October 8, 2013

One of most important words in medicine may be translation.  Not language translation but the digital translation of knowledge.  Translation is about taking what’s in our head and converting it to something that’s retrievable.

As physicians we have amazing mindshare.  Our knowledge and wisdom should be converted into media that can be consumed. This ability to translate to digital what we know, understand and can do represents a new skill for doctors.  Call it a literacy if you like.  Stories, hacks, techniques, pearls and unique explanations represent the stuff worth translating.  Translation works in text, video, sound and image.

Our wisdom can take be shared in microform with 140 characters.  It can take the form of a free, open-access Sound Cloud recording or a Khan Academy style video.  Perhaps you have a unique method of explaining renal tubular acidosis or maybe you have a hack for placing a central venous catheter.  FOAM embodies translation in its most basic, democratized form.

On the higher end translation may take the form of an iBook or a MOOC available to thousands of medical consumers.  And one great idea or explanation can have a cross-platform life using multiple media reaching different people across the globe.

Focused or broad, translation will emerge as a type of content strategy for organizations.  Medical schools and institutions must begin to see themselves as professional producers and translators – accessible wisdom should be seen as a digital asset.  Translation and creation should be viewed as academic brand publishing that requires resources and governance.

As translation begins to happen, expect a land grab for physician, student and educator attention.  And for good reason: Translated wisdom draws attention – the right attention.  It has immeasurable value for our audiences.  And in our networked economy, according to Kevin Kelly, where there’s attention, there’s money.

Medical schools and physicians harbor the knowledge to change the way the world understands itself.  The platforms for helping that knowledge change hands are becoming cheaper, easier and more accessible.

As medical education consolidates in digital form, expect there to be those who have translated and those who have not.

{ 1 comment }

michael negraeff October 10, 2013 at 11:37 am

There’s something so important in many of your posts that makes me feel I’m standing on the edge of somewhere filled with awe at the possibility and potential, yet also so uncertain that there is great anxiety too. I’m not sure how to put it into better words. I feel I must do something in this direction is all I know.

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