Archive for February 2008

Visual Global Sensing

February 27, 2008

Could the mashup of Flickr + geovisualization generate a global Panopticon?  Robert Ouellette’s Gagglescape tipped me off to Flickr’s World Vision, a constantly circulating slide show of extraordinary images picked up from every point on the globe.


The slideshow effect is mesmerizing, because these are images you would not be finding otherwise, it’s unlikely you would search for or find any of these in association with other images or keywords.  It has the effect of an autonomous global intelligence, a reminder that everyone else, everywhere, has a point of view, a location, and a camera. Flickrvision gives me new reason to actually post on Flickr for the fun of it, not just when there’s something to share.


Facebook is your Permanent Record

February 12, 2008

But you knew this already if you used it. You didn’t think they would just let you leave when you’re done, did you? In Sunday’s International Herald Tribune: “On Facebook, Leaving is Hard to Do:”

While the Web site offers users the option to deactivate their accounts, Facebook servers keep copies of the information in those accounts indefinitely. Indeed, many users who have contacted Facebook to request that their accounts be deleted have not succeeded in erasing their records from the network.

Their Terms of Service made this clear, actually. You don’t own your own data. Maybe Gen Z’ers don’t hear this anymore, but when I was growing up “they” would terrify kids into behaving by  telling you your mishaps and evil deeds would go down in your permanent record. I always thought the record was the file on every student kept in the principals office, and perhaps that was good enough. (If you’ve ever gone through a security clearance, you know they look at those). Now, though, people are creating their own persistent, accessible, socially interconnected records that may not be reflective of actual work, social, and personal relationships. They are reflective of the attributes allowable and encouraged by Facebook culture. You don’t own these entries – they do, and they’re in business to sell them as a bundle of relationships, a kind of social CDO, a subprime mortgage on your online footsteps.

Besides, trying to outdo Facebook by social networking in the real world is a lot more fun. People get to have lunch, talk together, and agree to keep secrets.

Multisensory Medical Informatics

February 7, 2008

Wow – The Wii earns my respect as a serious haptic interface. A University of Arizona team has shown improvements in fine hand motor skill developed from exercises in continuous practice of the Wii for simulated laproscopy.

I’ve interacted with the virtual gall bladder removal and cauterization simulation at Riverside Methodist hospital’s Virtual Care Unit. It tallied a game score just like a Wii game – but the Wii interface may have leveled the playing field by making it possible to learn and tune fine-grained motor skills in the context of purposeful (and cheap) simulations.

The virtual OR lab at the National Center for Collaboration in Medical Modeling and Simulation has been developing alternatives to learning hands-on procedures, primarily based on practice of motor routines in roughly simulated situations. Mark Scerbo, human factors psychologist (and a Cincinnati grad), explains:

“It’s like doing very sophisticated surgery with chopsticks in your hands,” Scerbo said. “It takes a lot of training to look at a two-dimensional display and understand what your instruments are doing. There’s a real need to train doctors, and not on patients.”

Surgeon Leonard Weireiter said: “It turns out you don’t need the high-fidelity haptics. It’s the repetitive practice of the motion that counts.”

Consider the similarity to sports psychology research that shows significant performance improvements from visualization exercises and mental practice. The brain-body system entrains toward the optimal physical movements, timing, and interaction with devices over practice, even when roughly simulated.

Impact on Medical Practice?

Healthcare informatics and e-Learning are rapidly evolving, from several directions –  clinical decisionmaking, patient eMR and personal healthcare records, consumer health information, drug information, resident education, specialist informatics, nursing education, genomics, institutional workflow, finance and insurance integration, and collaborative diagnostics. (I’d link all these to examples, but this was a handful just to type – if I get a reply, I’l do the links!)

Healthcare services and institutions represent a massive information ecology and infoconomy. A significant activity for design research involves understanding these resources and content sources as living, growing players in an ecosystem that cannot be designed, but rather interfaced, linked, connected, and metadatabased. We need ways to visualize the resources, ontologies/taxonomies and information objects available in the overall emerging system – a picture of the stable niches, emerging services, publishers and providers, institutions and their drivers, the relationships among these, and the size/impact of each service in the overall scheme of things. (Let me know if you find one!)