Posts Tagged ‘twitter’


Usefulness of social networking for scientists: greatly exaggerated?

In Web 2.0 & all that on November 4, 2009 by Danielle Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,

A study of research patterns in life scientists found that (duh) they all have different patterns of accessing information. Of course we knew this, or at least suspected it, but I can’t help but be pleased that the British Library found space for this news on its Press Room page.  It shores up the notion that libraries and ‘resource centres’ need to be flexible with different users.

“Researchers use informal and trusted sources of advice from colleagues, rather than institutional service teams, to help identify information sources.” Yes they do-another reason why perhaps an information professional must inject themselves into the teams with which they work, rather than sideline themselves. Depending on how an organisation is set up, this can be quite natural and easy (if one’s desk is ‘integrated’ into the team area, for example, as proximity tends to predict positive regard) or difficult, if the information team is isolated or in a ‘bricks and mortar’ library away from the clients.

I thought it interesting that the report highlighted that social networking tools (blogs, podcasts, social bookmarking, etc) had not proven terribly appealing to life scientists.  The full report elaborates that, firstly, “there is not the critical mass of individuals using such services to make it worthwhile” to use them to “enhance research”. Secondly, and I almost choked while reading this, “the time required in order to become a proficient user is prohibitive.” Don’t give me that. These are highly trained people who, as it says in the next sentence, may use “grid technologies” and “an intricate array of analytical tools” in their day to day work.

What do you think about the ‘not enough time’ to learn simple, user friendly web-based software argument?

I really think that the report should have written: “the scientists can’t be bothered with this social networking stuff because of general complacency and then notion that Twitter and the like will only be around for a few years before we get something new, so, again, why bother?”

Nor is this attitude unique to the life sciences. I know someone very influential, at a Canadian charity, who is crying out to use Twitter for fundraising and marketing. But she is sadly also ‘too busy’.

In other news, the “Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) has acknowledged that social media has contributed significantly to the income it has raised for its current appeal. In the first week of the DEC’s appeal for Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam, over £3 million was donated,” mainly via the BBC website, Twitter and Facebook.

A spokesperson from the DEC said “the biggest risk we faced was not that we might make a mistake [with using Twitter], it was that we would miss a chance to help save more lives.”

Check out #casestudieslife on Twitter to contribute to the discussion about how researchers use and access information (or not!).



Woofer: Twitter for the verbose

In Blogging on Blogging on August 26, 2009 by Danielle Tagged: , , , ,

Did you know that there is a Twitter clone out there called Woofer that forces you to write 1400 character plus updates? It doesn’t surprise me that Twitter alternatives are popping up, given the notoriety of Twitter (I would say ‘success’ but some of you will undoubtedly disagree with me). But what is surprising is that anybody could possibly need this bloated number of characters to impart their wisdom to the woofersphere. And be forced to a large, and arbitrary, minimum.

I have no desire to read reams of text in a update format, especially when there is no pressure to at least try to be grammatical and eloquent, as there might be in a blog.

I do like the idea of ‘woofing’ instead of tweeting. Perhaps there should be a halfway house (of ‘meowing’? ‘neighing’?) that gives you 200-250 characters as a maximum?

I agree with Mashable on this one-Woofer appears to be a joke.


Clinical Reader: Malicious or just stupid?

In Blogging on Blogging,Health industry,Information industry,Web 2.0 & all that,Website reviews on July 14, 2009 by Alan Lovell Tagged: , , , , , ,

I’d never heard of Hanlon’s razor before. Apparently it is an adage that reads “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity”. I rather like that; I’ll have to remember it. It is a nice way to look at the world, as we can all be stupid sometimes. Take for example the new company Clinical Reader. The company has an online product that basically seems to be an RSS reader but that they decide which RSS feeds they’re going to track, not you. I came across it a few days ago as some clinicians were discussing what a good service it was on some mailing list. Well, I thought, that’s clinicians for you. The product didn’t seem bad enough to comment on, but likewise certainly didn’t seem interesting enough to comment on either – at least not from my point of view. So I thought to myself “well, our handsome and fragrant readership will probably come across it soon enough, and they can make their own perfectly balanced minds up about it…”, and left it there.

But today I see another twist on the Clinical Reader story, and what happens when you get involved in social networking tools without really knowing what you’re doing. The thing was that Nicole Dettmar (evidently a fan of The Prisoner) had pointed out in her blog that Clinical Reader were implying that they had been awarded ‘five stars’ by institutions such as the British Library, the NLM, Imperial College, The Lancet etc. She pointed out to them on Twitter than the NLM does not endorse anything, and that they ought to do something about it, and promptly received a reply threatening legal action (I love the use of ‘kindly’):

Twitter response

I mean to say, what a stupid (or malicious) thing to do. Of course everyone picked up on it and they received a barrage of tweets and blog commentary. As of writing they have since backed down, which they should do because they are plainly in the wrong, saying “We are keen to engage the twitter community the tweet made by a junior member of the team was poor judgment”. However the “five stars according to…” graphic remains throughout their site once you get past the first page.

Malicious or stupid? You decide. Either way it doesn’t reflect well on Clinical Reader.


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.