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Who Is the Data For? March 1, 2017

Posted by Peter Varhol in Publishing, Technology and Culture.
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Andreas Weigend recently published an intriguing book called Data For the People, in which he argues that we are not going to stop the proliferation of personal data that is used to categorize and market to us, so we should embrace this change and find ways to use collected data to our advantage.

He cites many of the data points that I do in my blog posts, but comes to different conclusions. In particular, my own thoughts are to limit my use of personal data on a case-by-case basis.  His own conclusion is that we need to accept the proliferation of personal data as inevitable, and embrace it in a way that makes it valuable to us.

He makes a lot of sense, from an alternative point of view from mine, and I won’t dismiss it out of hand.

However, I would like to contrast that with another article, one that points out that when we choose our friends through shared data, we lose our ability to connect with our physical neighbors.

So, here is what I think. I think Andreas is correct, strategically.  But I am simply not sure how we get from where we are to where he wants to be.  I don’t think it will be clean and neat.  And it certainly won’t be convenient, especially for those of us who are at least part way through our lives.

I’ve used this quote before, but it remains apropos.  From Crosby, Stills, and Nash: “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.”


My Health Care Providers Hate Me March 1, 2017

Posted by Peter Varhol in Uncategorized.
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Because I ask questions, do research, and push back when something doesn’t seem to make sense.

And I have learned that doctors and other health care professionals are very uncomfortable with that. They are used to having their word taken as gospel.  And if you start asking questions, they get very defensive.  I am not the expert, but I have the right to question directives and treatment.  In theory, but in practice it is not appreciated.

I first experienced this two years ago, when I was told I needed a Whipple Procedure, immediately. Had I meekly accepted this directive, from multiple doctors, I would have had completely unnecessary life-altering surgery.  Instead, I asked for more tests, and researched through Dr. Google.  I ultimately didn’t have surgery at all.  Nor did I have cancer.

More recently, I received a referral to a specialist. That specialist sent me paperwork that must be filled out with a Number 2 pencil.  Really.  I go to their website; words are misspelled.  If they can’t get the easy things right, I have no confidence in their desire to provide quality care.

I called my primary care provider to see about an alternative referral. Their answer was, effectively, “Take it or leave it.”  And that was from the receptionist.

I attempted to send an email to my provider, through the form provided on their website. Invalid phone number, with no hint as to the format they want.  Finally, I type in 10 random digits.  It is accepted.  I get an automated email response from Admin.  The email form is completely blank.

I used to believe that the United States had the second worst health care in the world; the worst was every one else. I am now thinking that we are in fact the worst.

I am not a stupid person. Why do my health care providers treat me like one?

And tl;dr, but https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/02/when-evidence-says-no-but-doctors-say-yes/517368/.  Beware of the biases of our doctors.