A few weeks ago I ran across this IdeasProject video of Seesmic CEO Loic Le Meur. He opens with descriptions of how sharing changes everything -- sharing versus protecting your ideas. Good points, but he really hooked me when he talked about the value of sharing ideas with social media friends, and how this gives you instant access to their thinking:
It has already changed the way I think. I feel like I live in a room, which is across the world, but I can just call a friend and there will always be someone to answer one of my questions, as long as I share as well with them. It's two ways. It's about living in a world with a community that can help you.... It changed me completely. I cannot think alone anymore. I need to think with my friends, all the time.
httpv:// I think you can extend these ideas to blogging and other public writing. I blog and tweet to think with my friends (join with them in a virtual conversation). I gain from their comments as Loic mentions, and I benefit by having the goal of framing my thinking to join with that of my friends. Psychologists describe this as the "cognitive benefits of teaching." The opportunity to microblog, blog, and/or post to Facebook all also have the benefit of being motivational. My friend Leslie Coff and I were talking Monday about how we are often inspired by our friends to write a particular post. For her it is when she has had multiple similar questions from her patients (she's an amazing acupuncturist and provides a blog as additional outreach). For me, it's often when I've heard similar questions from my students or business colleagues. Our friends can inspire a more thoughtful response than we might be able to give that the end of an appointment or in a quick question and answer period. We are inspired to think, to think for the benefit of our friends, and hopefully for the benefit of engaging in a conversation on the topic. Do you have time to tweet, blog, or post to Facebook? How do you not have time? If your job is to have ideas, and/or to find ways to share ideas, then enlisting your friends in the work -- even if only by giving you a virtual audience -- can speed the thought process. I also find great value in documenting my thought process. It took a while for me to be willing to share my alpha drafts with the world. As Loic says later in his interview, "The new way of doing it is getting feedback from the very beginning." This has its risks, as Loic notes: your friends may tell you you're wrong, your competition may see what your up to -- but the benefits to your thinking win out.