October 28, 2004

WikiNews? How about WikiHealth?

The community that brought us Wikipedia is considering a new, all-volunteer news service called Wikinews. The idea is that articles in Wikipedia tend to be highly compressed summaries of information, whereas articles in Wikinews would be able to go in-depth.

While I'm intrigued with the whole project and welcome something, anything that raises the collapsed bar of objective news reporting, Wikinews makes me wonder . . . what other pressing needs might be addressed by the Wikimedia movement?

How about public health? Imagine WikiHealth or WikiMed, an open, collaborative health database written by everyone in the world? If millions of people could contribute articles on health and well-being, diseases, treatments, symptoms, remedies, and personal experience with what worked and what didn't with prescriptions, would the world be better off? Are you currently happy with the state of medical knowledge on the web? If you or someone you know is suffering from some condition, and you type the name of the condition into Google, are you satisfied you're getting good results? In an age where, at least in the U.S., doctors are less and less likely to give you the time of day let alone spend time with you going into detail about everything there is to know about a condition, wouldn't it be useful if there were an online resource with a strict NPOV (neutral point of view) containing in-depth encyclopedia information about health-related subjects?

WikiHealth. WikiMed. (Don't bother, the domains are taken -- maybe they're hope!) But you get the idea: a worldwide open collaborative compendium of practical health and medical knowledge. Isn't it time such a service existed?

Posted by brian at October 28, 2004 08:20 AM | TrackBack


With medical related information, however, the results from bad advice can be fatal. The primary problem with displaying any kind of medically related information is the trustworthiness of the source.

Posted by: Brandon at October 28, 2004 09:23 AM

Absolutely. I never mentioned advice though. A WikiHealth doesn't have to be a dispensary of advice, nor should it. It would be a repository of human knowledge about health. It couldn't be ANY worse than what people are faced with now through Google search results or out-of-date libraries.

Posted by: brian at October 28, 2004 09:50 AM

Ok, but dispensing knowledge often takes the form of advice. Posting of erroneous knowledge would most likely have the same result.

My j o b often takes me into the land of reporting quality on hospitals and physicians to the consumer of health care. It is, to quote the venerable Bob Dole, 'a sticky wicket.'

Posted by: Brandon at November 1, 2004 09:28 AM

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