Wes Fisher’s take on the slow death of the medical blogosphere is something to look at. I suspect most doctors reading his post will have no idea what he’s talking about. To understand the fabric of the medical community before social media requires having seen it. It was a world connected by nothing other than blogrolls, dynamic comment threads and the memorable blog carnival.
More doctors, less organization. While the traditional medical blog may be going the way of FriendFeed, physicians are present in public in greater numbers. They would appear, however, increasingly disconnected. I would agree with Wes that their presence is less about doctorly togetherness and more about personal presentation. Perhaps this reflects the broader trend of physician disorganization. Some physician-to-physician bonds have given way to physician-patient connections. Many physicians find community in their own corners of the web in their specialties or areas of interest. We just don’t see it.
New forms of creation. There’s an assumption that the only way that doctors can meaningfully create and share is in long-form copy delivered in reverse chronology, Blogger style. But the world relates differently now. Video is the preferred medium of some. Microblogging is a viable means of communication and it suits the piecemeal schedules of others. Images do things that copy can’t. These media are different, not better or worse than long-form writing.
Very few create. Keep in mind that the vast majority of the planet consumes information, few create. Doctors are no exception. In the early days the medical blogosphere attracted and amplified the voice of a courageous minority who ventured out to find themselves and create the earliest iteration of digital culture. Still, very few created.
The web amplifies our differences. Most importantly I think we’re all finding our voices and recognizing that we don’t say and think the same thing. Public media amplifies our passions and beliefs that aren’t always about medicine. The most passionate physician voices aren’t sharing journal articles or talking shop.
So while the blogosphere of the early-mid 2000’s may be part of history, I don’t think public doctors are going away. We just share, create and relate differently.