I was asked recently whether I have always been in “I.T.”?
My introduction to “The Internet” was through a very dear high school friend, Danielle Hickie in 1995. She was studying communications at the University of Technology Sydney, where I started my BHSc Acupuncture course.
She took me into the dungeon of the university – typed numbers into a keypad on the wall which opened a steel door to the vault which contained the University computer room. She said “I am going to show you something that is going to change the world… it’s called THE INTERNET”.
Danielle was and still is an early adopter of new technology, with the ‘world wide web’ having been launched a few years previously. She was fluent in “Hypertext Markup Language” at the time (what we now know as HTML coding).
As a total coincidence, Professor Carole Rogers who founded Acupuncture Colleges Australia (which became the UTS Chinese Medicine degree that I was enrolled in) employed Danielle to develop the world’s first interactive Chinese Medicine teaching tool “The Virtual Traditional Chinese Medicine Clinic”. I have one of the remaining copies, pictured here.
So – fast forward to 2004 when Danielle and I are walking along Bondi Beach together catching up on life and our professional challenges. She had just returned from Amsterdam after a long stint working at GreenPeace international, and I was running an acupuncture clinical trial at a hospital in Sydney and together we bump into Carole Rogers, who had recently retired from UTS. Over a coffee we talked about ways that Carole could mentor students remotely, from the comfort of her home or anywhere that has “The Internet”.
Danielle simply said: start an online discussion forum.
About a month later I had an extraordinary experience. I was invited to present my research findings at the World Federation of Acupuncture Societies (WFAS) International conference in Brisbane. There I was, with over 800 acupuncturists from around the world, all under one roof. It was the first time I felt ‘part’ of something. A movement, a professional community – a tribe.
At this event, I coined the expression “professional citizenship.” I realize that because we all work in isolation, we needed a way to connect – to support each other, to discuss ideas, and to debate – in order to continue learning and growing (as people, as practitioners and as a profession).
And this is how Acupuncture Network Australia – which later became The Acupuncture Network, was borne.
Danielle, Carole and I set it up – with Danielle doing all the web design and ‘back end’ tech stuff, I taught myself how to run a phpbb open source platform and Carole was the clinical advisor – offering gems of wisdom nearly every single day until she passed away in June in 2009.
We attracted some amazing practitioners as participants and leaders. Lucy Rantzen and Luke Rickards invested an enormous amount of time and expertise. We all agreed that after Carole had passed away it was time for a new management team so we gifted the platform to the Association of Community and Multibed Acupuncture Clinics, where it still exists today: http://acmac.net/forum/
So Luke Rickards and I started talking about new possibilities, and new technology that existed to be able to bring people together… And together we set up AcupunctureCPDonline. This soon became Acupuncture Professional, as we wanted to provide more that just CPD – through interviews, podcasts, symposiums and our Facebook Group.
I wanted to share with you how Acupuncture Professional came about, it’s legacy if you will, so that you understand more about what drives me to do this.
Now that I am living on a remote island in the Mediterranean sea, I am even more motivated to use technology to unite the profession. The capabilities for connectedness and learning are totally limitless, so thanks for ‘getting’ what it is that we’re doing – and for being part of it!