Changing the World through Communication and Simplification

Have you ever sat through a conversation where ten voices carry out a monologue yet no-one interacts with each other? Have you asked questions to others, only to find them trailing off into something that interests them rather than your query? Have you ever had a great idea and had no-one with whom to share your vision?

Have you ever had a thousand ideas and no way to pull them together? Been overwhelmed by the amount of information that is thrown at you day in and day out? Have you ever wished it were more meaningful?

The world needs better communication.

And we need to simplify the data that's being thrown at us in order to make it accessible. For everyone.

And we have most of the tools that we need to build the solution at our fingertips.

One problem that has been concerning me for a number of months is how to get the unconverted onto the digitech bandwagon? While the Internet does not hold the answers to every problem, it provides an excellent platform for communicating ideas with people who think they way you do. Networks on Twitter and LinkedIn help parties who would otherwise be separated by the tyranny of distance connect, collaborate and make real change. Yet, we lose out on the perspective of the thousands of researchers, professionals and interested-but-overwhelmed who just don't know where to start. And you can't exactly advertise on Facebook to get them involved.

Of late, I've taken it as gospel that I should spread the power of Twitter to my friends. I tell them about how it helps me stay motivated in the study of Medicine, how I can reach out to people with amazing ideas, learn about incredible new innovations and spark a flame for changing the world in my belly.  Some brush off my enthusiasm with but all it's for is telling the world you had toast for breakfast. Others have tried and failed, some have succeeded in creating a healthy addiction to broadening their horizons.

Twitter is a good stepping stone, but it's not perfect. It's not easy to collate the many links you've posted, nor is it particularly easy to shift through the recommendations of those you follow. You know you've read something good when you see links posted to the same article for the next three days. But how amazing would it be if you could more easily access these gems? If there were clouds of opinion on the conversation? If it wasn't just the converted waxing lyrical about these proposals? And what if that could be linked to your research, your opinion and studies done by smaller institutions that don't have the clout (but definitely have the evidence) to make it into great journals like The Lancet?  While a number of networks have popped up to tackle each of these problems, there is a hesitancy to create yet another profile to maintain and a reluctancy to replicate the same data over and over again.

So we've got two problems.

  • It's too hard for a newbie to social networking to find their way without guidance.
  • It's difficult for even the most practiced to optimise their interaction with social media.

Which leads to possibly the biggest and most concerning:

  • When interactions are impeded by opaque communication mediums, it is more difficult for great ideas to spread. 

We are still in an age of big data rather than simplified information. If we could mine the data, process it with complex and machine-learning algorithms, we could collate the experiences of interested parties across the globe.

Getting the uninitiated onto the bandwagon involves time off our phones/tablets/computers and talking to those around us. It involves digitech tutorials at large and small conferences.  It involves mentorship from those who understand to those who have yet to find their way. And it means that we need to make these networks simpler to use.

Imagine this - twenty doctors across the entire world are struggling to treat patients with a particularly rare disease. They have all tried different treatments with varying success and, luckily, have kept good records of their patients. (Now, in the future, we'll hopefully have all of this information in de-identified but easily mined data pools for research purposes...but let's worry about that when Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records get off the ground.) Imagine now that these doctors, instead of working on their own, could do something as simple as a case conference over a secure Internet connection. Imagine if they could share what worked and what didn't. Imagine if, together, they could hit upon a number of potential solutions. Through collaboration with researchers, scientists and other health care professionals, they could study their proposed treatments. And maybe find an answer.

Now imagine that these doctors don't need to put any effort into finding each other - a smart network links them together, rather than them trawling their resources for appropriate studies and taking time away from their many other patients.

With a little more tweaking of our data, we can create communication networks that inspire solutions.

We all have ideas.

By collating the data, we take the med out of overwhelmed to create a global action plan.

Together, we reduce the costs of innovation because it's all already out there. And we get things done faster. Which is better for everyone. Everywhere.


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