Thursday, February 09, 2012

Wasted Days & Wasted Nights? (Musings on transfusion professionals use of the Internet)

This month's blog muses on whether the Internet for health professionals is over-hyped. I'm particularly suspicious of applications that are meant to be interactive, not just users passively consuming information provided by others. 

Today's Internet is presumably about the interactive sharing of experiences that supposedly happens on blogs like this one, as well as on discussion forums and mailing lists. 

The blog's title comes from a 1959 song by Freddy Fender.

Based on my experience, Internet users  - meaning you - are definitely passive. Me too when visiting other blogs but I try to participate, at least occasionally, since working in cyberspace is a lot like this cartoon illustrates.


1. Musings on Transfusion Medicine: This blog is written just for fun. A review of comments made on earlier blogs reveals very few, and mainly by kind-hearted colleagues who take pity on a friend. (Bringing out a big hanky now....)

Even the controversial blogs specifically designed to stimulate thinking get few, if any, comments, e.g., the last two on bullying and calling Canada's blood supplier vain. Yet, 1000s of transfusion professionals know about the blog via TraQ's monthly newsletter.

2. AABB's "Communities" open to members only (previously AABB forums): Just took a look and there's little activity and often by the same people. Why? AABB  has 1000s of members.

3. Canada's Transfusion Safety Officer "transfusion" mailing list: 200+ subscribers but few post questions.

4. CBBS e-Network Forum: Over the past year, discussion on e-Network Forum, a truly quality resource, has decreased significantly. 

Also, there's a request for new Associate Editor/Moderators, which suggests that long-time editor and founder Ira Shulman may have retired or is about to. 

5. BloodBankTalk - BB Talk is an active discussion group based in the USA. Unfortunately, participation is limited to a core of contributors, including an active UK contingent, whose contributions are uniformly of high quality.

OTHERS? If other web-based forums or mailing lists exist for transfusion medicine physicians or nurses, I'm unaware of them. Why don't they exist?

About mailing lists and web-based discussion forums, many possible reasons exist for the lack of participation. Some of the most obvious include

1. Too busy to use Internet resources for work purposes (most health professionals are stretched to the max). But we still spend time on Facebook, on conducting marginally productive Internet searches, on watching sports, and the like.

2. Fear of revealing weakness about not knowing. I suspect this is a biggie. Some may feel embarrassed to request help, thinking, "I should know this." Others may feel their employers may not appreciate an external request for advice.

3. Prefer to network privately since it offers more privacy and less risk of public exposure.

4. Distrust of sources whose qualifications and experience may be uncertain (even though many acknowledged experts now offer help via the Internet).

5. Lack of confidence in computer skills to use Internet effectively (perhaps more prevalent in older professionals?).

6. Boring content, not stimulating enough interest to participate.

If you can suggest other reasons, please add them in a comment below.

So the question arises, "Is today's Internet past its prime as a mechanism to ask and answer questions and participate in as a community?"  


As I muse about why the silence, the song that comes to mind from a personal perspective is 
If you read this blog, please suggest topics to cover, keeping in mind that content should appeal to technologists, nurses, and physicians working in transfusion medicine. Controversy is okay and ideally should be food for thought. 
As always, comments are most welcome BUT, due to excessive spam, please e-mail me personally or use the address in the newsletter notice. 


  1. I almost never miss a month's post, although this would be the first time to comment - probably the same could be said for many.
    I love your blogs Pat, they are thought-provoking and entertaining.

  2. Hi Pat I read all your blogs as well as Bloodbank Talk, I participate rarely. Reason? Many including lack of time ( we are all time poor these days as busy health professionals, parents and teachers) I am taking the time now to encourage you to continue as I find your posts professionally thought provoking and I love your taste in music and sense of humour. All the best.

  3. Thanks, Paula.

    Writing the blog was awkward in that the title, 'Wasted days & wasted nights?" could easily be interpreted as me wanting readers to step up and say the equivalent of, "Yes, Pat, we read the blog, now stop whining." <8-)

    But the blog's objective is contained in the Musings, i.e., 'Musings on transfusion professionals use of the Internet' and how interactive the Internet is today.

    Certainly, interactivity exists. TM professionals do use mailing lists and web-based forums, and comment on blogs. But my experience is not much and, more significantly, interactive use has declined over time.

    So the question arises, "Is today's Internet past its prime as a mechanism to ask and answer questions and engage as a community?"

    Just asking....

  4. Thanks, Deb. I appreciate the comments of readers such as you and Paula who take the time to give feedback.

    About the music, the choices certainly convey my age and I'm glad those much younger can enjoy them too. Also glad you see the humour in the blogs.

    I love German words and much of what I blog could be misinterpreted as weltschmerz, i.e., depression or apathy or sentimental sadness caused by comparison of the actual state of the world with an ideal state(

    In truth, I'm an optimist (if that's possible for someone who leans towards the iconoclastic:

    Thanks again for the feedback.

  5. Re an answer to your question, I think many people do read and learn, but do not feel that they either have a great deal to contribute or that they are reasonably happy with things the way they are - isn't there a saying "the silent majority"? - It doesn't mean we don't read or care. Personally I enjoy being "prodded out of complacency" once in a while. And you are good at it Pat. Thanks


  6. Anonymous3:09 PM

    I value all the internet resources you listed -immensely!
    When I post a question through any of them the responses are always thoughtful and helpful.
    Being part of these communities gives such invaluable support one needs when they feel isolated or alone with their problems.
    I have to admit I don't always reply to other's posts - feeling others have answered already or know more.
    Your blogs are often a new or different look at topics we can all relate to - great!

  7. Thanks, Penny. Agree with your additions to explain the relative silence.

    About the 'silent majority' - Isn't that what our PM drags out when evidence contradicts his policy decisions? <8-)

  8. Thanks, anonymous. The listed Internet resources are useful with valuable discussions. Wish more users would participate.

    About the TM blogs offering a new or different look at topics, many thanks - that's the aim. I try to offer an iconoclastic view to motivate readers to challenge the existing order, i.e., current orthodoxies and their reigning high priests. <8-)

  9. Malcolm Needs12:26 AM

    Excellent blog blut.

    I think that an awful lot of people are afraid of making a fool of themselves, and so keep quiet, when, in reality, their views would be most welcome and valuable. As I have said elsewhere, no expert, however expert, has the answers to all questions, and, as someone once said to me, the most stupid question is the one that remains unasked, if you do not understand what someone has said in, for example, a lecture.

  10. Thanks Malcolm.

    I couldn't agree more about people needlessly being afraid to look foolish and therefore seldom asking or answering questions. Some adults are insecure but even those with a positive self image as competent professionals also dread anything that lessens that image.

    In my prior life as an instructor, I used similar tactics to encourage questions, e.g.,

    1. Set the tone of a safe learning environment by modelling (i) how easy it is to say, "I don't know, but let's find out." and (ii)how to receive feedback ("Thanks for telling me that."

    2. Discuss "I don't know": the three most important words in education. BMJ 1999 May 8;18(7193.

    Free full text:
    (or )

    More here:

    Thanks again.

  11. Anonymous4:00 PM

    I agree with everyhting you said in your blog; escepially the fact
    that health professonal ae too busy.