As HIMSS launches its blog, it occurs to me that an item of note is the tone and timbre we all use in our communications….that our postings, and comments to those postings, are most effective when using constructive language and signed by the author.
Before the emergence of social networking technologies, most of our communication was identifiable. Normally, we knew who was talking (or writing).
Speaking from an American point-of-view, we have a cultural history that values, and in some cases requires, the identification of the communicator. For example, in a trial the accused has the right to face his/her accuser. Documents available to the public are manifest – everything from homeowner tax bills, to divorce decrees, to minutes of city council meetings. While pseudonyms, historically, have periodically played important roles in uncovering manifest issues (such as injustice and fraud), in general it was difficult to remain anonymous when communicating. Not impossible, just difficult.
In an online world, there are many opportunities to create multiple online personas – one each for various venues in which we participate. For instance, like many others, I have a work e-mail address and an address that I use for home, friends, and family. I also have personal accounts in which I use my name; for example, my Twitter account is CarlaMSmith. Occasionally, I leave feedback for an online purchase I’ve made.
While the web brings us much freedom and opportunity to expand our communities, it comes with a price. I am increasingly concerned about the ease of anonymity on the web, and the ability for half-truths, twisted facts, and near-libelous language to be widely disseminated using pseudonyms. I believe that we, as users of the HIMSS blog, have a responsibility to “walk the talk” of open and transparent communication.
To that end, we welcome comments and the open sharing of opinions on our blog. There is no expectation that readers will agree with the authors’ statements – in fact, we welcome constructive disagreement. We seek a healthy and animated exchange of ideas and opinions.
I encourage you, when you are ready to engage in a discussion on the HIMSS blog, to use your real name, if at all possible. Of course, I realize that this is not always the case, that there can be situations in which the constructive flow of communication could actually be stifled if pseudonyms were disallowed. Our goal is not to prevent readers from engaging; rather, our goal is civil discourse and, to that end, identification of the author can be a useful tool.
Let’s work together to support open and transparent communication on the web.