One of my favorite bloggers, Tom Critchlow, hosted a salon this past summer around his thesis on "thinking in public":
Trying out ideas in public, for/with small networks, in a distinctive way brings compound rewards for you.
In other words, thinking in public (I'll use "working" in public interchangeably) is a means of experimenting with ideas while capturing the serendipity of the public eye. By thinking in public, you're that much more likely to have a conversation you wouldn't have otherwise had, possibly with someone you wouldn't have otherwise met.
The reward for thinking in public, then, isn't financial (at least not directly) — it's social. You're rewarded with engagement with your ideas. You're rewarded with valuable feedback. You're rewarded with new friends.
What you do with that "social capital" is entirely up to you.
I'm only just beginning to realize how powerful that choice is. There are entire companies and markets focused on converting social capital to cold, hard cash. But what if we intentionally chose to convert it to something else?
We're still in the early stages of exploring what the internet can mean for future value systems. I have a feeling the importance of thinking in public will only continue to grow.