Jan 31

Web Geekery (and Sex) In Recent Literature – 1/31/2008

I didn’t seek to have a theme for this installment of WGiRL, it just happened.

  • Geez, what an odd choice of metaphor for the title. I mean, if one kept one’s arrow in one’s quiver in the first place…
    Sex Transm Dis. 2008 Feb;35(2):117-8.
    Internet partner notification: another arrow in the quiver.
    Hogben M, Kachur R.
    Division of STD Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia.
    PMID: 18216724
  • I read this abstract and kept having a mental image of an author clicking away at his mouse while his wife calls from another room:

    Wife: Whatcha’ doing on the computer, honey?
    Author: Ummmm….research for my article!

    Qual Health Res. 2008 Feb;18(2):268-79.
    Online dating and mating: the use of the internet to meet sexual partners.
    Couch D, Liamputtong P.
    La Trobe University, Bundoora, Victoria, Australia.
    PMID: 18216345

  • J Clin Nurs. 2008 Feb;17(3):423.
    Internet resource guide for nurses and health care professionals.
    Gilmour J.
    School of Health Sciences, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand.
    PMID: 18205695
Jan 30

Hacking ReadBurner URLs

You’ve probably heard about ReadBurner by now.

The idea behind ReadBurner is that it aggregates counts of items that are frequently shared in Google Reader.

First a point of clarification: ReadBurner doesn’t get its data directly from Google Reader in aggregate via an API- it gets the data from the RSS feeds of public linkblogs fed by Google Reader. This is explained on ReadBurner’s About page:

“ReadBurner aggregates items that are shared on the Google Reader.

This works by constantly updating RSS feeds of currently several hundred linkblogs. In order to filter out the best stuff ReadBurner counts, whenever an item is shared by multiple persons.”

ReadBurner’s creator, Alexander Marktl, allows users to submit new linkblogs (or does he?), but he can’t ever gather all of them…so I suspect that ReadBurner won’t ever really represent the sharing habits of Google Reader users. Further, I find it hard to believe that Google would not be working on a similar project that actually will have access to all the sharing data from Google Reader users in its entirety…at which point ReadBurner will stop being interesting.

In the meanwhile, ReadBurner is still pretty neat. The features I’d most like to see added are search and to have searches outputted as RSS feeds. I’ve had no luck getting ReadBurner to output the feeds I want, but I have managed to make it filter for just the stuff I want.

I really wanted a form so I could search and, for instance, see if any posts at this blog were being frequently shared. Sadly, no such search form exists at ReaderBurner.

Fortunately, we can make it search in a limited fashion even without a form by messing with the URL a bit.

The back end of ReadBurner is PHP/MySQL, a combination I gained some familiarity with through working on LibWorm with Frankie Dolan (and by using WordPress to power this blog).

All our little hacks will start from this URL:

From here, we can play with two parameters, r and a.

r = The name of the source the item came from
a = The name of the author of the item

So if we wanted to see items in ReadBurner that were shared from davidrothman.net, we just need to tack r=davidrothman.net onto the end of http://www.readburner.com/index.php? like so:

For another example, shared items from Boing Boing could be found like so:

But what if we want only to see shared items items from Boing Boing which were authored by Cory Doctorow?

To our existing http://www.readburner.com/index.php?r=boing%20boing, we’ll tack on &a=Cory%20Doctorowthe ‘%20’ represents the space character between Cory’s given name and surname and does the same between “boing” and “boing” in the previous example, giving us:

Marktl himself shows how to tweak the URL of ReadBurner to filter for language and for a minimum number of shares.

Of course, there are easier ways to get this kind of info from ReadBurner. Once could subscribe to the feed for the recently submitted items and then filter using Yahoo! Pipes or one of the other free tools for filtering RSS feeds…but that’s not as much fun.

Check it out: Noted biblioblogger Steven Cohen is one of the top sharers on ReadBurner. 🙂

Jan 30

A Richer GoldMiner with BioMed Central

I’ve posted about GoldMiner a couple of times previously– it is an image search engine created by the ARRS, who describe it on Goldminer’s About page:

ARRS GoldMiner™ provides instant access to images published in selected peer-reviewed radiology journals. This new, web-based system allows viewers to search for images by findings, anatomy, imaging technique, and patient age and sex.

…ARRS GoldMiner™ understands medical vocabulary. It uses sophisticated techniques from the U.S. National Library of Medicine (part of NIH) to discover medical concepts in free-text figure captions, and uses that information to quickly retrieve relevant images. GoldMiner incorporates standardized vocabularies, such as the Medical Subject Heading (MeSH) terms, which are used to index the medical literature in MEDLINE and PubMed.

ARRS GoldMiner™ recognizes abbreviations, synonyms, and kinds of diseases. Not only does it know that “renal calculi” and “kidney stones” mean the same thing, it knows that renal calculi are a type of kidney disease.

GoldMiner searches by both concepts and keywords. As a result, searches for “renal calculi” and “kidney stones” won’t find exactly the same entries. If a figure caption says “stones are seen in the kidney”, the words “stones” and “kidney” will be indexed, but not necessarily the concept of kidney stones / renal calculi.

GoldMiner’s interface is clear and pleasant to use, the filters are useful, the layout of search results is clean with a thumbnail and some adjacent text for each returned result. It’s is a great example of a specialized search engineSome like to call these “vertical search engines” and Web geeks sometimes refer to a site that serves a specialized subject need (not necessarily a search engine) as a “vortal” (from “vertical [industry] portal”)- don’t let the jargon throw you. that has only improved since I first checked it out just over a year ago. Now it is about to improve again.

According to this item at Medical News Today (Article? Press Release?):

The American Roentgen Ray Society has recently partnered with BioMed Central to add more journals and images to GoldMiner(TM), the ARRS radiology search engine.

BioMed Central, a free database of peer-reviewed scientific articles has contributed over 170 journals, adding over 4,200 images to the GoldMiner™ collection raising the collection to over 170,000 images and over 225 journals.

SO cool. Give it a try and consider showing it to some of your friends in radiology.

Thanks to Pat Erwin for the heads-up!

Jan 29


Made by DSHI Systems (who it appears have been making products like these for at least a few years), FreeMD is meant to be “…an electronic doctor that conducts an interview, analyzes symptoms, and provides expert advice — for free.”

It sounds like a good idea that’d be really hard to execute usefully…but it’s really pretty impressive.

Jan 27

NPR: “Who Needs Libraries?”

Just heard this story from SoundPrint on my local NPR station. If you work in a library, you should go listen to it now.

Who needs libraries?
Produced by: Richard Paul
As more and more information is available on-line, as Amazon rolls out new software that allows anyone to find any passage in any book, an important question becomes: Who needs libraries anymore? Why does anyone need four walls filled with paper between covers? Surprisingly, they still do and in this program Producer Richard Paul explores why; looking at how university libraries, school libraries and public libraries have adapted to the new information world. This program airs as part of our ongoing series on education and technology, and is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Education.

You can listen online (streaming RealMedia audio) for free here.

Streaming Tip: If, like me, you loathe Real Player and don’t want it installed on your computer, I recommend downloading and installing Real Alternative. I’ve been using this for years now with absolutely no complaints.

Jan 27

Your Opinion Please: del.icio.us Link Posts

For about a week, I’ve had del.icio.us set up to create daily posts on this blog to point out things I’ve found interesting but don’t have time to write about individually.

What do you think? Are these good? Helpful? Welcome? Should I keep this set-up?

I’d be grateful to hear any opinions you care to share.



Jan 27

links for 2008-01-27

Jan 25

Mayo and Microsoft to Collaborate on Consumer Health Management Tools

Check out the press release from the Mayo Clinic:

ROCHESTER, Minn., and REDMOND, Wash. — Mayo Clinic Health Solutions and Microsoft Corporation’s Health Solutions Group announced today that they have entered into a strategic agreement to collaboratively develop tools that will empower people to manage their health and become engaged partners with their providers in a new model of health care.

As leaders in their respective industries, both organizations recognize the potential for technology solutions to help bridge the gaps in the health care system, to facilitate closer patient-to-physician connections, and to allow patients and consumers to better manage their health and wellness information. The collaboration will benefit from Microsoft’s significant technology expertise and Mayo Clinic’s experience in health care.

The organizations hope to announce further details of the project before the end of 2008.

“We are committed to finding new technology solutions that put the patient and consumer in control,” says Brooks Edwards, M.D., chief medical officer, Mayo Clinic Health Solutions. “Our work with Microsoft is an exciting opportunity to create tools that empower patients to be in the very center of their own health care environment.”

“Consumers demand and deserve tools that make their lives easier, facilitate communication, and help them take action to manage their health,” says Peter Neupert, corporate vice president, Microsoft Health Solutions Group. “Building on the Microsoft HealthVault platform, our groups are committed to providing individuals with solutions that are dynamic, secure, and focused on the needs of the user, in order to effectively improve health and well-being.”

Wow. Mayo’s name would do a lot to lend respectability to Microsoft’s HealthVault efforts. I’ll be very interested in hearing details about what each organization will bring to their collaborative projects.

I’ll also be interested to know if Mayo is wise enough to bring into these efforts their in-house experts on consumer health information tools- they have great patient libraries and librarians.

Jan 25

links for 2008-01-25

Jan 25


Probably should add this to the List of Medical Wikis…but perhaps I’ll hold off until it is out of private beta.

The mission of The Medpedia Project is to build and support a community of volunteers to organize — and make understandable — the world’s best information about medicine, health, and the body and to make it freely available through the website Medpedia.com.

The Medpedia.com website is currently in private beta. If you would like to join The Medpedia Project, apply to be a Contributor.

Contributors seek to compile the very best search results for 10,000’s of health related terms, as well as establish a neutral point of view in all the content on the site. Contributors know that Quality and Comprehensiveness on Medpedia.com is an ongoing work. Older pages tend to be more comprehensive and balanced, while newer pages tend to be shorter, and may temporarily contain misinformation or vandalism. Search results on Medpedia.com are continually edited and improved by Contributors, generally resulting in an upward trend of quality.

Medpedia.com is maintained by Medpedia.com Inc., a part of Ooga Labs, a technology greenhouse in San Francisco, and runs on Mediawiki, an open source software project which runs many wikis including Wikipedia. Like Wikipedia, the content created on Medpedia.com is freely licensable under the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL).

Medpedia Board of Advisors

* Joseph B. Martin, MD, PhD — Former Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Harvard University
* Linda Hawes Clever, MD, MACP — Clinical Professor, University of California San Francisco Medical School
* Gilbert S. Omenn, MD, PhD — Professor, University of Michigan Medical School

I’m interested to see the application to become an contributor…

…but I’m puzzled to see no critieria for the acceptance of applications.

As a way of building community, Medpedia is also starting up a blog network:

The Medpedia Blog Network is made up of Medpedia Contributors who are also high-quality bloggers that cover medicine and health. The Blog Network helps Contributors find new readers, and helps Medpedia users find other sites with relevant content.

Interesting to see another take on how to administer a medical wiki and it’ll be fun to see how it evolves.

Jan 25

My Resource Review of BioWizard (JMLA)

Big day for me. My Electronic Resources Review of BioWizard was published in the JMLA.

David L. Rothman
J Med Libr Assoc. 2008 January; 96(1): 74. doi: 10.3163/1536-5050.96.1.74.
| Full Text | PDF–988K

Of course, I just realized that BioWizard has significantly changed its interface since I wrote the review. Dangit.

Jan 25

More on wikis for health librarians

Go and read:

Introducing Web 2.0: wikis for health librarians
Eugene Barsky and Dean Giustini
Journal of the Canadian Health Libraries Association
Volume 28, Number 4, Fall 2007
ISSN 1708-6892

It is good, but I thought a good compliment to an article titled “wikis for health librarians” might be to make note of a number of other wikis for health librarians:

Examples of wikis being used by health librarians:

Embedded slideshow above. If you’re reading this in an aggregator that doesn’t display it, you’ll need to visit the site to see the slideshow.

I suspect there are more. Leave a comment and let me know what sites should be added to this list?

Jan 24

BiomedExperts.com, ListServs and The Wrong Orifice

So, from the start I thought BiomedExperts sounded like a pretty neat idea- a social network wherein personal profiles are built with data from PubMed.

From the FAQ:

“Profiles in BioMedExperts (BME) are generated by extracting and assigning the biomedical concepts from an article to the authors and co-authors that are listed with the published article. We have done this on six million scientific publications from over 6,500 journals. BME currently contains profiles of about 1.4 million biomedical experts from more than 150 countries, representing approximately 12 million connections in the pre-established BME network. BME experts can access the system to revise and/or update their personal details, publications and/or preferences”

Huh. Neat. Definitely worth checking out.Tangent: A medical librarian friend describes it to me as “really just an advertisement for Collexis” and its “INCREDIBLY expensive” products. I haven’t looked into that…but even if that’s true, it doesn’t mean that BiomedExperts can’t be useful.

Before I got around to checking it out, though, a discussion blossomed via the Web4Lib listserv. Gerry MckKernan started things out by sharing the known details.

Tom Peters wrote, quite reasonably:

“…Yes, if this proves successful, I think similar things could be created for other disciplines.”

…to which Thomas Krichel replied:

“and another set of nails on the coffins of libraries.”

Whhhaaaaa…? I was baffled- but It seems I wasn’t alone. Jesse Ephraim made me smile with his reply to Thomas Krichel:

“If something like that is a set of nails on the coffins of libraries,then libraries deserve to die out.

We need to quit thinking of these things as challenges to our domain, and start looking at other ways that we can be useful.

Adaptation and change will be the norm from now on.”

I decided upon reading this that I would like to buy Jesse the beverage of his choosing for being so unapologetically correct.

But Thomas Krichel wasn’t done:

“Tell me, if all biomedical scientists were to use biomedexperts, why would the US government still fund PubMed?”

Why WOULDN’T they? BiomedExperts doesn’t compete with PubMed/MEDLINE. Rather, it RELIES on PubMed/MEDLINE. If Mr. Krichel is going to play chicken little, perhaps he could try actually *looking* at the sky before pronouncing it to be in free-fall?

But this was the part that bugged me the most. Jesse Ephraim had said (rightly, I think) that “[a]daptation and change will be the norm from now on.”

Thomas Krichel retorted:

“Go and tell that to the NLM. I am not sure they will obey, but it’s worth a try.”

Again: Whhhaaaaa…? It is far from perfect, but I think PubMed exemplifies pretty well a tool that is constantly adapting, constantly changing. Some days I wish it changed and adapted less. My point: There are privately-funded institutions that innovate a hell of a lot less. Anyone who works in a health sciences library knows how much the NLM has accomplished and continues to accomplish.

I guess I can’t really blame Krichel for not knowing this. A quick look at his C.V. seems to indicate that he doesn’t work with biomedical literature or in a health sciences library- so he can’t be expected to speak knowledgeably about the NLM.

Only on listservs and blogs can you see supposedly educated people speak completely out of the wrong orifice in this manner.

Anyway. As an example, check out T. Scott Plutchak‘s profile in BiomedExperts.
(Click on thumbnail for full-size image.)

Jan 23

links for 2008-01-23

Jan 23

Web Geekery In Recent Literature – 1/23/2007

Items that have recently caught my attention:

Of particular note for nephrologists and those who support them.

  • Adv Chronic Kidney Dis. 2008 Jan;15(1):73-82.
    The internet as a tool for the renal community.
    Buettner K, Fadem SZ .

    American Association of Kidney Patients, Tampa, FL, USA.

    The Internet has impacted health care. With the introduction of the personal health record (PHR), patients have an opportunity to track their physician visits, medications, and laboratory values online in a pleasant and informative learning environment. The PHR is a secure, online, Internet-accessible method of storing and easily retrieving health information about one’s medical history, physician visits, laboratory values, and medications. The American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP) has taken the leadership role in developing a PHR for patients of the kidney community. There are several barriers that patients experience when using the Web for health resources. These include inaccurate or self-serving information and marketing statements that can be misleading and dangerous. Poorly written or inappropriate information for patients can be problematic, as can an abundance of extraneous information. For the most part, the public often has no way to judge what is and is not credible based on the context of the article alone. This article gives the reader a review of several Web resources that are available for patients and also for renal professionals. They are largely from large nonprofit organizations like the AAKP, National Kidney Foundation, Medical Education Institute, American Society of Nephrology, or The Nephron Information Center (nephron.com). This article also reviews sites from The National Kidney Disease Education Program, Hypertension-Dialysis and Clinical Nephrology, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, and DaVita.

    PMID: 18155112

  • Hip the OBs whose information needs you serve to this item:

  • J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2008 Jan;30(1):38-43.
    Access to web-based personalized antenatal health records for pregnant women: a randomized controlled trial.
    Shaw E, Howard M, Chan D, Waters H, Kaczorowski J, Price D, Zazulak J.

    Department of Family Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton ON.

    Objective: During pregnancy, the information needs of patients are high and effective information sharing between patients and health care providers is of particular importance. We conducted a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effect of providing pregnant women with secure access to their antenatal health records on their uptake of, and satisfaction with, relevant information. Methods: Women presenting to a primary care maternity centre before 28 weeks’ gestation were randomized to receive access either to a secure website with links to general pregnancy health information alone (GI group) or to the same website with access to their own antenatal health record (PI group). Primary outcomes included frequency of use, and satisfaction with and perceived usefulness of the web-based information. Results: We approached 199 women regarding participation in the study; 193 agreed to participate, and 97 were randomized to the PI group and 96 to the GI group. The mean number of log-ins to the website in the PI group subsequently was almost six times the number of log-ins in the GI group (10.4 +/- 17.8 vs. 1.8 +/- 1.4; P < 0.001), and 84.2% of log-ins in the PI group accessed the antenatal health record. The responses of participants to questions about the website's ease of use and value in providing information about pregnancy indicated a high level of satisfaction, with no significant difference in responses between groups. Conclusion: Pregnant patients are prepared to use a health information website and web-based health records. When personal information is provided there is greater use than when general pregnancy information alone is provided. Given the almost universal availability of the Internet, this option has the potential for wider application to patient-related outcomes. PMID: 18198066

  • Impact of Web Searching and Social Feedback on Consumer Decision Making: A Prospective Online Experiment

    Annie YS Lau, PhD; Enrico W Coiera, MB, BS, PhD

    Centre for Health Informatics, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
    Corresponding Author:
    Enrico W Coiera, MB, BS, PhD

    Centre for Health Informatics
    University of New South Wales
    Sydney, NSW 2052

    Background: The World Wide Web has increasingly become an important source of information in health care consumer decision making. However, little is known about whether searching online resources actually improves consumers’ understanding of health issues.
    Objectives: The aim was to study whether searching on the World Wide Web improves consumers’ accuracy in answering health questions and whether consumers’ understanding of health issues is subject to further change under social feedback.
    Methods: This was a pre/post prospective online study. A convenience sample of 227 undergraduate students was recruited from the population of the University of New South Wales. Subjects used a search engine that retrieved online documents from PubMed, MedlinePlus, and HealthInsite and answered a set of six questions (before and after use of the search engine) designed for health care consumers. They were then presented with feedback consisting of a summary of the post-search answers provided by previous subjects for the same questions and were asked to answer the questions again.
    Results: There was an improvement in the percentage of correct answers after searching (pre-search 61.2% vs post-search 82.0%, P < .001) and after feedback with other subjects’ answers (pre-feedback 82.0% vs post-feedback 85.3%, P =.051).The proportion of subjects with highly confident correct answers (ie, confident or very confident) and the proportion with highly confident incorrect answers significantly increased after searching (correct pre-search 61.6% vs correct post-search 95.5%, P <.001; incorrect pre-search 55.3% vs incorrect post-search 82.0%, P <.001). Subjects who were not as confident in their post-search answers were 28.5% more likely than those who were confident or very confident to change their answer after feedback with other subjects’ post-search answers (χ21= 66.65, P <.001). Conclusions: Searching across quality health information sources on the Web can improve consumers’ accuracy in answering health questions. However, a consumer’s confidence in an answer is not a good indicator of the answer being correct. Consumers who are not confident in their answers after searching are more likely to be influenced to change their views when provided with feedback from other consumers. (J Med Internet Res 2008;10(1):e2) doi:10.2196/jmir.963

  • Let’s just repeat that last bit again, breaking into its three component parts:

    (1)Searching across quality health information sources on the Web can improve consumers’ accuracy in answering health questions. (2)However, a consumer’s confidence in an answer is not a good indicator of the answer being correct. (3)Consumers who are not confident in their answers after searching are more likely to be influenced to change their views when provided with feedback from other consumers.

    How’s that for a mixed message?

Jan 22

links for 2008-01-22

Jan 22

MedLib Blog Badge at Bobobiblioblog

Le beau (bo) blog d’un bobo bibliothĂ©caire en mĂ©decine – lĂ  oĂą l’on soigne les bobos, dans tous les sens du terme.

If I’m making proper use of translation tools and not being an idiot (bit dicey to make bets on that…), the title of this blog (Bobobiblioblog) appears to be a play on words, saying that the blogger is a “beautiful one” (bo) and, as a medical librarian, a librarian for what anglophonic children might call “boo-boos” (injuries).

Francophones should please correct me if I’m mistaken.

Why is David always on about this badgey stuff? Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!

Previously, I’ve noted the following blogs that display the MedLib Blog badge in their sidebars:

These blogs are:

  1. about medical / health / health sciences / biomedical librarianship;
  2. written by (a) medical librarian(s) or medical library paraprofessional(s);
  3. maintained by a medical library; or
  4. maintained by professional association of medical librarians and/or medical library paraprofessionals.

Hey! My blog has the MedLib Blog badge and you haven’t featured it here!

Sorry! I do try for omniscience, but frequently fall short of this goal. If I’ve missed the badge on your blog or if you’ve just added it, please let me know so I can link to it from here.

Why would I want to add the badge to my blog?

The badge links back to the masterlist of MedLib blogs to indicate the blog’s membership in the growing community (and sense of community) of MedLib blogs(/bloggers). (This should serve also as a reminder to add your blog to this masterlist, if appropriate.)

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

<a href="http://liswiki.org/wiki/Medlib_Blogs">
<img src="http://tinyurl.com/y32hh8/"></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 figure it out together. :)

Jan 21

MedLib Blog Readers Survey: Preliminary Results

Marcus Banks has closed and posted the results of his survey (previously mentioned here) for “librarians who read blogs that are written by health sciences librarians and targeted to other professionals.”

Check out the results here.

I loved seeing the results of Question 5:

5. How do you follow blogs?: 256 responses (1o people skipped this question)

A. Bookmark/check periodically: 61/256 (23.8% of 256)
B. Subscribe via RSS: 188/256 (73.4% of 256)
C. Subscribe via email: 7/256 (2.7% of 256)

So glad to see that so many are sensibly using RSS. 🙂

Also interesting:

6. Of the choices below, what BEST describes the reason you read blogs?: 243 responses (23 people skipped this question)

A. Current awareness about new technologies and tools: 185/243 (76.1% of 243)
B. Source of discussion and debate: 39/243 (16% of 243)
C. Tips on what to read in the professional literature: 13/243 (5.3 % of 243)
D. To increase professional connections: 6/243 (2.5% of 243)
E. Other (please specify): 40 comments. As always, making comments depended upon selecting one of the options provided.

This is exciting:

7. How often do you attempt to incorporate what you read about in librarian blogs in your work?: 261 responses (5 people skipped this question)

A. Very infrequently: 23/261 (8.8% of 261)
B. Somewhat infrequently: 55/261 (21.1% of 261)
C. Somewhat frequently: 110/261 (42.1% of 261)
D. Frequently: 61/261 (23.4% of 261)
E. Very frequently: 12/261 (4.6% of 261)

So…this would seem to indicate that more than 70% of medical librarians who read medlib blogs “frequently” attempt to incorporate what they learn from blogs into their work! Wow!

Can’t wait to hear more about Marcus’ paper.