1. Perry, William MA, RN

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The Internet has brought the spirit of global communication and collaboration to nurses and other healthcare professionals in ways never before thought possible. These resources are offered to expand your opportunities for discussion, reference, education and research.


Do you have a Facebook ( or a MySpace ( account? My children have them. My wife has one, and every time I wander about my classroom, I can see students checking them after they have completed an assignment. Social networking sites have been badmouthed by many, yet enjoy a phenomenal membership, with Facebook claiming 30 million active members and MySpace more than 100 million accounts.


"A social network service focuses on the building and verifying of online social networks for communities of people who share interests and activities, or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others, and which necessitates the use of software.


Most social network services are primarily Web based and provide a collection of various ways for users to interact, such as chat, messaging, e-mail, video, voice chat, file sharing, blogging, discussion groups, and so on" (


At the 2007 Rutgers International Computer Conference in San Francisco, CA, Dr Diane Skiba, in her closing address, talked about interactive technologies and the change from information retrieval to bidirectional communication and user-generated content. Diane also spoke of Facebook and the potential for using such technologies for the benefit of nursing collaboration, communication, and education.


To read the blog from the conference, go to


A lot is being written about Web 2.0: what it is, how to use it, and in what directions it may be going. Peter Murray and colleagues recently started Health Informatics Blog Carnival to explore these technologies as they relate to how people are using these tools in academic and professional practice (


Articles about RSS, Wikis, YouTube, and Blogs abound. For a great and very quick tutorial on RSS, go to, and for Wikis, go to These offer the clearest explanations I have ever seen.


What about social networking sites? Will they prove useful to the healthcare community? There are several networks directed primarily at physicians, but relatively few exist for nurses ( According to informal polling of students, an awful lot of them are recreationally involved with these sites and are using Web 2.0 features as a part of online life. There's an interesting illustration and explanation at Here's a brief excerpt: "Who is leading the pack when it comes to humanizing web 2.0? Facebook. Here is proof: ask any Facebook user if they know what RSS is or if they've ever used it? Chances are they have no idea what it is, and they'll admit to never using it. Little do they know, the Facebook 'News Feed' is essentially a rebranded RSS reader. Instead of pulling blog posts and news articles, the reader aggregates updates from your friends' profiles.


This brings me to the most important point of all: Facebook is educating the masses about Web 2.0 without them even knowing it. In other words, Facebook IS bringing Web 2.0 mainstream."


If we assume that a sizeable number of nurses and other clinicians are joining social networks and using these tools, I think experienced healthcare professionals need to have a presence online. The new student clinician may be a "digital native" for whom technology is a given, but those of us who are "digital immigrants" ( can bring new dimensions and possibilities to these tools.


Nursing has a definite presence within popular social networking sites and represents an opportunity to use familiar technologies to communicate, collaborate, and educate. I do have a Facebook account now and have contacted Diane Skiba and Peter Murray. Feel free to look me up.


Contributed by


William Perry, MA, RN