In social media at least in the early days we focused on community for the benefit of community. In this world, all participants are co-equals in their standing. While their level of effort or participation in content creation or curation – especially in the then evolving hashtag centered ‘tweetchats’, i.e., #HCSM (healthcare social media, followed by #HITsm (health Information technology social media) – varied, for the most part we shared ‘for free and for fun’ to connect dots, educate one another and foster idea sharing and collaboration.
We had a spat or two in the early going when Phil Baumann, RN the originator and moderator of #RNchat a popular tweetchat launched #MDchat, the latter never really gained traction in the physician community. For what it’s worth I registered @DocTweets and later registered both #PHYchat and phychat.org with a handful of physician co-founders during the same time period, but was unable to dedicate the time and energy required as a community manager to get it off the ground.
Meanwhile as the tweetchat community continued to sprout, two enterprising tweeps (Tom Lee and Audun Utengen) saw this emerging trend and launched the Symplur Healthcare Hashtags project, and became the ‘go to’ resource to register, inventory and track engagement and impact (reach) of tweetchats, including healthcare conferences and disease specific conversations on twitter.
As social media continued to grow in importance and tweetchats in particular have become a defacto standard for organizing ongoing conversations around a common theme, it was inevitable that commercial interests (some disclosed, but many rather opaque) would notice and begin to shape those efforts towards a specific agenda of proprietary interest.
In 2011 one of our #HITsm community members Michael Planchart @TheEHRGuy decided to launch a crowd-sourced, peer nominated effort of thought leaders in healthIT social media titled #HIT100. A fair amount of the community took notice and rankings were generated. Shortly thereafter most online healthcare and healthIT media (FierceHealth, Health Data Management, and others) took notice and reposted the list, egro, the ‘#HIT100’ was born.
That process replayed in 2012, 2013 and an ‘unofficial version’ was tracked, compiled and published by Steve Sisko (@shimcode) in 2014.
This year there was a tangible ‘disturbance in the force‘ (later referred to as a ‘fork’)- if you will, which I found ‘odd’. And the motivation for what happened, specifically in terms of the ‘why’ and the ‘we’ who forked the effort has never been adequately explained to some of us regulars in the #HITsm community.
When your story is your art, if you don’t tell it, you risk someone else taking control of that narrative and using it for their own purposes
We get that. But when the #HITsm community started on Twitter, a familiar chant was “I came for the chat, but stayed for the community”. We were ONE strong community of like-minded individuals all convening towards the greater good in healthcare, patient advocacy and HealthIT. One collective voice though with diversity of ideology and world views championing change.
Michael Planchart @TheEHRGuy was my (Linda’s) 1st friend in #HITsm on Twitter in 2009. He was not only a strong presence and wealth of experience, he helped others. Not for notoriety or fame but behind the scenes in DMs and emails. The #HIT100 became a crowd-sourced list of the most influential people in the healthcare IT conversation on social media, as defined by the community. There were simple rules, set within a specific time period, and people voted. Each July, when the #HIT100 came around, it felt like the carnival was in town. You came away feeling inspired, good- and grateful to be part of a community that recognizes its own. There was cooperation and each year a different cluster of #HITsm peeps came together to announce, tally and publish the results of the nominations. It seemed to work, until 2015.
Here’s a tweet that signals the impending ‘fork’ in the road by #HIT99’s launch, including the likely (with rationale) motivation to launch a competing round of recognition. Note the tone: ‘we need a reliable, active and credible member to sponsor such an event’ [emphasis mine].
This year the process felt more like the TV show “Survivor”, with attendant opaque and situationally mercurial alliances. It wasn’t the friendly peer nomination process we’d experienced, as in past years. This year a new HIT100 surfaced, called “HIT99”. The premise was exactly the same, yet it was heralded as a “NEW” lineup of characters (minus 1 as it turned out) perhaps with a tad more of an ‘institutionalized vibe’? Yet, many of us liked the original show- and felt plagiarized by the new acronym. Some people even felt bullied into choosing sides, and elected to extract themselves from the developing controversy. Most however, remain clueless as to who’s behind the curtain, and why we need another remarkably similar community and tally?
It started to feel like a war of ‘muscular’ wills where some contestants were granted immunity while others were jettisoned off the island by a vote of their peers. However in this case, ‘comments were closed‘ as this wasn’t up for a vote. It was a takeover!
We tried for answers about the impulse to create a separate (if not competing) nomination process, but got conflicting and somewhat evasive information. When I asked about the ‘who’ and the ‘why’ motivations directed to John Lynn (aka @techguy) who with Steve Sisko (@shimcode) appears to the two principal co-sponsors of #HIT99, this is the reply received.
Bottom line, in social media trust and transparency are intimately linked. Trust is hard to win, but easily lost. To date, this entire episode seems completely at odds with the principles of the self organized, transparent community we’ve created, and an outright end run around the original spirit and intent of the #HIT100 effort.
When I (Gregg) self nominated to #HIT99 I didn’t fully understand the motivations behind the effort. The decision to self-nominate took some courage since the barrier to that confidence is the absence of sufficient confidence to actually believe in one’s worth to be extended such peer consideration. But after essentially 6 years of creating, curating engaging and participating (across multiple social platforms) and supporting/amplifying a handful online communities I actually risked such a self nomination. Several chimed in, and I thank you for their affirmation. When I realized what was actually happening, I withdrew my self nomination and asked that anyone who thought me worthy of consideration for this community honor tag their nomination with #HIT100.
So have fun with convergent processes that solicit the same results, but….be mindful of transparency and what seems to be playing out.. It does take a village!