So this week, as we dive into twitter, I’m challenged. I’m a talker, and I like big words…how does one possibility fit everything they need to say in 140 characters?!? EEK. I’ve had a twitter account for years, because that was just thing to do.  However, I wasn’t very active on it. I was doubtful of the benefits of twitter. How could 140 characters impact health communications?

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HOLY CANOLI, BATMAN! Was I sure wrong!

I started following the American Heart Association’s twitter feed, and I noticed two things:

1. They re-tweeted TEDMED quite a bit.

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2. I kept noticing #greatchallaneges

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So, curiosity got the best me and I started snooping around the internet…what are these #greatchallenges they speak of?? Then, ladies and gentlemen, I found this


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Here is the use of social media at its finest. This is a perfect example of how the use of hashtags spreads information, and creates excitement around a topic.  TEDMED is focusing of 20 great challenges to “our health and medicine”. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the level on engagement being offered through this website. They use google hangouts for live interactions, twitter, facebook, blogging, recorded ted talks, and live events (and re-casts of those events) to reach out to folks of all different avenues. What I find so groovy about this hashtag business is the ability for the message to spread, like wildfire! With twitter, its so fulfilling to see how a message is amplified and shared. This creates social awareness, and gets people thinking and talking about various topics. The one nearest and dearest to my heart is the prevention of childhood obesity. #spreadingthemessage #awesome #fightingobesity


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Finding this website, and seeing the creation of these type of network, makes me excited enough to dance on top of a table. In this week’s reading from Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody,  I was struck by the following sentence: “Collective action is harder to stop.  Groups can exert a different kind of force… (this) creates a shared awareness needed to create public action”. When people converge together over a shared interest, the force is indeed powerful. Seeing the TEDMED group come together to fight childhood obesity, gives me hope.  Considering what we are up against, we will need a force similar to that used  to tear down the berlin wall, if we want to end childhood obesity.

For more information: TEDMED  


9 thoughts on “#greatchallenges

  1. 140 characters is not a problem when you can includes links to interesting material that expands your message. I love it and hate it when it is so easy to clink on a link and then get stuck watching a great TEDMED talk for an hour when I should be doing other things. Thanks Kirstie, I had to start “following” the site. Good post.

  2. Hi Kristie! I loved your post and I was in the same boat until the other day lol. I think its key to see or follow the hastags to find discussions/information that will be pertinent to public health and this was a great example of just that! We may only get 140… but it can go a long way in some cases… sometimes a simple hashtag and link is a ll you need 🙂

  3. Randall,
    Thanks for the comment.

    I agree, it really is a love/ hate relationship. I lost an hour to twitter surfing: I found lots of interesting stuff, but now still have a pile of laundry that is calling my name.

  4. I love how you phrased it — hashtags can “amplify and spread” the message. Good hashtags are all about getting people interested and excited. And when they send their first tweet using the hashtag, they have the pride of belonging to the group and a greater likelihood to continue the conversation!

  5. Kirstie, I think you captured the true usefulness of twitter that I was not seeing: it is a venue to spread information, and create excitement around a topic. That is its true usefulness. Before I read your article, all I was thinking was, “Oh gosh, 140 characters, what is this? Mental gymnastics? And who created the 140 character limit anyways?”
    Now I will see it as a way to troll for information that is much greater than 140 characters. Thanks!

  6. I am going to the TED MED conference for this first time in September, in San Francisco. I can’t wait. I will tweet and post about it to share interesting bits of inspiration. But you can also follow it closely online at http://www.tedmed.com. I was able to attend through a practitioner scholarship. Check it out, if you haven’t.

  7. I just posted this week assignment on Love/Hate relationship. Now that I am reading these posts, thank God I am not alone

  8. Kristie,
    Very interesting post and I agree that I was a bit intimidated by 140 characters but looking at major health organizations and non-profit’s twitter account, I can see how effectively they are able to engaged the followers by using hashtags and inserting links to the articles/pictures.

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