Learning is a process. Learning is different to all of us. Approaches to how we as individuals learn is unique and for those critics and pundits ‘out there’ who continue to perpetuate the myth that unless one is contributing back, one isn't learning, well simply put … I have a problem with you. As I see it, as we continue to proliferate the ways in which we can in fact contribute and/or collaborate, we will be forced to make ‘learning style’ related decisions on when we have the time and capacity to contribute and/or collaborate versus lurking.
Lurking can and should be thought of in better terms. Lurking could be equated to reading, interpreting, synthesizing or augmenting for purposes of gaining further acumen, insight and understanding. It shouldn’t be thought of negatively.
But the emphasis and focus is on the direct subject material at hand. What if, for example, I wanted to begin learning about becoming an architect and I were to begin enrolling into online discussion forums of experts and spouting off as if I knew what I was talking about. I’d flame the community, I’d make a mockery of the group and myself, and I certainly wouldn’t be doing myself any good. Wouldn’t a better first step be to in fact lurk around some of the communities, read up on what an architect is or does, get myself a baseline of knowledge for some period of time … and then make the shift into participating and being an active collaborator?