The Paradox of the Health Commons: The Benefits and Trouble about Participation and Co-Creation
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Natalie Pang: Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
International Journal of Organizational and Collective Intelligence (IJOCI), 2011, vol. 2, issue 3, 1-10
Advances in participatory technologies have created both benefits and challenges for consumers of public health information. Health information is more available than before, as well as diverse in terms of sources and information providers. The playing field of information creation and use is level: both medical professionals and the lay person can equally contribute and gain open access to health information via the Web. However, this also creates significant challenges. Information can be used in inappropriate contexts, the user can wrongly diagnose his or her ailments, and reading about ailments can negatively impact hypochondriacs. Contemporary discourse has argued for the benefits of such co-created health information as a health commons, yet more work is required to anticipate and elucidate its related challenges. The paper deepens understanding about the structural layers governing health information, as well as highlights the risks involved. As people use health information at a greater frequency and depth, and use participatory technologies to contribute health information, the discourse on the challenges ahead is imminent.
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