Collaborative Learning in Health 2.0; 23andMe in Second Life

Today I attended a presentation by B2C genomics firm 23 and Me in Second Life. The meetup was organized by Berci Mesko of ScienceRoll.

You can see my blue dinosaur avatar in the middle of this "postcard" (avatar name: Niffer Quandry).

It was my first foray into Second Life - I'll admit I'd been hesitant to venture into the SL world after hearing large numbers of Second Lifers use it as an online Red Light district.

However, I didn't have to wade through cyberhookup offers...organizer Berci Mesko was kind enough to Tweet me a teleport link.

He's got great coverage of the event here. I'll be attending any Second Life events Berci organizes, and would encourage you, dear readers, to do the same.

You can also search Twitter for "#23andme" to follow some livetweeting (Berci Mesko's Twitter name is @Berci).

After being able to follow the latest in 23 and Me's strategic planning via a live chat, I'm now a Second Life convert.

A few reasons I'll use Second Life for Health 2.0 collaborative learning:

1. Better ROI - Guaranteed: It was a hell of a lot cheaper than traveling to see 23andMe present. Cost to attend: Free. Information obtained: Priceless. And if you don't like the content, you can just fly away. Literally. Unlike at a conference, where you (or your employer) has paid big bucks to put you up for the duration. And the collaborative benefits are huge. Health 2.0 firms tend to be responsive and agile early adopters of social networking and new tech, so it'll be interesting to see how many use SL in future PR/communications campaigns.

2. More Interesting Q&A: People asked wackier questions and really pushed the envelope during the post-chat Q&A portion. Interesting questions = more valuable, revealing answers. I asked if 23andMe had any plans to partner with a genetics counseling firm as an add on service for consumers who were interested in this a la carte, which was completely off topic. I didn't get an answer, so I'll try again via other channels.

3. Flying in Second Life was a blast (hey, I didn't say they were all GOOD reasons...).

4. Credibility is established beforehand. Berci organized the Medical Bloggers Panel I'll be participating in at Medicine 2.0 in Toronto this September, so if he says he's putting on a meetup, I'm there. Like an invitation to join a panel or conference call from a trusted colleague, I know the quality of anything Berci puts together, so I knew it would be well worth time spent logging in and creating an avatar, etc.

5. Speed. You can organize a press conference, presentation, or interview in Second Life within hours. A brick-and-mortar event would take days (at least). This allows hospitals and healthcare companies to respond quickly to breaking news. At a bare minimum, an SL presentation should augment your current strategy. But you can be much more creative with the medium, like using it to demo designs for a new facility. Several hospitals, including the Palomar Pomerado group, are already using Second Life to increase strategic transparency, online and offline. In effect, Second Life provides free focus groups on steroids.

Speaking of speed, timing of the presentation couldn't be more fortuitous.

Although the Second Life chat didn't dive specifically into California's cease-and-desist debacle, 23 and Me just released a politely worded refusal (check out Wired coverage here).

Let's see how long it will be before someone in Cali picks up the transcript from today's Second Life event and uses it....My guess is 48-72 hours.

And I bet
Wired will pick up buzz about the event on Twitter and use some material inside the next, oh, 4 hours (Alexis, are you reading?)


Knight said...

Great post. I was following your tweets, but glad to see it all compacted. Also read Berci's post on the event as well. I have not had a successful time navigating through SL - although I only gave it about 30 mins last summer. I will have to check out the next one!


Berci Meskó said...

Thank you so much, Jen! You're too nice to me. I can't wait to meet you in Toronto.