A Medicine 2.0 Tool: Study On The Go With Medical e-Books plus Some Experiential Babbles & Lessons On Integration

As I continue to explore the many more possibilities and understand the many more practicalities of Medicine 2.0, I am happy with the main realization that it effects broader knowledge, wider accessibility for medical students and professionals, and free exchange of vital information among peers than ever before. Isn’t it wonderful?

Medical e-Books predates the specific definition of Medicine 2.0. Now it seems, it was after all, its first intuition and one of its great tools.

I’ve been using e-books since before I knew its name. I was not crazed up about it, just thankful for its practicality in my life back when I was a medical student and when PDAs were first introduced. It miraculously compressed shelves and shelves of books in my pocket. It became a security blanket to have all that medical knowledge accessible. Stuff that my brain’s drives cannot contain just yet. And now, my old friend visits me again.

I am currently traveling and I am on a schedule for certain examinations. My solution? Take my readings with me without bringing the entire shelf of books. And so here I am again, this time with a different perspective, a better appreciation and a second look at its possibilities. I’m wonderfully aware of more now.


My study-on-the-go tools are: my first generation iPod Nano which contains audio (MP3) lectures, my MacBook which contains 7 medical review books (among others) and which I use to play video lectures too.

I have to admit that my attention is now wider for these nifty brains and world on the go. For one, my husband is in the e-book enterprise. Second, my hard headed being just lifted itself out of its stubborn position on status quo–so I’m now an explorer, but not yet a fan. (Unless, some study would show that the accessibility provided by this format had the consequence of wider readership especially in developing countries where the public education standards brought about by dismal education budget figures are really low.) Thirdly, was the very interesting whiff of enthusiasm and spirit I got at Teleread. I guess, now I am an explorer plus one.

In the past, I have associated electronic versions of books as a necessary evil. It still is. But definitely not evil. It helped me through 2 years of hospital brain work by letting me have 4 volumes worth of textbooks in my pocket! (2 Volumes of Harrison’s Principles of Medicine and 2 Volumes of Schwartz’ Textbook of Surgery plus a whole gamut of other books.) iSilo Reader was the magic software for me at that time. I don’t know now — I have not quite updated myself on this. This was in the late 90s and early 2000s. Back then, I was using the Compaq Ipaq 3760. Sweet! But eventually, we had a disconnect between us because — it was so thick, it kept ripping the seams off the pocket of my smocks and the battery life is pathetic! An hour to an hour and a half at the most. But it has served its good purpose during that time. It had more memory (expandable with a compact flash sleeve) and RAM at 64MB I got my work done especially the last minute stuff that involved typing in information. I had a Targus Portable Keyboard. Nostalgic sniffs — for the keyboard and the student days, but not the iPaq’s specs.


The catch: At that time, I could not feel the joy that I am reading a “real” book. The medical e-books were CD-Rom versions that came with the paper textbook purchase. Then the iSilo converts them into smaller byte versions. Very rarely, if any, downloadable stuff. The lay out was fine. The content was exactly like the paper version including the graphics.

The virtue: I can access my needed information after a few clicks and I won’t be injuring my back carrying those 2-inch volumes. So I endured.

The ticklish solution: the iSilo (or was it the iPaq) came with a scroll function and it worked nicely for me. I imagined I’m watching tv in a 2×3 inch vertical screen. Not bad. But I never finished a chapter of it.

The use: Easy access of information while on the go and on the move.

And so, for my “real” textbook reading? I waited till I got home.

All those medical e-books definitely came with some price. So, now with Project Gutenberg, Archive.Org, the party of Web 2.0 consequences and such, e-book companies are mushrooming. And they are now courting us. They are waving the delicious and fun literatures for free! Although no medical textbooks in the wave here. Boo. Perhaps not yet. These are Darwin’s On Origin of the Species, Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions and even the dear late Carlos P. Romulo’s I Walked With Heroes.

The challenge: Can a traditional reader shift? Will a traditional reader shift? I’m definitely referring to myself, a reader with a peculiar drift — one with a slight habit of smelling and feeling a new book recently obtained. And one who likes her textbook pages detached from its seams and its chapters simply stapled. My answer is yes. I guess there is no question now. I’m traveling at the same time getting readings done and my “books” often handy minus the weight. I’m not complaining at all.

The perfect day: It is best for the e-book providers to work with the machine builders that vessel their wares to intelligently understand the scenarios which the reader could be in. Accomodating the different angles and idiosyncracies of reading–be it technical or leisure. Flow with the readers’ eye and feel. And e-books may be what they will get their eyes and hands on in no time. All the time. Beyond regular technical readers like medical readers who need to constantly update their knowledge. Amazon is not scared to put a price on their wares. But companies like Wowio, ManyBooks, Free Books & e-Book Lobby among many others are just smiling and giving them away. This time it is truly sweet. Sweeter in fact as how sweeter can free be? Just bear the various registration processes and without the medical e-books.

The bottom line: Do people read more these days? Perhaps this should just be a question for now. I don’t doubt we’ll get our answers in time. And I’m very interested in those answers.



The near future: Maybe a study done with results that suggest figures pointing to quantitatively more reading as a consequence of these enticing free quality books. As for Medicine 2.0, the infinite tools continue to be in spasmic revolution — an integration in our daily lives more and more seen in our individual productivity and in bettering our qualities of life. In the meantime, I don’t mean to be grim but I think Medical e-books will never be free. But I could wish!


~ by Karina Descartin on 11 August 2007.

11 Responses to “A Medicine 2.0 Tool: Study On The Go With Medical e-Books plus Some Experiential Babbles & Lessons On Integration”

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