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Knowing whom to ask

In today’s digital world, there are numerable platforms on which people can pose questions and add to their knowledge. In August 2016, EconTalk - one of the leading economics podcasts - host Russ Roberts interviewed Adam D'Angelo (CEO of Quora) on the challenges of getting the right questions to the people best placed to answer them.  

There is a lot of information online and Google is excellent at indexing the existing material to make it searchable. However, critical knowledge is often not online but is rather locked away in people's heads. Alternatively, information may be hidden in research papers that require a certain amount of domain-specific knowledge to be understandable. Sometimes, effective navigation becomes challenging due to language constraints, question framing, or information scarcity.

In a world where everyone's a niche expert, the odds are good that a question that has you stumped has probably been raised/addressed by others. Now, social media harnesses signaling theory, technology, and product design to enable widespread knowledge sharing. People participate on social networks driven by the desire to signal something about themselves, and this information may be useful to others.

All those hours spent on Facebook, Twitter, or even LinkedIn may not be wasted after all. You are quite literally increasing the sum of human knowledge.


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