Over the past few months, a number of the topics that have been touched on here at Common Sense have continued to evolve, and this time — during the traditional lull between the Super Bowl and the beginning of spring training — seems like a good time to highlight some of those updates:
- J.P. Morgan: Yes, I wrote a whole blog post on how social media could never touch the impact of the in-person magic of the J.P. Morgan Health Care Conference but — as it turns out — this was a best-ever year for online discussion of the confab. The number tweets generated about the meeting more than doubled versus JPM10, coming at north of 1,000. That’s a lot of back-and-forth and a lot of commentary. It still can’t give you the claustrophobic sense of being at the meeting, but the hive mind did hit the highlights. (See my post-meeting J.P. Morgan Health Care overview at Pharmalot.)
- Scienceblogging: Because I was in San Francisco for J.P. Morgan, I missed out on ScienceOnline 2011, a quickly sold-out meeting of the finest online science writers in the world. The enormous buzz around the meeting reinforced a point from a September post on the growth of blogging as the medium of choice among science writers (and publishers). It also gave the impetus for further revisions to the scienceblogosphere visualization I started. (Check out the shark and the schooner.)
- Computer-Assisted Reporting: I wrote last month about the importance of “data journalism,” and — as if to underscore the point — two of the leaders of this burgeoning discipline pushed out great how-to guides on getting deep into the numbers immediately thereafter. Simon Rogers from The Guardian published an indispensable list of tips, and ProPublica hosted a conference call — the transcript is now available — explaining how to work with its dialysis database. Even Google is getting into the game, launching Public Data Explorer this week.
- The State of the Union (and the State of Innovation): Every year, right after the State of the Union, the president unveils his proposed budget. It is a purely symbolic document, generally DOA, but it is a way of measuring how seriously the White House takes certain issues. When I posted about the State of the Union address, I wondered aloud whether NIH would get what it needed. The Obama administration, as it turns out, is pushing for a 3.5 percent increase in the budget, barely keeping pace with inflation. But in these economic times, that would be something close to a victory.
- Bad Health Information: The same week that I suggested the New York Times had it wrong in going after WebMD as a symbol of bad health information online, the Huffington Post, via Forbes, demonstrated that vetting by its “Medical Review Board” can be worse than no vetting at all.
- FDA Social Media Rules: I outlined some myths about FDA rules at the end of last year, as we waited for guidelines to drop on how pharma could use social media tools. We’re still waiting. Bob’s post this week offers a different perspective on why the FDA in a tricky spot. The agency is apparently working on a 1Q deadline now, so look for this issue to re-emerge over the next 6 months.