Monday, September 24, 2012

Successful Crowdsourcing on Twitter

This weekend I was writing a manuscript that was due weeks ago. This involved researching what had already been published on the subject and through my academic appointment at the University of Sydney, I thought that I should be able to access any article in the urological field without any problems - I had good reason to think this since I had never had any problems previously. Then for the first time ever, I needed an article from the Canadian Journal of Urology. When I searched for the journal through the on line resources of the University of Sydney library, it wasn't there. I double checked that I did not get the name wrong and just searched 'Canadian Journal' and it seemed that every other specialty was covered except for the Canadian journal in the urology surgical specialty. It was Sunday and as usual, it was an article that I needed now and not tomorrow as I was keen to wrap up the section I was writing. I though that I would try putting out the problem to Twitter and to see what would happen.
It was fantastic to get such a quick response. Given the international make up of a Twitter audience, it was not surprising that my late night tweet was more likely to be picked up by my American colleagues. At first it seemed like this was going to be a difficult task as you can see from the responses. It was interesting that this got a retweet from somebody who does not even follow me - shows the potential amplifying effect of Twitter. Now this was the tweet that topped all the responses
It was like a call to arms for the true believers. At the end of it all, victory was achieved and the article was emailed to me.
To top off the mission, a final tweet as below
In spite of negative press about the ills of social media, this has been an excellent positive outcome with the use of social media in healthcare. Crowd sourcing can work well amongst health professionals. One could argue that I could have simply have emailed these guys - I didn't have their email addresses. The reason I used Twitter was for the fact that short messages are easy to digest and in my opinion a lot quicker to scroll through with absorption of the content than reams of emails and looking up/down the wall on Facebook and therefore more likely to catch the attention of my colleagues. I don't have a huge number of followers on Twitter but even with less than 200 followers, a beneficial outcome was able to be achieved. As the reach Twitter continues to expand amongst those in healthcare and education, I can only see its use in this manner increasing.

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