Google can’t do it all: a call for content curators

Reprinted from the Zazoo blog:

I have been reading quite a bit of late about the concept of content curation, a term coined by marketing strategist and blogger Rohit Bhargava to describe the role of “someone who continually finds, groups, organizes and shares the best and most relevant content on a specific issue online. The most important component of this job is the word ‘continually.’… (It is s)omeone whose job it is not to create more content, but to make sense of all the content that others are creating. To find the best and most relevant content and bring it forward.”

He writes that, “In the near future, experts predict that content on the web will double every 72 hours. The detached analysis of an algorithm will no longer be enough to find what we are looking for…. The future of the social web will be driven by these Content Curators, who take it upon themselves to collect and share the best content online for others to consume and take on the role of citizen editors, publishing highly valuable compilations of content created by others. In time, these curators will bring more utility and order to the social web. In doing so, they will help to add a voice and point of view to organizations and companies that can connect them with customers – creating an entirely new dialogue based on valued content rather than just brand created marketing messages.”

Robin Good writes on the Master New Media blog, “I think, that at least for now, curating content is the one thing that Google can’t take your place in doing. When it comes to researching, selecting, picking, editing, juxtaposing, illustrating, complementing, referencing, crediting, commenting and introducing, Google can just pack its stuff and go home.

“….Unless there is a growing number of active newsmasters, content curators and editors/publishers checking, digesting, filtering, grouping and organizing information inside vertical information silos you will be either submerged by information or you will be left behind when it comes to staying on top of the information you need to operate in your field.

“Business-wise, content curators could also offer an interesting marketing opportunity and a new business model that makes a lot of sense to me.”

Meanwhile, Australian digital recruiter David Jackson writes on the Digital Ministry website, “There are already a few people performing this task for companies, and it will only grow in importance. The problem I see with content curating is that most companies find it hard to place much value on the role. Although it requires a skill set that combines the sharp mind of a research analyst with the communications flair of a journalist and the commercial nous of a marketer, curating content, like creating content, often attracts a wage more akin to a junior administrator.”

Links on this topic:


Your heart rate, now on Google

Google and IBM have announced a partnership that will enable Google Health to connect to and stream from medical devices.

According to Forbes, “In demonstrations, IBM and Google fitted Wi-Fi radios to gadgets like heart rate monitors, blood pressure cuffs, scales and blood-sugar measurement meters, allowing the devices to communicate with a PC and feed real-time medical information directly into Google’s online records.

“Hooking up those devices to the Web, IBM argues, will offer a new immediacy and granularity of health monitoring. A user can remotely track the blood pressure readings or glucose levels of a diabetic parent living alone, or stream his or her medical information like weight or heart rate directly to a doctor or physical trainer.”

“….For IBM, the new Google Health functions are also a dress rehearsal for “smart” health care nationwide. The computing giant has been coaxing the health care industry for years to create a digitized and centrally stored database of patients’ records. That idea may finally be coming to fruition, as President Obama’s infrastructure stimulus package works its way through Congress, with $20 billion of the $819 billion fiscal injection aimed at building a new digitized health record system.”

Privacy concerns abound. As Forbes reports: “‘They give consumers the appearance of an effective way to keep their health information, but it’s also a digital gold mine for health marketing,’ says Jeff Chester, director of the Center for Digital Democracy, who points to Google’s sponsorship of the ePharma drug marketing conference taking place in Philadelphia next week. ‘It’s one thing to turn your search queries over to Google. This is like making them your next of kin,’ Chester says. ‘Why would you give an advertising company access to your moment-by-moment expression of health concerns and risks?'”

Is the online economy recession-proof?

Internet ad spending in the US is not growing as quickly as expected, although it’s still performing ahead of other advertising sectors. eMarketer plans to cut its growth forecast for 2008, currently 23%, by a few percentage points.

According to Bloomberg: “The New York-based research firm had predicted almost $26 billion in ad sales this year. (eMarketer analyst David) Hallerman said his estimate for 16% growth in 2009 is ‘also probably too high.”’

“‘Advertising is the canary in the coal mine in a weaker economy,’ Hallerman said. ‘All the bears aren’t out of the woods yet when it comes to the economy.'” [Hello, can we throw in any more analogies from the animal kingdom there? Did I hear someone say TV is the 900-pound gorilla of advertising? Are the vultures circling the industry? Is the future of advertising a bit of a dog’s breakfast? But I digress…]

In a sure sign of the accuracy of eMarketer’s changed prediction, Google is reporting it won’t hit its original revenue targets…

Why Google Health?

“You know that money beats soul, every time.” – Jim Morrison, the Doors

I have been itching to write a post where I can slip in a quote from my favourite anti-hero, Jim Morrison. So what on earth does this have to do with Google Health? As I was researching a story about Google and e-health for my oft-mentioned feature for Australian Doctor, I came across some interesting questions – and potential answers – about Google’s foray into something seemingly so far from their core business:

“When it comes to health, Google has become the main place patients turn to for health information online. As well as anecdotal stories such as the US man who walked into a hospital after a Google search of his symptoms correctly led to a self-diagnosis of a heart attack, research shows that seeking health information has consistently rated among the most popular activities of Internet users (more than 80%), and Google is the place where 70% of them start their search.

“Doctors like it too. A study published in Australian Family Physician last month revealed that Google was also more popular with Australian GPs surveyed than the next five web sites combined. They said they used Google because of its ability to lead to other web sites of value, its speed and ease of use, its convenience and its wide applicability.

Looking to the future, Google is also positioning itself for a dominant role in a world where medicine is increasingly linked to the Internet with the recent launch of Google Health, an online personal health record service where patients can enter any or all of their medical histories to create a portable data record that can be accessed by a variety of doctors and other health professionals.

“…. Advocates argue that a Google Health personal health record will result in better-informed patients, fewer redundant tests and better-prepared doctors who can get a more complete picture by having their patients’ entire medical history in front of them. Access to crucial information such as allergies and current medications will allow doctors in scenarios such as emergency rooms to avoid many of the medical mistakes that injure patients or land them in hospital for long stays.

Privacy experts, meanwhile, are up in arms about the potential downsides of such a system, particularly in the hands of a company with no history of handling trusted medical data. They have raised strong concerns that private and personal records could be bought and sold by organisations such as pharmaceutical companies.

“…. Like its other services, Google Health is available free to anyone who is willing to take the time to fill out their profile. The “do no evil” cynics have questioned Google’s motives in straying from its core search business. As a Washington Post writer put it: ‘Why would Google take on such a big, difficult project — creating complex data exchange systems and storing all that personal information — if there’s no way to make money?

“’A strong personal health dashboard linked to other Google services, including its cash-cow search business, can make sure those health-seekers stay with Google rather than with the competition. Like Microsoft, for instance.’”

They may seem like they’re just out to provide a useful service to the Internet-using public, but in the long run, making money – and keeping money out of competitors’ pockets – is behind Google Health.

Money beats soul, every time…

Social networking is ‘the new black’

At the Supernova technology conference in San Francisco last month, there were plenty of practical examples of how social networking is being used in day-to-day life. A report on the conference on the Knowledge@Wharton site included comments from Google’s director of product management, Joe Kraus, who said, “People have been endlessly fascinated by one another for a very long time. Social networking is not new; we just have new ways to do it.”

He cited as an example “his own recent behavior in choosing an anniversary gift for his wife. He searched and found that candy is traditional for a sixth anniversary, then set up a message on his G-mail account, saying he needed ideas for a candy-based gift.

“A friend emailed to tell him of an extraordinary baker who constructs specialty cakes and, thanks to her suggestion, his sixth anniversary gift became an elaborate cake in the shape of a colorful purse. So, said Kraus, he went from solitary information discovery to social information discovery – and a much better result than he could have achieved on his own.”

 “…Most important, Kraus sees the web eventually becoming entirely social. ‘Today, social computing is something you do at a specific site,” said Kraus. “But we’re realizing that being social is not a site. It’s a concept.’

“We won’t get to that entirely social web, he added, until we find ways to allow users to do three things: establish a single identity to log on to many sites; share private resources such as photos or contact lists without handing out private credentials (such as an email account password); and distribute information across multiple social applications.”

Hands up if you want an EHR – anyone?

With all the discussion and developments going on in terms of electronic health records/personal health records online, someone has finally asked the question: is this what consumers want? Keith Schorsch wrote on the Health 2.0 blog the other day about “the elephant in the room: Do consumers really care about having online personal health records?”

He cited current evidence suggesting that less than 3% of health consumers maintain a personal health record online (presumably US figures – Australian figures would only be a fraction of that). While Google “trotted out some great enterprise partners” for its recent announcement about its trial of Google Health with the Cleveland Clinic, Schorsch pointed out that there were no consumer testimonials talking about how Google Health would change their lives for the better.

“I struggle to see how it’s creating value for the average health consumer,” he writes. “How much work is required by the user to create this asset? And how important is data portability to the consumer? We all remember the predictions of the paperless office. The ‘paperless record’ feels like this decade’s version of the paperless office.”

“Google Health fels like a good, incremental step toward putting more control in the hands of the health consumer,” Schorsch concludes, but “without a clearly delineated consumer benefit, this is a platform waiting for a killer app.” 

Google the tool of choice for Australian doctors

A study published in this month’s Australian Family Physician shows that more than half of Australian general practitioners use the Internet during a consultation, and Google is the most common website they visit, at a rate higher than the next five most popular websites combined.

More than half of all respondents (56%) – and every one of the doctors surveyed in the 20-30 age group – used the Internet during consultations. Looks like the millions spent by the government offering free broadband to GPs all around Australia has had some payoff, with 93% of respondents using broadband in their practice and only 3% on dial-up. Interestingly, only 63% of the GPs said they used email at work (though 92% used it at home) – more work to be done to move to email consultations (aside from reimbursement issues).

Ninety per cent used a clinical software package, with 98% of those using the package for prescribing, 85% to order tests and 64% to record progress notes.

The study was conducted by Edith Cowan University and was based on 1,186 surveys from the Osborne Division of General Practice in Perth.