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Show how the sausage is made: Transparency begets credibility

For a long drive today I downloaded a podcast of TVO‘s Big Ideas, featuring Harvard professor David Weinberger on “Knowledge At The End Of The Information Age“.

I first came across Prof. Weinberger ten years ago in his book “The Cluetrain Manifesto” where he foresaw the emphasis on conversations and user-generated content which is a key part of the webosphere today.

His recent talk at the University of Toronto touched many points about the nature of information and knowledge, and how we organize, classify and understand it.

A couple of points grabbed my attention (my pararaphrasing of his ideas):

Save everything: You don’t know what information is important until you need it. Digitize everything and save everything. Storage is cheap, and the tools for extracting the info you need are improving all the time.

Comment: I have been saving everything I’ve written since 1997. Interesting how the volume saved increases from year to year! Unfortunately my e-mails from before 2003 are irretrievable, that’s when I switched from Outlook to Thunderbird (and since 2007 I’ve been also keeping all my e-mails on Gmail which makes them even easier to search).

Also, by saving everything, I can also resurrect ideas from my archives that I started but were not quite ready for prime time, when I come across an opportunity I can retrieve and update the tool or idea, saving me lots of time…

Transparency creates credibility: Open up how you develop your ideas and your positions. The more people can see your thought process, the more they will understand and trust you.

Comment: It used to be that experts delivered their opinions from above, and it was accepted by the peons. But now people no longer blindly accept what “experts” say, partly because so many experts have been shown to be wrong, but also because we can be much more engaged in the conversation than in the past.

Don’t be shy about putting raw ideas out there to be sifted and examined. Be open about your thought process. Log raw ideas on blogs, Twitter, Facebook. Contribute to conversations, comment on other people’s blogs.

The context of the comment also gives people a clue as to your thought process. For example:

– stuff on my Twitter stream ( http://twitter.com/coachdavender ) is a momentary fragment of my ideas or things that attract my attention. I use Twitter (or sometimes Facebook http://profile.to/coachdavender ) as a place to grab my thoughts as they occur, and for people to interact with them at this initial stage;
– anything on my blog ( http://www.frompassiontoprofit.com ) can be considered an “idea in formation”. Here I take ideas and go a bit deeper with them to see where they lead me (reader input is also valuable here);
– as the idea becomes more solid, it becomes an article, which I post on my website ( http://www.coachdavender.com ), or, for articles that are even more mature, article sites like http://www.ezinearticles.com
– and then the most reliable, mature and reviewed ideas will end up in my published book(s)…

The more you make your thought process transparent, the more believable and credible you become.

I recommend the full podcast – it made my drive home go by in a blink!

Link to TVO.org page (video and synopsis):
http://www.tvo.org/TVO/WebObjects/TVO.woa?video?BI_Lecture_20090207_834116_DavidWeinberger

iTunes audio podcast download link (free):
http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?i=49871209&id=129166905

David Weinberger’s blog: http://evident.com/

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