I just started watching recorded sessions of Flex|360 and Adobe MAX 2008/2009. And it is fantastic how I see people dealing with same problems I was dealing last year and earlier this year. If only I have watched these videos earlier or attended these conferences... This could have saved me a lot of time. Yes, I found my own solutions, better or worse, but that was reinventing the wheel once again.
I am an active blogger and read a lot of blog posts on a daily basis. But nobody can read or know everything. Yet a lot of people simultaneously from opposite sides of the world are trying to solve same problems and come up with same brilliant ideas. They just don't know about each other...
That's why it is vitally important to be social. Internet is a great tool we must use. You should read blogs, you should watch recorded sessions from conferences you can't attend. You may not have a personal blog but you must be hungry for new information. I don't care if others find reading blogs a waste of time. Most of them are narrow minded people living in their own sandbox.
You must live on the edge of knowledge in your field, you must know what was done, what obstacles people faced in their projects. Learn on someone else's mistakes.
What's more, reading an article about something you found interesting but is not relevant right now is definitely not a waste of time. If you have a team of people who are information sponges you can do anything in a much more productive way. Any problem during development will be solved much faster, every decision will have much more probability to be right, because someone have read about another team facing same problem or that people say how bad that architecture rendered to be at the end. Someone might have attended a conference where he heard of an interesting framework which is ideal for your current needs.
You might have memorized only 3% of the whole article read or video watched, but you already know about the existence of a solution you might desperately need right now. You'll spend a couple of hours googling instead of weeks of development.
I like reading technical books. Last books I read were about human genome, swarm intelligence, artificial intelligence, loosing weight, prolog, plants and branching structures. They don't have much relation to what I am doing right now, I am just hungry for interesting stuff...