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Contagion Health

Imagine you log into your Facebook* account on September 8, 2017. You see a scattering of updates from your friends—somebody accidentally swallowed their mobile phone, and somebody else is complaining that none of the 3000 shows that premiered on YouTube this season is any good.


Facebook Health - IFTF Artifact from the FutureFacebook Health - IFTF Artifact from the Future


The Future of Reading Faces

An interesting blog post in the Wall Street Journal a couple weeks ago highlighted a startup company called MedNetworks that, among other things, analyzes social networking data to help pharmaceutical salespeople target their pitches to influential doctors.

You're Not Popular Enough for the Flu Shot

I'm a little late to this great study by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler about the possibilities of using social network analysis to predict flu outbreaks, but it's well worth highlighting. The premise of their study is that certain members of social networks can function as "sensors" that indicate the emergence of a flu or other outbreak.

How Our Bodies are Becoming Social

As part of the Chronicle of Higher Education's series on ideas and issues that will define the coming decade, Alondra Nelson writes about an idea we've been kicking around for a while: That over the next decade, she argues, our DNA will do as much to define our social interactions as it will do to define our health experiences.

As Nelson puts it:

If the therapeutic utility of the genome is somewhat intangible, the social life of DNA is unmistakable.

Take This Anti-Depressant--Courtesy of Your Social Network

A great feature in The Economist highlights the variety of ways businesses and researchers are looking at analyzing the intricacies of our social networks and digital trails to understand who influences us, who we influence, and what that could mean for the world at large. This isn't a new field, per se, but the breadth and subtlety of the analysis, as well as the potential quality of their conclusion, is pretty mind-blowing.

Ladies, get the mobile health app designed just for you! It's pink!


Okay, I admit it, I took the bait. I try not to write about every mobile health app I come across, but this one definitely caught my attention.

Contagion health continues to spread

Over the last couple of years, we've been interested in the idea that health spreads—for better or worse—through our social networks, and the tremendous potential this understanding has for designing networked-based interventions for optimized health results.  Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler have published some seminal work in this area, using the rich data available from the Framigham Heart Study.

How to get kids physically active? Reward them!

The Future of Social Networks is Storytelling Part 2

Last week, in Part 1, I wrote about my frustration with the ephemeral nature of social network conversations (cacophony would be a better word). There remain very few possibilities for layering stories on top of the raw torrent of data being producing by the real-time web.

The Future of Social Networks is Storytelling, Part 1

 I write this at the risk of becoming a pariah. I know that the whole Internet industry - driven in equal parts by oversharing Bay Area technorati, brand-monitoring New York ad men, and follower-culting LA celebrity bimbos (male and female) - is agog at the potential of the real-time web. There's even a conference about it. Conversations, it goes, are the next new thing.

It took the launch of Google Buzz (a really lame Twitter knockoff) and the death of J.D. Salinger (the master of terse dialogue) to really hammer home just what I find so annoying about Twitter and Facebook.

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