Healthcare Organizations are All a-Twitter

May 6, 2009

Just a Tweet Away | Articles & Archives | Healthcare Informatics.

Key article in the May, 2009 Issue of Healthcare Informatics.

AxisPortals’s favorite passages:  

I don’t want them just to know what our strategic plan is or what our IT plan is.  People like to work with people, and so this is a mechanism of letting my personality show, along with what we’re trying to accomplish as a healthcare organization, and as an IT organization.–Will Weider, CIO Affinity Health System, and Ministry Health Care.


Some might argue that e-mail is sufficient for staying in touch with employees, and that social media is just another obligation for already busy executives, but Weider, who receives hundreds of e-mails every day, says he can better manage his time with sites like Twitter by more quickly sorting through messages.  By limiting posts and direct messages to 140 characters or fewer, the site forces users to communicate as efficiently as possible.

AxisPortals Aphorism:  Social media personalizes communication, and supports institutional growth and education.


The Small Business: Bridging the Digital Divide II

May 1, 2009

All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players:

They have their exits and their entrances;

And one man in his time plays many parts

AxisPortals quotes Shakespeare this morning for two reasons.  First,  she loves the Bard of Avon, and does hate to miss an opportunity to work in some of those classic lines.  Second and more importantly, though, it occurs to AxisPortals that all the world’s a multimedia, interactive social network, and that the wise small business will therefore provide its web visitors with plenty of opportunities–plenty of entrances, if you will–to interact with both the site and with the business itself.

So, how to go about making your website not only a static web presence, but an active staging area for forging interactions, relationships, and connections? Here are few quick and simple approaches:

  1. Icons and Badges and Buttons, Oh My!  The major social and business networking platforms all make it very easy to create attractive, clickable connections to your profiles so that visitors can quickly connect to you and interact with you.   FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Plurk, for instance, all provide easy, built-in badge or widget creation tools.  Some of these simply provide links to your social networking profile.  Others actually display your status updates and activities.  Simply customize your page to suit your purposes and the style of your destination page, then copy the code and insert it into your website or blog.  Then, your web visitors can rapidly scan your online network, and can easily connect with you. If you are working with a web designer, ask him or her to work with you to ensure that your website and/or blog include badges that represent your main public social and business networking profiles.
  2. It’s Alive, It’s Alive:  Every website does need some core information that is relatively static (though religiously kept fresh and up to date) and always easy to find.  For instance, you will want to ensure that your contact information and product and service descriptions are stable and easy to access.  However, today’s web is multimedia driven.  That means that your small business website would do well to incorporate not only polished prose but also arresting graphics and absorbing audio and video elements that not only inform and create interest, but also make it easy for users to share your key content with others.    Note, for instance, how effectively the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Health and Human Services have leveraged podcasts and videos to disseminate authoritative information about the Influenza A H1N1 virus. Multimedia elements bring your website to life, often quite literally giving it a voice.
  3. Feed Me!  Websites are a lot like teenagers:  they require nearly constant feeding.  Fortunately, the web itself provides abundant sustenance for your business site in the form of newsfeeds.  Select appropriate newsfeeds based on the nature and focus of your business. What kinds of information can you feed to your site that will most interest and best serve your visitors, whether they are current or prospective clients?  Once you identify the relevant feeds, configure RSS widgets to match the style of your site, and embed the feeds in your pages.  Embedded news feed widgets ensure that there are areas of continuously refreshed content on your site.  Embedded podcast widgets are also a good idea, for they not only offer all of the advantages of a feed, but also add another multimedia element to your site.
  4. We Really Have to Talk:  You might also consider adding real-time discussion tools to your site.  If real-time web-based discussion plays a major role in your business plan and you can devote personnel to monitoring your online chat tools, then investigate paid services such as Bold Chat, Volusion’s LiveChat,  or WebsiteAlive.  If you are just beginning to explore the possibilities of real-time web-based discussion, then it might be worthwhile to experiment some of the free or less expensive tools, such as those offered by Meebo and CoffeeCup. Embedding your Skype badge also introduces an element of real-time communication to your site.

AxisPortals Aphorism:  Make your website an active staging area for forging interactions, relationships,  connections, involvement.



January 15, 2009

As a fan of mind mapping tools–and as one of the many who appreciate that presentation tools can be used really well but are predominantly abused–AxisPortals has been having an especially good time experimenting with Prezi.

 Because this new mind mapping and presentation tool is not at all driven by division into slides, anyone who is very familiar with a more typical slide show tool  will probably need to create several experimental Prezi-tations before its distinctive flow starts to feel really natural, but it’s well worth the effort.  Watching the demo videos on the site and interacting with the sample presentations there is also helpful.

Definitely worth the effort.

AxisPortals Aphorism:  Think Outside of the Slide


I See What You Mean

January 5, 2009

We have access to so much information that it can be difficult to keep track of it all, to make use of it all, or even to sort through some relatively small segment of it so that the information is relavant, reasonably clear, and useful.  AxisPortals is a fan of the visualization tools that transform data into graphic representations that are accessible to mere mortals.  Here are some current favorites:

  1. XMind‘s concept mapping and brainstorming tool is appealing on several levels.  First, it’s very easy to use, and can be downloaded for free.  This makes it an extremely appealing alternative to Mindjet’s MindManager, which is awesomely powerful and plays beautifully with the MS suite of tools, but is unfortunately quite expensive–even prohibitively so in some settings.  XMind is available in a pro version that offers additional features, but even the pro version only costs a very affordable $50.00 a year or so.  Plus, XMind has a social networking/collaboration element that makes it especially useful and appealing.
  2. IBM’s Many Eyes is quickly capturing imaginations and users, and is already powering The New York Times Visualization Lab.  Many Eyes makes it possible for users either to connect and visualize  data sets that they upload themselves, or to connect and visualize preexisting data sets that others have already uploaded.  Even plain text can be uploaded and examined from several visual angles.  (Many Eyes has  recently incorporated a Wordle generation feature, which makes it possible very quickly to see central ideas and overall patterns in a text based on word frequency.)
  3. AxisPortals has also been experimenting with Personal Brain.  This tool can manage conceptual relationships of great depth and complexity, and is a more creative, less map and flowchart oriented visualization tool.  See the Top Twelve Uses  for potential applications.  The free demo version includes all of the Pro class features for the first thirty days of the trial.  There are also some terrific tutorials available to ease the learning curve.

Visualization tools can help us explore and manage all sorts of complicated information, from the ideas and emerging inventions knocking around in our very own noggins to the facts and statistics stored in databases.  Best of all, these tools can help us formulate new ideas. 

AxisPortals Aphorism:  Seeing plays a crucial role in generating and sharing meaning. 


Seeing makes meaning.