Steven Krein of Organized Wisdom and I sat down in a Starbucks in Philadelphia last month to talk about healthcare, HIT, online health search, etc. I left the meeting with a really fascinating offer to collaborate and a really tough question to answer...
Steve asked me at that meeting how I use Twitter, and whether or not my process was replicable.
Stumped, at the time I answered that I had no idea - use/posting to Twitter was just a semi -automatic stream of consciousness flow of links and concise commentary.
On the train back to DC, I started thinking, hard, about how I use Twitter. Would it actually be possible to identify components of the process in order to explain, and yes, teach the process?
After a lot of thought, I figured sure, why not? But test the process. See if it works for you.
So here goes, what I do on Twitter...
Here's a short summary of my four step process, DPSR, involving these components:
1. Data Gathering
If you break a specific action, say posting a link on Twitter, down into these 4 parts, you can begin to measure, analyze, and visualize how you're spending your time (or wasting it).
Try this: Pick a link from your email inbox (say MedPage). Here's DPSR in action:
- D = reading the email news digest ~ 5 mins
- P = finding relevant link on breast cancer ~ 2 mins
- S = reading the article, thinking about who's interested in this type of research, where to post it, do I need it for anything on which I'm working, etc. ~12 mins
- R = tweet the link ~ 30 secs
However, most people are spending the majority of their time on D or R - reading through a ton of information in depth. It's complete data overload, and it fries the fuses faster than Christmas with the in-laws.
You should be spending the majority of your time on processing and synthesis. Pare down your incoming data streams until you know they're at least 75% likely to give you something useful during data gathering.
If an e-newsletter, magazine, or newspaper isn't giving you good actionable data, parse it out.
NOTE: It's important here *not to cut yourself off from a small % of 'pure' research sources - sometimes an idea springs from a completely unexpected source like looking at the Red Envelope catalog. I am not a machine.
I waste some time reading historical romance narratives and watching C-grade movies on iTunes. Cut yourself some slack.
Useful information is that which helps you synthesize new synaptic connections between content and coherent usage - sometimes the benefit of a source is generative rather than redistributive. And sometimes useful information just helps you recharge, a la the approximately 10% of time I spend "personal" tweeting on Twitter.
NOTE: Can't state this strongly enough - always, always, keep your end audience and end action goal in mind.
- What specific goals (quantitative and qualitiative) should your time spent help you and others achieve?
- Do you want to start 2 debates per week on revolutionizing primary care?
- Find a good researcher with whom to collaborate on a paper by February 1st?
- Get 10 health colleagues interested in an event?
- Engage someone, *anyone* in a conversation about what's going on with your health?
If you don't have goals for how you use Twitter, you're wasting a significant amount of time and energy twittering about.
Cathartic, yes, but then you're missing out on the significant collective power of the health/medical Twittersphere.
And healthcare needs full asset utilization, full speed ahead, not more empty talking-head commentary.
And now, practicing what I preach. With that, back to processing...