Second up in my series of posts about leveraging communities is the topic of the Internet. I don't want to talk about mailing lists or sites like github yet, I'll cover those when I talk about User Groups and Free Software. I do want to touch on google, blogs, and aggregators.
There's a lot of information out there, but how you use it and how deeply you interact with it determine how much it will help you. Sticking to my three levels model, let's take a quick looks at passive, engaged, and committed involvement.
Passive involvement on the internet means not doing much more than hitting google when you hit a brick wall. This certainly provides some value in the instant, and has saved me from a couple of blown deadlines. I'm sure there are a lot of other folks with similar results.
Stepping up your involvement to an engaged level leads to things like following a blog or two. RSS aggregators and social networking sites are a huge boon to finding good stuff to read. You can get even more out of your internet time by sharing ideas and information back out to friends and co-workers by tweeting, tagging, emailing, or whatever links.
You can get the most bang for your time when you actually start blogging though. Whether you maintain your own blog, or write an article now and then for a user group blog, a friends blog, or maybe even a commercial blog/site somewhere you're going to end up explaining how and why to do things. As you start working with those ideas to write them out coherently, you'll find that you've learned more than you ever would have by just reading.
So, here's the big question . . .
What blogs are you reading or writing? Why do they matter? And, what are you learning from them?