Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Something wiki this way came: the first day

Somewhere around 7 am EDST on June 27, 2005, the Flu Wiki was announced on the three initiating blogs (Just a Bump in the Beltway, The Next Hurrah, Effect Measure). By midnight EDST the site had received almost 1500 visits and an incredible 8000 page views. Average visit length was over 20 minutes.

Whatever else this means, there is a lot of interest in this subject. We hope that interest will translate into contributions and participation in the wiki. We have already seen some copy edits, corrections and expressions of intention-to-contribute. For those who have yet to visit or haven't spent much time on the site, there are three areas you might look at now.
  • Under Basic Scientific Info (left sidebar) you will find several influenza "Primers", extended essays meant to provide basic scientific information on influenza as a respiratory infection, on the virus itself, and a new one on "cytokine storm." These essays were written to be read by lay people but they do not oversimplify the science. They are written by a scientist but it is important specialists in virology check, correct, expand, clarify, amend, delete or whatever is appropriate to make them the best, most accurate and up-to-date information available for the intended audience. Addition of links, references and images are especially needed. There is no pride of authorship on a wiki. Only pride in the best product.

  • In the Experience of Others and Draft Plans section, clicking on states, regions and countries will get you to a list. Clicking on a state will get you to a page that probably says "Content to be added" (but see California). Go to your state health department's website and see what's there. If they have a flu site or information, click "edit" in the upper right of the wiki page and enter the link and any additional annotation text you want to. Links are done like this: [[URL|link text]]. You need to put in a name (your choice) and some text in the summary box (in this case it might be "link added"). You can preview it, but before it will be posted you have to hit Save. That's it. You've contributed.

    Consider that when all the states are filled in we will have the first "all in one place" guide and comparison of what the states are doing on influenza. And we can accomplish this very quickly with everyone's help. They (and you) can use it to compare your state with others and get ideas.

  • Finally, there are two amazing scenarios you will find under Anticipated consequences and solutions, Imagined Scenarios. One was done seven months ago by a Canadian citizen who wondered what a flu pandemic would be like. It is a very impressive, fully imagined piece. The other is the (now famous) Nature fictional blog of Declan Butler. Also very impressive, scientifically accurate and chilling.
In less than a single day this wiki has gone from a standing start to almost full speed ahead. Hop on. There's a lot of work to do and we don't know how much time to do as much as we can.