Musings of a Dinosaur

A Family Doctor in solo private practice; I may be going the way of the dinosaur, but I'm not dead yet.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Grand Rounds: To Theme, or Not To Theme?

There are grumblings in blogosphere about Grand Rounds again.

First, we were yelled at oh-so-sweetly by Kim when the number of posts was getting too high to comfortably read them in a sitting or so, and to keep it real (medical, that is.) Her points were felt to be valid by the general public (defined as those interested in GR) and hosting has subsequently taken on a more editorial flavor. Well and good.

Now the concept of "Themed" Grand Rounds is being batted about. Two different things appear to be at issue: first is the style of presenting non-directed posts into a thematic presentation (Coffee Shop; Holy Grail; Charlie Brown; TV listings, etc.) Second is the practice of soliciting posts on a specified theme of the hosts choice. Both of these limitations (some would say "structures") on GR have been met with their admirers and detractors.

It appears to me that Themed Presentations run about 50-50 in terms of acceptance. Some folks think they're cute; others think they're silly. But overall there's a sense of "host discretion" and general acceptance.

GruntDoc and Dr. Sid have recently come out against Themed Submissions. Their commenters to date appear to agree with them, but this may be subject to "agreement bias" (people who disagree being unwilling to rock the boat, perhaps out of fear of being perceived as rude, or just not caring enough about it one way or the other.) Because their comments are still relatively new, it is not yet clear whether or not there is a true consensus on this point.

For what it's worth, I do give Nick Genes tremendous credit for continuing to give hosts full latitude and letting the chips fall where they may. I find it interesting that the actual work of Grand Rounds -- week after week of host interviews, talking nervous bloggers through the technical aspects; all in the midst of an ER residency -- seems to be such that he leaves these discussions to the rest of us. It's his baby; he's letting it grow and develop on its own. I find that impressive, whatever others may think of which way it's going.

Eyeballing the Grand Rounds archives does seem to confirm the rise of the use of a theme. Some like it; some do not. Those in the latter camp may stop reading or submitting, yet there seem to be plenty more willing to take their place. All things evolve; even, apparently, Grand Rounds. What better emblem of something truly "coming of age" than to have folks bitching about how it "isn't like it used to be"?


At Mon Jan 22, 08:54:00 AM, Blogger Dr. A said...

I had the luxury (or detriment) of hosting Grand Rounds about 10 days following Kim's post. No pressure, huh?

Not that I, or anyone else, have the right solution. I just wanted to share my thought process at the time. I ultimately chose no theme. But, I did choose to limit the number of posts I would "highlight." Then, I got some backlash saying that I should include everyone who took the time to write and submit something.

So, I decided to make a type of three tier system - the best of the best, the best of the rest, and the "others" (in smaller font and at the bottom of the post). Of course, you're never going to make everyone happy being Grand Rounds host.

All in all, I thought it was a valuable experience and I wish you the best as you take this on. You've already put a lot of thought into this challenging project...

At Mon Jan 22, 09:21:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a reader, I like the themes. As a writer, I often have an entry already written that I like, and it doesn't fit the theme. Because I'm not truly a medblogger (I am a blogger who sometimes writes about medical issues from a patient's perspective), it is harder for me to come up with a new post just to meet the guidelines of a theme.

I like how you have your theme posted early; it gives people time to write something in advance if submitting to GR is important to them.

LOL, I probably won't submit to your GR because I can't think of anything worthy to contribute . . . I'm looking forward to seeing what others come up with!

At Mon Jan 22, 07:46:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How it "used to be" was that we read posts that arose from the work of individual medical bloggers, and that was what made reading GR so interesting. With the themes, one senses that bloggers write something 'to fit', and that in my opinion lessens the spontaneity and immediacy of writings about their medical work experiences.

Worst of all, the themed entries begin to seem forced and over-all, the GRs are becoming boring. It's gamey, more tiresome 'cuteness' than medical interest.

But, as noted, one doesn't have to read them. Which I no longer do. Thankfully, medical blogs are plentiful and are simply astounding in the quality of writing and medically interesting material.

At Mon Jan 22, 08:36:00 PM, Blogger Sid Schwab said...

For the record, I admire the time people have taken when they've organized posts -- after collecting them -- into some sort of presentation theme. It's not that to which I was objecting. It's the soliciting only of posts which are directed to fit within a pre-scribed theme. And, as I said in my post, I don't expect changes, if that's the way the ball is bouncing. So be it, if that's what people prefer. I just don't expect to submit, in either sense of the word.

At Mon Jan 22, 09:43:00 PM, Blogger Allen said...

Heh. You just wrote my submission to your themed Grand Rounds:

"I remember when you didn't have to write to a theme to be in Grand Rounds: the Good Old Days".


At Tue Jan 23, 06:12:00 AM, Blogger #1 Dinosaur said...

Actually, I'm planning my GR with a "non-exclusive" theme. ie, subs don't HAVE to be about change.

Does anyone notice that I haven't actually expressed an opinion one way or the other about whether themes are good or bad...

Just checking.

At Tue Jan 23, 09:13:00 PM, Blogger Sid Schwab said...

One might consider your themed rounds a case of res ipsa loquitir. But, the human mind is a complex entity...

At Wed Jan 24, 05:13:00 PM, Blogger #1 Dinosaur said...

Actually, I intended all along to make themed subs to my edition of GR optional. I just posted the early notice to allow anyone who wanted time to think and write. However, I have updated the sidebar note.


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