Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Delicious & MLAWeb2.0 Tagging

From the recent Medical Library Association (MLA) Focus, which I almost missed, is something available for everyone to use as a resource on Delicious that I thought needed a shoutout in case it hit your spam filter as well:

Are you a Delicious user? Contribute to the Web 2.0 Resources page by
tagging bookmarks you think MLA members should see with the tag
"mlaweb2.0." The MLA Web 2.0 Resources page will be displaying the most
recent bookmarked links. What you should consider tagging: examples of
medical library blogs, wikis, or social bookmarking tool uses; other
good Web 2.0 examples from medical libraries; or simply any good
articles, blog posts, or tools you think are beneficial for MLA members
to see. Check out what's already been bookmarked by MLA Task Force on
Social Networking Software members and other MLA contributors.
Cool! This could also be an RSS feed to keep an eye on since we can't add mlaweb2.0 as a person to our network. I wish there was a way to set up group account options in Delicious, then have frequency of mention indicated as there are already a few website duplications and I'm sure there will be more now that this has been publicized for all of us to share in. Since medical librarians are the main contributors to this project, one can hope that (unlike general population folksonomy tagging) frequency IS a good indicator of high quality resources.

I'm also interested in this project from a sociocultural anthropology perspective but I won't get into too much detail there. Are there even online community sociocultural anthropologists? What behavior drives what we choose to share as important with our online peer group via this method? Completely fascinating thoughts to me that probably bore most everyone else to tears!

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday Foolery #1: Bacon vs. Financial Crisis on Google

I always like ending the workweek on a fun note, so I've decided to start sharing random, bizarre and/or entertaining tidbits here on Fridays that may or may not be useful to you as well.

Perhaps I've been living under a rock as I was completely unaware of Google Trends until now. I was alerted to its existence not by one of the many fine technology blogs out there but by Cupcakes Take the Cake who shared that 'cupcakes' are a more popular search term on Google than 'financial crisis'.

Hooray for cupcakes! I have always been a huge fan of them, and am kicking myself that I didn't know about the Crumbs and Doilies bakery when we were in London. Dr. Who cupcakes on Flickr? Pure brilliance!

However, as those who know me are well aware, my predominant food obsession is bacon. I love bacon. Apparently so do many other Google users as shown below in the popularity in the US during the past 30 days for searches on 'bacon', 'Dr. Who', 'financial crisis', 'cupcakes', and 'medical library'.

'Bacon' and 'cupcakes' are both above 'financial crisis', but the latter is starting to shoot up. 'Dr. Who' and 'medical library' appear to share a peaceful coexistence toward the bottom. I can only hope this is because everyone already knows exactly where to go for information about either when needed!

What's also kind of interesting is the Rank by tab where you select one of your search terms and it gives you data by subregions and city. As of now, bacon's results are

This may provide an environmental explanation behind my love of bacon: Sacramento (10) was my hometown of 18 years, I lived around San Francisco (9) for 6, and the rest of my life thus far in Seattle (5).

I'm going to keep tabs on this search and am not above some covert action if need be to retain bacon and cupcakes' authority over the financial crisis.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Communication THEN Change: MyNCBI gets it right

I have to say that in comparison to the surprise bomb regarding the PubMed ATM modifications (change with little notice first, no documentation to read beforehand & little afterward), I am very happy with the communication from the National Library of Medicine regarding the MyNCBI change ahead.

A new layout and features will be rolled out after a few hours of downtime beginning at Thursday, September 25th at 2 PM Eastern Time (when is that for the rest of the world?) A tip: connect an email with your current MyNCBI account before Thursday in order to have both password and username retrieval capacity. If you're anything like me you already have several lost MyNCBI accounts floating around in there somewhere because in the increasing number of web resources you've forgotten which usernames you've used where!

For a sneak peek and an explanation that's been available a week ahead of the change (yay!), check out the technical bulletin.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Flickr of hope: Photography as social networking disaster resource

(Ok, I'm sorry about the cheesy title, my journalism background dies hard sometimes)

Uploading property photos of a disaster scene is one of the best uses of Flickr I've heard of in a while, especially considering Ike's scope and the extreme rarity of electricity and residential access in Galveston at the moment. Kudos to this volunteer firefighter for going beyond the call of duty to help his community, and note the city secretary's use of her Blackberry for updating the city's website.

I'm thinking about the ability to link a Flickr account with a camera phone (and sync Flickr photos with a blog, which then gets pushed out via RSS if people aren't subscribed directly to your Flickr RSS...) for lesser quality photos but much quicker uploading time.

Are options like these included as communication methods to attempt in emergency preparedness plans? They should be!

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We don't like Ike: Librarians & disaster communication

Of course my heart goes out to Texas at this time of recovery; many colleagues and former classmates are in Houston & Galveston, and my mentor is the director of the Houston program for my alma mater. Ironically, I strongly associate floods with Texas since a storm flooded our Seattle house 12 days before my graduation last December that I and my family still flew out for. I could not have made it through that time without knowing a fair number of Texans were supporting me in spirit, and it is likewise that I stand alongside them now. It is humbling to know the same coliseum I graduated in was (and possibly still is) used as a hurricane evacuation shelter for Ike.

It is with a touch of Texan pride that I want to highlight a disaster resources strategy employed by Houston Academy of Medicine-Texas Medical Center Library's website:

Focus on the essential core electronic collection

Include information on how people can get regional help (the bottom link is Go Local Texas Gulf Coast)

Communicate status updates as you are able

Due to Hurricane Ike, the HAM-TMC Library and the Offices of the NN/LM SCR will be closed until Thursday, September 18. We have made access to our electronic resources available on this site via a co-located server. This page will allow access to the library's core resources only!. These resources include the library's e-journals collection, the library's database collection and the library's catalog.

Promoting the 211 community helpline (and/or Go Local) cannot be emphasized enough as seen during Hurricane Ike according to the Houston Chronicle:

The statewide 211 network — staffed by operators elsewhere in the state — reported receiving thousands of calls for help.

More than 15,500 people called on Saturday alone, and 11,000 more had called by 5:30 p.m. Sunday, said Beth Wick, director of the Texas Information and Referral Network.

The 211 call centers in Houston, Beaumont and Jasper were down, but Wick said the calls rolled over to centers elsewhere.

People wanted to know about the weather — without electricity, many were unable to monitor local media reports — as well as where to go for help. Some were stranded in their homes and wanted to request rescue, she said.

The network alerted rescue personnel in those cases, and tried to offer what other information they could.

Want more information on how we as librarians and information specialists can help with disaster information outreach for our communities? Per the MARquee,

A new listserv, DISASTR-OUTREACH-LIB, is now available as a discussion forum for librarians, information specialists and others interested in disaster information outreach to their communities and responding to information needs for all-hazards preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery... You can sign up for the list and view the archives at https://list.nih.gov/archives/disastr-outreach-lib.html.
Yes, another listserv, and this one requires moderator approval but that's what good filter, label and archive capacities in Gmail are for, right?

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Monday, September 8, 2008

Google's Chrome Health ethics?

I encourage a look at Brier Dudley's column today with a provocative beginning of

Imagine what it would be like at the library if, instead of using the Dewey Decimal System to find things, everyone had to use a system run by digital ad companies.

Eventually, people would get used to having companies know who reads what, when and where. You'd either trust the companies or find other ways to search for information.

Dudley then delves into some of the same concerns I do regarding Chrome and other Google programs that have a very heavy emphasis on targeted advertisements for their sales revenue.

I see this as a slippery slope for ethics where electronic medical records (EMRs) are concerned, and previously blogged about the language Google Health used regarding their "Interesting companies that offer personalized online health tools" and third-party advertising not clearly indicated in the FAQ. I haven't checked back to see if they have revised this and plan on doing so soon.

Dudley concludes with the same sentiments, bold emphasis mine

Maybe I'm jumping the gun.

I'll bring the subject up again in a couple of years, after Google and Microsoft are storing our medical records and we're using Chrome 3.0 and Internet Explorer 10.

Unless we're all used to it by then.

Edit: My colleague V. Lawrence shared NPR Marketplace's September 5th coverage on Google health with me. Is there truly no co-mingling if someone uses Chrome?

Halamka: It's not on Gmail, it's not on Blogger, it's not on YouTube, it's not on Search. It's a totally separate, isolated, secure area and they have not co-mingled any Google features with Google Health.

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Friday, September 5, 2008

Before the storm: Proactive communication & disaster resources

I was keeping tabs on various forms of emergency communication regarding Hurricane Gustav, but when I started a blog entry of some observations about that a shooting spree by a mentally ill man killed 6 and injured 4 in the extremely tiny community where my mom lives. She is fine and two miles from the street where most of the carnage took place, but she and her very rural/peaceful community are hurting trying to process this. I will post about Gustav communication at some point, most likely next week, as there were some interesting trends.

That happened the night before our son started 1st grade, so my focus this week had to stay on important things like maintaining composure despite technology glitches at work and the school bus being over a half hour late. I'm not certain my facade worked all that well as I now have a business card from the school district from someone whose official title is Intervention Associate. Maybe next school year my emotional equilibrium will be closer to balanced?

Another September weekend brings another round of hurricane watches. I appreciate the foresight behind the collection of local resources for hurricanes the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Southeast Atlantic Region (NN/LM SE/A) just posted on their blog, in addition to their comprehensive emergency resources & disaster recovery toolkit. NN/LM Middle Atlantic Region (MAR) is also in the projected path and posted a reminder for their organization members to contact them if needed. Be sure to check out the NN/LM Emergency Preparedness & Response Toolkit well in advance of an actual emergency for resources to develop a disaster plan for your library!

Two disaster communication tools for individuals I wanted to highlight are

The Red Cross Safe and Well List


FEMA's (why do they not explain their acronym means Federal Emergency Management Agency on this page?) National Emergency Family Registry and Locator System.

These pages offer a way to register your status and location after a disaster so your friends and loved ones with your pre-disaster contact information are able to know how and where you are.

Strengths of both

  • English/Spanish
  • Web-based registration platform
  • Searchable but still maintains privacy
In my opinion, the Red Cross site is preferable to FEMA's because the latter

  • Requires "10-15 minutes" to register (can you imagine the line behind that computer?)
  • Only allows up to 7 pre-identified people to view your registration information
  • Is "activated only during a Presidentially declared disaster or emergency where people are displaced"
  • Is a federal agency website with a notice that they "will not ask about anyone's citizenship status or forward any information, unless requested by name (bold my emphasis), to the U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Division."

One strength of FEMA's website over the Red Cross site is that a 800 phone number is provided for those who do not have Internet access to register themselves; this would certainly be helpful for any similar website although subject to staffing, demand, phone lines functioning, etc.

My thoughts that may be unreasonable hopes for the future:

  • Texting as a communication option for registration
  • Pre-registered syndication with an emergency-only application on social networking websites
Others that you have?

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