Come “blog” with us at my.evidenceinmotion.com/blog!
First, I would like to take the opportunity to thank each of you for your active participation on the Evidence in Motion listserv. The group has grown to over 120 members, and many of you regularly contribute to the discussions. As you know, the purpose of the listserv is to share information and ideas related to evidence-based physical therapy practice. Although the listserv has served us well to date, there are a couple of limitations. First, one of the listserve’s key features is being able to share current evidence related to physical therapy practice. However, to receive attachments, Yahoo! Groups requires that your settings be set to receive individual emails. Because of server space limitations, Yahoo! does not store attachments, making them unavailable for viewing after initial distribution via email. This makes it impossible for new members to become familiar with previously shared evidence. Secondly, because of the listserv’s growing popularity, you may have noticed increasing amounts of email traffic crowding your inbox. Although manageable for now, communication using traditional email will likely become burdensome for even the most heavy email users in the near future as participation continues to escalate.
With this in mind, we began thinking about emerging technologies that can maximize our ability to accomplish our intent in the most efficient and unobtrusive manner possible. Listserv technology dates back to the time that Al Gore invented the internet – a dinosaur in technology time. The emerging technology that will optimize our ability to share information and ideas is a weblog.
Weblogs are essentially a medium where a group of individuals with common interests post messages in on-line forum. Weblogs are expected to replace most busy listserv’s in the near future because of the increasing burden of overcrowded email inboxes. The primary difference from the listserv is that rather than communicating to the group via email, we will communicate by posting messages to the blog, which is hosted at my.evidenceinmotion.com/blog. Rather than receiving individual emails (although there is an option for this if you wish using the Bloglet subscription feature included on the blog), all you have to do is monitor the blog on a regular basis to check for new information, much like you do for other on-line media. Last and most importantly, a weblog will both categorize a post and will serve as a repository for the information that is constantly being distributed.
One key feature of a weblog is in linking other websites. This is done by hypertext such that any time you see an underlined word(s) you can simply click and be taken immediately to that site (you will notice that this is being used freely in this intro). We will be experimenting with various technologies and features of weblogs but one that we have added immediately is a list of books that our key founders have found useful for both physical therapy and managing people. They will be listed on the left column and immediately linked to Amazon.com’s website. Any books that are bought thru this method will include a donation to the Foundation for Physical Therapy thru the Amazon.com Associates program “bloggers” to review previous posts and attachments to become familiar with recent discussions. One of the biggest advantages of the blog is that it employs all of the latest reading technologies, including RSS feeds. It’s ridiculously easy to use in most instances and will greatly enhance the efficiency with which you are able to review information on-line. Instructions for getting an RSS feed into your yahoo page are readily available and easy. This is just one of many possibilities to maximize your ability to efficiently monitor and post to the blog.
Check out the bottom left-hand corner of the blog for the various technologies that can be utilized in conjunction with the blog. For those who like passively receiving emails that remind them when a new post appears, there are several ways (ie, Bloglet subscription feature on the blog) to set up email alerts so that the blog for you will function in much the same was as the listserv. Other exciting technologies that can be incorporated into the blog are podcasting, RSS feed tracking, and feed aggregation. We also provide a list of our favorite blogs.
One of the primary differences from the listserv is that we will begin to moderate the blog by granting authoring privileges. Don’t worry – the intent is not to limit the number of individuals who can post to a select group of individuals. We have no interest (nor the time) to censor posts from well-intended individuals sharing their candid perspective on a particular issue relevant to evidence-based physical therapy practice. However, to maintain the blog’s relevance, we have to protect against making authoring so open that random individuals are able to “clog the blog” with meaningless, uninformed dribble that wastes the reader’s time – one of our most precious resources. This is not a problem now. However, given our rapid growth, we will certainly encounter these types of situations in the near future. If you have been regularly contributing to the listserv, we will invite you to become a “blog author”. If you haven’t been regularly contributing but would like to have the ability to post messages, simply send us an email requesting authoring privileges. We will grant authoring privileges on an ongoing basis for new individuals who wish to post to the blog. We will provide prospective authors instructions for setting up a free account on Typepad. An area that is not limited is the "Comments" feature, which can be utilized by anyone, with or without a free Typepad account. The beauty is that the comments will be made to a specific post which will eliminate having to reference previous submissions from asynchronous emails. Rather than sending an email to the listserv, we simply visit the blog at my.evidenceinmotion.com/blog to read posts and download attachments. I would encourage you to become familiar with the various technologies listed at the bottom left-hand corner of the blog. No sign-up is necessary if you wish simply to monitor the blog. Just visit the site and read. Don’t hesitate to let us know if you have any questions about how best to make the transition. In fact, feel free to post any questions using the "Comment" feature to test out the blog’s capabilities. I think you will find it to be a seamless process. There will inevitably be a period of time where some communication will occur across both the listserv and the blog. However, the plan will be to eliminate conversation on the listserv in the near future.