Digitally Questioning Authorities

Dave Cormier commented on my previous blog post and it seems that my reply deserves a blog post of its own.

Dave expressed a lack of fondness for the digital immigrant language. To which I reply:

I recognize the difficulties of the digital native / digital immigrant construct. Determining whether someone is a digital native or digital immigrant is not simply a question of age, and I suspect there are more options than the dichotomy. Personally, I’ve often referred to myself as a digital aborigine.
He then goes on to talk about how digital media is affecting power structures in health care and education. To which, I reply:

In terms googling medications, or asking for a link, this is a big topic in healthcare and I suspect it parallels discussions in education and beyond. It probably reflects some larger issues. In health care, we talk about the e-patient movement and participatory medicine.

Is it polite for me to ask my doctor for a link to the medication she is suggesting?

Yes. It should be encouraged. Ideally, the doctor should be able to provide a handout with a link, or send a message via a patient portal with a link for more information.

Can i come in with the website that told me what's wrong with me?

This gets a little messier. One problem is that some people have a tendency to Cyberchondria. Also, the amount of information that patients bring in can, at times, be excessive, especially in these days of life logging. On the other hand, for special situations, patients may have access to more information than their doctors and bringing in information can be a great help. It also depends on how well the doctor responds to information being brought in or whether there is some other power struggle going on.

The final question Dave asks is Is it polite to digitally check an expert?. This, it seems, is the key underlying question. Years ago, I wore a T shirt saying Question Authority. I’ve always believed it is not only polite, but important to check experts, no matter whether we do it digitally or using other media.