RNS SEO: How 52 research networking sites perform on Google, and what that tells us

Research networking systems (RNS) like Vivo, Profiles, SciVal, and Pure are meant to be used — but often fail to be discoverable by real users because of poor search engine optimization (SEO).

That’s why we’re releasing RNS SEO 2015, the first-ever report describing how RNS performs in terms of real-world discoverability on Google.

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Notes from the 2011 Medicine 2.0 Summit at Stanford

Some argue that as technology advances it turns into a barrier and prevents essential human interactions, such as at the bedside. Even though this is a concern that we need to address, the Medicine 2.0 Summit 2011 provided a lot of examples that showed how technology can turn into a powerful mediator.

For those interested who did not get the chance to attend the event, here is a list of the main topics and initiatives presented that use social media, mobile computing applications, as well as Web 2.0 in healthcare and medicine to create new ways for people to connect. Please feel free to add your impressions and ideas of the summit and conference. Thanks!

1. If you are interested in learning from ePatients on how to build and leverage communities of practice and participatory medicine, you might want to explore the following blogs and platforms: 

  • Amy Tenderich’s blog Diabetesmine.com,
  • SmartMobs, authored by Howard Reingold, who was diagnosed with colon cancer and shared his experience on a blog called Howard’s Butt
  • PatientsLikeMe, where more than 115,000 members with over 1,000 conditions share their experiences to see what interventions are working for others

2. Patients have been connecting for some time. However, how can we help connect physicians and patients in a meaningful way? During the session “The Healthcare Transformers”, the panelists presented their views on personalizing healthcare and new ways for physicians and patients to communicate. 

  • Jay Parkinson, founder of HelloHealth and Futurewell, shared his passion about using creative design to improve health — and a few critical lessons learned (including” innovation is lonely” and “colleagues are critics”) as he and colleagues opened a “virtual clinic”, a “web-based patient communication, practice management and electronic health record in one solution”.
  • Lee Aase from the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media gave a very entertaining talk on social media in the spirit of “Suus non ut Difficile” (It’s not that hard).  See one of their latest success stories: “When Patients Band Together – Using Social Networks To Spur Research for Rare Diseases”. They are very proactive about arming their health care professionals with the right tools to leverage social media for their successful communication. They even started a “Social Media Residency”. Aase also introduced the Social Media University, Global (SMUG), a post-secondary educational institution dedicated to providing practical, hands-on training in social media to lifelong learners.
  • Bryan Vartabedian, pediatric gastroenterologist, writes an interesting blog 33charts  about “the convergence of social media and medicine”.
  • Wendy Sue Swanson, practicing pediatrician, mother, and author of SeattleMamaDoc, walks a fine line and shares resources and methods that she learns from her patients, friends and family, both in and out of the field of medicine. She applies the concept of storytelling to achieve her goal of helping parents decipher some of the current medical news.
  • Ron Gutman, founder and CEO of HealthTap , who we wrote about in our earlier post, presented his solution to ending health care communication in silos. Some of the latest updates include 1) peer review features which will help give great questions more weight in the HealthTap environment, 2) offering a mobile solution, and 3) allowing participating doctors to be notified of questions coming from local patients.

3. “The Knowledge Revolution”: If you are interested in using innovations in Medical Education, you might find the following projects of interest:

  • Bertalan Mesko from Webicina.com provides curated medical social media resources in over 80 medical topics in over 17 languages to help patients and medical professionals access the most relevant social media content in their own languages on a customizable, easy-to-use platform for free.
  • Parvati Dev from Clinispace presented their virtual, 3D virtual training environment for healthcare professionals where learners can practice on realistic virtual medical scenarios and recover safely from errors.

4. The panel on  “The Interconnected Life” discussed social tools and platforms such as Epocrates, Google Correlate, which finds search patterns which correspond with real-world trends, and Quora.

5. During the panel “The New Scientist”, Michael Conlon presented VIVO , an “open source semantic web application”, a tool that is – like Profiles, Loci and others –  used or being implemented by universities across the nation to enable and support scientific collaborations and expertise discovery. 

  • Jan Reichelt, Co-Founder and President at Mendeley, talked about how the tool, a free reference manager and academic social network, helps investigators organize their research, collaborate with others online, and discover the latest research.
  • Peter Bienfield from PlosOne reminded us that most of the 1.5 Million papers published every year are still “closed access”. However, as established publishers experiment with “open access”, e.g.,  Sage Open , BMJ Open , Biology Open ,and Scientific Reports ,  they validate the model…
  • And, David Pescovitz explained how he is looking for “signals” to identify far-out ideas. He is editor for Boing Boing and MAKE as well as research director with the Institute for the Future.

6. Dennis Boyle, IDEO Founding Member and Partner, gave an interesting closing keynote on “design thinking” and “a human-centered approach to innovation.” He highlighted some of their recent projects… worth exploring….

 More information:

Industry embraces the semantic web! Just like us, only different….

Google, Bing!, and Yahoo announced an initiative on June 2, 2011 to create Schema.org, a web site that will promote standard ways of adding machine readable (semantic) data to all of our web pages.  As a validation of the semantic web, this is great news.

However, they are supporting a different format for exposing semantic data than what we use in biomedical informatics, so what does that mean for our way of doing things?  More specifically, we have become proponents of RDFa as the “serialization format” for exposing our semantic data. RDFa is how VIVO exposes semantic data, it’s how the future versions (and current Harvard version) of Profiles will expose semantic data, and it’s intrinsically tied to our support of machine readable ontologies such as vivo and foaf.

Schema.org will support a different serialization format known as “microdata”.  Some are seeing this as the possible death of RDFa: http://graveshow.com/blog/tutorials/web-design/death-rdfa.  Others are not sure if it is a threat or opportunity: http://bnode.org/blog/2011/06/06/schema-org-threat-or-opportunity.  At least one person thinks this is actually good for RDFa: http://planet.linkeddata.org/.  The schema.org creators are aware of the controversy they have created with their support of microdata versus RDFa, and they do a good job of explaining their decisions here: http://schema.org/docs/faq.html.

The general consensus seems to be that RDFa is in many ways a more complete solution for semantic expression than microdata, but RDFa is difficult and intimidating for developers to grasp and therefore suffers from adoption outside of certain niche fields (such as BioMed2.0). We don’t mind handling the difficulty of RDFa because our field has already forced us to deal with the challenges of sharing large complex data sets and to wrap our heads around ontologies and other semantic concepts.

One way to interpret this would be to say that what we are doing with the semantic web in BioMed is great, and that we should continue down our path while industry takes a baby step into the semantic web with the more-pragmatic if less-complete microdata approach.  At the surface, this would seem like a fine solution.  The problem is: now we have industry and BioMed on different paths.  For those people (like us at UCSF) who want to combine the best technical solutions from industry with the best technical solutions of academia and research, this can be a problem.

In particular at UCSF we want to combine our “academic” BioMed semantic web solutions with the “industry” OpenSocial specification to create something that is a better way to publish and share data rich applications than either one of those technologies can support by themselves today.  In pursuing this we’re already seeing issues with bridging RDFa into the JSON centric world of OpenSocial.  Mapping RDFa to JSON is a tough problem to solve, and a number of solutions have been proposed (search RDFa and JSON) without any clear winner.  However with microdata, going from semantic web to JSON/OpenSocial might not be as hard.  Given industries favor of pragmatism over elegance, and the recognition that JSON is THE dominant data exchange method on the web today, this would hardly be surprising.  So…., for some of us this “support of the semantic web & simultaneous challenge to RDFa” may be good news after all!

Now we just need to deal with the very real problem of getting VIVO, Profiles and the rest of our BioMed2.0 systems to produce microdata as well as RDFa.  And why not?  Supporting one format, even by mandate, does not mean you shouldn’t support another.  If you want to share data and ideas, which we say we want to do, then the more the merrier.