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November 2017 Archives

The State of Digital Health Today

The democratisation of media has been one of the largest events in recent human history. The power to speak to the masses, once available only to a privileged few, is now made commonplace in the pockets of everyone with a mobile internet connection.

We are now surrounded by the products of this reality: blogs, social media posts, tweets, YouTube videos, Instagram and Snapchat photos and stories. Many of us share almost as a force of habit.

It has become time to rethink that habit.

Don’t get me wrong, many amazing and wonderful things have come forth from being able to share our experiences and perspectives, but I have been thinking hard over the past couple of years as to where things might have gone awry. The relentless push to make content generation easier and easier has led to a proliferation of overly-simplistic and malformed ideas; which in turn has incapacitated us with infinitesimal attention spans.

We have become a society that is not only unable to produce competently crafted content, but also to appreciate its complex flavours. The ramifications of this are widespread and dire. Politics - an arena that draws power from populism - is reduced to a pandering to the emotion du jour, and less about solving real societal issues which are endeavours that outlast the lifespan of a viral post or tweet.

That is the core of the issue, isn’t it? That in our drive to make content more easily generated and shared, we have shortened the lifespan of issues ideas, but the implementation of solutions to real problems require much longer timeframes. The twitchy and fickle waves of social sentiment become counter-productive to the ones who put their noses to the grindstone. It is slowly becoming impossible to find anyone who would devote large portions of their lives to solving big problems, both because the personal cost on these individuals is too great, and it is easier to focus on short-term project-based work because the risks are lower and the rewards more immediate.

Looking at my own online evolution from frequent long-form blogging to tweeting to instagramming, this has been true. I have often neglected writing in lieu of the quick photo, and many ideas and opinions have dissipated because of a reluctance to rigour. I am appalled at the deterioration of my ability to find words or construct sentences to convey thought.

Some things have to change.

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