Google Health OneBox is a boost for NLM’s MedlinePlus — As discussed previously, though, a few tweaks could make it an even bigger boost. A problem not discussed in the previous article is the “MedlinePlus” name — It has little user recognition, and therefore gets considerably less traffic than it might with a better name. In the NLM Update at the recent Midwest Chapter/Medical Library Association meeting, NLM staffer Paula Kitendaugh said some people at NLM are aware of this, and that a different name would likely do better in Google OneBox, but that so far bureaucratic inertia has prevented a name-change.

Realizing how slowly the wheels turn in a large organization like NLM, then, a better name for MedlinPlus is probably unlikely to happen soon. But how about a quick fix for the name of the link in Google OneBox, to take advantage of the fire-hose of potential traffic from Google? My idea for a simple change, that I think would draw more traffic, as shown in the enhanced screen shot here, is to change the link name from “Medline Plus” to “Natl Lib Med.” I think this simple abbreviation would be recognized and respected by users, and boost clicks to NLM.

As far as a new name for MedlinePlus, I don’t have any ideas so far. If anyone else does, please make a comment, or send to me via email or Twitter.

Accompanying article: MedlinePlus & Google Health OneBox

Eric Rumsey is at: eric-rumsey AttSign uiowa dott edu and on Twitter @ericrumsey

In August, Google launched Google Health OneBox (left). This puts the National Library of Medicine’s Medline Plus right at the top of the search results, and is potentially a valuable new source of traffic for NLM.

There are factors, however, that work against MLP — The three prominent links on the left, which are likely to get the bulk of OneBox clicks (Asthma, Google Health, & thumbnail) go to the Google Health Topics page (below). This has the same text and pictures as the MLP Encyclopedia/ADAM page that’s linked from the OneBox Medline Plus link. But there’s an important difference — The Google Health version of ADAM has Symptoms as the first section after Overview. The MLP version of ADAM, on the other hand (see further down on this page) has Causes as the first section. …

This may seem to be a minor difference. But I’ve learned — through long experience with Hardin MD and brief experience with the short-lived Medical Library Association-Google Health Coop project — that symptoms are a very popular, heavily searched topic for users (which Google certainly knows!). So I suspect that users who try out the Google Health and Medline Plus OneBox links will quickly learn to prefer Google Health because it features the symptoms information they’re looking for. It IS a positive for NLM that the Google Health page has a prominent link to MLP. But it’s rather surprising that there’s no clear credit given to ADAM as the original provider of the information — ADAM is credited only at the bottom of the page, where few users will see it (and I suspect many will consider it copyright-free, since they’ll presume that it’s from a government site.)

MedlinePlus & Google Health OneBox — How NLM can boost traffic

Change the order of sections on ADAM Encyclopedia pages, to put Symptoms at the top, as Google does. This would make the pages more interesting to most users.

Surprisingly, MLP Encyclopedia pages, which is what Google OneBox links to, have no links to equivalent MLP Health Topic pages (Example: there is no link between the Asthma pages in the Encyclopedia and in Health Topics) — After all, it’s the MLP Health Topic pages that NLM staff creates and maintains, so how about making links to them from Encyclopedia pages, so the surging clickers from Google OneBox can find them!

See follow-up article: MedlinePlus Needs a New Name

Eric Rumsey is at: eric-rumsey AttSign uiowa dott edu and on Twitter @ericrumsey

The recently announced addition of thumbnail navigation to Google Book Search is, unfortunately, only available for full-view. But all magazines in GBS are full-view, so thumbnails are especially useful for them, since [because] they have so many pictures. To use thumnails, go to Read this Magazine (or Book), and click the 4-square grid in the top row of icons (shaded below).

There are relatively few public-domain, full-view books with pictures in GBS, but thumbnail view is valuable for them, to get a quick overview of the proportion and nature of the pictures, as shown in the example below.

A recent Wired article (Why E-Books Are Stuck in a Black-and-White World) has a good chart comparing four leading E-reader displays (E-Ink, Kent Displays, Pixel Qi, and Qualcomm). The chart appears far down in the article, though, and I suspect it was missed by many readers, so to make it more visible I’m republishing a slightly massaged, smaller version below.

Eric Rumsey is at @ericrumsey

[eink, ereaders, eBooks]