This week Seth Godin released We Are All Weird, the latest installment in The Domino Project. Godin suggests that the mass market that defined us over the past couple of generations is dead. Our cultural orientation toward the center of the bell curve (normal) is progressively giving way to fringe groups that lie away from the center. The weird have forgone the comfort and efficiency of the norm in order to do what they want and what they think is right. The rise of the weird has been facilitated by social networks and cheap tools of creativity working in a global economy.
While Godin frames Weird in the context of marketing, his message is applicable to medicine. Our system has for years cultivated its young to think just as the generation before. Disruption is discouraged. We like things just as they are.
But for the first time in history, our global network has given a platform to those in medicine who might not have had a voice. It has allowed those with divergent views to find one another. I suspect that just as with mass marketing, the medical industrial complex will show fragmentation of its center based on smart solutions coming from the edge. In the coming years real medical innovation may very well arise from the creative freedom of the private sector. Academic medicine desperately needs the culture, energy and free range attitude found at places like the MIT Media Lab.
Jay Parkinson at the Stanford Summit/Medicine 2.0 Congress detailed his own unique story in medicine and captured beautifully the danger of uniform medical thinking. While I may not always agree with Jay, he’s weird and smart, which is why I find him so relevant. If you can get your hands on the Stanford Summit footage his remarks are worth your time.
So if you look at doctors up close, we’re all weird. We’ve just been trained to look one way.
Pick up Seth Godin’s We Are All Weird and look for the corollaries in medicine. It’s a quick read. Then tell me if you don’t agree.
Links to We Are All Weird are Amazon affiliate links.