Internet Librarians

The internet is filled with information of varying qualities. When we are trying to learn about a new subject, it can be difficult to filter through the poor-quality content and get to the articles and essays that give us a detailed insight into what we want to learn. The internet is indeed a powerful tool — it has democratized information and made it easy to discover new perspectives. However, the way in which we access content on the internet is quite inefficient.

I have found that it usually takes a few minutes before you find an article that piques your interest — that will add value to your life. You spend time searching through Twitter to find an article someone has enjoyed in that subject area, or you instead go to Google and click a few results before you find what you are looking for. In both of these mediums, the great content — the content that will help you acquire a better understanding of the subject you want to learn — is surrounded by spam, ads, and poor-quality content that will not serve you any purpose. The problem isn’t the quality of information available, it is the methods that we use to find information. I recently asked myself the question: Why should finding new information be this inefficient?

I believe that there should be librarians for the internet — people who help others find the best content in a particular industry. Rather than going to Google to find articles about a subject you are interested in, you would instead talk to an internet librarian who would use their experience to help navigate you to the best resources. The librarian would be able to recommend resources that you would understand based on your current level of knowledge, and help you develop a path for future learning.

Interestingly, there would be no specific qualification required for someone to become a librarian. The best librarians would be those who had spent a lot of time researching a particular area in depth, and who had curated a list of resources which they thought were valuable. Indeed, most of us already collate good resources in our bookmarks or remember a great article we share with a friend or on Twitter a few days or a few weeks after we have read it. Librarians would take this to the next level, and use their knowledge to help make it easy for people to learn more about a specific topic.

Internet librarians would, as aforementioned, collate the best resources in a particular industry for other people to read. They would also provide personalized advice to people who are trying to learn more about a subject. For example, if you were interested in learning about the life of Benjamin Franklin, rather than searching Google, you would talk to an internet librarian who would tell you about the best biography to read, well-written short-form content, and any podcasts that would help you better understand Franklin. Perhaps these librarians could charge a small fee and work with an individual to help them develop a future learning plan.

If you were an expert in brain-computer interfaces — a highly specialized subject, I should note — then you would likely have a list of resources (either in your head, or stored on your computer) that you have found valuable in the past. Imagine how much easier it would be if you had started with that list of resources and learned from them. Internet librarians would share this information, and ultimately make it easier for people to learn more about subjects they are interested in.

There are a few ways in which this idea could take form. Firstly, a platform could be developed where experts could create short guides to learn a new subject by collating podcasts, articles, books, essays, Tweets, and other content which would help increase someone’s comprehension over a subject. This platform would have an intuitive interface so that experts could easily collate and share their knowledge. A more efficient way to do this, at least in absence of a platform, would be for people to actively advertise they are willing to help others who are learning a new subject by curating content with their specific needs in mind. Anyone with a firm understanding of a subject could become a librarian.

The inspiration for this idea came from my experience researching the Income Share Agreement (ISA) space. Due to the nascent stage of the space, the availability of high quality resources was limited. I have thus far discovered dozens — if not hundreds — of valuable articles, research reports, and Tweets, which have been curated from a variety of different sources. If I had started with these resources, I would have been able to become more knowledgable about ISAs in a shorter period of time. Many people have reached out to me asking about what resources I recommend for them to take a look at to understand ISAs in more depth. Imagine if I were to start openly sharing the resources from which I have learned.

As an experiment, I am going to try being an internet librarian for the concept of Income Share Agreements. If you are interested in learning more about ISAs, you should reach out to me on Twitter and I will work with you and share articles from which you would derive a lot of value. I will also publish a short list of great articles in the ISA space in the near future. I envision internet librarians to become more popular in the future. Librarians would build the guidebooks to master new concepts, and allow people to focus more on learning than filtering out low quality information and spending minutes, or even hours, finding the resources they need.