Friday Foolery # 47 WTF, the True Spirit of Christmas

30 12 2011

The true spirit of Christmas is in “loving” and to “do good for others”, ” thinking of” and “helping the less fortunate”.

However, many of today’s children,  weaned on luxury goods and gadgets, consider themselves as the “less fortunates” and thus are on the  “receiving” rather than the “giving” site. And are easily disappointed… and crossed if they don’t get the expected $$$ gift.

Am I exaggerating? I truly hope so.

But if you had searched Twitter for popular expensive gits “car”, “i-pad” or “i-phone” like comedy writer Jon Hendren (@fart) did, you had seen numerous dissatisfied tweets of extremely spoiled kids and adolescents:!/Tonimoretto/status/150701909479661569!/Bossybeegee/status/150985722730512384!/dizzydentgirl/status/150980418718543872!/guhrace_/status/151039463672397824


The tweets have even been compiled in a song by Jonathan Mann, the “Song a Day Man“. After seeing the tweets it should be no surprise that it is called “WTF?! I wanted an iPhone!”


It makes me kind a sad. It is quite an anti-Christmas attitude.

The kids in this video below have every right to be disappointed though. (via Mashable)




An Evidence Pyramid that Facilitates the Finding of Evidence

20 03 2010

Earlier I described that there are so many search- and EBM-pyramids that it is confusing. I described  3 categories of pyramids:

  1. Search Pyramids
  2. Pyramids of EBM-sources
  3. Pyramids of EBM-levels (levels of evidence)

In my courses where I train doctors and medical students how to find evidence quickly, I use a pyramid that is a mixture of 1. and 2. This is a slide from a 2007 course.

This pyramid consists of 4 layers (from top down):

  1. EBM-(evidence based) guidelines.
  2. Synopses & Syntheses*: a synopsis is a summary and critical appraisal of one article, whereas synthesis is a summary and critical appraisal of a topic (which may answer several questions and may cover many articles).
  3. Systematic Reviews (a systematic summary and critical appraisal of original studies) which may or may not include a meta-analysis.
  4. Original Studies.

The upper 3 layers represent “Aggregate Evidence”. This is evidence from secondary sources, that search, summarize and critically appraise original studies (lowest layer of the pyramid).

The layers do not necessarily represent the levels of evidence and should not be confused with Pyramids of EBM-levels (type 3). An Evidence Based guideline can have a lower level of evidence than a good systematic review, for instance.
The present pyramid is only meant to lead the way in the labyrinth of sources. Thus, to speed up to process of searching. The relevance and the quality of evidence should always be checked.

The idea is:

  • The higher the level in the pyramid the less publications it contains (the narrower it becomes)
  • Each level summarizes and critically appraises the underlying levels.

I advice people to try to find aggregate evidence first, thus to drill down (hence the drill in the Figure).

The advantage: faster results, lower number to read (NNR).

During the first courses I gave, I just made a pyramid in Word with the links to the main sources.

Our library ICT department converted it into a HTML document with clickable links.

However, although the pyramid looked quite complex, not all main evidence sources were included. Plus some sources belong to different layers. The Trip Database for instance searches sources from all layers.

Our ICT-department came up with a much better looking and better functioning 3-D pyramid, with databases like TRIP in the sidebar.

Moving the  mouse over a pyramid layer invokes a pop-up with links to the databases belonging to that layer.

Furthermore the sources included in the pyramid differ per specialty. So for the department Gynecology we include POPLINE and MIDIRS in the lowest layer, and the RCOG and NVOG (Dutch) guidelines in the EBM-guidelines layer.

Together my colleagues and I decide whether a source is evidence based (we don’t include UpToDate for instance) and where it  belongs. Each clinical librarian (we all serve different departments) then decides which databases to include. Clients can give suggestions.

Below is a short You Tube video showing how this pyramid can be used. Because of the rather poor quality, the video is best to be viewed in full screen mode.
I have no audio (yet), so in short this is what you see:

Made with Screenr:

The pyramid is highly appreciated by our clients and students.

But it is just a start. My dream is to visualize the entire pathway from question to PICO, checklists, FAQs and database of results per type of question/reason for searching (fast question, background question, CAT etc.).

I’m just waiting for someone to fulfill the technical part of this dream.


*Note that there may be different definitions as well. The top layers in the 5S pyramid of Bryan Hayes are defined as follows: syntheses & synopses (succinct descriptions of selected individual studies or systematic reviews, such as those found in the evidence-based journals), summaries, which integrate best available evidence from the lower layers to develop practice guidelines based on a full range of evidence (e.g. Clinical Evidence, National Guidelines Clearinghouse), and at the peak of the model, systems, in which the individual patient’s characteristics are automatically linked to the current best evidence that matches the patient’s specific circumstances and the clinician is provided with key aspects of management (e.g., computerised decision support systems).

Begin with the richest source of aggregate (pre-filtered) evidence and decline in order to to decrease the number needed to read: there are less EBM guidelines than there are Systematic Reviews and (certainly) individual papers.

#SillySaturday #17 – Social Media Stats per Second

13 02 2010
Vodpod videos no longer available.
more about “Garys Social Media Count“, posted with vodpod

Some time ago I saw the above Real Time Social Media Stats Counter at Heidi Allen Online (see here), the blog of Heidi Allen. The live stats meter is actually from Gary Hayes at Personalize Media (see post: Garys Social Media Count).

You can find the embed code at Gary Hayes post. I used the above Vodpod video, because WordPress won’t allow flash.

Yesterday, I saw a similar stats counter (in Dutch) at the excellent Dutch Education Blog  Trendmatcher tussen ICT en Onderwijs (see here) of @trendmatcher (Willem Karrsenberg). Willem saw these real time stats presented in a powerpoint presentation by Toine Maes, director of  “Kennisnet” (~”Knowledge network”). Later he asked Toine how he managed to get these dynamic stats in his slide. Of course it is great to show such a slide in a class room, or at other occasions.

At his blog Willem explains what it takes to make a slide with real life counters yourself. You need the Cortona 3D viewer (download here), that can be embedded in a browser or in Powerpoint. And you need the definition file with the actual formulas.  He made an example of a presentation and has made all files public (download here).

For people (like me) who find this all too complicated he made a simple one minute Flickr-video (FF) you can use instead. I converted this again to a Vodpod video, which easily picks up the embed code (Add-on in FireFox) and can be directly imported into WordPress.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Willem  notes that he doesn’t know if the actual figures are correct. Bas Jonkers of Kennislink commented that the numbers are based on recent data, mostly from indirect sources. With the Cortona 3D viewer you can see the updated data here

Gary Hayes at Personalize Media shares his sources at his blog. The dates are less recent because his post dates from September 2009, but he will update the data from time to time.

For instance:

  • 20 hours of video uploaded every minute onto YouTube (source YouTube blog Aug 09)
  • Facebook 600k new members per day, and photos, videos per month, 700mill & 4 mill respectively (source Inside Facebook Feb 09)
  • Twitter 18 million new users per year & 4 million tweets sent daily (source TechCrunch Apr 09)
  • 900 000 blogs posts put up every day (source Technorati State of the Blogosphere 2008)
  • UPDATE: YouTube 1Billion watched per day SMH (2009)- counter updated!
  • Flickr has 73 million visitors a month who upload 700 million photos (source Yahoo Mar 09)
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Health Tweeder. A Neat Visual Tool… But is it Useful?

9 02 2010

First seen on ScienceRoll (February 1st) and later throughout the Twitterverse & Blogosphere: Health Tweeder (, a tool launched by Pixels and Pills.

Health Tweeder is a  neat visual tool meant to aggregate tweets (Twitter messages) on specific health areas.

The Landing page consist of petri dishes, each corresponding to a specific medical discipline or disease. The size of the petri dish, and the number of cells in it, reflect the number of captured tweets. The health categories are also shown at the left, ranked by number of tweets. For instance, the second-largest category Pediatrics (in Orange) corresponds to the orange petri-dish of 170 tweets (accessed February 9th).

In Pixels and Pills own words:

The underlying idea was to build a visual tool so that people could review the dialog in specific areas in an interesting way. Using petri dishes to culture cells of dialog, each cell in a petri dish represents a distinct tweet that has been gathered using a range of search terms, hashtags, and people we’ve identified to follow. The cells grow and shrink based on the volume of content at any one time. In totality, they provide a dynamic view of the healthcare dialog on Twitter.

If you click on the orange petri-dish you see individual “cells” or Tweets. Moving the mouse over a particular cell [1] will show the corresponding tweet at the right. You can also search by page [2].

Health Tweeder looks pretty kewl. I love visual tools. They have a user-friendly, intuitive interface and it is fun to play with.  The concept of Health Tweeder –“cells of dialog cultured in petri dishes”– is also original. Perhaps it would have even be more consistent with the petri-dishes concept if each spot didn’t represent a tweet (cell) but a twitter person (cell clone or colony). But then, few clones would be present: the number of sources is very limited. There are only a few per health category. It looks as if the search criteria consist of very specific hashtags used by a very select group of people.

In the Pediatrics petri-dish there were mainly tweets seeded of Autism_Today, TannersDad, PeterBrownPsy, ADHD_News and MDLinx. The tweets didn’t seem extraordinary useful to me. The emphasis is on topics related to autism and ADHD, and incidentally on allergy or H1N1. Pediatrics must cover more than this?!

The same is true for other topics. Furthermore I can’t see any dialogs, as the makers of Health Tweeder suggest. Just one-way-tweets.

That made me wonder as to the real value of this tool.

For me, as a reasonable experienced Twitter user, searches for hashtags (sort of keywords), Twitter directories and Twitter Lists seem much more useful.

Possibly, this tool is suitable for less experienced Twitter users who prefer a narrow choice of Tweets on his/her area of interest. Still it seems rather cumbersome to follow tweets this way. Suppose I want to stay up-to-date on a particular topic. How do I know which tweets are new and which aren’t (if I merely use the petri-dish)?

The petri-dish is nice for stumbling upon, not for quick browsing, and certainly not for keeping up-to-date.

I searched on the Internet for other reviews of this tool, and without exception they were very positive.

Only at Andrew Spong’s blog STewM I found a comment of Sally Chuch, expressing a similar contrarian view. She was rather disappointed after checking out ‘cancer’ (her expertise).

What criteria is the tool using to search on? Are only certain Twitter handles defined as ‘kosher’ and used to select from their tweets?

In ‘cancer’ it includes mainly a couple of news outlets and one of two physicians, for example. There’s a lot more out there! (…)

Also, searching on ‘cancer’ will give you mainly solid tumours and not hematologic malignancies such as leukemias, lymphomas, myelodysplastic syndrome etc,

Andrew answered that he was more looking at the tool from the perspective of ‘what it could be’, not from the perspective of ‘what it actually is’. Andrew:

As we all head into the cloud and anticipate a time when much of the data we actually end up reviewing will be filtered according to our evolving preferences, it’s nice to begin to conceptualize a time when visualization tools will be added into the search mix.

So we will wait and see how this tool evolves…

The looks are great, the idea is original, but Love needs a little bit more.

video made by Andrew Spong
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Finding Skin Disease Pictures on the Web

10 11 2009

eric_118_gray_biggerGuest author: Eric Rumsey (@ericrumsey on Twitter)
Librarian and Web Developer at University of Iowa
Creater and Keeper of Hardin MD


When looking for skin disease pictures on the Web, the first step is to search for the specific disease terms of interest in Google Image Search. You will likely find something, but don’t assume that it comes close to being everything — Very likely it doesn’t! In my experience, it will have somewhere in the range of 10-30% of everything on the Web. In particular, it will not have images from what I consider to be the single most comprehensive, reliable site for skin disease pictures —, by  Alan N. Binnick & Thomas P. Habif, Dartmouth Medical School.

Though is a large site, with high-quality pictures, it does not appear in Google Image Search, apparently because the tagging/metadata is so sparse. Indeed, the pictures on the site are virtually without any accompanying text. They are classed by disease, but not by any other characteristics, e.g. age, gender, or anatomical region.

A relatively small subset of the images in are included in Hardin MD, where the tagging/metadata is more complete, making them easier to search. These images are included by special arrangement with people at Dermnet, who have given us permission to include them in Hardin MD.

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