What Matters In Healthcare Social Media – Part III

On Saturday, I attended Theorizing the Web Conference (#ttw2011) in College Park, MD. This wasn’t your regular conference – certainly not another Barcamp or Healthcamp. It was heavily academic and quite frankly there was a fair amount that jetted right over my head. I’ll post more on the conference soon, but suffice it to say: Listening to Dana Boyd – @sephoria – was an unique pleasure.

Anyhoo, the conference got me thinking about the claims about social media in general, and the ones concerning healthcare social media in particular. Namely: when we make claims (which I certainly do), are we making them based on what sounds good, or appears to be “common sense”, or might we be forgetting to filter them through the sieve of the scientific method?

Healthcare and Life Sciences professionals can’t do their job without science. Of all industries, these are the ones where we must beware the temptation to cling to our ideas without vetting them through experience.

So, as a reminder of the powerful and necessary simplicity of the scientific method, I give you Richard Feynman’s humor and elegance in this video:

We must always appreciate our brains’ ability to be seduced by language and our own inklings, no matter how endearing.

I would urge those of us in this industry to be especially mindful that the people who initially developed their “theories” about the Web and Social Media (your Chris Brogans and Brian Sollis’s and Forester Research, etc.) which made their way into the late discussions in Healthcare.

I’m *not* saying they’re wrong (I know Chris and he’s a big reason I got to this place in social media), but I am saying we need to apply more vigorously the scientific method (not tyrannically, but sensibly).

It would break my heart if theories of Healthcare and Medicine and Nursing and even Marketing with respect to the Web give way to platitudes. Imagine the costs of that.

Will we have theories about healthcare social media? – ah, there’s a question. And would they ‘work’? Who knows, but we need to invest the efforts to get to them.

Do you want Healthcare social media that’s built on thinking, or retweeting?

@PhilBaumann – @HealthIsSocial – Newsletter



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