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Report from Med@Tel

I would like to give a short report about my presence at Med@Tel in
Luxembourg. This conference for medicine informatics had some Open
Source track and the organisers invited me to give an introduction about Debian Med. The slides of my talk are available as well as the paper I submitted for the abstract book[1]. The audience were about 20 people somehow connected to some medical Open Source project and the talk was well received. (For instance I’ve got a warm handshake: “Thanks for what you are doing” afterwards.)

What always astonishes me is that people in all circumstances I’m
reporting about Debian Med immediately agree with me that this is
something which is really helpful and needed. However, even if I’m
traveling through the world since eight years to talk about this concept
– not only for the topic of medicine, also for other fields – people
consider it brand new and they were not aware that such a thing really
exists. The obvious conclusion is that I (or rather we Debian people)
somehow failed in advertising it.

We could even say that Debian could serve as (buzz-word alarm)
application store for different fields of work. While we probably are a
bit nervous about such kind of buzz words it actually fits to some
extend to what we are doing (at least I came to this conclusion when
talking to other conference participants). More advertising adictive
people than we would sell Debian as this. While I’m hesitating to sell
Debian as “something” we probably need to adapt to the language our
potential users are speaking to let them understand what we are doing.
In times where importand people pronounce “Debian was a pointless
exercise”[2] we should not trust that users simply find their way to
Debian just by evaluating its technical brilliance. We (at least the
Debian Med team) are now targeting at other user groups as well.

For instance I talked to an engaged Fedora user who liked the support of
medical software inside Debian. When I told him that there is also
support for Education, Science, Multimedia, GIS, Games, etc. he could
not even believe this. (I think I finally got this guy convinced when I
explained him that we even support kFreeBSD which enables him to use ZFS
and it took me about 5min to make sure he really understood what we
provide – at first he believed in certain hacks, chroots, VMs whatever.)

But this guy made an important point: If we obviosely fail in
advertising the cool stuff we just have, what about using social media
like Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. I’m personally quite ignorant of
all this stuff. However, if I look over the shoulder of some of my
friends and see with what pieces of “information” they are poluting the
“byte space” by using twitter so that I’m convinced that it is a
reasonable thing to ignore this medium – I could perfectly imagine to
twitter any uploaded Debian package. Something like

Uploaded

and in the case of Debian Med enriched with ‘#DebianMed’ could do a
reasonable job. Once implemented this could serve as a quite cheap way
to get some attention amongst potential users.

What do you think about this and what other chances do you see to make
use of social media to make the things we are doing right more popular?

Kind regards

Andreas.

[1] http://people.debian.org/~tille/talks/201104_luxembourg
[2] http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2011/01/our-exclusive-interview-with-linus-torvalds-lca2011/

http://fam-tille.de

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