Rethinking Research in the Era of Social Media

My colleague Dr. Iris Tan ( @endocrine_witch ) and myself recently attended the talk presented by Marc Smith ( @marc_smith ) of Node XL at the Ateneo de Manila University and was awed on how vast the field of social media was and how much we can do with the data drawn from them to push for research in the healthcare field and more. In the study conducted by the Social Media Laboratory at the University of Washington it was shown that by analyzing the Occupy network of blogs, Facebook pages and web sites, they unsurprisingly found that Twitter is an information hub- a place where everyone seems to hear things first and where people are sent to listen for messages. It states that Social network analysis allows researchers to answer questions about the structures of networks. Networks are a fundamental aspect of social media. (Source: http://ipii.oii.ox.ac.uk/sites/ipp/files/images/Eckert_Poster.png)

Wikipedia states that Sina Weibo is a Chinese microblogging website akin to a hybrid Twitter and Facebook and is one of the most popular sites in China in use by well over 30% of internet users with a market penetration similar to the US’ Twitter. About 100 million messages are posted each day, and via this a study was conducted on the effect of air pollution. Based on the University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers estimated air pollution from online posts, for 30 days the UW-Madison team monitored Sina Weibo posts from 108 Chinese cities to see how often people complained about air. The group analyzed the text of the posts as well as a time and space correlation among cities and days since pollution flare-ups typically cover large amounts of territory and can last for days. (Source http://www.news.wisc.edu/23290)

How cool is that! With this being said we’d like to get your thoughts on the following:

T1- How does the use of social media tell us about the future of research in healthcare?
T2- What are the potential challenges to be considered in research conducted via social media?
T3- How can we further collaborate/contribute towards progress in healthcare research in social media?

Join us for another fun and interesting discussion at #HealthXPh on November 22 at 9pm MLA/8am EST! See you!

Image courtesy of http://www.effective-research.com/wpnew/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/team-ideas.jpg

Image courtesy of http://www.effective-research.com/wpnew/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/team-ideas.jpg