It is not just the contemporary frenziness for self-exhibition, nor the never-ending human need for public appreciation. At least, I do not feel like that: I am a lucky guy who feels more often overappreciated than underappreciated, and basically dislikes the idea of being under a spotlight of any sort.
So, the question is: why then do I have one professional, one personal, and one alter-ego site, two blogs (at least), FaceBook, Twitter, About.me, LinkedIn, Scholar, ResearchGate, Academia.edu, SlideShare, …, and so long and so forth? Maybe I am not so shy?!? Why sharing so much, in the end?
Several times, while trying to understand myself, I have given responsibility to my will to, say, “return favours” to a world of unknown people posting small bits of information on the Web, which then I found just at the right time, which helped me in critical moments, even saved me sometimes.
And in the end it is like that, but also more than that: reading the motivation letter of a young collaborator of mine, Stefano M., I finally got the point. And the point is: the value of knowledge.
I should have known by myself: I chose to become a university professor many years ago, so to be both a teacher and a researcher. A person involved in transferring and producing knowledge: within an institution, the university, whose final goal is to preserve human knowledge, pass it to the new generations, and create new knowledge to the benefit of the humankind.
That is my place, that is my goal: and so I share. My papers, my ideas, my results, my minor / major discoveries, even my mistakes. I probably do not have really so much more to say than anybody else, and it is even possible that no one will ever benefit by any of my efforts. But that is not the point.
The point, again, is that human knowledge is the most precious treasure of mankind, which was built in thousands years by a huge number of small humans, like myself. Today, technology enables us to share with anyone else on this planet whatever we think, discover, or experience, whenever we like, wherever we are. Bringing all my tiny bits of knowledge potentially to everybody, using any tool available, is how I feel good.
I know the value of knowledge, so I try not to be shy. I avoid thinking about the almost impossible task of adding something meaningful to the human body of knowledge. I know the value of knowledge, so I share.