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 and 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.


Hi AK,
A quick comment on your question of 'knowing' someone while sharing / collaborating in relation to #change11.
Thanks for your blog which got me thinking.
Your blog allows me to comment (share) without knowing you. Therefore I share my ideas happily with those I do not 'know'. Because of the way you have set up your blog I only 'know' you as 'AK' - no criticism intended.
Should we collaborate on something I believe I would willingly do so with you.
Therefore is 'knowing' someone infact 'trusting' some in these IT based discussions?
Although I do not 'know' you in a social sense I 'trust' you because of the interesting question you blogged about and because your blog is of interest to me.
Thank you for the ability to comment.
Cheers - Barry Munro. NZ
Thanks AK  #change11   Cheers.
AK, an interesting question.. My first response was "yes, that would help to know one another"... but then I started to get in depth and my add-on would be: "we dont need to know one another to share" At the end to share is more one way communication to "whomever". In order to share, you as a source dont think about your target audience. You just get it out. 

I guess "you need to know each other to understand" or to understand better.   
Thanks for the comment!
Trust is definitely a major element in sharing - this brings me back to the affective filter hypothesis. If you aren't feeling comfortable, if you don't trust that what you say/do will be received by a friendly (or trustworthy) crowd, you might be less inclined to share. There is a definite trust dimension to "knowing" someone
Thanks for the comment :-)
You know, I hadn't thought about it  much before, but I do agree with you - you do need to know each other in order to understand or to have a better understanding of what is communicated!
Thanks for the interesting post on what is a complex issue. To simplify a little, it is important to separate 'sharing' from 'collaboration'. The latter (normally) requires those collaborating to possess a common goal and trust each other to some extent,  and is 'mutual'. In contrast sharing can be entirely one-sided. 

The role of technology is what is of interest. As one of the other commenter's highlights, communicating through blogposts, twitter etc. enables us to engage in quite deep exchanges with our peers whom we may never have met. I'm writing this comment, and I don't know your name or which city you live in.

But tools such as twitter and weblogs allow us to advertise our beliefs and views in such a way that we can encourage people to engage with them, developing the trust which is essential to potential future collaboration. Importantly, my comment here may not lead to a future link with you, but perhaps a third party will read my comment and engage with me. By contributing to the collective knowledge I embed myself in the collective.    
Hi AK,
You might find this journal article interesting
Burnett, G., Besant, M., & Chatman, E. A. (2001). Small worlds: normative behaviour in virtual communities and feminist bookselling. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 52(7), 536-547.

It uses a couple of case studies to examine 'small world' theory - that we live within various small worlds within which we assign people specific roles (types). If a non-desirable type offers us information, even information that we need, we are unwilling to accept it.

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