Thursday, July 30, 2009

I Do This For Me, Too!

Once again, I've lifted (and slightly altered it) a title for my post today. I've borrowed this one from Chris Bishop, whose blog I've been following for a number of years, and finally got to meet in person last week in Indianapolis.

Chris specifically responded with his feelings to a ... how do I say this ... let's just describe it as a "controversial" post from a blog I've followed for quite some time written by Jenny Ruhl known as Diabetes Update. Jenny's post was entitled "It's Official: I'm Not An Influential Blogger", which was of course, a headline meant to attract readers and it worked pretty well. (FYI, Jenny later followed that post up with another one you can catch here). A number of people who attended the Roche conference were startled by the issues raised in Jenny's first, notably the potential for conflicts of interest within the blogging community, and the subtle (and not-so-subtle) ways that corporate entities (including the pharmaceutical and medical device industries) influence people.

It's no secret this is going on, and in fact, the diabetes industry is a little bit late to the trend ... NPR reported Monday from the BlogHer '09 Conference in Chicago (that several diabetes bloggers also attended, including Allison Blass and Kerri Morrone-Sparling who were also in Indianapolis last week also attended) that Mommy Bloggers at that conference are also struggling with how to deal with "Blog-ola" (the free goodies, products, trips and other perks many marketers are giving to bloggers in hopes of getting favorable publicity or positive reviews). According to NPR, another a hot topic at the BlogHer conference was recent talk by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on whether blogs that review products should offer a disclaimer stating whether they are posting paid reviews or are receiving free products in exchange for positive posts.

Until that happens, I'm not going to worry too much, because until the Roche event, I'd only once received any "Blog-ola" ... a meter with some free test-strips from a start-up known as Agamatrix I was asked to try (Roche didn't even give us meters or strips, FYI). In neither case, was I asked to even review the item or reference the event in my blog. But this is certainly a concern, as it is akin to the kind of marketing that has been going on for years (yet is rarely disclosed) with doctors ... the free sample products, the notepads and pens, etc.

Indeed, before I agreed to attend the Roche conference, I thought about whether I too might be potentially corrupted by this subtle influence. But I concluded 2 things: first, unless it becomes a regular issue, I can't worry much about it. If I receive "Blog-Ola" in my mailbox (electronic or snail-mail) on a regular basis, I'll need to reconsider, but as of today, the diabetes industry hasn't noticed me enough to try and buy my influence (I suspect they don't have to; it's doctors who are on their radar screens, and conflicts of interest are a HUGE problem there).

Second, I started this blog to share items I felt the diabetes community (especially the type 1 community) should either be aware of or be concerned about, and perhaps share news. Along the way, I've found it to be personally very therapeutic express things (even if no one reads them). I'm not looking to be the #1 blogger or attract advertising dollars, and I don't worry about statistics. If someone stumbles about something I read and thinks twice about it, I've gotten something from it. But I think the biggest thing I've gotten from blogging is meeting others who also had this invisible disease, and dealt with the same crappy, never-ending treatment demands.

Which brings me to the reason I started this post. I never sought to influence others when I began writing this blog -- if that happens, great. Already, I've met others who are dealing with the same B.S. day after day and struggle with the same crap, so I've gotten what I came to the blogosphere for. I do this for me -- it's a selfish motive, but if I can help someone along the way, I'm a happy man.


Jenny said...


I must be more influential than I thought because my email box of late is teeming with offers of blogola. My email address is public and easy to find. Yours isn't.

I have been offered ads at premium rates, free "diabetic" food, free meters, free web site subscriptions, free monitoring software and more.

The rate at which this stuff has been coming in has gone way, way up the past six months. This is one reason I am so attuned to the issue of conflict of interest.

Gretchen said...

Scott: You may be doing this for you, But I enjoy your posts, even though I'm a type 2.

Sara said...

Great post Scott! I (somewhat) often disagree with your conclusions on some of your more political posts, but I also return to read more because I know you present a fair and balanced assessment of the issue.

Keep doing it for 'you', but always know that you are certainly helping the rest of us too!

P.S. And Jenny is right about the e-mail address thing. You'd be amazed at the diabetes spam you get with an easily accessible e-mail address on your blog.

Scott K. Johnson said...

You'll always be the #1 Scott in my book! :-)

Seriously though, the therapy from simply getting stuff out there is priceless.