Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Leveraging the Net

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?

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Parag Shah said...

I write a blog on programming, technology, and education. I feel it is important to blog because:

1. It helps me engage with the larger developer/thinking community.
2. When I solve a problem I am able to help others by blogging the solution (and vice versa... which is probably more often)
3. It is nice to communicate with people who have a different perspective. It opens out mind.

A little counter point to blogging and the Internet - We suffer from information overload, and sometimes I feel like this information overload is taking over all our time.

Anonymous said...

I follow Mashable, Ruby Inside, On Ruby, Signal vs Noize, IGN, Ruby Flow and Ruby Quick tips.

Mashable gives me information about new developments in social media. Inspires me when conceiving new app ideas. Signal vs Noize is good for techniques for making one's business better. Good philosophy there. Ruby Inside for Ruby news (same for On Ruby -this one).

I read post titles in iGoogle. I will click for a quick description if the title is interesting or just click to go to the article directly.

Still I have to agree with Parag. Information overload is becoming an epidemic and ruining (or mutating) lives. TV was bad enough. One can argue how much information is too much information. Its all relative but still I feel that balance is very important. I am still trying to figure out that. I tell myself to do stretching and exercise but it is so much easier to see what new articles are up, email or learn more Ruby.

I left the social media sphere back in January. Killed all my accounts. It was too much. Not so into the idea of keeping up with friends that I do not really know.Then look, Buzz came into my Gmail. It is ok. It doesnt suck up that much time. Twitter was a worse experience for me I think.

But yeah, can't stress it enough that balance is needed. Chad Fowler is a running advocate. Good for him. He ended his own obese state. More of us have to do the same.