HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Akron Univ. School of Law

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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Flu Wiki

To help keep everyone up-to-date on the Bird Flu, please check out the new Flu Wiki.  A description from the creators follows:

Here is their description of this new Wiki:

A Wiki is a form of collaborative software that allows anyone to edit (change) any page on the site using a standard web browser like Explorer, Firefox or Safari.The purpose of the Flu Wiki is to help local communities prepare for and perhaps cope with a possible influenza pandemic. This is a task previously ceded to local, state and national governmental public health agencies. Communications technology has now become sufficiently available to allow a new form of collaborative problem-solving that harvests the rich fund of knowledge and experience that exists among those connected via the internet, allowing more talent to participate.

What the Flu Wiki is not:

It is not:

  • a news filter

  • a discussion board

  • a place to promote commercial products

  • a soap box

  • a place to advance pet theories

There is nothing wrong with these things. Many of us have blogs that do some or all of them. The wiki is not a replacement or competition for any existing blog or site. We hope existing sites will continue to grow, flourish and generally continue to carry out the important functions they have already done so well.

What we hope the wiki will be:

  • a reliable source of information, as neutral as possible, about important facts useful for a public health approach to pandemic influenza

  • a venue for anticipating the vast range of problems that may arise if a pandemic does occur

  • a venue for thinking about implementable solutions to foreseeable problems

No one, in any health department or government agency, knows all the things needed to cope with an influenza pandemic. But it is likely someone knows something about some aspect of each of them and if we can pool and share our knowledge we can advance preparation for and the ability to cope with events. This is not meant to be a substitute for planning, preparation and implementation by civil authorities, but a parallel effort that complements, supports and extends those efforts.

The open nature of the wiki format has shown itself able to develop surprisingly effective and sophisticated products, as in the Wikipedia. Whether it will work to fashion new solutions to a complex public health problem remains to be seen. This is in the nature of a grand experiment. We hope you will join us in it.

The initial offerings are small and illustrative, in keeping with the limited resources of those of us who are turning the keys in the ignition for the first time. While we will continue to administer and maintain the Wiki, we are turning the wheel over to the community, to take it where the road leads us. There is a bit of a learning curve to driving this rig. We hope you will find the instructions sufficient to get started. You'll soon be learning on your own. There is a "sandbox" page you can use to play with if you wish.

Regularly updated content will be forthcoming in the days and weeks to come, both by us and by you. That's what wikis arefor.

Melanie Mattson (Just a Bump in the Beltway), DemFromCT (The Next Hurrah), Revere (Effect Measure).

[bm]

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