To share or not to share

I’m sharing a lot of my knowledge here at I’m sharing images on flickr and SmugMug, quick thoughts on twitter and presentations on The internet is fantastic for sharing content and I think sharing is a very good idea. It’s simple – if you share, people share back. I learn a lot by structuring my thoughts enough to be able to communicate them. And I learn a lot by having an intelligent community out there that is ready to help me out by sharing their knowledge back.

But when you share information people can take it and use it without giving you credit!

Yes they can. And recently I got an email from a person that attended one of my presentations a couple of weeks ago. This person attended another conference with other people speaking the next week. One of them using content that was clearly borrowed from my presentations. And without giving any credit.

So should I stop sharing? Stop sending out PDF files of my presentations? I don’t think so. The value of sharing content is bigger than the problem of someone using your ideas without giving you credit. Such use is of course irritating. And not very polite. For the people in the audience that know where your content comes from you simply look like a jerk if you don’t give credit.

I remember an old interview with the photoshop guru Kai Krause. He was sharing all his knowledge in a series called Kai’s Power Tips. And he was asked why he shared all his knowledge. “You’re giving away your best asset”. He answered that he wasn’t. He was giving away yesterday’s knowledge. He was already working on something new. (And what’s he doing now? Living and working in a 1000 year old castle. With a priceless view and lots of space.)

Kai Krause’s statement is bold, arrogant and full of confidence. And I love it. So for me another important reason to share is the fact that I push myself forward. And that’s why you shouldn’t be afraid of people borrowing your thoughts. They’re borrowing old thoughts. Go ahead, use it. I’m on my way further down the road anyway.

To share or not to share