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, May 21, 2007

Life Cycle of a Blog

There's been much handwringing and hullaballoo over some recent changes in the blogosphere. Several beloved blogs are gone, their passings occasioned by assorted circumstances, and suddenly "the death of the medical blogosphere" is at hand.

Nonsense.

Blogs are living things, which shouldn't come as a surprise, given that they are written by people, most of whom are also living. (The exceptions are certain bloggers who are so hard-core they don't really have anything that can be called a life.)

Blogs are born; some endure; some mature; and eventually they die. Just as in life, some are cut down before their time. Sometimes bloggers come to realize that the time and effort involved in keeping up a blog is more than they are willing to put in. Sometimes they decide that they've said all they have to say. Just the other day one of my very favorite blogs, Miss Snark, called it a day "after two years and two million hits" for this very reason.

Sometimes several blogs disappear within a short span of time, leaving the erroneous impression that the events are somehow connected. The concern about "Who's next?" isn't all that different from the forty-five year old man with a neighbor and cousin who each dropped dead of heart attacks in the last two weeks. To the patient, it makes perfect sense to worry that the same thing could happen to him. It's much easier to see coincidence for what it is when we can take a step back and re-connect with reality.

We'll miss Barbados Butterfly, even as we learn that employers can trump non-work life to a frightening degree.

We'll miss Flea, while realizing that real-time reporting of litigation may have its pitfalls.

We'll miss Fat Doctor and Dr. Dork, without knowing for sure just what factors went into their very personal, private decisions to limit their blogging, even as we rejoice with Dr. Bob Centor as he celebrates the fifth anniversary of his blog.

Several years ago my own family doctor, mentor and friend was tragically killed in an auto accident. Twenty years ago my mother died of breast cancer. I miss them and think of them often, but as with many other losses, time eases the pain. While no one can replace these people in my life, I am reminded of how my father put it:
You don't look for a replacement; you look for a successor.
I love my step-mother dearly, and Darling Spouse's doc of twenty-some years is well on the way to becoming my own "personal physician." Even as the blogosphere is poorer for the blogs that are no more, it is continually enriched by the new ones starting up every day. None will ever replace the ones we loved, but medical blogging isn't going anywhere.


10 Comments:

At Tue May 22, 08:59:00 AM, Anonymous Moof said...

Dr. Dinosaur, you are in the business of saving lives, so you know that some diseases, when left untreated, take a patient's life, but that with treatment, the same patient could survive.

The medical blogosphere is not only mourning the blogs we've all enjoyed reading, we're mourning the friends who wrote them. Those friends will no longer be "mingling" with the rest of us - their quantity and quality has been taken from us.

Each one is a individual, and cannot be replaced, and a successor will be only that - a new blogger whom we don't know yet.

Yes, blogs will certainly continue to come and to go, however there is a movement, whether you've been able to sense it or not, out of the public blogosphere by people in your profession. I've spoken to no less than six of them in the last week, and in my tiny circle, that's striking.

My area of interest is Medical Informatics, and I know that the medical blogosphere is going to continue, in some form, however private blogging by medical personnel could easily become as rare as it was 3 or 4 years ago.

The idea isn't to simply mourn those who've left us and move on ... it's to try to prevent anyone else from being in the same position. We want to treat the disease at its outset, Dr. Dino, before it gets bad enough to seriously hamper, or kill, the patient.

Furthermore - you, and Dr. Anonymous, and Dr. Flea, and Fat Doctor ... all have a right to blog anonymously ... you have the same rights as any other member of the blogosphere. You also have the same right to express yourself openly in a public forum. There are people reading your blogs who apparently disagree.

Dr. Flea wrote an anonymous blog - he never named names, never identified his patients, simply gave us his opinion and related what he could see going on around him. And he did it anonymously.

Fat Doctor did the exact same thing. Barb - did the same thing. Dr. Dino - you do the same thing. Only, out of the four of you that I've just mentioned, you're the only one still blogging. For how long, I wonder?

There is a justified atmosphere of fear growing across the medical blogosphere. It's been there longer than I was aware of. I had another blogging doctor friend tell me in the last few days that he has let his own blog fall silent for the same reasons - I just thought he'd lost interest.

If we allow this "illness" to continue, to keep growing ...

... history's shown us what happens when everyone is silent in the face of an entire class of people losing their natural rights.

Does that sound extreme in view of the last week's happenings? Perhaps. A year from now - two years from now, unless we pull together, it might not.

It's not about blogs dying, it's not even solely about people who still want to mingle with us no longer being allowed to although they've done nothing wrong ... it's about freedoms, and it's about rights.

 
At Tue May 22, 03:06:00 PM, Blogger Bohemian Road Nurse... said...

Thank you for writing this. Because I was kind of worried about the recent "disappearances". I didn't realize the multiple reasons, and it threw me for a loop, causing me to wander around bewilderely asking people "wha' happened?" As for me, I don't intend to stop blogging, but I have noticed that in the year I've been blogging, my "style" has changed. But I do notice when a blogger goes through "moods", just as they do in their "real life". I do the same.

 
At Tue May 22, 03:48:00 PM, Blogger #1 Dinosaur said...

Moofie: I understand (and share) your pain. I agree with you that we as physicians should have the right to blog, anonymously if we choose, and I very much appreciate your vigorous support!

Humbly, I still suggest that in our grief, there might be a bit of overreaction going on. It's like saying "Three people on my block have cancer; there must be something in the water." Maybe, but not necessarily. Especially if one person has breast cancer, another has prostate cancer and another has colon cancer.

With all due respect, your (our) small circle of blog friends is hardly representative of the medical blogosphere as a whole, so although we are understandably reeling from the multiple losses, I'm not at all sure what -- if anything -- it says about the health of the larger "body" of medical bloggers.

That's all I was trying to suggest.

 
At Wed May 23, 10:08:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

that said, dr. dino, what are the 5-10 must-read medical blogs? i ask because i am new.

 
At Wed May 23, 08:55:00 PM, Blogger MedStudentGod (MSG) said...

Dino,

What I find the most frustrating about this was the suddenness and unexpected nature at which these blogs went away. Most were my very first medblogs and when I was blogrolled by Flea I was shocked. I'd not seen my blog on anyone else's up until that time. I mounr their departure, but look forward to the new crop and hope that my continuing after deleting my entire blog will keep some of my "friends" in the blogosphere.

And anon...I am one of those 10 greatest. (not)

 
At Thu May 24, 10:04:00 PM, Blogger Joeymom said...

I just wanted to say... I miss Dr. Flea.

 
At Mon May 28, 09:27:00 AM, Blogger Dr. Shock said...

May be we should start thinking about some rules for blogging as doctors. May be that would shut them up.

 
At Fri Jun 01, 12:24:00 PM, Blogger Kim said...

(The exceptions are certain bloggers who are so hard-core they don't really have anything that can be called a life.)

Hey! I resemble that remark! LOL!

 
At Fri Jun 01, 11:47:00 PM, Anonymous skookster said...

Moof said: all have a right to blog anonymously ... you have the same rights as any other member of the blogosphere. You also have the same right to express yourself openly in a public forum.

Moof, you're a dear, but you're criminally naive if you think anonymity is a basic paradigm of the 'Net. In fact, the opposite is true. Do a Google search combining your handle and your field of study. Follow some of the links, See how easy?

Dr. Flea wrote an anonymous blog - he never named names, never identified his patients, simply gave us his opinion and related what he could see going on around him. And he did it anonymously.

In his trial blog, he may have not revealed the plaintiffs' names, but he did reveal their pain, and quite a lot about their circumstance. Can you imagine how they felt when they saw themselves in Flea's blog, their attorney ridiculed, the jury caricatured? They must have been devastated yet again.

It's a sad tale for all concerned. Dr. Lindeman has learned a hard lesson, but saved others of us the trouble. Let's wish him well.

 
At Sun Mar 15, 04:37:00 AM, Anonymous Aparna said...

Thanks for this nice blog post.

 

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