The story so far…

STweM was created in late November 2008 as a LinkedIn group with the intention of providing a place to discuss how scientific, technical and medical publishing (STM from hereon in) is interfacing with social media.

In an inital burst of cheerleading-enthusiasm, I started a number of discussion threads around things that had caught my eye and that I thought may interest others. Perhaps I should state at this point that my own particular interests are in medical publishing.

Anne Marie Cunningham is a GP and Clinical Lecturer at Cardiff University who both blogs and tweets about medical education and healthcare. Anne Marie took me task yesterday during a wide-ranging conversation about updates to evidence-based medicine (EBM from hereon in) sources and RSS feeds for the fact that the STweM group was hosted within a site that readers had to sign up to read rather than simply being able to browse or link to publically.

I’d like to think that I put up quite a spirited defence (which you can read here) until Anne Marie pointed out that we had conducted a single discussion via four separate channels of communication: email, Twitter, LinkedIn mail and LinkedIn discussion.

I hadn’t even noticed.

This was a compelling demonstration to me of the fact that it is the exchange of ideas that is interesting, not the medium through which they pass, and that as many barriers to communication as can be taken down, should be taken down. ‘First, do no harm’: you certainly don’t want to be creating new ones. As Clay Shirky notes here, a medium only becomes useful once you cease to become fascinated by the enabling technnology: one no longer thinks ‘I am tweeting with a healthcare professional in Australia’, one is merely engaged in understanding and responding to their argument.

To that end, I have cut STweM loose and made it a peripatetic orphan, hopefully with lots of supportive step-parents. Please feel free to comment here, or start a discussion on the LinkedIn group, or follow me reciprocally on Twitter.

I hope that our interactions will be of interest to you, regardless of where or how we conduct them.

4 thoughts on “The story so far…

  1. I’m still thinking about this interaction. I would suggest that Twitter/LinkedIn/email are not really distinct mediums. They are all forms of text-based digital communication. And the medium was the message… the message that they allowed easy communication of ideas between people who had never met.

    • That’s true. However, our ability to switch between these platforms was predicated upon our already being aware of them, having accounts on each of them, and being conversant with their use.

      Rather than their existing within a unified digital environment, we chose to clamber over and into the various walled gardens that they constitute, right?

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