EBM and Clinical Support Librarians@UCHC

A blog for medical students, faculty and librarians about their use of evidence based medicine, clinical literature, Web 2.0, sources and search strategies

Category Archives: Virtual Environments

The Friday Post #46: That old Cardiac Rythmn, Medical Fiction and Jude Law

This is the Friday Post #46 for Feb 5 2010.  Let’s consider matters of the human heart because St. Valentine’s Day will be here soon, and because this is National Wear Red Day, a public service campaign aimed toward women which promotes awareness of cardiovascular health and fitness, sponsored by the American Heart Association.

Systole/Diastole Song

…. Ha ha ~  It’s a bit repetitious

Video Source/Credit: YouTube.com – All rights reserved – Copyright 2010


The Mad Professor does the ECG Dance

What a way to learn Normal Sinus Rhythm!

Video Source/Credit: YouTube.com – All rights reserved – Copyright 2010

My goodness, don’t his arms get tired?


Finally:  It’s no secret that this blogger needs some good strong coffee in the morning in order to get moving, wake up and be productive.  It snowed on Wednesday morning here in the Northeast, making for an ugly, accident-ridden commute.  Getting to work a bit late, and getting a cup of French Roast, I sat down to my computer to check my email and the latest medical news online.

Then I checked my blog statistics, which linked to an item on the Health Blog from Wall Street Journal, which led me to a news item on Digg advertising something called “The Union“.

(Disclaimer:  This is about medical fiction, Hollywood style, folks!)

Image Source: http://Digg.com – All rights reserved – Copyright 2010

It gets weirder: The link opens a website named UnionCares.com, a glossy page with sincere video testimonials, lush graphics and a catalog of high-tech mechanical human organs for sale, at high-cost and extreme profit to the ruthless company that created them.  And payment plans.

The fictional items “for sale” look like they were manufactured by the same industrial designers who created the Terminator.

Image Credit: http://www.theunioncares.com/ – All rights reserved – Copyright 2010


This site gave me a nasty shock… did I miss hearing about something really big having to do with trends in transplantation?!  Was this a French Roast-coffee-deprivation thing clouding my reasoning abilities at 930am?

Thank God they’re not real.  The whole site is a promotion for a film (whew) due to be released in March 2010, called Repo Men.

This is not the same movie as the classic 1984 film, Repo Man, or the 2008 musical.  And Jude Law is in this film… !

However, seeing that artificial liver left me feeling a bit sick… so I finished the coffee, skipped the donut.


That’s the Friday Post #46 for Feb 5 2010, folks.  Have a great weekend and good luck on exams next week!


The Friday Post #45: Hapless Medical Student, StoryBird and Moonbows

This is the Friday Post #45 for Jan 22 2010.

First, thanks to Educational Origami (a favorite blog/wikis for educational and instructional ideas) for the link to StoryBird where you can sign up to create your own story, or collaborate with others to create a shared story.  The artwork is fabulous!


Very cool


Next: A Day in the Life of a 3rd Year Medical Student who essentially can’t do much of anything right.

Source Credit:  Youtube.com – All rights reserved – Copyright 2009


Finally:  Take a moment and watch this amazing Time-Elapsed Moonbow

Source Credit:  Youtube.com – All rights reserved – Copyright 2009

That’s the Friday Post #45, folks.  Enjoy your weekend!

Visualization, PBL: Visit with Wordle Occasionally

One aspect of participating in problem-based learning is that by the end of the semester, every student in the group has taken their turn at the group tasks involved, which are:

  • The Reader narrates the case as it is made available online. The written case with any supporting visual materials such as radiology or histology about the patient are posted on Blackboard and are no longer distributed in paper handouts.
  • The Scribe is the person with the marker who listens to the groups’ discussion and synthesis of the pertinent data about the patient such as chief complaint, presentation, past medical history, current labs values, medications, tests to be ordered, treatments to begin, etc.  They are writing down the data, hypotheses, learning issues as they become available.
  • Before every student in the room brought a computer to class — which sounds like the olden days but it was less than 6 years ago — the Scribe may or may not have been the one creating hand-drawn concept maps of that week’s PBL work.  Nowadays, concept maps are created not by drawing on the whiteboard but by using CMap, a free software program from IHMC (Institute for Human and Machine Cognition).  This brings on a new role in the group: Concept Mapper.
  • The Facilitators mostly listen, occasionally asking clinically-oriented questions or providing a bit of background or narrative about a patient, a procedure or a disease without being “teacherly”.
  • Each week, one person bakes and brings in goodies for 9 people.  That is an important function, too.


On a basic science or biomolecular level, concept maps can get pretty complicated.

Recently I wrote down some of the medical terms, processes or conclusions which were heard during PBL, and made a Wordle map out of them.   Here is what it looks like:


Image credit: http://www.wordle.net – All rights reserved – Copyright 2009


This week I learned more about the function of Purkinje fibers (oh my duh – I’d never make it through medical school!).

Here are two other Wordles.

This one is based on words found on the EBM and Clinical Support Librarians@UCHC blog:


Image credit: http://www.wordle.net – All rights reserved – Copyright 2009


The last one is formed from words taken from my Delicious account called Onc2009, a set of bookmarks about cancer, that was created for Mechanisms of Disease-Oncology:


Image credit: http://www.wordle.net – All rights reserved – Copyright 2009


Wordle, an elegant piece of software, was created by Jonathan Feinberg.

The Friday Post #36: Bad Clowns, Doggies and a Music Video

It is my blogo-versary (two years, 3 weeks of blogging, folks – send a comment, please), it’s the depths of summer, the students are on vacation, so let’s take poetic license to post whatever is at hand.  Here they are:

A friend of mine is terrified of clowns in all forms. If you read the novel It by Stephen King, you might not ever walk past a clown (or street gutters) without wincing. The actor Tim Curry (who played Pennywise, the evil clown, in the film version of It) gives me the creeps, too.

Adam Berg in 2009 created a short film funded by Philips to promote their Cinema 21:9 LCD TV. Like a Dada film, one can start and stop watching Carousel – and then start it again – and it all makes about as much sense.

The fictional mayhem in this short film occurs in a hospital.  It won an award at the 2009 Cannes Lions FestivalDada-esque?

Photo credit:  http://stinkdigital.com – All rights reserved – Copyright 2009

For more information about the creation of this interactive work, visit links to Stink Digital and Philips Carousel for Cinema 21:9 TV – How they did it.


Don’t laugh – I used to live in San Francisco and have eaten once or twice at Doggie Diner, where the food is cheap, fast and good — amusing for the fact that the cooks yell at you if you don’t give your order quick and then move along.  No holding up the customer line!

Thanks to blogger Scott Beale at LaughingSquid for posting about this:

DoggieDinerAwardSFPhoto credit:  http://laughingsquid.com – All rights reserved – Copyright 2009



Hibi no Neiro” (Tone of everyday) is a music-video by Japanese band SOUR, used to promote the group’s first mini-album, Water Flavor EP.   The 3.5 minute video was created by Masashi Kawamura, Hal Kirkland, Magico Nakamura and Masayoshi Nakamura in June 2009.

It is interesting to watch for both the music and the people (all fans of the band) who collectively filmed it worldwide.  It is one of those videos where, every time you watch it you can see something new in it:

Image source: YouTube.com – All rights reserved – copyright 2009

Thanks to Michael Wesch for twittering about it.


And that’s the Friday Post #36 for Aug 14 2009.   Hurray – a new academic year begins next week!

News, Scientific Literature, Visualization: Cell Press and Elsevier introduce Article of the Future

STM publishers Cell Press and Elsevier ratcheted up the technological ante this month with their announcement on Monday, Jul 20 2009, of a shared project called Article of the Future, which they are funding to provide:

“… an on-going collaboration with the scientific community to redefine how the scientific article is presented online. The project’s goal is to take full advantage of online capabilities, allowing readers individualized entry points and routes through the content, while using the latest advances in visualization techniques“.

Text source: http://beta.cell.com – All rights reserved – Copyright 2009


Currently available are two “prototypical” articles which the companies have put up in order to solicit feedback about the page and suggestions from the worldwide scientific community about useability and function.

Here’s one nice feature of the demo: “Integrated audio and video [will] let authors present the context of their article via an interview or video presentation and allow animations to be displayed more effectively”.

Below is a screenshot showing visualizations of tables from article Prototype #2, entitled “Identification of Positionally Distinct Astrocyte Subtypes whose Identities Are Specified by a Homeodomain Code” by Christian Hochstim, Benjamin Deneen, Agnes Lukaszewicz, Qiao Zhou and David J. Anderson.

This article was published originally published in the journal Cell (Vol. 133, issue 2 – May 2 2008, p 510-522).

CellPressElesevierJuly 2009collaborationExample

Image Source: http://beta.cell.com/hochstim/inc/hochstim_article.pdf – All rights reserved – Copyright 2009

Visitors to the Article of the Future page are encouraged to provide direct (anonymous) input about the site using a 10-item online survey.

Thanks to AD for telling me about this.

P.S. This news release was first read on Twitter – Cell Press News around 1oopm today – http://twitter.com/CellPressNews – but the funny thing is, neither of the companies have posted a press release on their official websites yet (as of 3:15pm EST – Jul 20 2009).

Note: Chronicle of Higher Education also wrote about this venture – see entry dated July 20, 2009 at this link.

The Friday Post #35: Renaissance Medicine at NLM, Harry Potter and 2 Quizzes

So excited about going to see the fifth movie based on J.K. Rowling‘s work, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which was released in the U.S. on July 15th at midnight.  I’ve read every book in the series at least twice.

A timely exhibition by the librarians from the U.S. National Library of Medicine features an exhibit (both digital and real) about herbal medicine, mythical beasts and other fantastical arcana in a series called “Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance Science, Magic and Medicine“.

NLMHarryPottersWorldImage credit: National Library of Medicine – All rights reserved – copyright 2009


American Library Association is co-sponsoring the traveling Harry Potter exhibit, which will stop in the U.S. at twelve libraries starting in the fall of 2009..

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~

She needs to sort out her priorities!

— Ron Weasley, commenting on Hermione Granger in the first book in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone (1997)

Quiz #1

If you’re a big Harry Potter fan, you might want to check out which house in Hogwarts that the Sorting Hat would place you in, which you can do by clicking this link and filling out a 122-item questionnaire:

Hogwarts Sorting Hat Quiz

Said Ravenclaw, “We’ll teach those whose intelligence is surest.”

The sorting hat says I belong in Ravenclaw.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~

Quiz #2

Associate editor Jennifer Van Grove on Mashable wrote an article entitled “What Kind of Social User Are You?” (July 15 2009), which links to a brief online quiz from Anderson Analytics entitled “Social Networking Services User Typing Tool” (click here to take it).

After taking the quiz, their assessment ranked my social networking skills as:AndersonAnalyticsSNSImage credit: Anderson Analytics – All rights reserved – Copyright 2009


Oh man.  Their assessment of my SNS skills is encouraging, but it doesn’t seem to be too accurate.  Because, although the blogging part is going well, in fact…  I’m pretty sure I flunked Twitter.     🙄

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~

That’s the Friday Post for Jul 17 2009, folks.  Have a nice weekend!

Searching Technologies, Cultural Evolution, Web 2.0: Slight Nostalgia for Olden Days, and Don’t Diss Librarians

Tis far better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

-Quote variously attributed to Benjamin Franklin, Galileo, Socrates and Abraham Lincoln

You get the network that you deserve.

-Written by Brian Morressey


Being in the library/information business for more than a decade has taught me to take a long-term perspective about new companies or products (and possibly, a somewhat jaded outlook as well). What do I mean by this?

The technologies of Web 2.0/3.0 distribute your website, saves your comments on Twitter, immortalizes your blog-postings, shares your photos (for good or ill), exhibits your conference presentations or business plans, allows you to create an instant survey on Google Docs… each of these become instantly visible by those in your network, or worldwide.  (As YouTube.com famously advises, “Broadcast Yourself”.)  This connectivity has been described as ambient intimacy.

One of the first lessons a new blogger learns is how ridiculously easy it is to trip up online… when you make a mistake in a public and highly-distributed way, such an online event can make one very glad for the solitude of the workplace cubicle (while your face turns a deep, burning and lasting shade of red).  But that’s also a shared experience.  By joining up into the collective “we”,  it is possible to be anonymous yet harder to be invisible.  In digital life, these terms are elastic, relational, relative.  And Google never forgets.

Two recent examples of the downside of all that connectivity come to mind.   In 2008, a PhD student/blogger wrote on her Nature Network blog LabNotes that “I hate PubMed. I hate it with a burning passion.”  As seen in the comments garnered by that post, she was given a mild dressing-down by a variety of scientists, bloggers and medical librarians.  Some of us even offered to teach her how to search the database better.

Another more recent example involves the June 2009 roll-out of a clinically-oriented website named Clinical Reader.com, as medical librarian-blogger EagleDawg describes it, with additional commentary found at The Health Informationist blog.

These events have been Twittered about aplenty. One could take the view that the  company’s response to the librarian was that of a newbie… turn the prism, see it as free publicity.


By taking the long-range view, it’s not surprising to appraise commercial or non-commercial web sites as they come and go, in a literal sense*. Some sources stay the distance, some disappear quickly, some just can’t deliver a quality array of information, some sites are just plain ugly to use or to teach others to use, some crash frequently (thus losing your data), or are so difficult to navigate for results that users simply give up (and so then turn to Google Scholar).

For librarians, the perspective is a bit different than that of a researcher or medical student.  We are highly concerned with the content, scope and utility of individual information sources for our unique clientele.  That is why the mission of the librarians is to spend funds wisely, distribute the information efficiently along networks, assist those who have questions or problems with “digesting” the data, and to train our users to search well, collect and analyze their data.

Librarians aren’t the end-consumers of the information assembled by our subscriptions; we are more like information brokers and, to some extent, strive for impartiality.


Talk to almost any librarian with decades of experience, and they will tell you how it was before Google.  It was different.

The first library I worked in after graduate school was an academic library where the database subscriptions were delivered on CD-ROMs and loaded on an IBM server for distribution throughout the local area network.  Each month a new CD-ROM arrived and the old one was either returned to the company or discarded.

If a faculty member or student needed a comprehensive literature search, a librarian would use a dial-up modem to connect to a commercial information services corporation, Dialog, which charged by the minute for connection time, and charged individual fees for seaching a database, displaying citations, and for downloading each and every item.  Before even connecting to the site, the librarian had to check the so-called Dialog bluesheets to learn the scope and arrangement of fields for an individual database (or, which one of 300 individual databases were the best to search?).  It was all too easy to spend $100 of the library’s money on a search which might take 8-10 minutes.  And I still miss SilverPlatter.

Any student doing research had to physically be in the building in order to do any work.  Once the search was completed, they then had to trek around the stacks to locate the individual article in the journal.  They could read it in the building, or make a copy of it to take along for later reading.  After typing up a finished copy, the students handed-in a copy to their professor at the end of the term.  There was no TurnItIn then.

Sounds like ancient history, doesn’t it?

It was an analog world.   Our digital natives wouldn’t recognize the place.

And truly, it is so great in 2009 to offer our users Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine online.  What would our residents or students do without their ability to search and access medical information via Up to Date, PubMed or dozens of other sources?


* To take a brief “time-capsule” look at just how far academic libraries and collections have evolved over a decade can be appreciated by reading this ERIC Digest from 1990.

Finally… getting back to the feeling-jaded comment?  There are some who might feel a bit over-stressed by this always-on technological connecting.  If that applies to you, then check out the 2009 Cultural Dictionary (2nd edition) created by the ad agency Cramer-Krasselt, where the following definition was recently found:


Image credit: C-K Cultural Dictionary – Copyright 2009 – All rights reserved

News, Public Health, Global Health: A Potential Pandemic of Influenza

Public health concerns dominate the news headlines this week, as evidence continues to unfold of a global outbreak of a novel strain of swine influenza A/H1N1.

Thanks to an active international group of Medical Bloggers and Librarians connected through social networking sites such as FriendFeed or Twitter, as I arrive at work on Monday morning, this connectedness becomes a great advantage for those of us in the United States, as our European colleagues have already scanned and posted many news or website links on items of vital concern, as emerging news continues to pour in from many places around the world.

Following are a brief set of links to global health information, disease-tracking and interactive-maps for the spread of Swine Influenza A/H1N1 (reported as of Monday, Apr 27 2009):



Image credit:  http://www.tweetdeck.com – All rights reserved – Copyright 2009


  • The International Society for Infectious Diseases (ISID) produces ProMed-Mail, described as the global electronic reporting system for outbreaks of  emerging infectious diseases & toxins, open to all sources“. Subscription to ProMed-Mail is available to anyone, free of charge; updates can be set up for daily or weekly email alerts.
  • UCHC Library subscribes to GIDEON (Global Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology Online Network), which is a specialized database for epidemiologists used for “… diagnosis and reference in the fields of tropical and infectious diseases, epidemiology, microbiology and antimicrobial chemotherapy.  GIDEON currently tracks 337 diseases, 224 countries, 1,147 microbial taxa and 306 antibacterial (-fungal, -parasitic, -viral) agents and vaccines, including over 10,000 notes outlining the status of specific infections within each country and over 20,000 images, graphs, interactive maps and references“.  GIDEON is updated daily.

United States

Tracking the Outbreaks

  • Google provides a free service called News Alert, which you can create yourself using any key-words to search on.


I’d like to acknowledge the cooperative work of many European scientists and medical librarians – and in particular, bloggers Laikas, Berci and DigiCMB – who are always 6-8 hours ahead of me, both literally speaking in the real world and in many Web 2.0 innovations, who have posted scientific links and news about swine flu and steered  me to several links for this post today.   Thank you to these talented, and generous, colleagues.

News, Media, Web 2.0 Culture: On Information Overload

National Library Week?  (Oh… totally missed it because I spent all last week trying to get Twitter figured out and am making some progress with that).

Today (Apr 22 2009), Google informed me, is Earth Day. In an approximate way, a recent campaign by the non-profit group Adbusters.org is similar.

On their “About” page, Adbusters.org, a non-profit organization based in Vancouver, states:  “ We are a global network of culture jammers and creatives working to change the way information flows, the way corporations wield power, and the way meaning is produced in our society.

The overarching message from Adbusters.org suggests some or all of the following:  turning off your TV, unplugging your electronic devices, adopting a skeptical outlook about the culture of continual consumption.   Their content fosters an attitude of anti-big business, anti-advertising, anti-obesity, staying off the grid, and in general advocates for using less stuff – both for the health of individual people, and for the greater good of the planet.

An example: the group declared November 28, 2008 as “Buy Nothing Day” and urged readers to cut up their credit cards, get out of debt, shop and spend less.  (Many thousands of Americans did not do this.)

This week, Adbusters.org has declared Digital Detox Week (Apr 21-26, 2009) which urges readers to “go off-line for seven brain-restoring days” by unplugging all their digital devices.  (Many thousands of Americans will not be doing this.)

Following is a screenshot of their campaign-logo, urging folks to get off the grid:

digitaldetoxweekPhoto credit: http://www.adbusters.org/campaigns/digitaldetox – All rights reserved – Copyright 2009


Here’s a list of recent tweets about the idea.

After looking around on their website (and chuckling over their SpoofAds), I came across the link to ABTV (AdbustersTV) and found this 2008 video called Information Deformation, which raises some enduring talking points about manipulation (or management) of our global attention-spans in this Digital Age:

Video Source: http://www.adbusters.org/abtv/adbusters – All rights reserved – Copyright 2009


When my son was about seven years old, he asked me a number of important questions:

  • Mom, were there cars when you were growing up?
  • Did you have television then?  What programs did you watch?” *
  • Well…. what did you do before there was the Internet?”
  • Brief thoughtful silence.
  • Then: <sigh>  “It sounds pretty boring when you were growing up, Mom.” (this final statement… with a pitying glance).

These are questions that only a digital native would ask, of course.


Several medical bloggers posted items this week about Information Overload.  Here are two I enjoyed reading:


So, will you be unplugging your devices this week?


* Scooby-Do, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Petticoat Junction, Hollywood Squares, and anything by The Three Stooges.

The Friday Post #20: Random Things that Begin with “C”

Another Catastrophic week for the global and US economy has left us at week-end feeling flat, dejected and Crabby.

So here are a few videos… EsCapism and grim humor seem to be appropriate for this Friday Post #20:

Stay safe and have a good weekend!