Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Life by Sam Huleatt

Should I Become A Sharing Snob?

google sharing google reader share selfish social

Last week Google Reader added a feature allowing “sharedâ€� 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 ‘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 ‘personal IP’ and what I consider information for the “social 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 — or simply don’t want to — allow everyone to access their information, Web2.0 dogma be damned.”

  • http://www.healthlat.com Johnson Chen

    Good pointers.

    In health care, “personal IP” issue has long existed but expresses itself differently.

    Data mining companies, often without doctors’ consent, gather massive prescription data (of doctors, and their patients) from pharmacies, and offer analysis results to big pharmas for marketing. Many doctors were shocked when pharma sales showed their detail prescription records and ask them to “improve” their prescription practice. Here we are talking about business of billions of dollars. However, doctors gain nothing, except shocks, from this business. Neither do the patients, who are for sure kept out of the loop.

    In HealthLat (http://www.healthlat.com), we believe personal health experience or knowledge is worth something. So we empower patients and medical professionals to share experience, and make money. We also believe a consumer-driven approach will bypass existing bureaucracies in medical community and offer better data for better health care as a whole.

    So, I think “personal IP” should not be diminished, and there is a fine line between it and “social commons”.

  • http://www.leveragingideas.com Sam Huleatt

    @ Chen,

    Thanks for your comments. I agree that privacy is in general rapidly fading away. We stand much more to gain from the collective sharing of ideas. I'm simply suggesting that when one has significant niche knowledge they can either 1) freely disseminate that knowledge with others or 2) charge money. I'm all for free, but it stinks to be the only one doing so…

  • http://www.leveragingideas.com Sam Huleatt

    @ Chen,

    Thanks for your comments. I agree that privacy is in general rapidly fading away. We stand much more to gain from the collective sharing of ideas. I'm simply suggesting that when one has significant niche knowledge they can either 1) freely disseminate that knowledge with others or 2) charge money. I'm all for free, but it stinks to be the only one doing so…