With our experience with Gwagle and the lessons learnt, I look on the explosion of clinical social networks with some interest and increasingly little expectations. A few interesting recent posts on the subject:
- Clarifying “Social (Network* OR Media)” – David Rothman
- Top web 2.0 services in medicine – Dean Giustini
- Another list of biomedical communities – Bertalan Meskó
I feel that many of these social network initiatives are technology led, not user led and are likely to suffer as a result. It’s easy to look on at the likes of Facebook and think – ‘we can do that’. The likes of Ning have made entry minimal but still there appears to be no obvious social networks for clinicians that have made significant impacts.
The reasons for this are no doubt complex, but a few thoughts are below:
- Many clinicians have developed social networks and real ones at that!
- Social networks typically need a critical mass to make them useful.
- Still too early on in the innovation ‘cycle’ to make it mainstream – this point could be said about many web 2.0 initiatives (e.g. blogs, social bookmarking etc)
For an overt social network to do well it needs to package itself differently and I have no idea how that might look. I think a better chance of success is to try and create a clinical social network at the back-end of other websites and help them power community aspects. I would also like to see some efforts at an opensocial initiative for clinical sites. If these very small sites could – loosely – band together it might just create a site big enough to have a critical mass.
I keep wondering if trust is a keypoint in all this?
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