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Has the Internet Made the Swine Flu Epidemic Better or Worse?

Forget the water cooler, all anyone talked about this week all over my workplace was the swine flu epidemic. You'd think that reading tech blogs all day, I'd have some sort of reprieve, but that was not the case at all.

In fact, tech and the swine flu were tightly associated, from an iPhone app that tracks the flu, a website that tracks it, and a Google Maps mashup that tracks it.

What has really been weighing on my mind though — besides wondering if the cold I've been trying to get over was, in fact, swine flu — is the Internet's role in all this.

I've heard frightening stats on one of the last big flu pandemics, the "Hong Kong" pandemic in which two million people died, but I wonder — in this age of Internet, blogs, and news oversaturation, are we more well-informed about the outbreak and thus, more likely to ensure we get medical attention?

Or. . . is this overabundant amount of knowledge just turning us into stress-cases convinced we all have the swine flu, trying to get into our doctors and hospitals and thus preventing others who are actually suffering from it from getting timely treatment?


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