It was an announcement that I was going to beta test a new service called wizpert, which wanted me to make myself available online, via Skype, as an “expert” on health and illness to others. It actually sounded kinda’ cool, even though I don’t consider myself an expert, I do feel like I’ve had a lot of experience and more than a dash of expertise.
Upon further inspection, there were at least two things that bothered me about wizpert. First, once a “wizpert” gets enough positive feedback, they are expected to charge for their online consultations, up to $2 per minute, according to the site’s FAQs. Of course the site takes a 25% cut, which explains their business model. “Experts” aren’t validated in any way, other than feedback from those who talk to them. Heck, I could have a few of my best friends call me up, chat for ten minutes and rate me. Viola! I’m a wizpert! Sounds like an invitation to abuse.
There were only two other “expert” wannabes in the “HIV/AIDS” category when I got my invitation this morning, now there are six, and I’m sure the list will grow quickly. I do have some concerns that only mainstream promoters of the AIDS drugs will quickly get the upper hand, but I’m not sure I want to invest my time and energy countering them. I’m keeping my options open for now. The HIV expert who is currently online is “David”, who has been HIV-positive since 2009. Whoo hoo! Another candidate is a 23-year-old Filipino man. None of this would both me if the site was promoting peer counseling, rather than “expert” advice.
The other thing that I realized only after signing up is that callers are patched through to my Skype account via a phone number, meaning the calls are audio only. I already have unlimited long distance on my home phone, plus my cell phone, so the main reason I use Skype is for video calling, which brings a whole new level to the communication experience. Callers can actually see each other and read facial expressions and even hand gestures. It really is the next best thing to being in the same room together.
Still, I recently been wanting to reach out more to my friends and readers and I want to test Skype’s capabilities. So I’ve dumped the links to wizpert and simply added my Skype contact info on my home page. Any reader of my blog who has questions, or is interested in discussing any of the topics I write about, is welcome to contact me anytime I’m online. Confidentiality will be respected and no identifying information will ever be divulged without express written consent.
I’m also interested in exploring the possibility of do some video podcasts. If you have a story to share about your experience with living with an HIV or AIDS diagnosis—with or without ARVs—give me a shout.