We conclude the 2020 year with an episode that straddles informatics education and social issues.  Oliver Bear Don’t Walk is a PhD candidate doing informatics research in the  Columbia University Department of Biomedical Informatics. He’s joined by Suzanne B. Bakken, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, FACMI, one of the world’s most prominent figures in informatics, and Professor of Biomedical Informatics at Columbia University. In addition to her international acclaim as a nursing informaticist, Suzanne currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for JAMIA--arguably the premier journal in biomedical informatics. 

This episode features a sensitive and often private topic, and we all had a chance to bear our souls (present speaker included.)  I would summarize our discussion as being focused on one two-word phrase. Academic code-switching.   If you’ve never heard of code-switching, it's the process of “fitting in” by borrowing a phenotype, or a way of appearing, that hides your true identity.   We hear about it a lot in the corporate workplace, where women have to act like male counterparts, or even in communities, where phrases like “man up”  or “uncle Tom” reflect an inability to code-switch.  This may not sound like informatics, but let me assure you, it impacts the field in very insidious ways that we hear from all three of the speakers at different times.

We also have the honor of being joined by Nolan Neal (https://nolanneal.com/) who is a phenomenal artist, with a very distinctive musical presence.   I met Nolan here in town at the Hotel Indigo with two of my dear friends after a concert. His performance in the hotel lounge was the best performance of the night!  We since chatted, and I discovered how much his story reminds us all of how much our journeys NEED to be reflected in our work.  Nolan ends the episode by playing a new song, called "The Man I Used to Be." It's a journey song if ever I've heard one, and it's powerful but also an anthem for all who are aware of straying from their path and trying to get back on it.  Thanks, my friend.

Please hear about his journey on youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WHNFIqh6V8

Of course, he has music out there and more on the way, so feel free to visit his website and enjoy!

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