Friday, June 17, 2005

What is to be done

If an influenza pandemic is indeed on the way, there is much to be done and little time. And many potential problems need to be anticipated and some solutions devised and readied. This task has proven beyond our governments (federal, state and local) and there is no reason to believe they will suddenly acquire the ability to accomplish it in the midst of chaos. So we'll have to do it ourselves.

With luck from the techno gods, next week the Reveres will join The Next Hurrah's DemFromCT and Just a Bump in the Beltway's Melanie Mattson in a new effort, a collaborative resource on influenza. Henry Niman will join us, and so, we hope, will many of you. We have chosen the "Wiki" format because it is the one that can take advantage of the substantial amount of "raw brain power" and latent expertise in the vast blogosphere community. This means it will be a shared endeavor. You will be able to add to or edit existing entries or submit a new one. For the most part quality control will be of the "self-correcting" kind, i.e., those who see errors in entries will correct them. But some control will be exercised by us as we try to guide things along constructive and useful lines according to principles suitably adapted from the wikipedia.

This will not be a discussion board, news filter or soap box. We have our blogs for that and we hope the many and still growing number of existing bird flu sites will continue to function as they have. Our objective is to provide an accurate and responsible base of scientific information, collaboratively developed, about influenza and the means to prevent it, treat it and control it. The emphasis will be on community solutions to a community problem. If you choose to go off to a cabin in the woods, this will not be the place to explain how to build and supply it. While individual actions will not be avoided, our intention is to empower people in their local communities to initiate and encourage innovative, humane solutions to the problem of a serious epidemic disease in our midst. Thus it will be a place to suggest how your community hospital can better prepare, how your community leaders can think ahead to the inevitable problems that will appear, and where you can contribute your ideas and experience to make everyone's community better able to endure an onslaught from nature's bioterrorist.

This is an experiment borne of necessity, anxiety, and hope. Our three sites will post further information as we scramble to get this thing ready to go. At that point it will be up to all of us to make it useful and constructive.