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Monthly Archives: May 2012

Wikis to books worth experimenting

I often make the point that we spend too much time clicking on links, rather than spending time on the meaning of what we read.

So I thought of experimenting with PediaPress, a service that lets you convert Wikipedia pages into a book.

The book? On Clark University - for my son’s graduation today.

Knowing fully well that information on the university will change, did not bother me. In fact, that’s precisely why I wanted to do it. After all, Wikipedia content is not exactly writ in stone, could be considered as relevant for a moment in time.

(If you’ve been watching how pages get edited, and the edit wars that ensue over single words or phrases, you’ll know that this ‘moment’ sometimes changes several times an hour as a result of furious edit wars!) I want the book to be a sort of  time capsule that he could one day look back on.

PediaPress is basically offering a print on demand (POD) service, but the beauty of this is how simple they have made the steps. There’s very limited customization (the cover and title, plus a preface), but the layout of pages and sections are very clean.

I would have liked a bit more customization, such as:

  • The ability to move photographs and charts into separate pages
  • Uploading my own photograph for the cover, and a few others for other pages
  • An acknowledgment or title page
  • Adding text to back cover

But as this was an experiment, I was willing to take the risk.

Other risks. For a different project, say trying to compile a short compendium of knowledge on a breaking news event, or a current topic, using Wikipedia as the source of content is more risky. While the Creative Commons license gives anyone permission to use and re-purpose content, one has to me meticulous about accuracy.

I began to wonder of there are other similar services that let you blend knowledge from multiple sources, and let you add chapters to the book. I’ve looked at Blurb, which offers a Blog-to-Book option. Lulu also has a great service. a cookbook/ A book of poetry/ Wikipedia has a rich selection.

Give it a try!

 

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Time magazine’s cover sells, enrages

I’m a great fan of and subscriber to Time magazine. I’ve been used to their shift to become more edgy over the past few years –perhaps in order to stay in business. But this caught me off guard.

Last Friday, when it arrived, I left the magazine on the counter, not thinking too much about the mother and child cover. Another mother’s day angle, I surmised. My wife was shocked, and my daughter probably was even more.

I could see the firestorm emerging. But it’s coming from several interesting sides, especially those enraged by the ‘Mom enough’ question, and also the challenging pose of the breastfeeding mom. The “this creeps me out” reaction from mothers was quite common, and I bet Time wanted This kind of reaction, as the buzz was good for newsstand sales.

Time magazine is not just a news outfit. It’s a marketing machine. I’ve noticed that recently it often makes a big point about how a story gets more web traffic than any other story, or has has more letters to the editor etc. I also get it. Covers need to be provocative, and even stimulate a conversation. But in this instance I think Time went too far. Here’s why:

The headline. Reading the article, it seems to have very little to do with adequacy or inadequacy of mothers, and their feeding methods. Connecting that headline to the stand-up feeding pose, seems like it is posing an unspoken question: “Would you be brave enough to do what I am doing? (with my one hand on my hip, too!)”

The eye contact. They probably took a lot of angles of this mother-and-child. (They had great inspiration, apparently)

 

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Healthcare, now a social, not private affair!

Time was when someone would keep his/her healthcare concerns under the hood, so to speak. A health complication would be kept within the family; the unwritten doctor-patient privacy act was upheld.

Now? We seem to be ready to blab more about it. or, to put it another way, patients are more than ready to take to social media to discuss health-related issues in the open. Some examples

This latest report by PwC recognizes this, and gives you a more granular look at how the private concerns of those seeking healthcare have become closely intertwined with their social media behavior.

For example:

  • Nearly a quarter of people in the US (24%) post something about their healthcare experience.
  • 16 % share health-related videos and images!

It gets more interesting, in the face of concerns about invasion of privacy and health information.

  • Some 30% of people are willing to share their health-elated information with other patients, using social channels.
  • Also, 80% of 18-24 year-olds are likely to share health information through social media. 80 percent! You could find out more here at the PwC site.

This ought to have huge implications for healthcare companies, and even medical practitioners who have been concerned that their connecting with patients could run afoul with health information privacy, or HIPAA, laws. Physicians have been behind the curve. Sermo, their online community, has just 130,000 users, but one study found that while 87% of physicians use at least one social media site at a personal level, only 67% are using at least one site for professional reasons.

 
 

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