Friday, October 7, 2011

Do we need to know one another when sharing?

The other day I came across a recent #change11 post by Jaap on his blog and there was an interesting question:

Do we need to know each other when we are sharing knowledge and collaborating?
This is a case where I had an immediate response, then I thought back to my own personal examples of sharing...and then I ended up with no answer at all, but rather I was left with a giant question mark (i.e. this needs some research)

My initial answer, without giving it much thought, was: of course we need to know one another to share information! - This reaction came from my own preferences when meeting and talking to people. If I don't know someone I tend to size them up before I offer up any information. They also tend to be the conversation initiators.

Then, I had to take a step back and evaluate my online interactions, examples of which would be on forums like macosx.com and howardforums.com. In my online interactions I have initiated conversations, both in the forms of questions (example: how do I unlock my Ericsson T28w?) and in the form of comments (example: Nokia just released the Nokia xXx, the phone for extreme sports fans!) I also jumped in conversations, with unknown people, when I read things that were factually incorrect, or incongruous with my own knowledge and experiences.  So in fact it does seem like I don't need to know someone in order to share...But Wait!


What got me into philosophical trouble is this: what does it mean to know someone? Could my standing back and observing conversations or going through the backlog of discussions in online message boards allow me to know someone in a certain way that it would enable me to converse and share with them? In that case, what constitutes knowing someone? What are the criteria that need to be met?  There are obviously shades of knowing as we can see from our relationships with other human beings and the langage that we use to describe them. Some people are in our close circle, others are in our extended circles, some are family, others friends, others best friends, others acquaintances. All those to me seem to indicate some level of knowing. 

The question then becomes not only do we need to know someone to share or collaborate with them, but also at what level do we need to know them to collaborate and share successfully.
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