place the responsibility for this load of crap at the feet of none other than PBFluids hero, Dr. Robert Schrier. Shame on you Dr. Schrier.
The new vision page includes a contact form. I sent a comment and after pressing send I was redirected to this page of crap.
What’s the chance I ever hear word one from them?
There was a time when having a “homepage” counted for something, but now these are just embarrassing relics. NKF should just euthanize cyberNephrology. 
It also calls into question what type of editorial control RFN has after getting endorsed by NKF. Do the editors really feel that cyberNephrology is a worthy site that belongs on the same list as Clinical Cases-Nephrology and Dialysis from the Sharp End of the Needle? Or was cybernephrology added in deference to their new overlords?
Update 9/1/11:
About 16 hours after posting Dr. Kim Solez commented here. You can read his plans for cyberNephrology below, but part of his plans included shuttering cyberNephrology and starting a new google+ charged version of the Nephrol e-mail list serve. Additionally a number of readers have chimed in, through the comments and other communications, regarding the value of the Nephrol list serves. This maybe a case where this author judged a book by its cover.
That said Dr. Solez has not made good on his promise and cyberNephrology is still up, though I occasionally get pointed to the new NephrolPlus project (not sure what’s up with that). When cyberNephrology ultimately disappears you maybe able to dig up the bones at the NKF’s site, which currently carries a partial copy of cybernephrology. 
Lastly, the Renal Fellow Network has removed cyberNephrology from their website and have, to my satisfaction, established that there is no editorial control from the NKF. I feel a little foolish for pointing that finger. Sorry guys.

PBFluids is three

I’m such a bad parent. I forgot PBFluids birthday. The first blog post was May 30th 2008. 1,098 days ago. This is post number 390. The volume has tappered off recently but i still have the blogging fire in my belly I just have been working on some other projects: meaningful use, grand rounds, fellow teaching, and an upcoming primary care symposium.

It’s been a fun trip. Here’s to three more years of blogging!

Blogging cancer

Derek K. Miller died on May 3rd. He was  prolific blogger and here is the beginning of his last post:

Here it is. I’m dead, and this is my last post to my blog. In advance, I asked that once my body finally shut down from the punishments of my cancer, then my family and friends publish this prepared message I wrote—the first part of the process of turning this from an active website to an archive.

His blog is 10 years old. That’s got to be one of the oldest around.

I guess we should get used to this, a new type of writing, the chronicling, in near-real time, our last moments.

Salon has some perspective.

Way to go Blogger

It seems that Blogger, the service that hosts PBFluids and a number of other nephrology blogs including the Renal Fellow Network, usually gets disregarded and most serious bloggers elect to go with WordPress. I have been delighted with Blogger since beginning PBFluids almost three years ago and have been impressed with the regular updates they have introduced. Today, though they really blew me away. Take a look at the new Blogger Dynamic Views:

You can view any public Blogger website in the new views by adding “/views” to the end of the url.
Follow this link to see PBFluids in Mosaic. Sidebar is another do-not-miss view.
Blogger teased this in their recent ad they put together for South by Southwest:

The cost of blogging

Michael Hyatt has an a good read about the costs of blogging and advises against getting bogged down in details about design, custom software and hosting. Find a way to cut through that BS inorder to start writing.

He recommends, premium version for $12-17 a year. He doesn’t say why he would choose that over Blogger (the host of PBFluids).

Today I received my bill for blogging for the next year here at PBFluids:

Blogging. Total bargain.

$10. That’s all.

Here is Dr. Ves on Medical Blogging. He is actually quoting Seth Godin and Tom Peters. This best sums up my feelings on blogging:

It doesn’t matter if anyone reads it. What matters is the humility that comes from writing it. What matters is the metacognition of thinking about what you’re going to say.

No single thing in the last 15 years professionally has been more important to my life than blogging. It has changed my life, it has changed my perspective, it has changed my intellectual outlook, it’s changed my emotional outlook.

And it’s free.