What I learned in 2008 (about Web 2.0)

2 02 2009

Grand Round is a weekly collection of the best writing in the medical blogosphere. The coming Grand Rounds (February 3rd, 2009), hosted by Not Totally Rad has the following theme:

February is the first anniversary of my blog. Therefore, the loose theme for submissions will be anniversary-related: write about something cool or important that you’ve learned in the past year.

Well, I have learned a lot in the past year. The most profound personal experience was the death of my father. I experienced how it is to loose a beloved, but I also learned that death and grieve can affect people so deeply that it changes their behavior. I now understand this behavior (anger, mental confusion) is a manifestation of deep grief, which is transient and natural. Luckily our body and mind appear very resilient.

I will restrict to another thing I’ve learned: Web 2.0.
Just like the “Samurai Radiologist” I started a blog in February 2008. Thus Laika’s MedLibLog also celebrates its first anniversary.

Useful Web 2.0 tools

This blog was started as a tool to communicate thoughts, new found skills and ideas with other (>150) SPOETNIK course members, Spoetnik being a Learning 2.0 project to encourage library staff to experiment and learn about the new and emerging Internet technologies.

During the library 2.0 course I learned the basics of blogging, chatting, RSS, Podcasts, Wiki’s and social bookmarking. Each week another item was addressed. This learning program had a direct and positive impact. For instance, I could inform my clients how to create a RSS-feed for PubMed searches. By taking RSS-feeds/email alerts to interesting blogs, wiki’s and journals I kept better informed.

Hard to imagine (now) that I hardly new anything about web 2.0 one year ago.

Web 2.0 is not just a set of tools.

In the beginning I considered blogging largely as a selfish activity. It also appeared a lonely activity. As long as we discussed a course assignment there always was an interaction with at least a handful of other participants. But as soon as the program came to an end, I started to write more and more about medicine, EBM and medical library related matter, which didn’t appeal to most of the other course members. I wrote about things that interested me, but the writing would be absolutely useless if nobody would read it. Thus, how to get an audience?

There were I few things I had to learn and there were a few people who gave me a push in the right direction .

  • Wowter, who gave feedback to my posts right from the start and who encouraged me to continue blogging, posted a list with 17 tips for beginning bloggers (in Dutch) of how to increase visibility and findability of your blog. I became aware that ‘linking’ to others is what is making the web 2.0 world interconnected.
  • Second Dymphie, a Dutch Medical Librarian, encouraged me to start twittering. It took quite a while before I grasped the value of twitter as a networking tool. Twitter is not meant to say “what you do”, but it is a way to share information of any kind. Before you can share it, you first have to find interesting tweeple (people on twitter) and it did take a while before they followed me back (partly because my first tweets weren’t that interesting). Thus I had to learn by trial and error how to become a prolific twitterer.
  • Third I read a very interesting blogpost on “I’m not a geek” of Hutch Carpenter called Becoming a web 2.0 jedi, showing a simple but very accurate chart of the ever deeper levels of involvement one can have with Web 2.0 apps and the Web 2.0 ethos, as Hutch calls them. “Down are the lower levels, those of passive involvement, level 2 is giving up little pieces of yourself, while level 3 is a much bigger sharing experience. Share your own life, share your knowledge, share the stuff you find interesting. A big leap for a lot of us used to being more private. May the force be with you.”
    Seeing his post I realized that my journey had been quite different (figure below, made in September 2008). During the Spoetnik course emphasis was given to the tools themselves not to the ways you should use and share them and contribute to others. We skipped the reading of blogs and wiki’s, the lurking on twitter, but started with chatting, RSS and blogging. Although Web 2.0 tools are the basis, Web 2.0 is more an attitude than the usage of tools, it is about sharing information and thoughts.Or as Dean Giustini says it: It is about people.

The Ecosphere of Twitter and blogs.

I also experienced that all web 2.0 tools are not stand-alone tools, but can reinforce each other. This is for instance true for RSS, bookmarking tools , blogs, but also twitter (a microblogging service). A recent post of Sandnsurf (Mike Cadogan) at Life in the fast Lane uses a brilliant ecosystem metaphore to describe the twitter-blogging relationship. He describes the blogging ecosphere, where twitter decomposes information from journal articles and long blog posts into readily digestible information (nutrients and humus). See Figure from his post below (but read his post here for the whole story). Just like the Jedi chart this diagram illustrate exactly what web 2.0 is about.

Lessons to be learned

I have learned a lot. Am I now a real web 2.0 Jedi?
I’m not sure. In the ecology-model my blog is a young tree, surrounded by many others. But some ecologic dangers are luring.

  • The relative success of my blog results in “an abundance of light which results in a pressure to keep producing enough good quality posts”.
  • I’ve subscribed to so many RSS-feeds I seldomly read them.
  • I have so many twitter-followers (app. 300) that I can’t keep up with all of them as much as I would like to.
  • I read so many things, but haven’t got the time to work them out (or I simply forget).
  • I find it difficult to separate chaff from wheat. Many blogposts and web 2.0 information are not very accurate and superficial. Furthermore people often echo a subject without careful checking or without adding value.

Or in the words of sandnsurf: the death of a blog can ensue due to excessive exposure and Twittaholism. I hope It will not go in that direction, but I have to figure out a way to coop with the overwhelming amount of information and find a balance. That will be part of my (web 2.0) learning process in 2009.

One other thing:

I forgot to mention one very important experience. During my web 2.0 journey I virtually met many interesting, kind and helpful people from all over the world, from US, UK, Eastern Europe to India and Australia. Closer to home I also ‘met’ many very nice Dutch and Belgian people. I never liked the idea of intentional networking, but in web 2.0 the networks arise spontaneously. In a very natural and gradual way I became a member of a large health and library community and that feels good.

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11 responses

2 02 2009
Sandnsurf

Great summary – web2.0 jedi
A careful balance of light, water and nutrients is essential – but the most important thing is that you are actually a tree in this ecosystem, you are out there experimenting, thinking and trying to drive the revolution further.
Most of my colleagues are still mushrooms…
Looking forward to seeing your canopy develop
Sandnsurf

2 02 2009
Hope Leman

Very interesting and edifying!

2 02 2009
Edwin

Nice post Laika.

Thanks.

2 02 2009
Turulcsirip - Bertalan Meskó

[...] I learned in 2008 (about Web 2.0) from @laikas http://laikaspoetnik.wordpress.com/2009/02/02/what-i-learned-in-2008-about-web-20/ « előző | következő » Bertalan Meskó — 2009. 02. 02. [...]

2 02 2009
Dee

Een mooie post Laika.

Wat misschien ook van belang is: je hoeft niet zus of zoveel te bloggen of te Twitteren: waarom zou je? Er is geen verplichting tot immers.
Beste is het om het naar behoefte te doen, en dat kan de ene keer meer en de andere keer minder zijn.

Soms is even pas-op-de-plaats en verwerken ook wel een goed idee, dan welt vanzelf wel op hoe je verder gaat.

Gun jezelf wat tijd: je hebt al zo’n steile leercurve :-) !

3 02 2009
laikaspoetnik

Thanks everyone who responded to this post (here and on twitter).

@sandnsurf You’re not only a brilliant med and blogger, but you have also an unmistakable sense of humor. The idea of mushrooms made me laugh out loud. Yes there are many mushrooms around aren’t there? Thanks for the positive support!

@dee Niets hoeft inderdaad, maar wil je optimaal gebruik maken van web 2.0 tools dan moet je er toch tijd in stoppen. Wat heb je aan een RSS die je niet meer leest omdat je je op teveel abonneert? Als je eenmaal trouwe lezers hebt “verplicht” je je in zekere zin tot het met enige regelmaat maken van goede berichten. Ik vond de metafoor van sandnsurf wel heel erg toepasselijk. Ik zoek de ecologische balans op het ogenblik. Wees gerust, ik doe niets tegen mijn zin.

7 02 2009
Alisha Miles

I really enjoyed this post. As Sandnsurf put it, I have been a mushroom in the dark. Your post has energized me to start a blog of my own. I’ll let you know when it is up and running.
Thanks again for all of the great posts!
Alisha Miles, MLIS

13 02 2009
MedLib’s Round, First Edition « Laika’s MedLibLog

[...] that inspired me to start this blog.” Which clearly refers to the comment of @sandnsurf to the blogpost “What I learned in 2008 (about Web 2.0)“: “the most important thing is that you are actually a tree in this ecosystem, you are out there [...]

27 02 2009
PeRSSonalized Medicine - and its alternatives « Laika’s MedLibLog

[...] medical student from Hungary, who runs the award-winning medical blog Scienceroll. According to the web 2.0 model of Hugh Carpenter, mentioned in a previous post, Bertalan (Berci) just finished his journey as a Web 2.0 jedi: he started a web 2.0 company: [...]

27 09 2009
MEDLIB’s ROUND 1.6 « Laika’s MedLibLog

[...] Which refers to @sandnsurf’s post: Is Twitter the essential blogging nutrient and his comment on my blog: “the most important thing is that you are actually a tree in this ecosystem, you are out there [...]

18 02 2010
Dr Mike

Hello
Still trying to fix all my broken links
The post and image quoted in this great post can now be found on the new domain (http://lifeinthefastlane.com)

http://lifeinthefastlane.com/2009/01/twitter-essential-blog-nutrient/

Any assistance in re-direction of the link greatly appreciated

Mike

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