White Coat Underground

So I gave that talk yesterday at the Great Lakes Homeland Security Expo. It went better than I had expected, as the audience was willing to be interactive and ask tough questions. The audience was a mixed group of health care professionals, first responders, communications directors, and disaster planners. Most had facebook accounts, and many read blogs at least a few times a month. A few were familiar with twitter. I incorporated some of the ideas you folks sent my way, including issues of Twitter hashtag integrity, etc.

Participants helped identify some interesting questions. During the presentation I recommended that agencies interested in a Twitter presence should tweet rather frequently. The federal Homeland Security Agency tweets about once or twice a week—not enough to get caught on the stream that I check from time to time. A communications director from a medium-sized city wondered if tweeting too much could simply seem spam-y. I’d think possibly, but it’s a tough balance.

Another participant from a university health service recounted having an H1N1 influenza Q&A via twitter, but wondered how to collect the conversation into a useful format. We talked about what many science bloggers had done with twitter data after ScienceOnline10, where several bloggers used hashtag searches to find and summarize twitter conversations.

I hope to hear back from some of the participants and find out how much of what we talked about may cause a change in the way they do things.