Teh Three Internets

There are three Internets. [Yes, the title was deliberately spelled Teh. Google it if you’re confused.]

Here is some Venn goodness (click image to expand):

We are somewhere in the middle of the Web of People and the Web of Things. In case you’ve been wondering.


They’re Webs actually. Hmmm, or are they Internets? Whatever, I don’t know. Who cares what pedants gripe about.

Anyhoo, here they are explained with a bit of the old detail:

  1. The Web of Servers – The first iteration of the Web is what we got used to from the early 90s to the mid 10s. Search engines. Forums. Online shopping sites. What we engaged with mostly were the servers that delivered data to other servers which eventually delivered the data to us. It was hard to say “RT @Buddha May all beings LOL” and have thousands of strangers LOL. People went crazy over SEO – basically positioning of data on servers for search engines to crawl, index and deliver on demand.
  2. The Web of People – Blogs probably more than any other medium brought forth what we call a Social Web. It wasn’t terribly snappy, but it grew a layer of sociability out of which came Facebook and Twitter, and the social features of Youtube and Flickr.  People are going crazy crazy crazy over Social Media – basically positioning of yourself as a nice and valuable person who gets Liked, Followed and Ignored.
  3. The Web of Things – The soon-to-be-doomed service FourSquare gave us a glimpse of how to hyperlink a restaurant into the Web. As other technologies like RFID and QR Codes and Microsoft Tags (or their future equivalents) proliferate, virtually anything can be subsumed into the Web. The Web of Things is composed of everything else beyond servers and people. People will go crazy  – like never before. Minds will be blown. And people will need constant infusions of drugs we can only enviously dream of today.

If you’re fascinated by Social Media, you’re already late to the party. For Social is simply a small part of a larger party. And the party is going to be the whirring of information-as-energy; the fusion or elimination of human capacity with or by technological rapidity; the origin of chaotic political structures in the breakdown of old powers (sentence structure a la Julian Jaynes).


sEHR is Social EMR. That’s science fiction right now. But we need to start thinking of it – especially given the prospect that FDA plans on regulating EMR (registration required for full story). You think getting EMR together is a nightmare now, imagine what happens when FDA regulatory powers over devices meets its regulatory powers over marketing. Good luck with that.

We are moving into a world where machines will tweet. Where people will check into disease states and network with patients and providers. Where your doctor and nurse will Follow the data radiating around you in ways unimaginable today. The Twitterfication of medicine will happen – not soon, but it will happen.

(If you’re lucky, your insurance company won’t Unfollow and Block you. It probably will, so keep enjoying life large for as long as you can and die quick as a bunny.)

It’s becoming a world where traditional ideologies are being strained through the political, social and cultural tensions of technological Consequence and Ramification.

The same is true of Healthcare Ideologies. Think about it: medicine, nursing, public health, healthcare marketing – all are laden with assumptions and theories and practices which evolved over the cultural and technological conditions of their time.

There were problems to be solved. The thinking and the tools and the attitudes of the times forged the solutions.

We need new eyes for both old and new problems. The thinking and the tools and the attitudes of today’s workforce need radical upgrading.


You see, the key to evolving Healthcare beyond its stodgy present isn’t in technology. Yes, the tools are absolutely important. But it’s the ideological structures and ways of thinking which require enormous re-thinking, re-feeling and re-doing.

I can’t tell you what the future will look like – I’ve been there but that gnarly warp back to the present has erased all memory of it 😉

What I can tell you is this: being awake to what happens is an urgent skill in this century.

I hope the picture of those three circles I’ve drawn helps you to see into the approaching distance.


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