Posts Tagged ‘twitter’


Using Twitter to track disease outbreaks

In Health industry,social networking,Web 2.0 & all that on July 8, 2009 by Alan Lovell Tagged: , , ,

A few months ago I wrote a short post on Phil Baumann’s 140 healthcare uses for Twitter. Well, Chris Thorman over on Software Advice has written a longer piece on the potential of Twitter for identifying and tracking disease outbreaks in real-time. To get some vaguely reliable data from Twitter, rather than the mess of misinformation with the occasional piece of truth thrown in which is Twitter as of today (oh, cynic that I am), it would  be necessary to have a uniform set of diagnostic codes, “hash tags” and a proper authentication system, e.g. as Chris writes:

“…This adoption by doctors would need include a verification system that only allows trusted or authenticated users to tweet about information contained in the EMRs. What we’re trying to avoid is aggregating a whole mess of data related to a particular disease. Authenticating users to make sure they are who they say they are avoids this problem. With a uniform set of diagnosis codes and a proper authentication system, suddenly the trending data sent out by these verified doctors’ tweets goes from speculative to extremely reliable.”

I do actually think that Twitter or a similar technology could be very useful in tracking the early signs of a condition, or any other “rare event” pattern. In fact I’d be amazed if we weren’t using it this way very soon. What is required however, as always, in some kind of central, trustworthy institution to organise, analyse, study and disseminate the data that comes in, as well as ensuring the diagnoses are correct and not just false positives. That’s the hard part, not some Dr in a clinic in Great Yarmouth tweeting that one of their patients has a sniffle. Anyway, take a look and see what you think. Twitter fans will like it at least. Another step towards world domination.


Habitat is guilty of spamming folk on Tw …

In social networking on June 24, 2009 by Danielle Tagged: , , , , , ,

Habitat is guilty of spamming folk on Twitter by advertising a promotion using completely irrelevant hashtags such as #Apple, #iPhone and #Mousavi. It is easy to find out what the top 10 trends are by hashtag (as hashtags act as self-assigned keywords) so it is becoming more popular for folks to exploit them. I’m a little surprised that a furniture retailer would exploit them, though. This seems like a new class of spammer altogether. I shudder at the thought of ‘pork rocket’ style spam messages clogging up twitter someday soon. Although, would they be so bad, as I found myself trawling through some of my 700+ spam messages in Gmail (why is Gmail still in beta, by the way?) snorting with laughter at some of the inane poetry in message titles, the other day. Am I sad?


NHS Evidence is here

In CILIP,Web 2.0 & all that on April 30, 2009 by Hanna Tagged: , , ,

What do people think of the new look? It combines a Google-esque search with a cleaner display of the content. NICE also has a new website… 

Meanwhile I’ve been catching up on the twitter collective of what happened at CILIP last night. The elephant in the room being if branches and groups are delivering what people want from CILIP and CILIP aren’t interested in new technologies (or even simple things like email provision to said groups and electronic payment systems) then why shouldn’t branches and groups become independent? Funding of course is an issue but there is this thing called sponsorship and much of the running ‘costs’ are already being carried by individuals on committees setting up blogs and websites as well as events that feed into the needs of members (and naughty non-members or subscribers such as I).


Cilip 2.0 Open session

In Uncategorized on April 29, 2009 by Danielle Tagged: , , , , ,

Just to reiterate, if you are on Twitter, you can follow this afternoon’s discussion about the value of Twitter and other web 2.0 technology to CILIP (from 2.30 to 4.30pm GMT). Using a search engine such as Monitter or Twitterfall, plug in the search term #cilip2 to view the discussion thread, more or less as it happens.

Phil Bradley has been thoughtful enough to post his presentation on his blog for those of us who will not be attending, in body. He suggests that you will be better off viewing it on TwitterFountain where it will be tweeted live.  Time to swot up quickly on what this is and how to get it to work!

I am just trying out Twitterfall now and finding it works okay, sometimes with a couple minutes of lag (on Mozilla Firefox). There is a ‘flush queue’ button at the top you can press to get new tweets if you feel there is lag.

It appears that Twitterfall is almost a replacement for the classic Twitter portal–think of it as a more customizable (you have a choice of skins, font size, etc) option than Twitter. I wonder at what stage Twitter will want to integrate more of the features that can be seen in offshoots like this?

Update: Matthew Mezey on the Update blog is live blogging this event here so please check there if you, like me, cannot seem to get TwitterFountain working.


security and web 2.0

In Web 2.0 & all that on April 28, 2009 by Danielle Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

In light of the upcoming web 2.o open session at CILIP headquarters tomorrow, I thought I should have a look at a document featured in UKeIG’s Elucidate–Top web 2.0 security threats.

This paper mentions that a hacker used a ‘brute force dictionary attack‘ to hack into Barack Obama’s Twitter account and 32 others. These attacks succeed because “people have a tendency to choose passwords which are short (7 characters or fewer), single words found in dictionaries or simple, easily-predicted variations on words, such as appending a digit.”

Basic passwords are easy to hack–nothing new, and something that is related to the perceived desirability of hacking in–I doubt Cilip’s future twitter account would ever be hacked.

The real danger to Cilip, in my opinion, is one that Facebookers are familiar with-that bit of news your friend posted to your wall that was a secret and is now widespread knowledge. Although, I think this can only help a group like Cilip that has struggled with marketing and even keeping its active members in the loop.

This paper suggests that the big picture of employees and job titles on a site like LinkedIn can be detrimental as this information can be used to launch a social engineering attack, for example.

The security paper was methodical but not terribly forward-thinking. What of the accuracy of Twitter and its associated trending tools? If I have a tweet that has nothing to do with swine flu, for example, maybe I will throw in #swineflu just to get more followers by: (a) coming up in more search results and (b) appearing in tools like monitter (a search engine with an ever-updating display to let you monitor the ‘twittersphere’).

A recent article in the Guardian suggests that web 2.0 is dangerous during an epidemic:

The web is famously treacherous as a self-diagnosis tool; a perfect example of how a little information can be dangerous; some Twitter users have been spreading message about not eating pork (it’s not possible to catch swine flu from eating infected meat).

We are taught to consider both context and the authority of the source when evaluating information. On Twitter, however, there really is no context as information comes in 140 character bursts, and, as the Guardian article points out, can we really trust somebody named @budgiebreath to point us the right way?

Some have perhaps benefited by presumably choosing quality information sources to monitor. Veratect, a biosurveillance company, claims to have alerted the CDC about the flu before authorities in Mexico declared there was a problem, according to Wired.


Guardian to become Twitter only service

In Uncategorized on April 1, 2009 by Alan Lovell Tagged: , ,

Yes, it’s true. The Guardian is to become a Twitter only service.

“…A mammoth project is also under way to rewrite the whole of the newspaper’s archive, stretching back to 1821, in the form of tweets. Major stories already completed include “1832 Reform Act gives voting rights to one in five adult males yay!!!”; “OMG Hitler invades Poland, allies declare war see for more”; and “JFK assassin8d @ Dallas, def. heard second gunshot from grassy knoll WTF?””

I’ve also heard rumours that The Telegraph is to begin publishing exclusively via Facebook Status Updates. What fun.


Twittophobes vs. Twittophiliacs

In Web 2.0 & all that on March 25, 2009 by Danielle Tagged: , , ,

Hey Alan, someone named Nash has come up with a pithy list for why science, tech and maths gurus are giving Twitter the cold shoulder. Reasons include not caring about interacting with others and fear of comments being in the public domain.

Scientists are substantially asocial – feeling more at home dwelling on the workings of their pet problem rather than interested in what other people are thinking about.

But the ‘laypeople’ are chattering away!  A company called has launched a product to allow “companies to search, monitor and join conversations taking place on Twitter directly in the Service Cloud.”  Ooh, ‘service cloud’ certainly has a malevolent ring to it.  And the word ‘monitor’ doesn’t exactly put one at ease, does it?  Do these companies know that Twitter already has a basic search available?

Apparently the product will go for:

$995 per month, which includes the ability to:

  • Create an online customer community with unlimited usage for up to 250 customers
  • Set up a contact center with up to five agents
  • Connect with native cloud computing sites like Facebook, Google and Twitter
  • Invite up to five partners to participate in the Service Cloud

Will this be a future trend to watch out for?  And, based on the fairly basic description of the product above, how many groups will pay that amount with what looks like only a slight add-on in functionality to these social networking sites.  I am actually excited about the back and forth (we have already witnessed a preview of this with Facebook wanting to sell its users, as potential customers, to anyone and everyone) that will ensue, in a big way, in the time to come.  What software will come out to allow us to avoid being pulled into the tractor beam of the ‘service cloud’?


Using Twitter in healthcare

In Web 2.0 & all that on March 13, 2009 by Alan Lovell Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Phil Baumann has put up 140 Health Care Uses for Twitter, for anyone out there strange enough to think that Twitter might actually be useful. Some make more sense (to me) than others. I like, for example::

- Diabetes management (blood glucose tracking)
– Maintaining a personal health diary
Adverse event reporting and other pharmacovigilance functions
– Biomedical device data capture and reporting
Nutritional diary and tracking
– Product/food safety alerts

Some are hopelessly optimistic or vague or other, better channels already exist:
– Hospital administration
– Childcare support
– Connecting genetic researchers with physicians
– Publishing the latest advances in biomedical devices

And some are rather surreal:
– Exchanging physician humor (we’re all human)

And one I’m really not so sure about is “Issuing doctor’s orders”… it’s not as if they have any trouble doing that anyway. All in all though it’s a good list that should generate some thought about how Twitter, our favourite web2.0 app, can be applied in healthcare.


There’s a bit of an uproar now at Cilip …

In Blogging on Blogging on March 4, 2009 by Danielle Tagged: , , , , , ,

There’s a bit of an uproar now at Cilip (FYI to those who do not partake) with the Chief exec showing some reluctance to have Cilip join Twitter. Bob McKee has posted again on his blog to suggest he might be okay about trying out twitter. The positive side of this is that it has got some discussion going, as I find there is generally a conversational drought in many things Cilip. Bob wonders why there is so much emotion all of a sudden–perhaps because he’s hit a nerve?

This debate (to twitter or not) has Clari questioning the point of Cilip membership. (You could almost substitute the word ‘life’ instead of ‘cilip’ from the general tone of this discussion.)  I do not blame her.  I think extreme hesitancy tends to be the tone of many of Cilip’s debates and I think it’s abundance of red-tape puts people off.  It’s too much work!  Just getting to a decision.  Having experienced institutional risk aversiveness and having suffered from it, I think there should be some decisions that are just made on a ‘piloting’ basis. Meaning, let’s try this new and somewhat unknown but possibly amazing thing and just see if we like it in 3 months.  Let’s tell folks and get the keen ones engaged. Then maybe we can see if they like it.

Phil Bradley suggested that the fruit had withered on the vine and the discussion had needed to occur in real time, not two weeks later.  His response was brilliant, in fact. And it occured a week ago–am I ever out of the loop!  In the comments somebody defined the word ‘peengeing’–to whine or mope–so the ‘no peengeing’ statement of Bob’s was rather condescending.  For goodness sake, web 2.0 is all about peengeing, a.k.a. intelligent banter, Bob.

It’s time for a new, less risk averse strategy for Cilip, one that is inclusive and technologically aware.  We need out of the straitjacket of firewalls, delayed/moderated comments (on all the Cilip blogs) and delayed unilateral decisions.

So good for Bob in recognising the importance of the Twitter issue and good for the informatics community in being so vocal on this issue.


Has Eric Schmidt ever used Twitter? Apparently not…

In Uncategorized on March 4, 2009 by Danielle Tagged: , , ,

Hey Alan, you’re not alone, Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO, hates Twitter as well. He calls it “a poor man’s email system.” This to me is all backwards, as email is really a poor man’s Twitter/ blogging tool. (1) it is ubiquitious old hat, (2) cheap free and (3) is lousy with spammers (side note: I doubt Twitter is spam immune but it’s not infested yet). Tech Central, the Times blog, goes on to suggest that it is dubious as to whether Schmidt has ever used Twitter. Look, I am not saying Twitter is the best thing since processed cheese, but please do not knock it if you haven’t tried it!


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