Post-It Note pearls have become popular among doctors. These are little nuggets of medical wisdom packaged on Post-It Notes and left on hospital wards and clinic workroom spaces. Elements of complex anatomy or critical, pithy differentials are boiled down to simple diagrams and infographics offering just what we need to know. Found in places and spaces where you might not think about learning, the Post-It Pearl meets doctors just where they’re at. Design wunderkind Bon Ku floated these gems on Twitter this weekend.
But why have Post-It pearls hit critical mass now? The Post-It Note was introduced in 1977 but I can’t say that I ever saw them consistently bearing clinical pearls before 2-3 years ago. I’m sure they existed but they hadn’t reached the threshold of Internet meme. Our capacity to shoot and share has something to do with it, I’m sure.
Perhaps it relates to attention. Om Malik has suggested that instead of space, the true limitation of the Internet is attention. The Post-It pearl perched in front of us on a computer screen or wall of a call room. hits us when we least expect it. And the ask of the physician consumer is limited. For the Post-It pearl producer it represents a form of constrained media that is ‘easy, low-friction and social,’ to borrow from an Andrew Chen 2011 tweet.
Algorithmic techniques use the vast memories and processing power of computers to manipulate swirling nebulae of data to find answers. The social tools help us find what’s interesting by using our friends’ choices as guides.
Clinical pearls have always played a critical part of education and medicine. But I can’t help but think that the Post-It pearl as a social tool and information solution is a sign of the times.