Diagnosing the New Medpedia

Yesterday, web entrepreneur James Currier, the founder of Ooga Labs, launched an open-source encyclopedia for medical information — sort of. 

Currier's site, Medpedia, plans to avoid the inaccuracy pitfalls of user-generated content by screening the users for trained professionals only.

The site will feature author pages detailing their credentials including their educational background and certifications. The New York Times Bits blog wrote that, "Mr. Currier is aiming to build the most complete database of information from medical professionals." 

While ambitious, Wikidoc already claims this throne as the self-reported "world's largest medical textbook/encyclopedia" with over 75,000 chapters of content contributed by over 900 registered users.  Rather than screening users, Wikidoc allows completely democratic edits, however, each topic is overseen by an accredited editor-in-chief.

While Currier looks to expertise to solve the Wiki problem, Thomas Goetz, deputy editor of Wired magazine, argues that expertise is in fact the problem with scientific writing on Wikipedia. In his blog entry, "Why Does Wikipedia Suck on Science?" Goetz writes, "On Wikipedia, contributors are expected to contribute their knowledge. But on science, there's a oneupmanship going on, and a topic will be honed to an ever-greater level of expertise. That's great for precision and depth, but horrible for the general user, who is often brought to Wikipedia through a top hit on Google."

Currier is also cited for calling on patients to take a more active role in their health and to follow procedural guidelines for surgeries and treatments that will be posted on Medpedia. The problem is that some methods encouraging patient literacy, such as direct-to-consumer advertising by pharmaceutical companies, are blamed by the medical community for problems such as the overuse of prescription drugs.  Doctors also often use varied procedure prep guidelines that might contradict those online and lead to confusion.

The site seems to offer promise in the listing of specialists by geographical area to provide for a physician referral system. However, zocdoc.com is reportedly expanding outside New York. If they do it fast enough, Medpedia may be rendered redundant at best, but most likely a nice try.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Why 'upgrading' humanity is a transhumanist myth

Upload your mind? Here's a reality check on the Singularity.

  • Though computer engineers claim to know what human consciousness is, many neuroscientists say that we're nowhere close to understanding what it is, or its source.
  • Scientists are currently trying to upload human minds to silicon chips, or re-create consciousness with algorithms, but this may be hubristic because we still know so little about what it means to be human.
  • Is transhumanism a journey forward or an escape from reality?
Keep reading Show less

Steven Pinker's 13 rules for writing better

The Harvard psychologist loves reading authors' rules for writing. Here are his own.

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 21: Steven Pinker speaks onstage during OZY Fest 2018 at Rumsey Playfield, Central Park on July 21, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Ozy Media)
Personal Growth
  • Steven Pinker is many things: linguist, psychologist, optimist, Harvard professor, and author.
  • When it comes to writing, he's a student and a teacher.
  • Here's are his 13 rules for writing better, more simply, and more clearly.
Keep reading Show less

Dead – yes, dead – tardigrade found beneath Antarctica

A completely unexpected discovery beneath the ice.

(Goldstein Lab/Wkikpedia/Tigerspaws/Big Think)
Surprising Science
  • Scientists find remains of a tardigrade and crustaceans in a deep, frozen Antarctic lake.
  • The creatures' origin is unknown, and further study is ongoing.
  • Biology speaks up about Antarctica's history.
Keep reading Show less