Last week Google Reader added a feature allowing â€œsharedâ€� blog posts to be made available to contacts (actually you were forced into sharing, but that’s another post). Initially I thought this was an amazing addition. Since I already share articles I deem particularly worthwhile with several friends via private feed, I was excited to share and receive lots of new great feeds and posts.
This concept of â€˜public knowledge sharing’ is something I have done in Del.icio.us for a while. I invest a lot of time noting, organizing, and tagging my bookmarks because I see them as a real assets (wake up Yahoo!). For example, at a moment’s notice I could pull up 20 articles on the best strategies for naming a new company. I think this is so powerful.
My problem is as follows: Why am I being so nice to people? Admittedly, I never tell anyone who I am on Del.icio.us because I want to be somewhat protective over my bookmarks and notes. While I certainly take advantage of other people’s work, I’m not sure I want the same done to me. My 4000 bookmarks have taken me two years to build and yet I readily offer it up to anyone for free. In Google Reader I subscribe to over 250 blogs. As I pick and choose the best stories, should I so carelessly share insights and posts I recognize as valuable?
Part of me believes I should absolutely embrace open knowledge sharing. However, my capitalist half emphatically disagrees. My other 50% wants to keep my knowledge secret. In many ways, it’s my access to these personal knowledge bases that makes me valuable as a consultant and advisor.
Bottom line is Google Reader sharing has started to make me think long and hard about what I’m willing to do for others. I’m having difficulty drawing a distinction between what I consider â€˜personal IP’ and what I consider information for the â€œsocial commons.â€�
—For posts on related topics please read: Why I Can’t Read Novels Anymore, Top Down Selection: Sifting for Information and How to Use Del.icio.us Bookmarking for Competitive Advantage
Update: Wired Magazine has a good article covering issues of information sharing:
“But beneath all the kumbayas, there’s an awkward dance going on, an unregulated give-and-take of information for which the rules are still being worked out. And in many cases, some of the big guys that have been the source of that data are finding they can’t â€” or simply don’t want to â€” allow everyone to access their information, Web2.0 dogma be damned.”