Phil Baumann’s Social Media Reading List – Not Your Expert’s List

Regular readers know that I don’t often adhere to the mimetic optimism of the large majority of social media evangelists. They also know that I’m not a luddite. I am just some guy who has taken his life experiences – from corporate mergers to ICU nursing – and applied them to a long-term project of sparking conversation that seeks to arrive at the problems and opportunities which being made by the Century of the Tweet.

But to help to understand a bit more of where I come from, I wish to credit the world’s greatest social medium – the book – and offer a short list of books which have influenced, and continue to influence, one man’s efforts to dive deeper than the superficial glances at what has, sadly, become called Social Media:

  • The Republic by Plato, with specific reference to Socrates’ conversation with Glaucon (commonly known as “The Allegory of the Cave”)
  • The Ecstasy of Communication by Jean Jean Baudrillard (consider also his better-known Simulcra and Simulation)
  • The Question Concerning Technology by Martin Heidegger. Heidegger isn’t easy reading, but his essay is worth a tackle, because once you’ve read Heidegger, your view of the world will change forever (at least if you have that “aha” moment of what he’s getting at with “questioning” concerning Technology). It’s always hard for me to give Heidegger any kind of ‘credit’, since the man was a card-carrying member of the Nazi Party. But in the end, it’s his *ideas* and *questioning* which matter.
  • The Sun Also Rises by Hemingway. Yes, this book. Hemingway was the greatest tweeter in history – and this wonderful treasure of literature is chock-full of messages perfectly relevant to our time. Tip: read the epigraph. Don’t write this off if you read it in high school or college – read it again…now.
  • A Ritual to Read to Each Other by William Stafford. If you and I ever meet, ask me to perform this for you – I’ll blow you’re little mind wide open and it’ll feel good. Very, very good.

I’m going to stop the list…for now. Maybe I’ll add more of the hundreds (perhaps thousands) of books I’ve read that shape the thinking that shapes (or warps) your thinking.

Learn how to create the illusion of being online more than you are (I have). Your time is your time – it’s not Apple’s nor Facebook’s nor Twitter’s.

Books are your friends – they are the only media that you can call friends.

I hope you know this. If not, it’s still not too late to make new friends.

– Phil Baumann

We Can’t App Our Way Into Better Health or Healthcare

It’s cool and all that we can track our every step, our every weight, our every heartbeat, our every glucose reading.

Cooler still is to receive relevant feedback based on all the tracks.

Cooler yet is to gain proper interpretation of what the feedback means.

Even cooler is for us to get healthier and to deliver better care with all this tracking.

That last sentence – it’s not *just* cooler: it’s crux.

We can build all kinds of mobile applications. We can track all sorts of things.

But if we track the wrong things, we’ll simply railroad ourselves – or at least hop on the wrong train.

It’s not enough to track all those pushups and all those marathons.

In fact, how do you know that all those sweaty visits to the gym aren’t slowly making invisible tears in your muscles – how do you know that all those tears aren’t inducing a chronic state of tiny inflammatory processes that one day will lead to a myocardial infarction?

You see, the problems in front of you aren’t the problems in front of you: for an app that tracks your gym activity *might* be blinding you to some other problems.

Building and using more and more apps won’t convey us into better health or healthcare. Yes, they can help nudge and guide us – and that’s important as long as the contexts and processes into which those nudges and guides are the right ones.

An app is a module.

Health is a whole.

And Healthcare is more than the sum of modules.

Healthcare Innovation Is Not About New Technologies

Too often the subject of innovation in Healthcare conflates invention with innovation.

Invention is a technological process – an idea is transformed into a product or service.

Innovation, however, transforms the culture, behavior and use of either an new or or existing technology or technique.

David Snowded of Cognitive Edge, has produced the most succinct and thorough list of ingredients of innovation:

  1. Starvation
  2. Pressure
  3. Perspective Shift

The problems in front of us are not the problems in front of us. There’s always something else going on we don’t see because our perspectives don’t shift.

Inventing more products doesn’t necessarily lead to more innovation.

That’s why mobile Health and social media and new MRI machines don’t reduce the scale of our Healthcare problems. The problems keep on growing, don’t they?

Healthcare depends on cultural, behavioral and technological systems.

You can’t change those three systems without the Starvation, Pressure and Perspective shift needed to innovate their integration for better health.

Do you feel the pangs? Are you feeling the pressure? Do you see beyond what you’ve been trained to see?



“Social” Business: The Lie That Bankrupted Workers

When people are out strolling, partying, eating, entertaining with each other they are engaging in social activity. They’ve signed up for this kind of interaction.

When people go to work and their “Social Media” savvy executives finally figure out how to tap 140 characters in the 21st Century and when employees are they’re told that their employer is now “Social”, they are – in addition to being traditional employees – victims of a terrible lie.

Business is business.

Yes, when you interact among employees or customers it’s obvious that behaving like a human instead of a droll robot, that the business is better a business.

Do you *really* believe that social media and some “Social Business” philosophy create social experiences beyond what people are inherently capable of being? Really??

It sounds like a pleasant Utopia: businesses that become more “social” by using social media to create a happier workforce.

No, they won’t. This is a dangerous lie.

You don’t create happiness with happiness machines.

You don’t create social experiences with social machines.

Do your work and have fun.

If it isn’t fun, either put up with it or find something else.

The bottom line: business objectives are not social. They are business objectives. Good businesses already know enough about “social” – it’s a part of…well…good business. No need for an excuse to have conferences and books and speaking gigs.

Don’t go bankrupt just because a few peacocks with no experience whatsoever in putting together a “social” enterprise say to you.

In the future, businesses will become “social” – and everybody will become miserable because it will be their job to be social.

I  can read ( and laugh at) Mashable too. Big deal.

Then again, I know the difference between tweeting Mashable posts and getting things done.

So should you.

In the Race to Be Acquire the Most #hcsm Followers…

…you lose sight of the very thing you wish to achieve: building a community that matters.

You see what I did with this post’s title? When this post gets tweeted (which will be about 5 times over the next year) by automatic features of Twitter clients , that hashtag will be entered into the stream.

Regular readers – the community who loves what I do here – get the humor. That’s part of the character – persona – of this service.

I see all sorts of self-promoting behavior. It’s cool…except when it’s not.

You see, what’s missing in most Healthcare communications is the ability to sustain an interactive audience rallying around relevant social objects.

The real test of a community’s love of its members and leaders is not having to rely on tricks and spam and linkbait – or a hashtag. Think of how lame that is: to think that a hashtag is a marketing strategy. Wow. But I see it. It’s kind of funny…but not really since it’s drowns out the voices of those who have something smarter to say than you.

Now, more than ever, we need true community leaders in Healthcare.

We don’t care about your blog post.

We don’t care about your Pinterest announcement.

We don’t care about your claim that you “respect nurses” or that you’re a top hospital in a magazine.

We care about Care.

We care about your competence.

We care about your wisdom.

We care about what you’re actually doing behind the PR mask that tells us you’re transparent because it’s not transparent to us that you’re transparent.

We care about your humor – because without any humor you simply are not human.

I don’t tell you I’m cute. Either I am, or I’m not. I let you decide based on how I look and act and tell bad jokes.

Don’t do what I just did in the title of this post. It’s a negative model. In fact, unfollow me if you’re insulted. My job is to inform, not to flatter. Get it?

What’s A Human To Do?

The machines take over.

Millions of machines tweeting their data.

Millions of machines following other machines, retweeting to other machines following the ever-expanding Cloud of tweets.

Billions of tweets propounding per second: news of their work…calls to action.

Trillions of nanobots moving guanine, cytosine…reverse transcriptase…transmuting carbon molecules into alchemical dreams.

All this mechanical purposing evolves into an ecosystem of invisible purposes – maturing into a purposing onto itself.

Amid the alien world dusted around them, the human feels a deepened need for meaning.

What’s a human to do when the galaxy of technology does the lifting?

At last, the human confronts the pressure of isolating what being human is all about.

The human remembers: it is a lost creature – cut off from nature and now cut off from technology.

The human re-cognizes the world.

The human is no longer just a being.

The human is a presence.

The Endless Babble of Social Media Gadgetry…

…will go on and on and on until exhaustion – not of passion for improvement, but of want of focus – pronounces its death-nell upon the lost.

For the future of technological survival belongs to the wise, to the ones who know the balance between focus and serendipity, between searching and conversing, between nature and technology.

Do not become lost. The seduction is great, and few will journey into the treasury chests of their hopes.

William, through the persona of Macbeth, told us about this Age. He wasn’t talking about life. He was talking about the show of technology – of pen and ink and papper, shared between author and reader, actor and audience. He was talking about…social media.

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

The Tower of Babble. It always falls, no matter the material with which we attempt to build it.

The Tale of Social Media signifies nothing.

Your life, however, signifies everything.

What I’m saying is: Don’t be a Social Media Idiot.


Vicarious Media





Let’s be honest: the media we have begun to use aren’t exactly social.

“Social” means living or communicating or collaborating directly with other people: I like you. I don’t Like you.

As we Like, RT, Share and + away, what we’re doing is pushing buttons which activate vicarious ecosystems.

The platforms that engender these ecosystems are Vicarious Media.

Vicarious Media do enable certain kinds of indirect connections among people, but it’s information accumulation through other people’s media, not with them.

Yes, we can say that there are/is Social Media.

But: living socially and living vicariously are vastly different from each other.

Please don’t confuse the two.

This Is Not About Komen.

Her lymphedema made the thoughts worse.

What was worse – the pain of swelling, having to hold her arm above her broken heart, or the loss of her first child’s suckling grace – mound of milk she tendered to his mouth thirteen years ago?

The world is so full with pain that some people just don’t know what to do.

The clinic services stopped racing six months ago.

She sank. She sank down into the bed. Melted down into it.

Not to cry nor to disappear nor to sleep.

She sank, so she could return to where all good things return: to motherhood – dark secret depth of creation’s light.

To mother herself was to give new birth, was to endure new labor pains, was to see both death and birth in ways nobody ever showed her.

Why I Write Quirky (and Potentially Offensive) Posts on Healthcare Social Media

…Because: Long-term success is inversely proportional to how seriously you take it.