Social Tools Don’t Create New Motivations

December 13, 2011

Clay Shirky in Here Comes Everybody suggested, “Social tools don’t create new motivations so much as amplify existing ones.”  People use applications to meet a need.

I often tell the story of a pediatrician friend I met for lunch a couple of years back.  After ‘selling’ him on the merits of blogging and Twitter, he countered by suggesting that he had no use for social media.  Recently divorced and 8 years from retirement with a closed practice, his kids were in college and all he really cared about was his digital photography.   He was quite at peace with a few IRL friends and his camera.  It was hard to build the case for an investment in new relationships.

This doctor wasn’t motivated in any way to create, curate or converse.  Social tools, perhaps sadly, were unlikely to change that fact.

Those looking to build social applications for physicians should heed Shirky’s words.  If it doesn’t facilitate something that doctors already need or want to do, you’ll never get adoption.

Link to Here Comes Everybody is an Amazon affiliate link.


Amy December 13, 2011 at 3:05 pm

My group is looking for a guest speaker to describe the use of technology in healthcare, nursing clinical education (professional development post licensure), and patient education (engaging patients through current media). I follow your Blog and Twitter and thought I would ask if you would like to share some of your work to date. If this is something that interests you, we could discuss further specifics about this opportunity.

Thank you,


Happy holidays!


Clinical Nurse Specialist – Breast Cancer Continuum

The James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute

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Dave Miller December 14, 2011 at 3:47 am

As a third year osteopathic medical student, I consistently find that the older generation of docs (such as you highlight in your story) are being dragged into social media kicking and screaming (if at all) where as my generation needs to be reigned in and taught etiquette and restraint. Hopefully more medical schools will commit some curriculum time to developing this emerging tool, which will be shaping medicine for some time to come.

Kaushick Naidu December 14, 2011 at 1:42 pm

I wonder if he will have the same reaction to private social networks such as this one

Rachel December 19, 2011 at 3:24 pm

All the social media possibilities – with just a camera. Maybe he should looking into photo blogging and Flickr just for fun. :)

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