A few days ago, a GaryNorth.com forum member asked about buying a specialized encyclopedia. I recommended a free one that is online. I have owned a set for almost 40 years. It is widely known as “McClintock and Strong,” named for its two editors.
I found one volume of the 12-volume set. It was posted by Google Books. I said that I would be willing to post a page on the encyclopedia if someone would do the hard work of finding each volume and sending me the URL links.
Someone did. He posted the links on the forum. I was able to create a page where anyone can access the volumes. http://www.garynorth.com/public/9254.cfm
This way, people who search for the set can find it. If they use Google to search for these words — McClintock Strong online — my page is #1 and #2 on Google’s first page. (Try it. See how high the link is. Maybe it’s different for me.) Google had it listed within three hours, and probably faster.
Because of the division of labor, this important reference work will now be available free of charge to anyone with an Internet connection. Links to individual copies were available before, but it took time and trouble to assemble them. Once someone did the grunt work, it took me a few minutes to convert the links into a usable web page.
When we belong to interest groups that have online forums, we can find information that would normally not be easily found. We ask a question. Someone on the forum probably knows at least a preliminary starting point.
Then the division of labor takes over. One or more people volunteer to trace down the information. Someone else assembles it.
This would not have been possible as recently as 1994. It is growing exponentially today.
One reason to join sites with forums is to tap into this division of labor. This is like having a research team at your fingertips.
Some online forums are closed. Others are wide open. I suggest being a member of both types of forums.
A Website with multiple forums has this advantage. The site has a narrow focus: a topic or an outlook. The forums let people become even more specific, but within an overall framework.
This degree of online specialization is unique. Before the Web, a person might belong to only one or two groups. Communication was slow. It was by mail. There could be physical meetings, but these were rare and costly in time. Today, we can access over 300 million sites and another hundred million blogs. This is changing the world.
I encourage you to become a member of more than one community of specialists. Be a user and a contributor. Your knowledge will be put to good use.