Hanging around cool people can do wonderful things for you. That is one of the pleasures in being in Silicon Valley. I hung around Doug Engelbart for a couple of years and met many cool people like Jack Park, Eugene Kim.
As life gets busier you do not have as much time to spend with people. Direct meetings anyway is not such a scalable model. You miss out a lot of meeting cool people distributed in different parts of the world.
Thanks to RSS and the blogosphere, you can hang around virtually – by reading the blogs of cool people. My favorite ones are Danny Ayers, Jon Udell and Stephen Downes. Their articles make me think. And point me to the happenings in tech world that makes me think even more.