This week we're trying something different.
Grand Rounds will be hosted on a blog, as usual, but this time it's a Facebook site (The fact that this is our first veterinarian host is noteworthy as well).
Earlier this year we launched an online presence for Grand Rounds on Facebook (and Twitter). The justification? Facebook is now the #1 website in the US, accounting for one in four pageviews. This is simply where a lot of people spend a lot of time online. Facebook already drives more traffic to media sites than Google; it stands to reason that smaller sites like blogs would also benefit from FB's social referrer approach, alongside the Grand Rounds showcase or Google's PageRank valuation.
But what about blogs that make their home in Facebook's Pages? It was really just a matter of time. The original blog carnival model guaranteed a weekly spotlight and flood of traffic to the host. Some people would visit, maybe browse the archives, and add the host blog to their bookmarks or RSS readers. There's nothing about that scenario that's not possible with Facebook blogs, and their "Like" feature is arguably more intuitive and manageable than earlier ways of subscribing.
I had said before that Facebook, by virtue of its accounts being tied to real names, would encourage an era of more reasoned and responsible blog commenting. I expected that quantity of comments and posts might fall, the quality would rise -- an antidote for the trolling and choir-preaching that substitutes for real conversation at many sites today. This week's host, however high-quality her posts, is not a real person. The team behind "Amanda Brown, DVM" can write at will, and leave comments on other pages, with some level of professional protection.
What that means for the future of online healthcare discourse is not clear, but the I suspect this degree of anonymity, plus the ease of "Liking" and the fact that so many of people visit FB regularly already, will encourage more people to use Facebook as a platform for their healthcare musings. And they'll be welcome to host Grand Rounds.