Listservs vs Twitter: Are You Ready to Make the Step into a Brief New World?
One of the most valuable, if not THE most valuable, resource a healthcare executive has are colleagues and their collective experiences. The issues that we confront daily are what we need and want to discuss with our comrades-in-arms.
The listserv is the most direct way of sharing information between colleagues. I belong to a number of MGMA (Medical Group Management Association) listservs and to the AAOE (American Academy of Orthopedic Executives, formerly BONES) listserv. These listservs are amazingly helpful and I have more often been the benefactor than the provider of information there. But listservs have their limitations.
You have to be a member of these organizations to participate in their listservs. This is not unreasonable, as the infrastructure and management of a listserv is not without cost. As healthcare continues to get squeezed, however, managers will have to make harder choices about which resources and memberships they and their practices can afford. Membership requirements also screen the participants, which may be important to some. The screening, however, may limit the amount of participation and the diversity of participation. Healthcare is becoming global, as any medical practice competing for the medical tourism dollar will tell you.
Listservs can also take time to read and delete or store. I have not found an easy solution to arranging the information I want to retain, although there is always deleting the listserv emails and searching the archives later.
I am finding Twitter to be a no-cost solution to many of my needs not fulfilled by listservs. I have access to thought leaders in and outside my field, and the conversations we have can be on or off the grid. Although it was initially difficult to constrain myself, I now find the limitation to 140 characters to be very liberating.
Tweets are brief pointers to people, conversations, blogs, and resources across the world. As Kenneth Yu says on his blog MindValley Labs:
…Twitter is currently the closest app on Earth that replicates the actual thought patterns of the human mind. You see, the human mind does not really think in blog and article form. It does not think in huge chunks of information. Instead, it thinks in a stream of consciousness way, random disjointed thought layered upon random disjointed thought.
Twitter also has a number of applications designed to organize information, contacts and conversations in ways that make information easy to retrieve. To follow me on Twitter, use my Twitter name @mpwhaley. To join a brand-new community of discussions around medical practice management, use the #medpractice hashtag to search and join the conversation.
This is a great question. The advantage of listserves is that they are established and people are familiar.
I like Clay Shirky’s point:
I would suggest that people would have to be very careful before deciding to ditch an existing listserve to move to twitter.
Twitter is an ongoing conversation. You may miss important things unless you set up lots of searched for the terms you are interested in and check them, as you do email when you first log-in.
A listserve gets the messages that are most likely to be relative to you to your inbox.
Hi Anne Marie,
Thanks for the link to the Clay Shirky video. What he says does resonate. As an early adopter and tech geek, I tend to forget that not everyone is as avid a fan of shiny new things as I am. Early adopters do pay a price, just as late adopters do.
You are right about what can be lost without listservs; maybe the future is a hybrid that allows the pipe to be as open or closed as each user chooses!