On Plastic, Straws, Food, Climate, and Culture — Impacts of Technology Change on Individuals and Communities

Seeking a Middle Ground Between #WarOnWaste and Accessibility (#a11y / #SpoonieLife)

This is not a new topic. We know plastic is bad. Bad for us, bad for animals. Bad for the environment. And then there is the whole deal with the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, comprised primarily of plastic waste. So, bad. However, we’ve spent a couple generations now creating a culture that revolves around bad things like plastic and gasoline, and more. You can’t turn it over in a heartbeat. Because we know it’s bad, we want to fix it RIGHT NOW, but if we try to do that we really need to ask who is going to be impacted and how. This is part of how we need to be thinking about bringing in new technologies, and about replacing old technologies, and the whole spectrum of what are we doing with tech.

If we get rid of plastic straws (as some cities and even countries are doing, along with other single use plastics), who does it help, how does it help them, does anyone get hurt, again how, what are the alternatives, … we need to ask all these questions. We also need to ask what arrangements or substitutions are being put in place BEFORE the change is made, and what are the low hanging fruit with the biggest impact that we should be targeting first. I’m not sure these questions are being asked. It turns out that getting rid of plastic straws has a really big impact on the quality of life and the safety of people with a variety of disabilities. Here’s a wonderful infographic that is getting a lot praise on Twitter.

There are a lot of people who tweet about plastic waste, and the hot new hashtag for this is #WarOnWaste. Several people I know, including several with disabilities, have been responding to these. One in particular has been getting attention lately, a tweet by Elysse Morgan, an Australian news anchor.

I did not read through all the replies to her tweet, which has kind of gone viral in a bad way, but I read a lot of them. They bring up so many issues about how pre-cut foods help to prevent food waste and empower people with disabilities broadly, people in food deserts, amputees, single parents, the elderly, those with fine motor control, reduced upper limb strength, and on and on. A great many issues were brought up, a great many personal stories were told. I collected several of these in a Wakelet collection (Wakelet is the best replacement I’ve found for Storify, but that’s a different blogpost). Here they are if you’d like to scan through them.

Endorsement/Response

Seeking a Middle Ground Between #WarOnWaste and Accessibility (#a11y / #SpoonieLife)

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Are systematic reviews and meta-analyses still useful research?

Systematic!!!

If you haven’t already seen this trio of articles on the validity of the systematic review methodology, these are a must read. Each of the three articles (Yes, No, and Not Sure) are short – three pages. This is a topic that has been frustrating an awful lot of librarians for a really long time. Basically, from my own point of view, it isn’t that the systematic review methodology is bad, but that it’s been over-hyped, mis-used, applied in ways that never should have happened; that peer reviewers don’t know how to review these, don’t know what a good systematic review should look like or should include, and that means a lot of published articles called systematic reviews AREN’T (and should never have been published. In the words of my colleague, Whitney Townsend, they’ve been watered down. I think she’s being overly gentle and diplomatic.

For now, take a look at these, read them, and in a few weeks (if I’m lucky, and can find time to blog!) I’ll come back to this with a few more cogent thoughts. Who knows? I might go out and collect reactions from some of the librarians around here! (I said I’d have to be lucky!)

Are systematic reviews and meta-analyses still useful research? We are not sure
Morten Hylander Møller; John P. A. Ioannidis; Michael Darmon
Intensive Care Medicine
April 2018, Volume 44, Issue 4, pp 518–520
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00134-017-5039-y

Are systematic reviews and meta-analyses still useful research? No
Sylvie Chevret; Niall D. Ferguson; Rinaldo Bellomo
Intensive Care Medicine
April 2018, Volume 44, Issue 4, pp 515–517
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00134-018-5066-3

Are systematic reviews and meta-analyses still useful research? Yes
Djillali Annane; Roman Jaeschke; Gordon Guyatt
Intensive Care Medicine
April 2018, Volume 44, Issue 4, pp 512–514 | Cite as
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00134-018-5102-3

#WorldPoetryDay and #MedHum

Books: Dental History: Poem: A Memory by Helen Chase

A group of us are trying to start a special interest group within the Medical Library Association around the theme of medical humanities. We’re all coming at this from the common love of Graphic Medicine (comics in healthcare), however we decided to propose the broader concept of medical humanities as one that encompasses graphic medicine, while offering flexibility, room to grow, and opportunities for creative partnerships. This came in part from realizing that 1) graphic medicine is only one of the emerging new literacies combining a variety of media in information delivery and storytelling, 2) preferred modes and names and media/mediums change over time, and 3) the long term value for sustainability of working under a broader umbrella. Please note, this expresses my views on our process, and I am not speaking for anyone else. If you want more info on the SIG (which is meeting for the first time at the MLA Annual Meeting on Monday) you can comment on this blogpost or reach out on Twitter to any of the co-conveners: me (@pfanderson), Matthew Noe (@NoeTheMatt), or Alice Jaggers (@AJaggers324).

Anyway, the field of medical humanities IS rather broad and large, with lots of subdivisions, one of those being ways in which poetry is used in healthcare, therapeutically for reading, therapeutically with writing, and educationally as a tool for creating insight in healthcare practitioners for the patient experience as well as the reverse. I’ve been collecting books of poetry on science and healthcare themes for literally decades. With yesterday being World Poetry Day, I scrounged around on Twitter to find examples of what other people were highlighting that might fall in this area.

In this small selection, you can find poems about hospitals and hospice, illness and injury, social determinants of health, pain (emotional and physical), dementia, grief and recovery, reasons to live, happiness and healing, and more. Poems included are written by a broad range of authors, near and far, old and new, soldiers, parents, friends, patients, doctors, activists, and more. Some of the names may be familiar (Shakespeare, Thomas Jefferson, Bob Dylan, Robert Service, Emily Dickinson, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Shel Silverstein, Maya Angelou, Seamus Heaney, Dorothy Parker), while others may be less so (Kobayashi Issa, John McCrae, Kayo Chingonyi, Mark Strand, David Orr, Joelle Barron, Shawn Hunter, Helen Dunmore, Louise Gluck, Ali Jazo). I’ve divided it into two sections. The first section (“Poems to Read”) is tweets about or of poems by notable literary poets, which may make a nice place to find poems to read therapeutically. The second section (“About Poetry in Healthcare”) includes examples of poems written by patients, or clinical spaces as part of education and outreach, as well as articles about how poetry is being used in healthcare environments and settings, with some rather interesting projects and descriptions of patient experience. And remember — this is just the tip of the tip of the iceberg. There are so many more. Feel free to share soem of our own favorites in the comments!

POEMS TO READ

ABOUT POETRY IN HEALTHCARE

ADDENDUM

How did I find these? Because someone always asks. Here — I searched in Twitter, like this: #WorldPoetryDay (cancer OR care OR clinic OR death OR doctor OR dying OR health OR healing OR hospice OR hospital OR illness OR injury OR injured OR medicine OR nurse OR nursing OR pain OR recovery OR “waiting room”)

Coding and tech comics & coloring books

First posted at https://michigan.it.umich.edu/news/2017/12/19/comics-coloring-books/


We are coming up quickly on the winter break, with families gathered and children out of school. With that in mind, it might be fun to have some some (slightly eccentric?) options for family activities and young folk distractions. Even better if these are options that promote learning, or just understanding more about what the old folks do with their days, eh? Here are a few highlights from my collections of (mostly free) comics, coloring books, and games around the world of geekery, coding, and tech. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find something that tickles your own funny bone!

A FORTRAN Coloring Book

Coloring Books

The first coding coloring book I could find dates from 1978 — Roger Kaufman’s FORTRAN Coloring Book, actually published by MIT Press and used as a textbook, back in the day. I was tickled pink when I found it, in part because I remember by Dad coding in FORTRAN when I was a young thing. (Yes, I have a copy on paper in my office. Honest!) It is robustly humorous for actual coders, and probably not as much fun for kids today. It is, however, available in the fabulous Internet Archive (but you might have to wait your turn to get access, since it is still under copyright).

Another rather amusing tongue-in-cheek (optionally NSFW) geek coloring book comes from the infamous Oatmeal. Check out 404 Not Found (and 404 Not Found NSFW). Not free.

With coloring books about coding going back so many decades, I thought there must be more, and oh my, there are.

ABC++ [PDF] (free)

The Coder’s Coloring Book [PDF] (free)

Kevin’s Python Coding Coloring Book (usually around $7)

Lady Ada’s E is For Electronics Coloring Book [PDF] (free as PDF, or you can buy a copy for $9.95)
(You might want to see also Lady Ada’s R is for Robots, which is not free.)

Programmer’s coloring book (About) [PDF] (free)

The SELinux Coloring Book (Github) [PDF] (free)

Soldering is Easy (free, but no PDF, only individual page downloads)

The Imitation Game, by Jim Ottaviani

Comics, Graphic Novels, Zines, Etc.

– About Coding & Tech-

These include comix for kids and comix for pros, but even those for kids are so well done I get a giggle out of them.

BubbleSort Zines. (Includes zines like “Hip Hip Array!” as well as t-shirts and jewelry such as “BYTE ME!”) (not free)

Code Cartoons (such as A Cartoon Guide to Flux and more) (free)

Google Chrome comic by Scott McCloud (free)

Grokking Algorithms: An illustrated guide for programmers and other curious people (~$17 onAmazon)

Hello, Ruby (for ages 5 and up) (not free, but free stuff available for downloading at the site)

How DNS Works (start here) (free)

Linux comics, a small zine. Others from the same author include “Let’s Learn tcpdump,” “Spying on your programs with trace,” and “Networking! ACK!” (free)

What Makes a Clock Tick (free)

Why’s Poignant Guide to Ruby (free)

– About Geekery Other Than Coding –

We are very lucky here to have Jim Ottaviani on campus as a hard core science geek who loves and loves to make comics. I could hardly talk about comics and coding without mentioning his collaboration with Leland Purvis, The Imitation Game: Alan Turing Decoded! But there are more comics and graphic novels about coders, geeks, and the work and culture they love. This is just a few selected titles, not at all comprehensive (try searching cyberpunk graphic novels to see what I mean). [NOTE: These are mostly NOT free, but for sale at bookstores both analog and virtual.]

Alice in Quantumland: An Allegory of Quantum Physics

William Gibson’s Neuromancer

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer (Pantheon Graphic Novels)

Tom Clohosy Cole’s Space Race

(And if this isn’t enough to keep people busy, you can always make your own, one way or another.)

Interested in emerging tech? Check out Cool Toys!

I’ve recently begun to write a few posts for the Michigan IT Newsletter, and will be reposting those here once they are released. This is part of my grand scheme to force myself back into blogging! Life’s crazy, so things are running late. Here’s the first piece I did for them, which was posted at https://michigan.it.umich.edu/news/2017/12/04/cool-toys/


The Cool Toys Conversation group started out as one of the many spaces on campus where people share cool tech they’ve discovered for education, research, clinical care, outreach, and productivity. Since then, it’s evolved to become more of a community of practice around emerging trends and technologies, but without ever completely giving up the original sharing of cool toys. Some of this happens in monthly meetings, usually at noon on the last Tuesday of the month (moving to BlueJeans only in January 2018), some in our email group cooltoysconversations@umich.edu (you may request to be added even if you aren’t part of UMich), and some on social media with the hashtag #cooltoysu. The scope of the resources shared is broad, as fits the scope and range of activities and interests across the university, with some of them focusing on pretty hard core tech and others focusing on links or apps or tech to do something interesting in another topic.

Here are just a few interesting things selected from the hashtag. Highlights include: augmented reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, mobile apps, games, and productivity tools.

Seeing AI

Seeing AI is a free app that narrates the world around you. Designed for the low vision community, this research project harnesses the power of AI to describe people, text, and objects.

Mirage

A fun little “photo” app, Mirage allows you to create 3D audio/video/emojis/doodles augmented reality content with your phone. You can also browse other people’s content, but right now, since it’s fairly new, you may not find a lot of content where you are. Here’s a nice introduction to augmented reality from Hackernoon.

The Evolution of Trust

The Evolution of Trust is a clever online game/interactive simulation that explores the mathematics of trust, distrust, and miscommunication through various character types.

Think Check Submit

This online checklist tool helps you choose where to publish your research. In their words: “Sharing research results with the world is key to the progress of your discipline and career. But with so many publications, how can you be sure you can trust a particular journal? Follow this check list to make sure you choose trusted journals for your research.”

Index App

Index touts itself as an alternative to Evernote, or as a one-stop-shop organizational tool. In their words: “Index is the easiest way to capture your ideas. #tag links, notes, files and anything from anywhere, and Index will organize everything into searchable, shareable #collections. Just promise you’ll use it for good and not evil.”

So Long, NMC, We’ll Miss You

NMC (New Media Consortium)

For those who haven’t yet heard, the New Media Consortium announced yesterday that they are in liquidation and going through bankruptcy proceedings. The New Media Consortium are the group famed for their Horizon Report series, and there are Horizon Reports in progress which some fear will not be completed or released because of these unanticipated financial challenges.

Official MailChimp announcement (this does not yet appear on the NMC blog or news feed): http://mailchi.mp/nmc/nmc-to-cease-operations

Library Journal: InfoDocket: New Media Consortium is Ending All Operations Immediately, Organization is Insolvent

EdSurge: New Media Consortium Unexpectedly Shuts Down, Citing ‘Errors and Omissions’ by CFO

Campus Technology: New Media Consortium Suddenly Ceases Operations

Bryan Alexander: The New Media Consortium: its sudden death and what comes next

As Larry Johnson says on Facebook, “Words escape me. … So oppressively sad.” The words reverberating through my social media streams include “in shock,” “reeling,” “stunned,” with some asking is this a hoax, and others saying they heard it from someone there.

For my part, it’s been an annual tradition here to schedule meetings in which we do a deep dive into the Horizon Report for Higher Education, and there have been a number of years in which this has been extended to a number of other NMC reports, or multiple meetings because one just wasn’t enough. The Horizon Report is always so rich, you see! Some years, we would have a meeting each month, to dig into one aspect at a time of the tech discussed in the report. It’s been truly fascinating. I’m so sorry, NMC. You will be truly, deeply missed.

Promoting Human Rights Through Science: What do we do, What can we do, and What’s right to do?

Screenshot of title page

Screenshot of the title page of the article. Please go to the article itself for full description.

“Promoting Human Rights Through Science.” That’s the title of a new article, available today from Science Magazine. (Ironically, unaware of this, today I wore my “March for Science” t-shirt to the office as a “casual Friday” thing.)

Promoting human rights through science
Lauren Segal, Ryan Dz-Wei Chow, Brijesh Kumar, Jenny Nguyen, Kun-Hsing Yu, Jennifer Chen, Emre Ozan Polat, Kaitlyn Elizabeth Porter, Michelle Kelly-Irving, Israel Bimpe, Kristy A. Winter, Runxi Zeng, Majid Ahmed, Dustin Ray Saalman, Joshua Isaac James, Michal Kosinski, Easton R. White, Fernanda S. Oda, Hope Bretscher, Perrine Hamel, Swati Negi, Ali Jawaid
Science 06 Oct 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6359, pp. 34-37
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaq1083
http://science.sciencemag.org/content/358/6359/34

I know for myself, it has always been important to me to have my work include opportunities for advocacy for others, a chance to make a difference, to better lives. In the Dentistry Library, we worked to support outreach, information, education, research, and clinical work in the last major social healthcare frontier in the USA. In my job as the Emerging Tech Informationist I am able to be part of the conversations around adopting and developing new technologies and keep the questions in mind of how patients and the public are being included, and how technologies create new disabilities even as they create new opportunities. As a researcher, I work to the best of my ability to ensure that my work has the potential to not only inform interesting questions, but to empower others to apply our work and methods in their own environments. I try to publish in open access journals, I try to use open source tools. I try to make my methods crystal clear and replicable. I try to share my data. I try to partner, widely, and sometimes that means compromising and negotiating and educating around issues of intellectual property, access, openness, transparency, and so forth.

In today’s SCIENCE article, these are the human rights they highlighted:

Right to food
Right to health
Right to be remembered
Right to information
Right to education
Right to privacy
Right to a healthy environment
Right to culture

Of course, by far the most populous section was “The Right to Health,” with discussions of communities, cultural context, disparities, vaccines, delayed diagnosis, disasters, social determinants of health, health literacy, and policy loopholes that can be exploited in ways that undermine health rather than promote it. Powerful stuff.

We need to push this out, especially those of us on social media. This is the sort of thing that directly impacts on how the public view science and scientists, and thus has the potential to downstream impact on funding. But that can’t happen unless the public is aware of this, so it’s important to get this out beyond the Academy. It’s important for us to expand upon this, to tell our own stories of why human rights matter to us, why science matters to us. Just as with poets, and pop singers, and athletes, most of us aren’t doing this to get rich, and most of us won’t get rich. Most of us do research because we want to make a difference, we love the science and research and learning new things, and we see exciting opportunities when we place those side by side. How can we help the general public see that in each of us, and in science overall?

More important, can we use articles like this, stories like these to engage with the public in conversations around these topics. Are the rights mentioned here the ones that are actually important to the people around us, and to our society at large? If so, how do we tell those stories so that they see we’re there, too? If not, why not? Is there something people need to know that they don’t? Is there something they know that we don’t? I’m a big fan of the Cochrane Collaboration’s efforts to include patients on the research teams, not only to inform the process and to support “translation” of findings into practice, but perhaps most importantly to shape what questions are asked and studied, to help assure that these are the problems that really matter. Making the stories of science and scientists widely available and engaging with the public around them is the first step in entending that model into all of science. You can help. Share this article, talk about it, challenge it, ask questions, ask for more.