Do you remember Friendship Pins?
They make me think of connections: the connections that link letters into words and the connections that link strangers into chains of friends. When I was in fourth grade, I learned to read and I learned about the power of friendship pins.
Before that year, words were such a disjointed and confusing puzzle. I would sound out words laboriously within the lowest reading group. I would wince with frustration as I heard my halting sentences, while across the room the "gold reading group" raced through the hardest passages with ease.
Then I met my fourth grade teacher Mrs. Graham.
She was so kind. She taught me the simplest lessons. She gave me 10 spelling words like cat while the rest of the class had 20 words like encyclopedia. She would praise any small accomplishment and put huge happy faces on my work. Under Mrs. Graham's tutelage I began to blossom as a scholar.
Whilst I was learning the correct way to spell and read, a playground trend was emerging. Friendship pins. Unlike the popular trend of wearing Guess jeans that would follow the friendship pin craze, this had a low threshold of entry. Even the poorest among us could afford a pack of safety pins and beads. Each of us began creating our own signature pin and began trading with others. You could easily tell the most popular students from the other students in school as they had the most "followers" or shall I say pins? I knew one girl who had a chain of over 100 unique pins that she wore wrapped around her body.
All of these thoughts ran through my mind as I pondered David Harlow’s Jacket. Do you know David? For the past two years I have known him as @healthblawg on Twitter. He always has such insightful things to say about medicine, law and Meaningful Use.
I especially like his wordles. This is one of David’s designs. It was based upon the proposed rule for Meaningful Use.
Do you like wordles? I do. I love the truth they show. I love the idea of taking a document, any document, and analyzing intent by word frequency and then displaying it in such a visual and colorful way.
When I saw David’s Wordle, I saw Friendship Pins.
In this painting, a strong hand is flexed open and stretched taunt between thumb and pinky finger is a friendship bracelet woven in the colors of the Rainbow Button Initiative. Dangling upon that woven line is a complex network of friendship pins. Each pin, big or small, is latched one upon the other forming a Wordle of Twitter hash tags.
The pins say things like #CMS, #ONC #HHS and #HCSM. These are tags taken directly out of David’s twitter feed. You see David is a connector bridging many worlds. He can comfortably expound upon law, medicine, social media and patient advocacy. At Health 2.0 this past week he did exactly that. While I painted during the Patient’s 2.0 session on the 25th in San Francisco, David attended the Law session as a Walking member of The Walking Gallery.
David did what David does best. He made connections, both within his mind and between the attendees assembled.
He did that with a painting on his back in session filled with those who analyze the law. He represented us patients by wearing a painting of pins in a wordle writ large and Meaningful.
When I think of David, I think of the web of friendship we are building and the wonder of being able to read, for that is what he does for us. He decodes the arcane and presents in an easy to understand format. As he teaches us to “read” he connects us one to other and we are so very blessed.