Dr. Google

| August 17, 2014

I recently wrote about the dangers of not having internet connectivity in light of the ability of governments to control or limit access. I’m now wondering about the opposite end of that spectrum. What if we have too much interaction with the internet?

I’m not talking about the allure of “facebooking” in between cases in order to see what your kids are up to. That’s a waste of time at worst and at best a way to try and maintain some semblance of a relationship (although very superficial and not respectful of the nuances of human to human interaction) with those who are close to you. I’m referring to using the internet for our work too much. Books cropped

I’ve walked into a colleague’s office and thought “where are all of your books?” I have a small library in my office, not only because I can’t seem to remember anything anymore, but also because something not infrequently comes across my microscope that I haven’t quite exactly seen before. Maybe a variation on something I’m familiar with, or maybe something I’ve never seen before. So I like to look things up. I check Rosai, look through the appropriate Fascicle, read a few pages from a subspecialty text.

But it’s very easy to instead consult Dr Google.   And this is what I’ve occasionally observed. You can search for a term or an immuno that you’re unsure about and quickly find several articles, entries, or comments supporting your hunch. You might hit a really thorough well-written article that summarizes the entity that you’re after, describes the differential, talks about pitfalls, and rightly confirms your hunch.

Or you might come up with something that resembles what you’re looking at. Maybe has matching wallpaper. So you can sign out the case and be on your way. There are a lot of good resources out there with very creative ways of categorizing and linking vast amounts of information. But how rigorous are we about our internet research? How rigorous should we be? Have we drifted from an honest search for truth to an easy accommodation of the expedient?

Category: Blogs, Electronic Medical Records, Informatics, Laboratory Information Systems, Web/Tech

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