I wrote a guest post for the Health Data Consortium — here’s the start of it:
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s proposal to create what we now call the Web, the visual, hypertext organizing system which overlays the internet. The pace of internet adoption gathered speed once people could more intuitively point, click, and follow a train of thought without having to type in a chain of commands. I see a clear parallel in the adoption of tools related to health data, most of which are still inelegant, but show growing promise as they become more visual, collaborative, and intuitive.
Remember: In 1990, only 42% of U.S. adults used a computer, even occasionally, compared with 81% who do so now. In 1995, two years after the release of Mosaic, the first browser, the Pew Research Center found that 14% of U.S. adults said they used the internet, compared with 87% today.
Open health data is no longer at the toddler stage, when the need for public data sets or related tools had to be explained. It is also not yet mature, nor considered a given in society, like the Web is today. Health data is instead in its adolescence, like the Web was around 1996 – just starting to become beautiful and truly useful to the general public, pushed forward by a growing group of innovators, with a mix of corporate, government, and non-profit support.
We should look at these developments with kind and hopeful eyes. What is the blink element of today that we will laugh at later? What is the Mosaic, the program that allows regular folks to jump in and start clicking? What is the AskJeeves and what is the Google of health data? What is the Compuserve and what is the AOL? What is the Blackberry and what is the iPhone?
My advice is to learn from the past. Follow the artists, the geeks, and those who play with the tools and data sets at their disposal… (continue reading the post, including the comments)
Note: If you are interested in health data, register now for the Health Datapalooza, to be held June 1-3, 2014, in Washington, DC. See you there!