Dec 29

NPR on YouTube

Every now and then, something reminds me that most of the world doesn’t spend as much time as I do staring at a computer monitor. Case in point: This story from NPR’s All Things Considered about YouTube. I caught myself thinking: Lonelygirl15 is NEWS? That was MONTHS ago! Such a nerd.

Right after the YouTube story, they did a segment called “Will 2007 Bring Another YouTube Phenomenon?”, in which “experts” predicted the online stars of 2007. Some are more expert than others.

Dec 28

Medical wikis

Update: Be sure to check out the List of Medical Wikis.

Welcome, Medical College of Wisconsin Librarians! 🙂

When it comes to clinical information, I’m very wary of Wikis. Not necessarily opposed to them, but extremely hesitant. I find myself nodding when reading the Rapid Response to Dean Giustini’s How Web 2.0 is changing medicine from Sean N. Neill:

…a medical wikipedia may be the next step, but only if it is introduced very cautiously. The current medical wikis are not as the author suggests, “continually updated,” as there is no dedicated ongoing peer review process to appraise new contributions and updates. This could lead to serious safety issues.


…There is no such thing as a free lunch and “a low cost alternative to commercial point of care tools like UpToDate,” may not have the same access to the current evidence base to support the recommended practice. If medical wikis are to be used they should be tightly regulated in accordance with the principals of evidence based medicine, with constant peer review, so as to maintain medical accuracy and patient’s wellbeing at all times.

I think Neill is right, and perhaps Dean Giustini does, too. After all, Giustini himself suggested the ‘Medizendium’ as a solution to concerns about authority.

But via the same set of Rapid Responses, I just came across Wikisurgery

There appears to be an article about it here:
Introducing The blueprint for a surgical architecture of participation.
International Journal of Surgery, Volume 4, Issue 3, Pages 140-143
R. Agha

Unfortunately, my library doesn’t have access to this journal, so I haven’t read it. Perhaps you’d like to send me a copy? 😉 Thanks!

This started me again thinking about wikis as a tool for collaborative creation of clinical information.

I don’t use Wikipedia as a resource for clinical information for professionals or consumer healthcare information, and recommend against it to anyone who asks. There are a number of excellent, free, authoritative resources online for health information, after all. Why use one with no authority, especially when the stakes (the health and well-being of human beings!) are so high?

I can’t see how Wikisurgery can be any more authoritative than Wikipedia. There seem to be absolutely no restrictions to who can contribute. To test this, I registered and created a nonsense article called “Flibbertygibbits,” saved it, checked to see that my nonsense was displayed.
My PseudoWikiVandalism
When I went back in to remove the changes I had made (I have no wish to vandalize anyone else’s work) I discovered that I could not delete the page. I offer my sincere apologies to the administrators of WikiSurgery. I will understand if they delete my registration.

For that matter, I recommend they delete my registration.

If a Wiki-like format is to be used in the development of a tool for medical professionals, I can’t shake the feeling that a Citizendium model (Dean Giustini’s Medizendium idea) is greatly preferable to a Wikipedia model.

WikiMD allows anyone who registers to edit, and registration requires only a valid email address.

I have concerns about ganfyd too, but its registration process attempts to obtain proof that the person registering is a clinician in good standing. I’m not at all satisfied that their registration process weeds out those who shouldn’t be advising others, but at least they try.

PubDrug is getting up to speed and shows promise, but I’m able to add nonsense to it, too. Hopefully, registration is going to have strict requirements before a lot of information is added.

Open wikis that anyone can edit are great, but they’re not great for everything. These wikis would all do well to reconsider their registration policies. No competant medical librarian or clinical professional will rely on them until this happens.

(Afterthought: what are the other medical wikis that I didn’t mention here? I feel like I must be missing some.)

Dec 28

Second Life | Warren Ellis | Reuters


Warren Ellis, one of my favorite writers of comics and graphic novels writers, will be authoring a weekly column about Second Life for Reuters.

I’m hopeful that he may spare at least a little attention to the library efforts going on there.

If you like Sci-Fi, do yourself a favor and read Ellis’ Transmetropolitan. You can taste-test its excellence here (posted, I believe, with the permission of the publisher and creators).

Dec 24

Blog Tag: 5 Things You Don’t Know About David Rothman

I was tagged by my friend Marjolein.

1. My father is a geek’s geek. A retired IBM programmer, he is mentioned in Wikipeda for developing CGIDEV2. I have a distinct recollection of what happened when I asked him to teach me to program in BASIC. He said “sure!” …and handed me the manual.

2. I have owned 6 copies of Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics, and keep losing them by pushing them on people and insisting they read it- then not asking for it back and buying a new copy instead.

3. I can twist balloons into animal shapes. These days, I do it for the amusement of nieces, nephews, or the children of friends- but when I was about 14, I worked at the local Ground Round on weekends as “Bingo the Clown.”

4. I used to study theatre. I went to the Arts High School at the Minnesota Center for Arts Education (now called the Perpich Center) and to the North Carolina School of the Arts. I was not especially good at it.

5. I was once the general manager of the Chocolate Fetish. I learned how to temper chocolate, among other chocolatier skills.

I’ll tag the following five MedLib bloggers in hopes that it’ll amuse them more it will annoy them:

Eugene Barsky (UBC Physio blog)

Rachel Walden (Women’s Health News)

Guus van den Brekel (DigiCMB)

Becky J. (Clinical Evidence, Searching Tidbits, and Other Minutiae)

Stewart Brower (Professional Notes)

Dec 15

LibWorm Update: Tagtastic Folksonomania!

It really was my intention to not blog again before the end of the year, but I couldn’t wait that long to share news about these new tag-based features at LibWorm that Frankie has been working hard on.

First is that if any individual search result has tags, LibWorm finds the tags and shows ’em to you in the search results:

That’s not the coolest part- we’re just getting started.

Because LibWorm is looking for tags, tags are also included on every search. So if, for instance, I search for “ALA”. LibWorm will notice that Meredith Farkas used “ALA” as a tag on her post from 12/8/06, Living my 9th Grade Dream:

Above: The “ALA” is bolded to show us that the tag is where LibWorm found the keyword.

But that’s not the coolest part, either.

Frankie also used the tag data from LibWorm to build Tag Clouds.

There are two options, the Small Cloud and the Large Cloud.
(Frequency of a tag’s use has to be higher to be in the small cloud.)

But that’s still not the coolest part.

If you click a tag in the tag cloud, LibWorm will show you all the posts it has indexed that use that tag, and will enable you to subscribe to a feed based on that tag.

Yeah, that’s the coolest part. 🙂

As always, please let us know what you think!

-David Rothman
President, Frankie Dolan Fan Club
(U.S. Chapter)

Dec 08

Blogging Vacation

Holy cow. I’ve only been blogging at for a little over 5 months. It seems like a lot longer. Why is that?

Anyway, I have a lot I need to get done (both personal and professional) before the end of the year, so I’m taking the next few weeks off from blogging. I’ll resume in 2007.

Merry RamaChannuKwanSolstiMas and Happy New Year!


Dec 08

MedLib Blog Community Badge

A few weeks ago, a little badge appeared for MedLib blogs that links back to the masterlist to indicate membership in the growing community (and sense of community) of MedLib blogs(/bloggers).

Here is where it has appeared so far:


Clinical Evidence, Searching Tidbits, and Other Minutiae


JMLA Case Studies in Health Sciences Librarianship


Professional Notes

Women’s Health News

To add this badge to your own blog, just copy and paste this code:

<a href="">
<img src=""></a>

Not sure how to do this with your particular blogging software? Email me at david[DOT]rothman[AT]gmail[DOT]com and we’ll work it out together. 🙂

Dec 07

More thoughts on health care from Google VP

Adam Bosworth, Google’s VP of Engineering, continues his thoughts on health care at his blog:

As I indicated in my post last week, I’ve been interested in the issue of health care and health information for a while. I just spoke at a conference about some of the challenges in the health care system that we at Google want to tackle. The conference, called Connecting Americans to Their Health Care, is a gathering focused on how consumers are transforming health care through the use of personal health technologies.

This speech will give you some insight into the problems that we believe need our attention. There are, of course, other challenges in health care that we plan to work on, and we’ll share more information with you about the solutions we’re trying to develop as this work advances.

Previous post on Bosworth’s comments

Dec 07

Consumer Health CSE at AHSLC Presentation

I learned via David’s Random Stuff that the Consumer Health and Patient Education CSE I made was mentioned by Tim Daniels, Learning Commons Coordinator at Georgia State University when he gave a presentation last Friday at a meeting of the Atlanta Health Science Library Consortium called “Exploring Blogs, Wikis, and other social software applications.”

Neat! The fact that a tool built in less then 60 minutes has been getting attention from medical librarians sort of tickles me. It speaks well, I think, for how easy-to-use and potentially useful the Google Custom Search Engine tools can be.

Tim also mentioned my friend Frankie Dolan’s MedWorm, which is great because it absolutely deserves the attention.

Dec 06

JournalJunkie Podcasts: Medical Journal Audio Abstracts

I’ve been waiting weeks for permission from Dr. Craig Dalton to blog about this! Finally just got that permission.

Neat! Listen to abstracts from Annals of Internal Medicine, Archives of Internal Medicine, BMJ, Circulation, JAMA, NEJM, PLoS, The Lancet and more.

Journal Junkie provides medical professionals with immediate audio access to abstracts from the latest medical journals. Subscription is free. As a subscriber, you can choose to

  • listen to abstracts now
  • download them to your iPod/MP3 Player for later
  • set up automatic downloads from your favourite journals to your computer or iPod/MP3 Player.

JournalJunkie was created by two independent health professionals who understand the challenge of staying up to date while maintaining a busy professional life. The small amount of advertising on the site is JournalJunkie’s only revenue. This service is not underwritten by any health-related organisation.

To subscribe to the podcasts, you have to register (free), but you can check the site and listen to the audio files without registering.

Dec 06

LibWorm Update, 12/6/2006: Wikis category, Video subject

It’s loads of fun to watch mentions of LibWorm pop up, but one appeared recently that I thought was particularly enjoyable. Not only does it describe LibWorm well, but it’s also funny. Check it out at the blog of the ALA Student Chapter at Simmons College.

Thanks so much for the kind and entertaining words, Ashley! You could’ve just submitted your blog’s feed URL at LibWorm, but this is a good way to make sure we add your feed, too! (Yep, the post can now be found in LibWorm.) Also, we hadn’t really thought of using “LibWorm” as a verb, but we like it!

Speaking of adding feeds, we’re still plugging away at adding feeds submitted by users and watching the new feeds populate in LibWorm. If you’ve already submitted your feed but don’t see it populating in LibWorm, wait a few days and look again. If you haven’t submitted your feed yet, please register (free and reversible whenever you like) and submit it!

We’ve also recently added a new feed category to LibWorm, Wikis. Feeds in this category show recent changes from LISwiki, Library Success, the UBC HealthLib Wiki, and Wikipedia entries on subjects of importance to librarians. Let us know what you think and if there are other Wiki feeds we should add to the category.

(The “Wikis” Feed Category should not be confused with the “Wikis” Subject feed. Not sure what the difference is? Go to LibWorm’s About page and see the fourth item in the FAQ, “What is the difference between LibWorm Feed Categories and Subjects?”)

A new Subject feed available at LibWorm is Video. This should be helpful when you want to watch something relating to libraries instead of reading something.

As always, please let us know if you have questions, concerns, or suggestions by using the contact form on LibWorm’s
About page, leaving a comment on, or emailing me at david[AT]LibWorm[dot]com.

Dec 05

Ten Tips for Smarter Google Searches

This article at would be a great way for a search amateur to start building up his/her Google-Fu. It not only introduces the use of specific Google operators, but even introduces the idea of a search strategy. Here’s a taste:

Tip #1: Use the Correct Methodology

Whether you’re conducting a basic or advanced Google search, there is a certain methodology you should employ. Follow the proper method and you’ll get very targeted results; ignore this advice and you’ll either get a ton of irrelevant results or a dearth of relevant ones.

While there are many different (and equally valid) approaches to web searching, I guarantee that this particular approach will generate excellent results. It’s a six-step process that looks like this:

  1. Start by thinking about what you want to find. What words best describe the information or concept you’re looking for? What alternate words might you use instead? Are there any words that can be excluded from your search to better define your query?
  2. Construct your query. Use as many keywords as you need; the more the better. If at all possible, try to refine your search with the appropriate search operators—or, if your prefer, with the Advanced Search page.
  3. Click the Search button to perform the search.
  4. Evaluate the matches on the Search Results page. If the initial results are not to your liking, refine your query and search again—or refine your search by switching to a more appropriate search site.
  5. Select those matching pages that you wish to view and begin clicking through to those pages.
  6. Save the information that best meets your needs.
  7. In other words, it pays to think before you search—and to continue to refine your search after you obtain the initial results. The extra effort is slight, and well worth it.

Dec 04

EpiSpider: Epidemiology and Google Maps

Hope Leman dropped me an email to let me know about a nifty epidemiology mashup, EpiSpider. (Edit: Linked URL corrected. Thanks, Karen Harker!)

EpiSPIDER (Semantic Processing and Integration of Distributed Electronic Resources) is an application that integrates disparate electronic resources like news wires, RSS feeds and mailing lists to provide an integrated view of reported health events. It specifically uses ProMED mail reports and health newsfeeds as sources of information

These reports are then transformed and analyzed with natural language processing and text mining techniques to help scan the horizon for infectious disease outbreaks. These reports are also mapped using the geocoding and mapping interfaces of YahooMaps, Google Maps as well as Scalable Vector Graphics (requires Adobe SVG Viewer). We also integrate these reports with other health information resources such as MedLINE/PubMed.

Be sure to check out the feeds available from the bottom of the About page:

Dec 03

LibWorm Update, 12/3/2006: Lots more feeds!

I really love that everything that has improved about LibWorm has been motivated by a whole lot of enthusiastic input from a wide range of users.

  • We started loading our first really big batch of new, user-submitted feeds a few days ago (as well as addressing an issue that was preventing some feeds from parsing properly) and it looks like those are populating nicely. I was especially happy to see feeds from Librarian in Black and What I Learned Today appearing in LibWorm search results. It didn’t seem at all right for either to be missing.
  • There’s a whole ‘nother batch of new feeds we have to review, categorize, and load into LibWorm. It’s great to see people submitting not just their own feeds, but feeds produced by others. We’ll get to these as quickly as we can, and we’re so grateful for your help! Keep ’em coming!
  • Please also expect to see see continued changes in Feed Categories and/or Subjects as we continue to tweak them to be as useful as possible based on user feedback and stats.
  • This may sound a little odd, but is anyone out there fluent in both English and Italian (and willing to do just a little translating)? If so, please drop me a line (david[at]libworm[dot]com)?

That’s it for now. Please drop us a line with any questions, concerns, critiques, or suggestions- we really like hearing from you.

Dec 03

Two more ways to trick out Google Reader

Jasper’s Google Reader Subscribe (User Script)

This Greasemonkey User Script for Firefox adds a little icon to the top right of every page to let you know if a feed has been auto-detected and if you’ve already subscribed to it.

If the page has multiple feed options, it’ll display them on rollover so you can subscribe via Google Reader with a single click to your preferred feed format.

Note: Requires Firefox and Greasemonkey. If you don’t use ’em yet, get both. You’ll love ’em, I promise. Questions? Email me.

Google Reader Notifier Firefox Extension

Not content to just tell you that you’ve got new unread items, it’ll tell you how many in each label if you hover the cursor over it.

Dec 02

Healtheva: MySpace for Doctors?

Check out Healtheva.

An Online Community
Healtheva is a community for physicians, researchers, residents, interns, and medical students.

Network with Physicians & Researchers
Meet physicians and researchers from local academic institutions, hospitals, and private practice clinics.

Exchange documents, pictures, instructional videos, and podcasts.

Search our knowledge base system for the latest research.

Use our online invitation tool to organize meetings and events.