My ongoing investigations into online health communities brought me to Who is Sick?, a Google Maps mashup in beta that lets users post the seriously gory details of their symptoms so that they are incredibly findable. I learned a 29-year-old woman from Minneapolis picked up a stomach bug in Cancun within the last month, probably one of many – happy Spring Break!. The site brings back memories of Edward Tufte celebrating John Snow’s map of the London cholera epidemic in one of his books (was it Visual Explanations?).
Posters can post anonymously or by name, can indicate symptoms, and can also tag them. Voyeurs can search by location and familiar GMaps navigation, or by a symptoms tag cloud (try that on for a visualization). You can subscribe to email alerts, and I’m just sure that feeds are coming.
Who is Sick? is a curious idea – potentially cool, but if there was ever a 2.0-ish community that was only as good as the data available, this is it. I can’t remember feeling like posting my nasty symptoms last time I wasn’t feeling up to snuff, but who knows. And will this really give me more insight into an outbreak than socializing with local friends and parents? Perhaps the payoff is larger… we’ll be empowered to take on our local government by discovering our own polluted water supply, a la John Snow.
In my book, Who is Sick? just begs for RIA and interactivity… just think of the interactive and visual possibilities of navigating by symptoms and ailments.