Saturday, December 09, 2006

More Links

I have added links to two other health care blogs (on the right), one called Kevin M.D. and the other called Med Chatter. There are a gazillion blogs in this field, and I am trying to be selective about those I suggest to you. I have included those that I have found to be thoughtfullly written, up-to-date, and helpful. Please visit and see if you agree -- but please don't forget to come back. :)

I heard a presentation yesterday where someone mentioned how many blogs per day are being created. The number apparently doubles every six months or so, several thousand each hour. It is impossible to keep up with the 50 million+ sites.

Those more expert than I could offer perspectives on all of this. When you get to 50 million blogs, is this just a lot of noise out there? Is this just an ephemeral posting and scanning of news items and observations? Or is it really the thoughtful engagement of millions of people per day? Television stations now design their news stories to catch the attention of viewers within the first seven seconds. Do blogs do any better? Does it matter?

Are we all better informed, or do we just have the feeling that we are? Is it more democratic? Certainly so on its face -- but don't wealthy and powerful corporations, unions, interest groups, and politicians have more resources to devote to this medium than individuals? Can't they cleverly boost the "ratings" of their blogs while giving the impression of just being like the rest of us? We know that they all create not just one blog to push their agenda, but many different ones to appeal to different population segments. We know, too, that they use "fronts" in which their names and agendas are not immediately evident. We know, too, that they have staff and money to enhance designs and messaging and post supportive comments and create momentum for their causes.

Over the centuries, those with power have always figured out how to maintain it, and those temporarily out of power have always figured out how to get it back. Are political and economic cycles essentially immutable, or do we think the blogosphere has changed that?

9 comments:

Ian said...

in regards to your 'too much information', it's a hard problem to solve, and why med-chatter was started.

one way around this problem is to implement a technology called market basket analysis. The aim of this technology is to select things which you will find interesting based on what others like you find interesting, instead of a generic popularity contest.

FYI Netflix does this at the moment with it's movies recommendations.

This would make it harder for a single entity to influence as many people as a they can today, as well as help readers find things of interest to them.

Regards, and thanks for the link!

--Ian

Paul Levy said...

I just added a third new link, for the MA E Health Collaborative.

Anonymous said...

Paul, I'd be really flattered if you'd also add FierceHealthcare (www.fiercehealthcare.com). Hey, we link to your blog a lot! :-) Regardless, thanks for offering a useful resource here.

Paul Levy said...

Done. Thanks for the reminder. I had been meaning to add that one, too.

Bwana said...

Paul

You ask some provocative questions.

I hesitated to write because in your usual modest way, you said "those more expert than I could offer perspectives on all of this." The problem and the point is that we don't necessarily know where to find such perspective and blogs offer a way of getting it. So, at the risk of being considered immodest, I offer some non-expert thoughts that might provoke others to write.

Sure, there are 50 million or more blogs, but many of them are for limited audiences -- sometimes as limited as the blog creator.

Yes, there is an awful lot of noise, but then there are opportunities for education, entertainment, sharing and communication. You are doing a bit of all four on your blog. I do some on mine. I think there is also the catharsis that comes from writing.

I read on so many different subjects and write on only a fraction of those, but it's better than keeping it bottled up.

I think many blogs provide thougthful engagement. Blogs will have trouble getting attention because as with most things, those with an early lead or a boost get the most attention. The Huffington Post is a good example of a place that aggregates news and comment.

Eventually, I think the most successful blogs will be taken over by big media. I heard that the person who started the Wonkette blog had been hired as a news editor or contributor by ABC or some other network.

If there is an effective way for people with Internet sites to advertise, we are still searching for the solution. Right now, "word of link" seems to be the only way for the average person.

As to whether we are better informed, I think yes we are. I have noticed that the amount of content on sites run by The NYT, Washington Post, LA Times, NY Post, Jerusalem Post, Nationaudio.com (Kenyan paper), has exploded and is available pretty much on demand.

Even 10 years ago, it would have been difficult for me to get a US Supreme Court opinion unless I subscribed to a law search service - and they were expensive. Now, I can get virtually any opinion in seconds and either free or at a fraction of the cost.

The same goes for medical information.

The key to all this is going to be how one vouches for the reliability of what is out there.

Will the blogosphere change the mix of power? I don't know, but it will influence individual political races here and there. If some way to dominate this space in terms of bringing particular information to the attention of people is discovered, then those in power will find a way to run it. Meanwhile, they have the same problem we all do -- how to be heard over the din.

I fear that as Comcast and Verizon become the sole providers of Internet access, we could end up with control by the powerful. That is why I applaud the provision of open wireless Internet access by cities like Boston and SF.

Meanwhile, you are doing a great job of keeping us informed and entertained.

A good way is for us all to provide links to each other's blogs. If any of the people you have linked would like me to include them on breakfastwithbwana, I'd be pleased to do so. Just leave a comment on any of the posts there with your url.

cheerz...

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Micky Tripathi said...

I think there's both, a lot of noise, and a lot of thoughtful engagement. As long as neither ratings nor rules prevent blogs from being allowed to proliferate relatively cheaply and without friction, they infinitely extend pluralism, which I think strengthens humanity. Reminds me of the segment-of-one marketing concept.

Thanks Paul, for the link to the MAeHC blog. Really enjoy reading yours!

Star said...

I go to your blog daily, Paul, and often comment. I would love it if you would include mine on your list. http://HEALTHSass.blogspot.com. We have pix and humor. Disease? How serious can that be?

Chrs,

Star

Paul Levy said...

Who can resist a lovely lady from Arizona???