Of #RobFord and med students in fishnet stockings


It’s been a lively few days in the Twitter world that have demonstrated once again how much social media is changing the nature and impact of public discourse.

On Wednesday, I was privileged to moderate the chat for our #hcsmca (Canadian health care and social media) group on the topic of Mayor Rob Ford and his very public meltdown and the implications of this for the health care community.  It was noted by many how the ongoing revelations from Ford seemed to swamp everybody’s Twitter feed however much their community may be focused on other issues.

Sage comments were made about how to deal the tsunami of gossip (Twitter having become in many ways gossip central – the new office watercooler if you will – assuming that cultural reference is not outdated) and also how social media can improve education and communication around addiction and the foibles of famous people. All of this I tried to capture in a #Storify http://storify.com/cmaer/rob-ford-and-hcsmca summary of what I felt to be some of the most important tweets.

A couple of hours later a friend of mine informed me one of my Tweets – typos and all – had made the Toronto Star’s highlight reel of Rob Ford tweets for the day.  Thus prompting insight one of this column:

  • You can never predict where your Tweets will end up and in what context –  and lesson one:
  • Always think about what you are capturing in 140 characters no matter how fast you may be live tweeting or engaging in a fast-moving tweet chat

The next day, I backtracked to an interesting conversation by some of the people I follow on Twitter to discover a debate about a 2014 calendar medical students at the University of Sherbrooke were selling to raise money for charity. The women were all dressed in burlesque  and discussion among med students and physicians focused on the professionalism of this (sexism was not really an issue because the year prior it had been the male students posing in dishabille.

The ever-alert and learned Dr. Anne Marie Cunningham in Cardiff, Wales (@amcunningham) who has a keen interest in anything relating to medical education produced a quick blog post on the debate as well as publishing an annotated #Storify of the remarks http://storify.com/amcunningham/burlesque-medical-students-unprofessional-or-not?utm_medium=sfy.co-twitter&awesm=sfy.co_jVEc&utm_content=storify-pingback&utm_campaign=&utm_source=t.co

While the calendar has received a little attention in the French-language media earlier in the week, Canada’s premier health reporter André Picard (@picardonhealth) took note of the debate yesterday afternoon and tweeted about it.

Later that day  André’s paper the Globe and Mail published an online story about the whole Twitter debate http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/the-hot-button/does-this-charity-calendar-of-med-students-in-sexy-burlesque-outfits-go-too-far/article15317012/ based on Anne Marie’s Storify summary.

So, while the kernel of the story was about med students and issues of professionalism, both the source and content of that story was about the Twitter debate itself. So, insight number 2:

  • Twitter is more than a public forum but also an acceptable source of content for more traditional media. With lesson number 2 being:
  • The same as lesson number one – especially when your comments taking on vibrant life you may never have anticipated.

With both the topic of how Twitter and other social media have intersected with the Rob Ford saga and the self-referential nature of Twitter discussions as seen in the calendar debate, there are many more observations to be made and lessons to be drawn. But it is all very much a work on progress IMHO.




1 thought on “Of #RobFord and med students in fishnet stockings

  1. Perhaps we’re all rewriting the rules of social media as we go, for better or for worse. Before credible rules for engagement are released, we may be doing our professional selves future benefit by remaining as digitally literate as we can be.

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