Harmonize the wind

I always liked the idea of the original Ambient Orb -- a device that just sits there, but changes color based on metrics of interest to you. Bad weather approaching? It turns red. Stock market up? Green.

CIO John Halamka famously placed one on Paul Levy's desk, to help the CEO effortlessly monitor the ED waiting room situation.

But colors can only express so much - I think the Ambient Orb could just communicate a few things like "Good" or "Bad" or "Really Bad" on whatever you programmed it to care about.

What really held me back, though, was the idea of spending $150 on a ball that passively monitors some situation, when more "active" monitoring was never more than a few clicks away.

Then came Twitter.

I've given Twitter and its users a lot of grief over the years, even as I've come to spend more time with them than any other social network. But Twitter seems built around the concept of passive monitoring.

Skimming a Twitter feed is a nice way to check in with friends and colleagues, and pick up some news or useful links. I'm getting comfortable with the idea that Tweets are a workable proxy for thoughts, and also starting to accept that software can accurately categorize Tweet content and deduce sentiment.

So maybe a Twitter feed isn't the best way to survey the hive mind.

The Listening Machine (hat tip: the Verge) is a project to follow 500 UK Twitter accounts and figures out the positivity or negativity (or neutrality) of Tweet content, as well as categorize the Tweets into one of eight subjects. The  Tweets are then converted to music.

It seems to me that music might be better than color, to reflect the complexity of the Twitter stream. I've been listening on and off for the past few hours, and can pick up without much difficulty when the overall sentiment turns negative, and when the rate of tweets pick up. I wonder if it's possible to tell if the stream is featuring ponderous topics or light chitchat - or if the current discussion is weighted toward politics, or the arts.

The idea of catching a snippet of music and knowing the mood, engagement, and to some extent, the content of conversations in an area, is very appealing, though I think DJs already make something like this possible, when reading a crowd, picking up a vibe. Twitter analytics will just make the crowd's thoughts and feelings more quantifiable.

SAEM Didactic on Social Media and the Academic Physician

Members of the social media committee spoke today at SAEM about, well, online social networking and the emergency physician. Our presentations are available via Prezi: mine as well as Jason Nomura's and Rob Cooney's. We also had a conference call a few weeks ago where we covered some of these topics, moderated by Jim Miner and recorded by Scott Joing.

Below, I've added links to stories, papers and sources I referenced, in my presentation:

Matthew Strausburg's letter about Facebook's risk to his career
The malpractice trial outing of the anonymous pediatrician, Flea
Rhode Island EM physician Alexandra Thran's Facebook case and RISMB filing (PDF)
The nursing student, Doyle Byrnes, who posted a placenta photo on Facebook.
The Hayley Barbour clinic Tweet controversy
AMEDNews.com report on QuantiaMD survey of physicians use of social networks
Tips on HIPAA compliance while on social networks (and some notes on HIPAA compliance in social media policymaking)
Greysen et al, JAMA 2012 research letter on physician violations of online professionalism and state medical board disciplinary cases
Chretien et al, JAMA 2011 letter to the editor on physician usage of Twitter in 2010, broken down by specialty
Ed Bennett's list of hospital policies on social media
SAEM's social media guidelines
For further reading, Dr. Bryan Vartadedian's blog, 33 Charts has a lot of terrific writing on online professionalism: 1,2,3,4