My Twitter Integration/Use Methodology: DPSR

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

2. Processing

3. Synthesis

4. Redistribution

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
This is DPSR done *right. Picture what a pie chart of this activity might look like...

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...


Anonymous said...

Jen: A thoughtful and well reasoned un-bundling of process and intention in this space. Conscious, relevant and purposeful threads that add value will be a challenge as the Twittersphere continues to gain mass and the tendency towards mindless echolalia grows.

Drew said...

Thanks Jen. This problem has been at the front of my brain for a while now. With endless RSS items and even endlesser Tweets, my time spent thinking about stuff has diminished. Do you set aside time to just think? Removing yourself from online distraction? I've also considered limiting my health care information intake since it's mostly more of the same every day. But then again I don't want to miss something I shouldn't. This problem isn't going away...