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The Power of Communication to Influence Health (MLA13 Boston: Plenary 2: McGovern Award Lecture by Dr. Richard Besser)

A tanned, white man standing in front of a blue background with a white moon-shape that says "One Health" on it behind him.

Dr. Richard Besser speaking at MLA13 One Health

After the first plenary and a short break came the second plenary, the McGovern Lecture.  I was surprised to see on twitter (the hashtag for the conference was #mlanet13 if anyone is interested) that many librarians didn’t see the value of having a plenary lecture by a non-librarian talking about non-library things.  I responded to this criticism in one of my official MLA13 blog posts The Value of the Non-Librarian Perspective: Thoughts on Plenary 2.  Please do take a moment to check that out.

And now back to the plenary.  Dr. Richard Besser is the medical correspondent for ABC, but more interestingly to me, he also was the acting director of the CDC during the H1N1 epidemic.  Epidemics ultimately were a theme of the conference, which makes sense since the overarching theme was One Health.  One health meaning the global health of all living creatures and how we are all interconnected.  Below are my notes from Dr. Besser’s lecture.

Introduction

  • Describes himself as an accidental journalist
  • If you change your life, then the terrorists win.
  • The reason Israelis are so well-prepared is because they face it every day.

Starting at the CDC and Advice on Being the New Person

  • Recommends the leadership book Good to Great
  • 1st ask your new boss what they think of their organization and ask them if they think it needs: big change, small change, or stabilization

How to Respond to a Pandemic

  • If you can spread out a pandemic so hospitals aren’t flooded, you’ll save lives.
  • You use different words to get different responses.
  • With a new emerging infection, you only get one shot to get ahead of it.
  • Be transparent with the public.
  • Base actions on fact.
  • Apply rapid learning –> guide will change based on new knowledge
  • If you lose the trust of the public, you’ve failed.
  • Three key aspects of communication:
    • Be first
    • Be right
    • Be credible
  • Homeland Security is in charge during a declared national emergency
  • Dr. Besser was featured on The Daily Show during the H1N1 epidemic
  • When he met with the cabinet, Obama said, “I want our responses based on science.”  An excellent support of evidence-based medicine.
  • Don’t use jargon with a non-science expert.  (For that matter, don’t use your specialty’s jargon with someone who is not also a specialist).  Just because someone is intelligent doesn’t mean they know the jargon.
  • Translate science into clear, spoken English.
  • Flu can spread for 12 days after infection.
  • How do you tell a good study from a bad one?  Which are reportable?

Q and A

  • Once someone is obese, it’s very very hard to lose that weight. Prevention is much easier.
  • So many diseases emerge from eating meat.
  • up-to-date is “an aggregator site” be sure to check primary sources
  • “A lot of people practice based on what they learned in residency.”
  • Check out his weekly twitter chat which he has complete control over at handle @abcdrbchat on Tuesdays at 1pm EST.

Check out Dr. Besser’s biography at ABC news, his twitter, and his book Tell Me the Truth, Doctor: Easy-to-Understand Answers to Your Most Confusing and Critical Health Questions.

Up next will be the third plenary, the Janet Doe lecture by Joanne Gard Marshall.

Medical Library Association (MLA)13 Boston, Intro and Plenary 1

An assortment of library-themed buttons.

Library-themed buttons acquired from the vendor booths during opening night.

Hello all!

Most of my readers know that, in addition to being a book blogger and indie author, I also have a day job as a librarian for the academic library that serves a Boston-area medical school and and teaching hospital.  Since this is my day job, I’m a member of the Medial Library Association (MLA) and every year we have a conference that my institution graciously sends me to.  Last year it was in Seattle.  This year it was in my home city of Boston.  Last year I blogged quite a bit of the conference information here both to share it and to help me remember what I learned.  You can see the series of posts starting with this one in May of 2012.  This year since I had a year of conferencing under my belt, I applied to be an official conference blogger, and I got the position. Yay!  I was assigned to write 2 to 3 posts about the plenary sessions.  So this year I will still be posting some information from the conference here on my own blog, but I will also be linking out to the official conference blog, as I am not supposed to reproduce my posts for that blog on my own personal blog.  I also will be providing additional commentary on those plenaries on my own blog, though, so they will also be discussed here.

The first event I went to was the grand opening of the exhibit halls on Saturday night after I got off of work.  I only was there for around 45 minutes, due to my work schedule, so I didn’t get to see even half of the exhibits.  Ah well!  It was still a fun start to the conference.

The next morning was when the ball really got rolling with the first plenary session.  The first plenary introduces the theme of the conference and features the address by the current MLA president.  You can see my summary of it on the official blog here.

While  was excite about the international aspect of MLA this year (the meeting was held in conjunction with the International Conference on Medical Librarianship (ICML), the International Conference of Animal Health Information Specialists (ICAHIS), and the International Clinical Librarian Conference (ICLC) ), I was disappointed by the lack of content in the presidential address.  I’m not a big fan of “think positive” as a general message to begin with, but it also felt that Blumenthal really didn’t offer much practical advice from her extensive real world library experience to the rest of us.  I missed the enthusiasm of 2011/12 president Jerry Perry’s speech.

Stay tuned for notes from the 2nd plenary by Dr. Richard Besser, medical correspondent for ABC and one-time acting director of the CDC.

The Slow Hunch (MLA12 Seattle: Plenary 2: McGovern Award Lecture by Steven Berlin Johnson)

After the president’s lecture (and a break) came the John P. McGovern Award lecture.  This was, I have to say, my favorite presentation at MLA12.  Steven Berlin Johnson is the author of popular science books aka science for the layman aka one of my favorite genres!  I was super-excited to get to hear him speak and honestly, his intelligence and wit are even more evident in person.  His books that were referenced in the lecture include: Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation and The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic–and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World.  I now present to you my notes from his amazing lecture that I like to call “The Slow Hunch.”

The Eureka Moment Myth

  • Truly disruptive ideas do not have a eureka moment.  The eureka moment is a myth.  The best ideas almost always start as a hunch.
  • Oftentimes, the external conditions need time to catch up to the idea.
  • Darwin had the theory of evolution before he realized it.
  • Commonplace Book–collection of quotes that mean something to the owner.  They’d then reread them and out of this their own intellectual sensibility would take shape.

How Coffee Changed the World

  • What environments support collaboration and fluidity of ideas?  Liquid networks, such as libraries and coffee houses.
  • Almost every key breakthrough in the Enlightenment featured a coffee house.
  • It is no accident that as the population went from imbibing a depressant (alcohol) to a stimulant (coffee), the Enlightenment happened.
  • There is a lot of diversity of people in a coffee house.

The Evolution of Ideas

  • An idea is a network of other ideas brought together in a new configuration.
  • exaptation–some feature/trait/aptitude that evolves for a specific purpose but serendipitously turns out to be good for something else when the environment changes (wings for warmth work for flying)
  • Exaptation often happens when one industry takes something from another industry, adapts it, and uses it in their own. (Use of wine presses for printing)

The Key to Innovation

  • We will be smarter and better as a society if we surround ourselves with those who are different because it provides the opportunity for exaptation.
  • The more innovative group has connections to different careers than their own. (Don’t just be friends with librarians)
  • Make twitter your diverse coffeehouse.  If you just follow people just like you, you get an echo chamber.  Value diversity because of the openings it allows us.

Information Should Be Open

  • Value connecting information over protecting information.
  • 311 is a city concierge.  People can call and report problems and also ask for information from it.  Meanwhile, the city is gathering data from the citizens who call.  The city is sharing information but also is taking in information.  This democratizes and diversifies problem-solving.
  • Open information architecture rives innovation.
  • Chances favors the connector.

Q and A

  • Remind people that surprise and serendipity is happening with the new information tools.  It doesn’t just happen when browsing physical stacks.
  • Core ideas are ideas that were simultaneously and independently discovered within the course of two to three years.  This happens because of the adjacent possible.  The adjacent possible is possible moves you can make at that moment in time.  The possibilities are limited.  You couldn’t invent computer programming before computers.  Thus when something in the world changes, the adjacent possible changes, leading to core ideas.
  • Create a culture of amateur inventors and innovators (lay experts).
  • Release early, release often.
  • There is a non-linear relationship between population size and innovation (10x population size = 17x innovation).  The thing to remember in modern times, though, is that the internet is big-city-like.

Friday Fun! (Get Your Geek On)

Hello my lovely readers!

I have super-exciting news!  This weekend I’m attending my first ever work conference, specifically the Medical Library Association’s 2012 conference in Seattle.  This is going to be so many firsts for me!  My first business traveling, first stay at a 5 star hotel, first time outside of the airport in Seattle (or on the west coast period), and first time where I will be completely surrounded by other medical librarians. In other words, no one will be saying, “I’ve never heard of a medical librarian” or asking, “So what do you do all day?” I alas doubt I’ll have much time to see very much of Seattle, although I fully intend to hit up at least one, maybe two, of their famous veg-friendly restaurants.  I also will be flying a grand total of approximately twelve hours, so definitely expect to see an upswing in reviews around here when I get back. 😉  Thank goodness I invested in that kindle last year!

And yes I am sitting here getting excited about tons of things people outside of my field have never even heard of being discussed at the poster sessions and plenary sessions and sunrise meetings.  I mean, I did pick a career I *enjoy*, people.

Also, the hotel has a rocking gym I plan on utilizing, not to mention a bathtub which is always a luxury for me, the lady whose apartment only has a shower stall.  Plus the awesome host librarians organized a sunrise yoga session. Yes.

So it’s a big, exciting weekend with lots of air time (yes, it takes 6 hours to fly nonstop from Boston to Seattle), so I will be getting lots of reading done.

I hope you all have lovely weekends and cross your fingers for me that I won’t get lost in my smart-phoneless state!

Friday Fun! (Holy Busyness Batman!)

March 23, 2012 3 comments

My lovely readers!  Boy am I ever glad I gave you guys the heads up that things would slow down around here for the next few months.  I’m not even sure how long it’s been since I posted a Friday Fun. A couple of weeks?

In any case, my new job is AWESOME, and I am so blissfully happy that after years of struggling through school and in a bad economy that I wound up with a job in the field and area of librarianship that I wanted in the city that I love.  I love my commute! I love my coworkers! I love my patrons! I love the view from my shared office!  I love that I HAVE an office!  I love that I’m getting to go to the Medical Library Association’s 2012 conference in Seattle!

But it is also a huge learning process and I find myself with a brain refusing anymore information by the time I hit the T at the end of the day.  This means that all three of my nonfiction reads I had started before working at my new library, as well as during the first week, have hit the wayside. Cannot. Do. It. I need memoirs and paranormal romance and swashbuckling and FICTIONAL STORYLINES FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.  I cannot read and attempt to comprehend things about evolution in a toxic world or why you should eat this and not that.  Nope.  Can’t do it.  At least not right now.  So, yes.  I’m going to attempt to struggle my way through the three nonfiction reads I had started with a chapter a day. Beyond that, no more.  I mean, I have to work on learning PHP for my new job.  One can only handle so much nonfiction in one day.  That said, I still want to do Diet for a New America, but I think I’m going to have to rework it somehow.  Maybe make it a challenge instead of a project.  That way I won’t feel bad if it takes me a while to get to the next book.  I still intend to finish, buuuut probably not by the end of 2012 *snort*

Speaking of diet and health, I have discovered ZUMBA and it is AWESOME.  I’ve always been a dancer from a very young age (before I got fat and unhealthy) and for some reason even though I’ve recovered my fitness, I was ignoring dance.  No more!  Zumba is basically dance aerobics only using Latin dance and a mix of Latin music and modern popular songs.  (I think to date my favorite routine has been the one we did to I’m Sexy and I Know It.  It involved showing off our guns).  Anywhooo I love the Latin dancing because it is all hip shaking, but it’s also a great class to go to once a week because long-term cardio is still what is really difficult for me, but the class and instructor are just so dang FUN that I am bound and determined to make it through.  And I do.  I just also have at least one point in every class where I am certain I am going to die.  Then we pretend to be roping a cow, and I suddenly am fine. 😉

Happy weekends everyone!  Tomorrow is my first day as a Saturday librarian, and I am mad excited.  (Which seems to be my perpetual state of emotion nowadays).