Archive for the ‘Blogging on Blogging’ Category


(the) health informaticist now on Twitter

In Blogging on Blogging,social networking,Web 2.0 & all that on August 25, 2010 by Alan Lovell Tagged: ,

Yes, we’re really motoring now and part of the social revolution. (the) health informaticist has joined Twitter and hopefully, with a little bit of luck, this story will automatically get posted to our new page – I’m just so looking forward to clicking “publish” to find out if it works or not. Do please follow us. No really, please…

*update 30 secs later*

It worked!



Excellence and equity – google in action

In Blogging on Blogging,search engines on July 13, 2010 by africker Tagged: ,

Intrigued to spot how a post on my work blog about the new NHS white paper was a) immediately picked up by Google b) given a time stamp of roughly when I started writing the blog post rather than when I published it and c) given massive prominence.

The post is currently (10am 13 July) first result from Google (above the white paper itself) for a search on  – excellence and equity nhs and the only relevant hit in the first ten for “Excellence and equity” with or without quotes – it seems education already used this particular tag line!  I am sure this will wash out in the next couple of days but nice to be at the top of things.

Much of the content was taken (with permission) from a Bulletin prepared by David Nicholls at East London and the City Alliance Health Intelligence Unit. His posting of the bulletin predated my post by some time (he was obviously in bright and early this morning!) but it is not coming up in Google.  I know their blog is relatively new (my work one started in Aug 2007 – with a trad Hello World post).  We also got a lot of traffic and links when we created a similar update post around the release of the Darzi report.


7 Common Mistakes that Health Bloggers Make

In Blogging on Blogging on June 21, 2010 by Danielle Tagged: , , , , , ,

I think most of the following are quite common mistakes that health bloggers make when blogging- I know that I have committed a few of these no-nos.

1. Not keywording your posts.

Keywording aids finding things on t’internet in general, and gives the reader an ‘at a glance’ idea of what your blog posting is about. Come on- use your noodle to enhance your Wordle. Blogsessive has some nifty ideas for keywording your blog posts.

2. Rinky dink links.

Link love’ is a term used by gung ho bloggers to describe the rather promiscuous (or judicious?) usage of links on a blog. Link love is a good thing because it allows trackbacks to be created. A trackback notifies the person whose work is being linked to, simply so they know their stuff is being appreciated. When I see a blog post of more than a few lines without a link or two, this makes me blanche. What is the person’s source? Are they writing in isolation? Trust me, it does not make you an innovator to not link- there are no new ideas out there. Give credit by linking and people will come and visit your blog.

3. Trying to be extraordinary.

Are you a polymath or a synesthete? Do you blog mind-blowing essays or euphoria-inducing photos on your blog? I don’t, and I often feel like my stuff doesn’t stack up to what everyone else is doing out there on the ‘net. Don’t worry and don’t let it stop you blogging. Writing is the best practice for being a writer. Login to say a few words about what is on your mind, argue with somebody, or draw people’s attention to what is newsworthy. That is it- you are a funnel for information.

4. Hugging your blog.

Blogging without tweeting. Blogging without commenting on anyone else’s blog. This is on par with the ‘hugging your data‘ behaviour that Tim Berners-Lee rails against. I don’t understand why anyone would put loads of effort into writing, keywording and linking their blog posts only to massively #FAIL at sharing your wonderful blog with the world. After all, you can set up Twitter to share you posts automatically.

5. Being a hermit / living in self-imposed exile

You are not an island- reach out to your colleagues, your friends, your enemies even, and blog socially. I realise the cards are sometimes stacked against informaticists because we are such a small group. That is why I urge you to make friends with medics, shrinks, quack-watchers, polymaths and synesthetes. See number 5 in this top-tips list from ProBlogger.

6. Being a slave to your subject speciality

This one applies to me- when I started blogging, I was neurotically concerned with how on or off topic my blog posts were. To build on number 1 from the ProBlogger list, yes, do blog for yourself. But also do not let your blog’s topic area dictate what you should blog. (Note: I draw the line at library blogs that read like their writer’s personal diary- please create a personal blog for that stuff.)

We are generally told to have one blog per topic, but what, in all honesty, is a topic? This blog is health information based, but we are generally obsessed with the latest technology and web phenomena.

And finally, “we shouldn’t should ourselves” – keep it interesting to you because otherwise, why would you make time to blog?

7. Letting your blogroll languish.

Blogrolls are goldmines of information. So it makes me despair to see fabulously-titled but now defunct blogs in your blogroll. Have a clear out and add anything new you’ve been reading. Do it for all your readers, like me, who are desperate to know where you get your clever ideas from.


Group blogs – what is your experience?

In Blogging on Blogging,Conferences,Web 2.0 & all that on June 11, 2010 by africker Tagged:

Two tHI bloggers are going to be speaking about the group blog experience at HLG Conference 2010.  Our paper is “The Health Informaticist: collaborative blogging for health, fun and, erm, profit” (PDF).  As part of this paper we plan to talk about what makes a group blog different and highlight some good examples / practice.

Reflecting the fact that professional learning extends beyond the Health Informatics domain  we are interested in all great group blogs.

A few group blogs that we read include:

inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe really shows what a group blog can do with collaborative posts and interesting varied view points.  The latest post is a highly pertinent one to current debates (ahem cilipfuture ahem) on the real work of librarianship

TechCrunch and TechCrunchEurope both written by lots of different people, frequently updated and with a good mixture of new developments, product reviews and more in depth debate. Not very health informatics but definitely web 2.0 

Its All Good A blog from five OCLC staff about all things present and future that impact libraries and library users.  A bit of everything library related.

PubMed Search Strategies A highly specialised use of the group blog format.  Brilliant sharing tool for no cost but a little time.

BoingBoing Regular items from Cory Doctorow (and others) on copyright / IP and plenty of library love mixed in with all manner of interesting stuff from the web and beyond.  Once got me summoned to my managers office to explain what I was doing looking at website with the url – answer trying to read an item on censorship only to find it blocked by websense.

So over to you… Do you group blog?  Which ones do you read?  What makes a great group blog?  And have you ever had a disaster through participating in one?


Transliteracy – new word, same old web 2.0?

In Blogging on Blogging,Information industry,Knowledge Management,Professional Organisations,social networking,Web 2.0 & all that on June 2, 2010 by Hanna Tagged: , ,

I went to a really interesting LIKE (London Information and Knowledge Exchange) meeting last week about transliteracy. What is transliteracy? I’ve blogged at LIKE so take a peek to find out! They use Posterous to post via email, very intriguing…


Blog Spotlight on Health and Medical Blogs

In Blogging on Blogging on May 26, 2010 by Danielle Tagged: , , , , , ,

Note: the following column was published in the Cilip Gazette (click access the current edition) for 20 May – 2 June 2010. They have kindly allowed me to republish it here.

Health is sort of on the agenda, this being election time. But more importantly, we are only a couple of short months away from the Health Libraries Group (HLG) conference in Manchester in July. I have included health blogs as well as health informatics blogs because clinical bloggers are both prolific and interesting.

Birds all in a row

Health and health information blogs run the gamut.  The least useful are pitiful excuses for blogs that advertise medical schools and quick fixes for weight loss-there seem to be an endless number of these.  The best are a few frequently updated, eloquent discussions of how best to use biomedical databases, the future of web search thanks to new developments such as Facebook’s Open Graph, and how best to be a health librarian.  Krafty Librarian has covered all these topics, recently, and many more.

When I started writing this column (almost two years ago) I highlighted a blog by a clever and dedicated Dutch health informationist nicknamed Laika. She is now a twitterer who is a font of information, as well as the caretaker of Medlibs Round- a monthly showcase of newsworthy blog posts in this area. It is also a great discovery tool for new blogs. Dean Giustini is an informationist working in Vancouver who had a superb post called ‘Liability and the Health Information Professional.’ Liability is not the first thing on my mind when supplying information to a colleague or a client- but it is important especially for those working at an HE or public sector reference desk.

If I had to limit myself to reading one blog…well, I wouldn’t be able to! So I have chosen the best all-round informative, conversational and authoritative blogs.  Whoops- maybe I should take a moment to declare a competing interest? This blog!  Two of my colleagues will be presenting at the HLG conference talking about “collaborative blogging for health, fun and, erm profit”.  I urge you to check it out-they are the brains behind this operation.

Best Health Information blogs

Laika’s Medliblog

Laika is the keeper the Medlibs Round archive, a monthly blog carnival that is hosted at different healthy blogs. It is a round-up of recent and interesting posts from the blogosphere.

The Search Principle

This blog is Dean Giustini’s pride and joy. Dean is a professor at SLAIS, University of BC where he teaches social media and health informatics. Dean has a knack for having his finger on the pulse of the health informatics profession. He recently blogged on Blackbird Pie, an unofficial Twitter tool to allow you to snip a tweet and paste it, with all of its formatting and visual glory, into your blog post.

Krafty Librarian

Krafty is our friendly, helpful American medical librarian.  She is dedicated to sharing what other bloggers are up to as well as posting excellent original content.

Best Medical Blogs


The granddad of the MedBlog Rounds and a thoughtful blogger. Mr Blogborygmi also contributes to Emergency Physicians Monthly-recently he blogged on the iPad and its potential to be a much more user-friendly addition to the ER- but first administrators need to warm to it and developers need to craft some clever apps for patient care.

Dr. Shock

Dr. Shock does not subscribe to the typical clinician/ librarian dichotomy- his blog has hosted the Medlibs Round in January 2010 and his scope includes anything medical (or not) that is of interest. A recent post discussed empathy across different medical specialities-psychiatrists score the highest (perhaps no surprise there).

Head Nurse

Do you like your nurse bloggers to have a healthy dose of sarcasm? This one is brilliant and makes me laugh- can’t really ask for any more. But there is more- a great post on synesthesia (when the sensory ‘wiring’ overlaps and sounds, for instance, are perceived as visual patterns or tastes or scents) and another on how to survive your first months as a nurse (“Pee.” Yes, really.).

Skeptics’ Blogs

A fascinating subgenre of health and medical blogs- the mission of these blogs is to uncover quackery and ‘pseudoscience’ in health. Ben Goldacre is the voice of scepticism in the press- he blogs at Bad Science.

Respectful Insolence

This blog attracts a huge number of comments- a post on 6 May criticising the Huffington Post received 68 comments in its first day. (Note: In a world where one or two comments are vastly appreciated, especially to a novice blogger, 68 boggles the mind.) Orac blogs at length on all sort of quackery- baloney cures for autism, homeopathy, known quacks as well as medical cases and general science. Very engrossing- I find myself reading for hours.

The Quackometer

The Quackometer features health news, especially relating to treatments which are not supported by science, such as homeopathy, mysticism, and other ‘alternative’ medicine. David Brooks, candidate with the Science Party blogged recently to clarify his position on homeopathy- Brooks had previously argued that homeopathy was an effective placebo (and doctors love a good placebo). However, studies have shown that homeopathy does not show value for money, even as a placebo. Let’s hope that none of the 70 MPs signing the Early Day Motion, a motion to have these homeopathy-critical studies ignored, have been re-elected.


Medlibs Round: May 2010 edition

In Blogging on Blogging on May 4, 2010 by Danielle Tagged: , , ,

Welcome to the May edition of the world-famous Medlibs Rounds!  The health informaticists have put their heads together to come up with noteworthy blog postings that deal with PubMed trending analysis, liability in information provision, the ‘splinternet’, a search engine optimisation (SEO) teaser from CILIP’s fresh off the presses Update magazine, and more.

Bioinformatics@Becker [Medical Library] has found a nice selection of gems such as Wood for the trees on how to build a bad biological database- number one is ‘make submission difficult’ because scientists are brainiacs anyway so let them figure it out! Why are top tens of what NOT to do infinitely more interesting than best practices…?

20 essential social media resources you may have missed from Mashable includes Why banning social media often backfires– “IT security experts are finding that restricting Internet access can have the unintended consequences of civic backlash, poor worker productivity, and students unprepared for cyber threats.” writes about Medline Trend, a tool that allows you to analyse PubMed- use this tool to see how many papers have been published on a topic each year- put in ‘fluoxetine’ (Prozac) and you’ll see that the first paper mentioning fluoxetine was indexed in 1974 and that the largest number of papers, 555, was indexed in 2008 (the most current year for which statistics exist). The number per 100,000 is also given.

Dean Giustini’s Search Principle blog addresses the crucial (and oft ignored) topic of liability and the health librarian. How best can we health librarians minimise our liability?

“Adhering to good professional practices, and avoiding dispensing advice or interpreting health information for patients, will help to minimize liability. Another protection is to remind consumers or patients to check all health information provided by the library with their health provider or clinical team.”

‘Duty of care’ is touched on as well- duty of care is the assumption that any reasonable professional would take action against exposing somebody (i.e. a client) to unreasonable risks. Dean also gives us some useful disclaimers.

Fade Library (with a super disclaimer- ‘we supply the information, you apply the knowledge’) gives you the skinny on studies on nurse-led social enterprises, tobacco control policy and the media and cluster based learning.

Land sculpture at Charles Jencks' Garden of Cosmic Speculation by kyz

This month’s cheekiest inclusion is an article on search engine optimisation published in the Cilip Update magazine, not freely available on the web, and not a blog (although Mezey and Hyams do the praiseworthy Library & Information Update blog). SEO and information architecture are, or should be, intimately linked with libraries, according to Shari Thurow, speaking at the Search Engine Strategies 2010 conference. ‘Over-stuffing’ a website with keywords is a no-no. Non-branded keywords (for a company’s website) are valuable.  Look out for ‘boomerang behaviour’- where a user goes in circles looking for something on your website- they are lost and will often abandon your website. The bottom line? Stop relying on the ‘HiPPO’, the highly paid person’s opinion, and make decisions that are “data-driven.”

Which journals are essential to physicians? The Krafty Librarian puts us in touch with a NEJM study asking this question. Just over five thousand physicians in 12 specialties were surveyed and asked which journals they read. Twenty percent responded (typical response rate) and the journals they read are categorised into ‘top ten essential’; ‘top five secondary’ and ‘first mentions for top three journals’ by clinical speciality. It is perhaps surprising that specialists rank journals with a general focus (e.g. JAMA, NEJM) especially above specialist journals in many cases.

Jon Brassey (TripDatabase) at the Liberating the literature blog points us to an open access education initiative called the Peoples-uni. Peoples-uni is helping to build capacity in public health in lower income countries such as Nigeria and India and early feedback from students has been very positive. Krafty points out that the CDC is offering a free web-based class on health literacy to public health professionals.

Is the web splintering? Is web content management (WCM) a thing of the past? IWR interviewed Tim Walters at Forrester Research to learn about the ‘splinternet’, a fractured internet in which information is hidden behind paywalls and passwords- this is, apparently, the splinternet of the future (and, I’d hazard, of the present!) Content is no longer king with regards to web content management- we need to find a way to integrate analytics and persuasive functions with WCM as these currently live in silos.

Often I’ve found that my life is pointlessly divided.  Mp3 files on 2 different computers, syncing several calendars, recipes on scraps of paper, you name it. In One folder to share them all, a Vancouver polymath with a similar frustration blogs about sharing recipe bookmarks with his iPhone. He describes potential solutions such as DropBox and SugarSync.

I’m probably not unique in proclaiming @DrVes a personal favourite on Twitter. His blog, Clinical Cases and Images is as newsworthy as it is prolific. In The false idea that only the top journals publish the important stuff, he reacts to the BMJ blog post on this topic and writes that social networking helps him follow what his colleagues are reading in order to keep up with the mountain of new studies. The BMJ blog declared that “Prepublication peer review is faith based not evidence based” and it failed dramatically in reporting the results of a chronic fatigue syndrome study in Science magazine. DrVes printed a couple of anecdotes received from Twitter friends about the danger of expertise. Both posts are comment-driven and remind us of how valuable ‘net and database trawling skills are.  The peer review problem is an enemy to good research, and it is therefore our enemy as well.

Eyes tired yet? Phil Bradley and Scharr Library blog give us a quick video of the Google empire- sit back and have a look. Is Google a force for improving the average person’s life, or for itself, I found myself wondering.

I’ll leave you with some fun tHI favourites- A Librarian’s Guide to Etiquette on carrying a big stick. Need help with that conference abstract? Look no further. Oh and, hmm, what is this web 2.0 thing?

Eyes tired yet? Phil Bradley and Scharr Library blog give us a quick video of the Google empire- sit back and have a look. Is Google a force for improving the average person’s life, or for itself, I found myself wondering.

I’ll leave you with a fun tHI favourite- A Librarian’s Guide to Etiquette on carrying a big stick. Need help with that conference abstract? Look no further.


Coming soon – Medlib’s Round

In Blogging on Blogging on April 28, 2010 by africker Tagged: ,

The Health Informaticist is hosting the May edition of the Medlib’s Round – Blog Carnival.
Description A rotating carnival of the best of the medical library blogosphere. Written in English (bilingual posts allowed)
Keywords medical library, library 2.0, medical librarianship, EBM, PubMed, bibliographic databases, information literacy, web 2.0 tools,
Filed under medicine, health & fitness
Submission deadline first Saturday of every month

You can see the March edition here with the April edition here covering e-patients, iPad and opportunities.

Use the online form to submit your article for the May edition.

We welcome submissions on any aspect of medical librarianship / health informatics.  We particularly welcome blog posts that take a view on the role of professional organisations in the future of the profession (in the light of the Defining our Professional Future work currently underway at CILIP).
We look forward to some excellent submissions


A real Google phone?

In Blogging on Blogging,Information industry on January 4, 2010 by Alan Lovell Tagged: , , , , , ,

Look out tomorrow for a possible announcement from Google that they’re releasing their own phone (review here and chit chat here, here, here, and a podcast here). We all know that android phones have been out for a while, and that in terms such as multitasking and personalization, they’re a cut above the (“we’re Apple and we know what’s good for you”) iPhone. But tomorrow they will announce the Nexus One. It’s been made, as with many previous Android phones, by HTC, but the difference is that while you’ll be able to get it on contract (T-Mobile has been mentioned), Google will also sell the hardware direct themselves, putting themselves, their reputation, and their clout, not only behind the software but also the hardware. Apparently Google is “dogfooding” it to their staff around the world. I’ve never heard that term before, but Wikipedia tells us it means:

“Eating one’s own dog food, also called dogfooding, is when a company uses the products that it makes. Dogfooding can be a way for a company to demonstrate confidence in its own products, and hence a kind of testimonial advertising. For example, Microsoft and Google emphasize the use of its own software products inside the company.”

What a strange word. Anyway, I think my next phone will be an android phone. I love iPhones but, well, doesn’t everyone have one these days…? (Not that I’m jealous or anything.)


Twitter, Tweetdeck and the attraction of cute apps

In Blogging on Blogging,social networking,Web 2.0 & all that on January 4, 2010 by Alan Lovell Tagged: , , , , , ,

So I’ve decided to try twitting, in tweeter. I’ve not got anything to say and will have to decide at some point what I want to get out of tweeting. I mean, is it a way of allowing far off friends to keep a handle on what I’m doing (do they care), should it have a professional slant and try and get followers in the library world, or should I just try and entertain by offering wry, sidelong glances at the little follies of being a commuter in London. Not that I’ve necessarily the talent to do any of these things, but one needs a strategy however talented or talentless one is, doesn’t one? Still, my twitter user name is, rather originally I think, “alanlovell”:

Anyway, the point is that I’ve downloaded this smashing little app called TweetDeck. I suspect everyone knows about it, but in case you don’t it’s a nice little downloadable free program with a cute user interface that allows you to login, read, post etc tweets, in a much more manageable way than if you were doing it online via the Twitter website. It also allows you to do the same thing with Facebook. I’ve not liked logging into Facebook now for a long time, just because the whole thing seems messy and unsettling to the finer me. But now I can keep up with the singularly useless but occasionally amusing things a select group of my friends are getting up to; it’s the genuine social networking possibilities of Facebook without having to log and navigate through the flippin’ thing.

So that’s TweetDeck for you, and from looking around I see there are other cute apps out there for you if you’re a tweeter, such as Seesmic, Twittelator etc – for Windows, Macs, iPhones etc etc – and I do wonder, is it the cute apps that are the real attraction of Twitter? Maybe I’m just following the wrong people? Who should I be following, by the way? Any must reads in the information world? At the moment I’m following a few friends, some cricketers and cricket commentators, and the obvious ones such as David Mitchell, Stephen Fry, Jimmy Carr etc. I tried the Guardian for a while but just got bored with being sent links after links after links. I want to filter the information that gets to me, not just find another route through which I can get drowned by it.

Well, anyway, happy new 2010 all. I’ll try and blog a bit more this year (been a very poor few months – work has, honestly, been very busy…).

p.s. is there a way we can set up an ‘auto-updated’ (the) health informaticist twitter account one wonders? Hmm?