Contemplating ScienceOnline 2010 Sessions on Medical Journalism and Science 2.0

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I’m moderating two sessions for the ScienceOnline 2010 conference in January, one on Medical Journalism and a second on the intersection of Medicine 2.0 and Science 2.0.

Last week, co-moderator Karl Leif Bates and I updated the Medical Journalism session description. The session isn’t intended to be an overview on how to be a proper medical journalist. Instead, we’re focusing on the chaos on the delivery side of medical reporting. Our question for the session is, quite simply, if everyone has a printing press, how do we distinguish fact from fiction?

Medical Journalism

Session description: It could be argued that healthcare already has a “killer app” – search. According to research by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 61% of us look online for medical information. In an age of horizontal information distribution and social networks, what sort of medical information, disinformation and misinformation does one find? How do we fight publishers of medical information that is inaccurate, misleading or wrong? Is a website sponsored by a drug company more reliable than one sponsored by a disease group? Can a University PR site be trusted? How about an M.D or Ph.D. that blogs on medicine or medical research? What about a federal agency such as the FDA or CDC? What difference does a seal of approval from the Health on the Net Foundation (HONcode) make if Google’s algorithms don’t value it?

I’ve also been giving a lot of thought to the Science 2.0 session. I don’t want the discussion to focus on the tools as much as the themes, so I’ve updated the description accordingly. I liked all the questions Karl and I worked out for the Medical Journalism session, so I’ve carried the format over.

Medicine 2.0 and Science 2.0 — where do they intersect?

Session description: Medicine 2.0 applications, services and tools are defined as Web-based services for healthcare consumers/patients, health professionals and biomedical researchers that use Web 2.0 technologies and/or semantic web and virtual reality approaches to enable and facilitate (1) social networking; (2) participation; (3) apomediation (guidance generated and available from peripheral mediators); (4) openness; and (5) collaboration within and between these user groups for the purposes of maintaining and/or restoring human health. How are these themes being applied in scientific research? What are the reasons some themes are better applied than others? How are researchers integrating Science 2.0 tools into their workflows? Do they offer an immediate benefit? Where could there be improvement? What are the social and cultural obstacles to widespread adoption of Medicine 2.0 and Science 2.0?

I like the updated descriptions, since the questions stimulate discussion and get people thinking before the session even begins. You can see the full conference program at the ScienceOnline2010 website.

What do you think? Do the questions provoke any thoughts or ideas?

Walter Jessen is a digital strategist, writer, web developer and data scientist. You can typically find him behind the screen something with an internet connection.