Your Body’s Last Tweets

Your heart is a Twitter client.

Your heartbeats are tweets.


Your ventricles retweet fresh blood to the rest of your body’s stream of tweets:

…the tweets of cytokines signaling news of immunocompromised systems…

…the tweets of gliotransmitters pulsing their trillions of brilliant pulses powering your consciousness…

…the paracrine tweets of clotting factors commanding hemostasis…

The tweets of your body – and the ones which conveyed it here – are almost endless, extending far back to the first retweeting mechanism on this earth: the self-replicating molecule.

All those tweets, all those tiny signals and re-signals, that went into making you – your body – eventually come to end, one way or another.

Perhaps the tweets of  an organ’s cells fail in progressive succession – their chorus of tweets weakened by noise or failed receptor-followers.

Perhaps a cell tweets too much and a hashtag of neoplasms suddenly trends.

One day, your body’s tweets will stop.

Your heart will brady down.

Your respirations will slow.

The radiance of your tweeting electrons enlightening your entire history of love and hate and hope and shock and sorrow and joy will dim, darken and die.

The long winding tweet-stream of your life finds the end of its journey.

What have you followed in this life?

Who have you followed?

What has followed you?

Who has followed you?

What or who have you blocked?

Who…or what…has blocked you all this time?

Your tweeting body confers a brain with which you get to question everything.

Your body has so much to say.

Be good to yourself and others.

May you be in the company of love during your body’s last tweets.

Phil Baumann





Is Twitter Wasting Advancement in HCSM?

I’m a big fan of Twitter – I run two Twitter chats for nurses and physicians. I don’t need convincing of Twitter’s value in healthcare. But…

…but I wonder if efforts to advance the cause of adopting social and other digital technologies in Healthcare are going to waste on Twitter. I see so many smart people on Twitter contributing good ideas and networking with other smart people whenever I dip into my stream. A lot of what happens there is useful no doubt.

Twitter, however, is a deceptive seduction. Like all great seducers, the seduced will fight hard to defend their seducer. Over time it becomes harder to step away from the seduction and realize the opportunity costs involved.

After the tweets and the chats, what happens to them? After the dopamine surges and congratulations and “wow, that was great, you’re the bestest!”, what then? How strongly do the energies of the tweets flow elsewhere to power movement? Or do all rivers lead back to Twitter – a Mobius strip of tweet streams?

I’d love to ask the hcsm (healthcare social media) community the same question which Seth Godin asks. (No need to answer here – privately answering the question is good enough.)

@PhilBaumann – @HealthIsSocial – Newsletter


Turn On, Tune In and Take Charge

And now a simple meme for healthcare: Turn On, Tune In and Take Charge.

This isn’t my variation on Timothy Leary’s Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out, it’s his (54min, 10sec).

It applies to:

  • The Status Quo organizations that need to abandon the 19th Century model of factory-healthcare and turn on to human systems
  • The nurses, physicians, administrators, healthcare communicators who need to re-tool their skills and tune in to today’s media
  • All of us who need to take charge of our Healthcare as much as we can

Twitter is the Sixties – everyday, more and more people are electronically heading to San Fransisco.

Some folks will expand their minds hitting the good tweets, while others will lose themselves, spending their days scrounging for the next retweet; and still others will ignore it all, missing the chance to bring color to their black-and-white views and thoughts and ways. This is our time, our new world.

The response to this brave media world isn’t to turn on, tune in and drop out.

It’s: Turn on, tune in, and take charge.

@PhilBaumann – @HealthIsSocial


Your Last Tweet

Your last tweet. What’s it going to be?

When people look at your stream, what will they see?

Will they see endless links to serious articles expounding on the deep ontology of Twitter? 🙂

Will they see your lunch?

Will they see your lies?

Will they see any truth?

Will they see you being nice, or good? (There’s a difference.)

Will they see you?

What might they conclude?

That you were boring?

Or that you didn’t give a damn what people thought of you?

If you could now see your last tweet – and all the tweets before it – at the end of your life, would the view make a difference?

Would you want to live the exact same way?

Or would you just want to delete the account and start all over?

It’s just Twitter.



Mention Deficit Disorder

It’s nice to be mentioned – at least in a positive way.

Granted, some of us are more easily prone to enjoy flattery and attention than others. A lot depends on childhood experiences, genetics, personality.

Today’s media make it easier than ever to publicly mention someone and have them receive it – instantly.

Twitter epitomizes this: it has brought forth the mention-economy. People love to be Retweeted and Replied to. At least a substantial majority do.

This mention-economics can be a good thing: it can enable new connections, enhance existing social ties and produce a sense of ambient intimacy.

But what happens when the mentions become habit-forming?

What happens if the mentions stop – or if the mentions aren’t enough?

What happens when people feel as though they aren’t getting the mentions they want?

What happens when they reach a mention-deficit?

Do they develop a strange condition? A Mention Deficit Disorder?

I don’t know – it’s kind of a silly way to put things. But I suspect this Web stuff – to some degree – can create what I’ve called Inadvertent Narcissism.

Perhaps what we’re entering isn’t so much an Attention Economy. Perhaps what we’re entering is more of an Attention MEconomy. An economy that has to constantly seek out new ways of engaging and mentioning.

The problem, though, is that people can handle so much stimulation – overstimulate the senses and snap!…the system crashes.

That’s what happens with Attention Deficit Disorder (supposedly) – overstimulate the hyperactive brain and paradoxically calm it down.

Now that many corporations are waking up to social media, they will now realize what they’ve signed up for: finding ways of treating Mention Deficit Disorder without shutting down the attention economy.



Ectopic Tweets

It’s OK to tweet outside the rules people create about what’s proper in today’s media.

Sometimes your heart’s beats are a bit off. These aberrations may or may not be significant. They’re ectopic beats.

In looking at the media streams of some practices and hospitals and other healthcare-related organizations, a lot of the tweets follow a predictable pattern.

On one hand, it’s good to have a perfectly regular sinus rhythm in your communications.

The problem is this: it’s the ectopic tweets that may stand a better chance of catching my attention.

I know Healthcare’s a fairly conservative industry. It’s also an industry that can make important differences in people’s lives.

Ectopic tweets don’t just refer to Twitter – it’s all of healthcare communications. The tweet is just a soft cuddly metaphor.

The circulatory system of the Web doesn’t work like the human body’s.

If it’s healthy messages you want to circulate, then take advantage of ectopic tweets.

Ectopic tweets won’t lead to premature ventricular contractions.

Ectopic tweets get the attention of those who assess you, and they just might save your online life from forgetfulness.

Online, forgetfulness is asystole.

@PhilBaumann@HealthIsSocial@Ectopic Emails

Is Twitter Turning Us Into Sparrows…Or Vultures?

You’ve heard the horrible story – the one about a young representative from Arizona, who was shot in the head.

I don’t need to get into the details. It’s all over the Web. It’s on Google.

And it’s on Twitter.

I don’t know how you feel  but I’m not all sure that this social media stuff is always healthy.

I tweeted a couple links myself when the news hit. Then wondered what value they truly conveyed.

This woman has a husband. Children. Friends. Other family.

People with feelings and problems, hopes and dreams.

Do they need any of us to tweet about what happened? Does it help them?

If it does, then by all means: we should tweet tweet tweet! Who would argue against that? Especially if you know exactly how it helps them.

But if it doesn’t – if tweets degenerate into cacophonies and orgies of slacktivism – then why bother?

Should we tweet at high volume when a woman is shot in the head? There’s no right or wrong answer, but the question matters.

A woman was shot in the head.

I never meet her, lovely sparrow I’m sure he is. I love her in some sense because she’s a part of us, of you. You love her too in that way.

We should discuss how and why these things happen – and do things that make differences.

There are times, however, when silence and stillness are the last refuges of hoping and caring and loving a world so full of hate and wreckage.

Is Twitter turning us into sparrows or vultures?

It’s OK to be quiet in the storm of noise.

For the silence of sparrows can proclaim more than their tweets.


What People Retweet

People retweet what people say about them.

People retweet breaking news.

People retweet conflicting health claims.

People retweet tweets about Twitter.

People retweet insights.

People retweet gossip.

People retweet bad science.

People retweet political lies.

People retweet their own ignorance.

People retweet kindness.

People retweet LMAO, WTF, OMG, LOL.

People retweet sappy aspirations.

People retweet what people retweet.

What people retweet isn’t nearly as important as what you do.

What people retweet can’t be depended on for long-term endurance.

What people retweet isn’t a strategy.

Don’t worry too much about what people retweet or Like on Facebook. Yes, your name or campaign or brand’s tweets might go viral. Maybe, if your brand gets enough mentions, Google will be triggered to crawl and index your website and spike traffic. Maybe.

But a virus isn’t something to get all chummy with.

A virus is a smarter marketer than you.

Viruses are master rebranding agents.

What people retweet might mutate into something you didn’t expect.

What people retweet isn’t much in your control.

Just something to consider if you believe that social media is a cheap replacement for hard-to-make secret sauce bottled and distributed through smart and supple marketing.

@PhilBaumann@HealthIsSocialOur Secret Society


It’s Facebook, Google and Some Other Things

Bye-bye Foursquare. Bye-bye Gowalla.  …In fact Bye-bye to pretty much every goofy Web service listed here.

  • Google is a search engine. People search for things.
  • Youtube is a search engine. People search for things to watch.
  • Facebook is the Walmart of Social Media. Get used to it.
  • LinkedIn is a rolodex for business people who aren’t on Twitter.
  • Twitter is 21st Century telephony. Pick up the phone, hang up and get back to work.
  • Blogs are for people who aren’t addicted to Twitter, who know about SEO and produce most of the content on all the places listed above.

Email is also a critical component – regardless of what some may think.

That’s pretty much it.

Is this an extremely over-simplified statement of today’s Web? Yep, it sure is. And in today’s Attention Me-conomy, you need simple, simple, simple.

Facebook, Google, and some other things like Youtube and occasional hits off the Tweet Pipe are where you probably need to do you most of your public art.

Facebook and Google: they’re it…for probably the next five years. Ten years from now? Who knows: technologies are moving way to fast to predict that.

I’ve been watching social networks and media for 32 years (no joke). No social network has thus far sustained itself. They almost always decay and fall apart.

Facebook is the exception – it broke the sound barrier. And nobody’s going to take it out of the sky anytime soon.

A decade ago, most people thought Google was just another search engine – that search engines were transient things. They were wrong. Same logic with Facebook. Except Facebook has WAY more data about people and their relationships with each other. And it now has mobile and geolocation – and it’ll continue to own the things that matter to most markers in the coming years.

Google and Facebook will go to war (it’s already going on), and the war will go on. That may or may not be an opportunity for upstarts. But we won’t see any big players emerge anytime soon.

Oh, and pay attention to Apple too. They have $33 Billion in Cash, Cash Equivalents and Marketable Securities and a leader who has seamlessly morphed his business from computers to music to mobile phones. Not a man to dismiss anytime soon. (Repeat: it has $33 Billion in liquid assets. Not paper valuation like Facebook or Twitter. Apple has raw purchasing power.) But as far as social presence, that’s a few years off before it’s determined what role they may have in all this. Same for Microsoft (lol).

And Twitter? Oh, Twitter – my sweet little bird – Twitter will continue to grow and grow until it becomes….Twitter. It’ll be around in some form or another. People run on Dopamine, and Twitter’s got its unique way to supply that drug.

Personally, I wish people valued art and science and nature and having a genuinely good time meeting each other. But that’s me.

The reality is: most people are happy being consumers. And that’s exactly who Facebook is building its mart for.

If you don’t like that, then take advantage of the Web and build your own small and focused community of five or ten or one hundred people. Really – you can start one today.

People will disagree with me about what I’m saying here. That’s OK. I want that. In the process I’ll learn a lot from them, because I have no idea what I’m talking about.

But here’s the thing: for people actually doing this stuff in a business context, resources are limited and decisions about allocation are vital.

You don’t have to be everywhere to be somewhere.

Wherever you are, just be really good at it.

@PhilBaumann –        @HealthIsSocial

UPDATE: Regina Holliday in the comments below points out that Flickr is another resource. I agree and for organizations which take pictures of events, etc. should really fold Flickr into their presence.

The Intuition for Technology

Note: this is a slightly psychedelic post. It starts off in the shallow end, but goes a bit deep. Many of you who follow us are into Healthcare, Marketing, Communications, Patient Advocacy, etc. What we do here on HealthIsSocial, however, is to help you see things anew – and to hear things outside of the proverbial echo chamber. If you don’t step back to question, examine and understand the big picture cultural ramifications of technology on your profession, how do you plan on getting better? Just sayin’. Enjoy! 🙂

In 2007, did you see Twitter wings taking to flight? Did you even know about Twitter?

If you said yes to both, how did you know?

When a new technology comes along, how do you decide whether to invest resources into it?

For instance, if you’re in healthcare communications then a part of your job description (whether your boss states it or not) is to understand media – and media are subsets of technologies. If you didn’t hear about Twitter in 2007, why not? Regardless of its relevance to your work, have you thought about where your attention was spent?

Now that people can’t stop talking about these things – maybe including you – what could you have done a few years ago differently so that you would be more in-the-loop about the very landscape shaping your profession? (I have answers, but I want you to use your inside voice 😀 )

What healthcare applications will gain traction? There are over 6,000 and growing.

What kinds of mobile healthcare applications will get the most adoption?

Does Augmented Reality in Healthcare have a strong future? Is it hype, or is it a new frontier that we haven’t fully explored?

My own track record isn’t astounding, but I do believe it’s better than average. I can’t tell you how much I was derided for saying years ago that Twitter would become this Century’s telegraph – that millions of people and machines would rely on Twitter-esque communications protocols.

I’ve tried to go back to my good and bad predictions about technologies, to see if I could find a pattern. So far, nothing clearly ‘logical’ has emerged.

But one thing I have realized: in each of the predictions one common thread prevailed – intuition.

I can’t tell you how to get a “better intuition” about technology.

What I can suggest, however, is the following:

  • Hone your intuition, especially in this Century of technological upending.
  • Listen to your intuition. Don’t be afraid if your intuition is wrong. Focus more on whether your perception of things is valid. That is: invest some time in understanding a technology’s properties, possibilities, limits and ramifications.
  • No matter how hard you try to ‘see’ the value of a given technology strictly on rational terms, know that technology always ends up being re-purposed in unpredictable ways.
  • Be careful not to dismiss a new technology, or a novel way of using a technology.
  • We have always had a relationship with Technology – so always consider how you are relating to a technology. What does your intuition tell you?

These may be some of the key ingredients in developing an intuition for technology.

I simply can’t see how agencies, clients, individuals, governments or others can fully grasp and exploit technologies without having some capacity of an intuition for them.

Intuition is a fascinating but real power. It may not always ‘work’, but it does hold an important place in our life. Also: intuition isn’t a mystical thing – there are solid underlying biological processes which govern our deeper perceptive faculties.

As an aside, check out Daniel Kahneman’s lecture on the topic of exptert intuition.

A personal note about intuition in clinical practice:

I can tell you that during the first few weeks of working in an intensive care unit as a new nurse, it was my intuition that got tested and elicited.

The only clinical experience I had at the time was what I learned in an eleven-month accelerated program and Drexel University. With almost no ‘real’ experience, there were instances when intuitive pulses caught my attention. I zeroed-in on those pulses (like never before), and that listening may have saved a couple of lives, or mitigated damage. I’m not alone with such experiences.

Think about intuition in general. Were there important decisions in your life that would have been made differently if you listened to your intuition?

So why am I making a big deal about Intuition and Technology?

Because, the ultimate end-point of Technology – for all of its benefits in creating Civilization – is the elimination of the need for us, for Homo sapiens sapiens.

Think about it: as technologies get cheaper and more powerful and more common, their presence will reach a point where what we do is completely replaceable.

Our monolithic relationship with Technology was what gave rise to Civilization, Culture, Progress, Politics, Craft – all of the things that we consider human institutions. In fact, each one of them is itself a technology.

Capitalism, for example, is purely technological – it’s an algorithm (invest > produce > market > start over). And Capitalism is one of our most ramifying technologies: it’s changed time, labor, family values, political relationships, and has spurred the advancement of the very technologies which quicken the pace of the algorithm!

Technology helped – and will continue to help – us build amazing things. But technology’s paradoxical challenge against us will have to be addressed.

Except for one thing: we human beings have something that can’t be replaced. What is it?

What is that thing, that essence, that has nothing to do with our arms, eyes, ears, mouths, muscles, bones, brains?

If we figure out what that is, we may have a chance of flying past the near-fatal threat which Technology will eventually serve.

Can we overcome the Technological Monolith?

If you have an iPhone or an iPad – have you considered how similar they are to the Monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey? Think: you slide the tips of your fingers across a smooth surface and a virtual universe of data streams forth. To rip a phrase from 2010My God, it’s full of stars!

Just a thought.

Just as our hominid ancestors millions of years ago couldn’t at all imagine us – what kind of Being they would evolve into – we today cannot imagine the kind of Being we will evolve into. It’s too much – it’s full of mystery.

We’re all Social Media Apes and Twitter is the Monolith.

Kubrik may have used Space as a sort of Final Frontier canvas onto which he painted his vision of our future relationship with Technology. One of his plot devices was that our contact with an intelligence greater than ours revealed things about ourselves – in particular our capacity for tool-making.

But I would offer this: in a sense, Social Media is today’s canvas for our Odyssey. Kubrick didn’t envision Social Media – he went right to Space because in the 1960s that seemed to be where the ‘future’ would happen.

What we call Social Media can be viewed as a kind of Monolith through which we touch each other – but we are touching each other through Technology. It’s not contact with extraterrestrials, but contact with ourselves which may be propelling the Odyssey of this Century.

But: whatever we learn about ourselves in this Odyssey will be a technologically-influenced context of our perception of ourselves.

That essence of ourselves that I referenced earlier? Might we identify it somewhere in this new canvas? Will it be revealed or concealed?

Is the Monolith of Twitter a medium of transmission, or just a mirror? Will it turn us from apes into something more sophisticated? Or will it just turn us into apes aping apes?

Our intuition about each other – about ourselves – must be at the forefront of our Odyssey as we move from the Web of Servers to the Web of People and on to the Web of Everything Else in the Universe.

Our intuition about the technologies we make – and the technologies which Technology makes – will need to become almost a way of life.

Technology catalyzes time and wants something.

Anyhoo, we need to get a better apprehension of our intuition. Technology catalyzes time. As life feels faster and faster, we have less time to think thoroughly about what technology wants.

Which is to say: as technology gains a stronger hold of our world, the value of intuition increases.

So, what does your intuition say about our current – and future – relationship with technology? What will be the saving grace after Technology replaces the ‘old’ us?

You must find your own answer. Here’s a part of mine.

@PhilBaumann –    @HealthIsSocial