Web 2.0 is an interactive, immersive network where participants consume and create content and connections. Young people, arguably the target group of much alcohol and other drug ‘interventions’, are primarily using the internet to source health information. Online networks facilitated through web 2.0 allow people to collaborate, gather and distribution information. Illicit drug use is no exception to this trend!
Ray argues that web 2.0 is where alcohol and other drug treatment services need to be focusing their attention if they want to capture the attention of the majority of young people who already use these online networks to discussion drug use.
The examples of online engagement in the AOD field that Ray reviewed were websites with comment facilities (like Somazone), websites that host multiple blogs (like Between the Lines) and Moreland Hall’s website Bluebelly, which is pushing the boundaries in its use of wiki articles and forthcoming feature film.
From the audience, we discovered the innovative work currently underway at the Burnet Institute using Facebook. The Queer as F**k project follows the lives of 5 fictional gay men who live together in a share house in Melbourne. The characters have their own facebook pages and interact together on the site. The main action occurs in short film clip episodes uploaded to youtube and disseminated through the facebook page. Health and social issues are introduced through the films and online interaction.
Chris Raine, founder of Hello Sunday Morning was also in the audience and had a chat to me after the show. HSM is a collective of bloggers who have taken 3, 6 or 12 months off drinking to examine why they drink and develop a new relationship with alcohol. Hello Sunday Morning uses similar logic to Queer as F**k: people who follow the experience of these individuals and interact with them will be engaged and more open to learning and experimenting with their own behaviour change. The difference is that the HSM people are real, whereas the Queer as F**k characters are fictional. There is something particularly appealing about HSM bloggers being real.
Alongside the importance of using web 2.0 to engage with people about drug issues, Ray also argued for the opening up of AOD workplaces to web 2.0. How can people who work in this field become familiar with web 2.0 when much of it is blocked by our organisation’s firewalls? How can innovation be stimulated in organisations where facebook, youtube and twitter are seen as not work related?
Ray ended his presentation with a great list of 10 reasons why we should embrace web 2.0 in the AOD field:
1. Source of information
2. Brand awareness, credibility
3. Networking and partnership development
4. Provide treatment to people we will never see
5. It’s engaging (and fun?)
6. Encourage opportunities for users to have a voice
7. Extend your staff’s working hours
8. Free (…ish)
9. ‘They’ are already using it
10. It’s not going away
What I love about this list is that it reads so much like why people should embrace the harm reduction approach to drug use. Essentially, people are using web 2.0 and it isn’t going anywhere, so we need to learn how to use it wisely and well, instead of the zero tolerance approach of ignoring it in the hope that it might be a passing phase. Hopefully more alcohol and other drug agencies will modernise their social media policies and embrace interactivity and openness through web 2.0. All they have to lose is their fear 🙂
* Thanks Ray for starting this conversation. Let’s continue it!