We regularly connect with people online. We keep in touch. We make new friends. But can we actually learn anything that’s professionally useful? Is it possible for our online networks, professional or personal, to help us become smarter people and more effective professionals with some level of certain regularity? Instead of stumbling across the occasional jewel, is there a way to come close to a guarantee?
Consider this. Subject matter experts around the world are already using social bookmarking sites like Digg and Delicious to gather, screen, categorize and share relevant, insightful content. Prominent bloggers and Twitterers, like Guy Kawasaki, spend hours each day scouring the internet and linking to remarkably valuable content on their blogs and twitter feeds. And some companies are using Yammer to stream relevant news and other materials to employees on their closed internal networks. And let’s not forget powerful news aggregators like Google Reader that can put thousands of information sources at our fingertips and let us search all that content for even the most obscure word or phrase.