It's not just what you know...

Community is a tricky thing. If I'm just looking up some fact in a reference manual (and the manual actually has what I'm looking for), then I guess don't really need it. What I really need is a good manual, where "good" is defined as having the information I need, or a good author to generate the right manual in the first place.

Oh, wait! Got me! Maybe I do need more than the manual. Why? Because the "if" in the "if the manual has what I'm looking for" statement above is a pretty big "if". Isn't that your experience? It sure is mine. Laying aside the many other benefits of community, even in the context of knowledge sharing, there's something strong to be said for it. More than just a database or reference volume.

In other words, a lot of times I want to know who knows what as much as, if not more than, I want to discover some isolated fact they know. Because, if they're worth their salt, then they don't just know the one thing I gleaned from the one conversation I was in, but rather I want to be connected to their knowledge in general.

Well then, maybe their IQ and their phone number is all I care about. That sounds good, right?! Not really. I also want to know who they are. If they're not trustworthy ... or not ambitious enough to share what they know ... or not committed to the community ... or don't care if I need their help ... or ... or ... or ... Then they just aren't as valuable to me, no matter what they know.

So, it's more than what they know that I care about, it's who they are. Not just their proficiency, but their credibility as well.

Take TechLore for instance. People that are always out here, always contributing, always reading something new... I want to run in circles with those folks. Yes, they have to know what they're talking about. But if they've demonstrated to me honesty and consistency and commitment to the community over time, then they're the kind of person I want to be connected to -- more than just being connected to the knowledge or experience they share in one blog entry, etc. Because life isn't a reference manual.

Makes sense to me. Anyone agree, disagree, care?



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