In early March I wrote how I was making sense of our digital world at the beginning of this pandemic. Some of my practices have held but after six months, some have changed. For example I see information from the WHO and CDC as lagging indicators, and no longer my first stop to find out what is happening now. I understand that they reflect the makeup of their members and funders more so than being a neutral point of view from the medical community.
I am also starting to understand that public health experts and epidemiologists, while both medical professionals, can have widely diverging perspectives on this pandemic. These are not the only knowledge silos dealing with a global problem from their unique and often blinkered perspectives. No single perspective can understand all the complexities.
In a recent discussion with a group of Australian educators, I was asked about the PKM model and how could students accurately discern knowledge using human filters. I responded that students can learn to use human filters already, and prepare themselves for later in life. They can start to follow experts, and see if they make sense, are regarded well by their peers, and add value.
I gave the example of my own use of human filters to understand SARS-CoV-2 and Covid-19. I learned the difference between the virus and the disease from my son Lucas, and continue to ask his advice on articles I come across and am not sure about the science. He also recommends other specialists I should connect with.
Currently I follow David Fisman on Twitter and also came across Michael Mina and his fantastic interview on This Week in Virology. I was referred to Dr. Mina through a weak social connection on Twitter.
Several years ago someone in my network recommended that I follow Trisha Greenhalgh, which I did, serendipitously. During the pandemic she has become one of the best medical communicators on the virus and the disease in the UK and is constantly helping make her network smarter. As an early advocate for masks, Trish influenced my own behaviours.
“COVID-19 wasn’t in my plans for 2020. I was happily doing research into service innovation, patient narratives, methodology of rapid review, and video/phone consultations. I’m (metaphorically) a long-distance, all-round athlete. This pesky disease is everything I’ve trained for.” —@TrishGreenhalgh
I continue to read the daily reports produced by Nicolas Granatino, co-founder of Cronycle. Using algorithms and human intelligence Nicolas has developed a process similar to PKM for sensemaking to produce the Corona Daily. Nicolas is also a member of our Perpetual Beta Coffee Club.
To learn in complex situations, like this pandemic, we have to find sources of information and knowledge outside our pre-pandemic lives. I started by what and who I knew and have moved beyond those circles. It takes time and effort and culling — I have stopped listening to certain sources. I still don’t completely understand what is happening, especially regarding long covid, but I do feel that my caution is justified. As Stephen B. Johnson wrote, “Chance favours the connected mind.”