Rumours of my death – CPD23 thing 3

In CPD23 on June 27, 2011 by africker Tagged: , , , ,

I am lucky enough to have a fairly unusual first name second name combination.  There are no movie stars cluttering up mentions of my name online (Brenda Fricker used to be good for telephone spelling requests but her departure from Casualty has resulted in a notable reduction in the population wide knowledge of how to spell Fricker).  The first ten hits on Google are mostly related to me with my LinkedIn, Twitter, and Biog from HLG conference included.  The notable false drop is the other main Alan Fricker on the web.  An environmentalist in New Zealand his death was the first thing a Google Alert I set up ever told me about my name (the perils of vanity test searches).  The other major false drop is from Facebook.  This Blog shows up on the second page of results (as does Movember from last year).  Not much of a surprise to me are a few Jiscmail mentions as I have long been active on these.  I would suggest this is actually part of my personal brand – active.

Generally I have been happy to put my own name to my activity online (also shortened versions as my name is distinct enough for people in my sector to recognise me).  My main blogging outlet being a group blog is an issue for personal brand. Indeed the lack of a clear personal brand was one of the issues picked up when myself and Hanna Lewin spoke at HLG Conference in Salford about the group blog experience.  It is notable also that people really struggle with the blog name (and that the “what’s an informaticist” page gets lots of hits!).  I did have an experimental blog for some KM learning which could be revived.  A long with my own name I have been happy enough to use my own picture (mucked about with of late as result of trying out an online tool). I can understand why some might shy away from using their picture though.

I think the professional is personal and my communication online reflects this.  I think about what I do / professional issues a fair bit and this comes out.  Twitter encourages the blurring of the line but I share considerably less there than I might with colleagues in the office.  I also like to show off pictures of pies.

I think my online brand is fairly consistent with offline which is a good thing to my way of thinking.  I probably should have a personal blog rather than the confusion of this group blog but I like it here.


CPD23 Thing 2 – whole lot of reading

In CPD23 on June 21, 2011 by africker Tagged: , , , , ,

Thing 2 is to read around some of the other blogs.  I have wandered through more than few today making comments here and there.  I found some from the health tag in the delicious set, some from the CDP23 tag on wordpress and others from browsing through.

One thing I found interesting was putting names to blogs to twitter feeds.  It was not always terrible clear where you were going to end up. Being part of a group blog here may well also mean I am somewhat tucked away.

An interesting discussion broke out over at Libraries the Universe and Everything and I thought I would bring my next comment over here as the meat in this post.

We were discussing how many blogs you follow via RSS (I realise as I type that I follow non blog things via RSS also) and how people manage large numbers.  I was reminded of this article by Cory Doctorow.  In it he talks about how his information consumption methods/habits have changed over time as initial high signal sources / venues have become swamped as they grow in popularity.  He identifies a pattern:

Once I could read every item in my list of RSS feeds; now I periodically mark them all as read without looking at any of them, just to clear the decks: if there’s something good in the missed material, someone will repost it and I’ll see it then.”

I was also put in mind of Michael Gorman (see also the “blog people” farrago) in his book “The Enduring Library” (well worth a read) which amongst other things proposes dealing with information overload through the use of a very ecommunication light diet.

Striking a balance is always the challenge.


Lets CPD23…

In CPD23 on June 20, 2011 by africker Tagged: ,

I am going to take part in CPD23. Thing 1 is set up a blog – people arriving here for the first time need to know that this is in fact a group blog that I contribute to.  I have had charge of a few blogs at various points but felt this one was best for this CPD initiative.

I have long been interested in the various 23 Things style initiatives.  I had thought of trying to get one off the ground in the NHS but felt that the network restrictions often in place would be too off putting for people.  For those not in the know 23 Things programmes are often based around applying social media tools and we can always learn something new on these.  CPD23 has the added attraction of considering how best we can carry out CPD with the benefit of these tools but also in real life.

I already use a fair few social tools but am keen to learn more.  I also want to make a link though to my involvement invarious professional networks.  I have recently joined the committee of Cilip in London and plan to work with others to organise a meet up in London for Thing 7 (Offline networks, regional and national groups, special interest groups) .  I think this could be a great way to build interest, networks and capacity in London around CPD.  One example of this is the recently revived CILIP London Calendar of Cool Library Related Events in London (not the official name) that I am looking after.  I would love to have more people both consuming the stream from this (as RSS or by following @ciliplndn) and contributing to making it really useful.

One thing I am unsure about is to what extent I will be able to keep up with the other blogs and participate in CPD23 as a network.

It is obviously going to be a way to stimulate some blog posts after a pretty lazy period.


Reaction to Seth Godin on ebooks & libraries

In Eresources on May 26, 2011 by Danielle

I’ve decide, based on his recent post discussing the future of libraries, that I like Seth. I used to think of him as a general guru. I realise now that he is a marketer. I like what he says, I realise it has been said before but I quite like how he says it. He’s engaging.

I am not sure ‘librarians’ are going to pay attention because (a) he is coming from outside of the library/information profession and (b) he is kindly but openly critical of what libraries are and how they are not doing enough to keep up with the likes of Netflix, in my opinion. I see that Phil is critical also- I suppose I agree the phrase ‘dead books’ isn’t that endearing is it?

Yes the image of the librarian as teacher wins out in the end. I think this is the role of every public or school librarian, but it all makes me roll my eyes a bit and feel a bit invisible as a health lib/evidologist. Are we teachers? Do we pace the corridors of our our appointed offices or hospitals and help our staff and directors do their ‘homework’? I’m not sure we do, even in a metaphorical sense.

Seth’s pie in the sky stuff about ebooks is hilarious because:

(a) I do enough screen reading thanks,
(b) I like the razor blade comparison:

…we need to consider the rise of the Kindle. An ebook costs about $1.60 in 1962 dollars. A thousand ebooks can fit on one device, easily. Easy to store, easy to sort, easy to hand to your neighbor. Five years from now, readers will be as expensive as Gillette razors, and ebooks will cost less than the blades.

BUT will libraries ever have the budget/inclination to buy and replace ebook readers regularly (because they WILL get broken and trashed- from regular use even – I am not saying foul play but that is also inevitable), keep them up to date, and go to war against publishers who may agree to libraries buying a copy of an ebook and lending it 26 times, but then turning it into a brick. What happens with the publishers’ terms and conditions change so that libraries can only lend 20 times? 15? 10? This must be accounted for in their budget.

A side of me thinks: Why don’t we just wait for epaper? At the current recession-strangled rate of adoption of new technology in libraries we may as well wait. Thanks again, banking crisis/ shoddy lending and mortgage policies!

And speaking of recession, Seth doesn’t mention how to keep all the tramps out of the library because the recession has created more tramps and if anything fewer internet terminals. (wry grin)

So I really don’t mind Seth one bit, he has some sense. And he has an interesting writing style- most librarians could learn from that at the very least!*

*Except the excellent readers of tHI, of course.


Kindle lending – good for Amazon

In Eresources on April 21, 2011 by africker Tagged: , , ,

They said it would never happen but Amazon has announced Kindle Book Lending in the US in partnership with OverDrive who already handle most ebook lending in UK Public Libraries.

As a Kindle owner I am glad to see this and hope we will see it in the UK soon.

There have been some concerns about how it will work in practice but thus far the answers seem pretty fair.

I can see some major wins for Amazon from joining the lending information ecology.

Firstly they will get some money from the libraries for the reading by their borrowers.  Money they were not getting (unless libraries were buying stock from them).  Since I got my Kindle for Christmas I have spent close to five pounds on ebooks (three in all). But I have read many more on the device and borrowed many more paper books from the Library.  I would encourage my local library to buy ebooks now I can actually get them onto my device.  Others are likely to do the same.

Secondly – unless the library buys a lot of kindle copies Amazon will get people on lovely clear purchase path. 

Go to library website, see you are number 20 in the queue, appreciate that when you get to the front of the queue you will have to drop whatever you are reading to read it before it disappears off to the next person. With the link to purchase no doubt near at hand what do I do? I suspect a good number will just buy it when they can see the queue. 

Or I borrow it from the library and before I finish reading it my loan runs out.  Again – will I go back in the queue or just buy it – particularly if a canny Amazon says – you already read three quarters of the book – we’ll let you finish it straight away for a low price (or indeed a high one if they already know I am reading all of a series of books).

So I definitely think Amazon are going to do well out of it.  What about libraries (and health ones at that)?  If they can find the money to pay for a decent collection (and other catches do not become apparent) then it must be good.  Amazon have the collections and Kindle the installed user base.  For health – I was interested to see that a number of health texts are already in the most popular public notes – so usage may well be on the way.  I’ll be looking out for pricing for my library.


CILIP Update with Gazette, April 2011

In CILIP, Uncategorized on April 19, 2011 by Danielle Tagged: , , , , ,

A crisp new copy of Cilip Update with Gazette (the two publications merged a couple months ago in case you’ve been on sabbatical) hit the newstand this week and an interesting welcome message from Elspeth Hyams.

A flip through brings us an update on ebook borrowing practices (don’t buy it unless someone wants to borrow it, according to one model), more from the front lines of Save our Libraries and, something I can agree with (but generally)- the need for more quantitative research in higher education environments. And everywhere else.

The Best Headline award goes to Matthew Mezey for ‘It’s like putting an AK47 into the hands of a moody teenager’, reporting from the front lines of a Guardian conference on sharing public data. Share by any means (lol) but please not on PDF, and keep it simple (sweetheart) were some wise words. Well, I’m glad that public opinion has finally seen the light, but what about our dependence on PDFs?

I’m glad also to see Tupe (Transfer of undertakings (Protection of employment)) regulations explained in a feature on employment law.

At the end you’ll find the job adverts previously found in Gazette (but very at home in UwG I think) and tips on how to reinvent yourself in the job market by Francis Muzzu.

Enjoy your online or paper copy (or join Cilip if you haven’t already).


Approaching overload

In How to work better on April 12, 2011 by africker Tagged: , , ,

Brilliant post from Nicholas Carr differentiating between situational overload and ambient overload (the comments are also worth a read).  He argues against the Clay Shirky talk that advanced “It’s not information overload. It’s filter failure.”

I agree with Carr – better filters mean that rather than just finding the good stuff we find ourselves overwhelmed with good stuff.  In health I find increasingly I am guiding users to places where they won’t be buried under an avalanche of interesting material about their topic. In the mean time there are still needles in haystacks – check out this video of a GP trying to locate a fact in some NICE Guidance.   I wonder what they will make of the new NICE pathways promised for May of this year?

(Incidentally Shirky is speaking at the MLA in Minneapolis – wouldn’t it be great to have a something of a similar ilk at a future HLG conference!).


IE6 where is thy death?

In Eresources, How to work better on March 31, 2011 by africker Tagged: , , ,

So Microsoft have declared the death of IE6 and you can watch it going on a special site – Internet Explorer 6 Countdown

Not everyone is convinced about the good intentions of MS with suggestions that globally much IE6 use is on pirated XP software and that IE8 without a development path from IE6 is not a great help

I rather like this earlier site suggesting we should in fact be saving IE6.  I particularly like how the Save IE6 site congratulates me on using self same browser while the countdown site points out the error of my browsing ways.

Yes – along with many in the NHS I am living in an IE6 world.  The IE6 Countdown reckons only 3.5% of browser share in the UK is IE6.  I wonder how much of this must be the NHS (this article would suggest DWP have plenty still)?

Checking Google Analytics on my library catalogue for the last three months (Jan – Mar 2011) we get 94% IE use overall with 83% of that being IE6.  The same period last year (Jan – Mar 2010) offers 95% IE overall with 93% of those IE6.  And one more year back (Jan – Mar 2009) – I have no data – thanks Google Analytics.

So what does this tell us ?  IE6 is falling slowly in the NHS but much slower than in the world at large.  The reason for this is well known – a number of critical NHS systems still require IE6 as Microsoft realises and the DoH seems to want to ignore.

And how much of a problem is this?  I think it is an accelerating one.  Gradually the web is becoming a hostile place for IE6 – formatting awry on some pages, warnings on others and total block outs for newer versions of some sites.  And the systems we use are starting to suffer – Proquest have a problem, Google Reader warns me daily, EBSCOhost requires IE7.  On the plus side NHS Evidence have largely managed to keep the IE6 show on the road.

Our lovely local IT folk have installed Firefox on our machines but this is only a very partial solution.  People are going to use their regular IE (6) browser as long as it remains available.  I also do not really want the library team to get used to seeing something different to the bulk of the users. 

I am afraid this one will run and run (or fail to run and display really badly).

PS Post title from a music blog post title that still amuses me to this day.


Number Needed to Post and

In Eresources, Evidence-Based Medicine on March 30, 2011 by africker Tagged: ,

Terrible times at (the) Health Informaticist with no postings from any of us for more than a few months.  I wonder if there is a NNP Number Need to Post – how many authors do we need to get a regular blog post out?

I am going to try and gently get back into the habit. To that end…


A site I had not met before with an excellent clear presentation of Number Needed to Treat calculations.  See the strength of the evidence for an intervention and read on for more details of this evidence.   You can read more about it in this announcement from one of the creators.


Should we teach evidence based medicine or information management?

In Evidence-Based Medicine, How to work better on November 5, 2010 by Hanna Tagged: ,

So asks an article in Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research this month. Evidence Based Medicine seeks to encourage the appraisal of the best evidence to answer clinical questions but this is not always practical in clinical practice: who has time to do a systematic review at the bedside?

The authors of the paper say that in order to triumph opinion and established methods in orthopaedic surgery clinicians need to be able to move beyond critical appraisal and know what sorts of information to use. The article distinguishes between ‘foraging’ and ‘hunting’ tools: ‘foraging’ tools are current awareness tools that alert a clinician to new resources in their field.

However, information obtained in this way rarely results in the clinician’s learning more than simply that the actual information exists (life would be so much easier if we could read something once, reflect on it, and thenremember it flawlessly when it is needed). Thus, a hunting tool is needed to retrieve relevant and valid information quickly when it is required in the care of patients. (page 2335-6)

These are clinical decision making aids and they summarise actions whilst including evidence quality gradings and take into account patient outcomes. This of course is not revolutionary, just interesting to read from a clinical point of view what library services are useful for and how to differentiate them and sell them in the language used by clinicians. Importantly the articles says that not all clinicians need to be fully competent in all 5 levels of EBM knowledge and practice (developing a quesiont, finding the evidence, evaluating the evidence, applying the evidence and reviewing ongoing practice) but in a competency based model of the 3 stages of information management they have different needs at different stages in their career or depending on their role. The information management framework says that they should at level 1 manage information at the point of care, at level 2 select the appropriate hunting tool and by level 3 they should be making patient-centered (and interestingly not evidence-centered) decisions. Perhaps it could be termed moving from the academic view of EBM to a more pragmatic applied view.

Orthopaedic surgeons work in a world in which access to medical information can provide rapid answers to queries. Taking that information access a step further would be to have access to high quality information that gives answers based upon EBM, that is relevant to the patient, has been analyzed and validated by EBM experts and is now ready to use. Information management is the engineering science that connects the surgeon to the high quality information when and where it’s needed. Working backward toward our orthopaedists in training, learning to apply information management to patient-centered care requires a shift. That shift is away from wrestling with the 5 steps of EBM and moving to the appropriate level of IM. (page 2638)