“Knowledge, like air, is vital to life. Like air, no one should be denied it.” — Alan Moore
It is human nature to seek knowledge – we have evolved as curious creatures. Being able to build an accurate picture of the world is one method we employ for survival. When you’re looking for knowledge, what do you do? A Google search? Do you look for blogs or published papers? In the age of technology, the world is at our fingertips. Whether it’s information about the latest celebrity marriage or a change in regulatory standards and their effect on your facility, you can find what you are looking for in seconds.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a more traditional route, there are journals or industry conferences, where professionals gather to share their knowledge with others of similar interests. Whatever method you prefer, knowledge sharing is an important part of our culture as well as our future.
Sharing Your Own Knowledge
Sometimes, instead of seeking new information, we have newly acquired knowledge or ideas that we want to share with others. Choosing the best outlet is important and can often be difficult. If it’s something you’ve never done before, being presented with so many options can be overwhelming. The best approach is to examine what you want to share. What audience would benefit the most from your knowledge? Is it something suited for a more technical approach, or something less formal? Is it urgent or just something you want to get the word out about? Understanding the nature of your information will help you decide where and how to share it
If the information you wish to share is more technical in nature, consider writing a paper. This is the more formal route. If the information is great in both quantity and quality, submitting your work to industry conferences is a great way to share it with colleagues in similar fields who will almost certainly benefit from it. It may be that they can even take your knowledge and ideas and apply them in their own line of work to better serve others. You also have the option of publishing your work in an academic journal.
If you’ve been to an industry conference, you already know how this works. If you haven’t, there are both benefits and drawbacks to presenting. First, your paper must be accepted and, sometimes, even the best work isn’t accepted if it doesn’t fit the topic guidelines the session chairs are seeking. Second, while it may initially appear as a benefit to be presenting your knowledge to those working in similar fields, ask yourself if a broader audience may be able to benefit from your knowledge as well. Should you be looking to reach beyond the constraints of an industry conference? If your answer is yes, you may want to consider academic journals or other means to publish scholarly articles
Academic publishing has changed over the years to adjust to the changing times. Journals can be printed or are now often available in an electronic format to allow for easier sharing. You are able to reach a wider audience while keeping the integrity of your writing intact. However, similar to conferences, most of these academic journals require the purchase of that issue in order to see the information.
Presenting at industry conferences and authoring published papers or articles looks great on a resume, but those aren’t the only options.
The internet has changed the world of information sharing. You’ve probably heard of blogs. If you haven’t, the word “blog” is a shortening of the word “weblog,” an online journal or informational website that usually displays information in reverse chronological order. It’s a platform where a writer, or a group of writers, share their views, findings, and information. Sometimes blogs cover one category or topic, and sometimes they cover a multitude of topics. One thing that never changes, though, is that you are in control. Blogs are more personal. There are fewer restrictions and an opportunity for true freedom of expression. Unless you post your work to a blog that is governed by others, you choose what knowledge you share and how you share it.
Blogs are typically much less formal in format and language than the academic papers submitted to conferences or journals. While they can be technical if that’s how the author chooses to share the information, they usually fall more along the lines of opinion pieces or informal knowledge. This means that blogs are often better suited for those who are lacking the detail or quantity of information required for a more formal paper.
While it may seem less appealing to list a blog on your resume than published papers or conference presentations, there are benefits to knowledge sharing via blogs. You choose your audience, and how you want to approach them. You also aren’t limited to the number of people who can afford the steep price of registration at a conference. If you make connections and choose the right outlets, a blog can reach millions of viewers rather than those few who choose to sit in on your session. That being said, you still have the ability to target your audience by choosing where and with whom you share. Another advantage is that blogs can be as long or as short as you choose. You’re the author and it’s all in your hands. You can be as stingy or as forthcoming as you wish and, as long as you are your own moderator, no one can tell you no. However, if you aren’t internet savvy, other options exist.
Although it’s an effective means of communicating information, writing isn’t for everyone. Some don’t enjoy it, and some communicate more effectively by speech or visual representation. Sometimes knowledge is urgent and needs to be shared immediately, or maybe it’s ongoing and can’t be communicated by traditional means. Whatever the reason may be, there are sharing methods beyond those that require written communication.
One such option is using the media. News outlets get a bad reputation, as they are known for inciting unnecessary or unfounded public rage for a good story. However, they are an effective means of communication if you want (or need) to reach a great number of people quickly and at one time. Televised news programs are the most obvious route, but don’t discount the power of a local newspaper or online news source. This may seem radical, but sometimes the nature of new knowledge calls for a radical approach.
If you don’t need an outlet as extreme as a cover story on the evening news, and you just don’t like to write, there are other ways to connect. If you’re still learning but want to share what you learn as you go, create your own newsletter. Many website builders have a newsletter functionality built in, and this can lead to transitioning into other content in the future.
If you are confident that your knowledge can be applied by others for improvement, create a training program. If you are comfortable in front of a camera, video podcasts have become a common way to share information and ideas in an easily sharable format. Podcasts are also still a popular option as well and can easily be delivered by services such as iTunes, Spotify, or Soundcloud. If you have knowledge to share but you’re still looking for input, try a WebEx session or live stream and get live feedback from others. The possibilities are limitless.
Your Experience is Important
I had a history teacher in college who often reminded us that we are always learning from our past, that each yesterday has a lesson for us. Whether or not we realize it, we are constantly gaining new knowledge. Each new day, we apply that knowledge we’ve gained. However unimportant you believe your ideas may be, if you feel the need to share, find an outlet and do so. Don’t limit yourself – choose more than one outlet or find entirely new ones. Sharing a message has never been easier than it is today. Whatever outlet you choose, you’ll reach at least one person who can benefit from what you’ve learned. To quote John F. Kennedy, “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.”