Death of the expert…
Since the opening up of the Internet and the democratization of information, there has been the idea that experts were not needed anymore; anyone could become and expert; there was no such thing as an expert – that experts were dead. While it is true that information is more readily available to each of us then ever before and to be sure, we are now much more capable in questioning or disagreeing with experts, I am afraid that the notion that the expert is dead, killed by wikipedia and the like, is just not so.
An expert is not merely someone who knows where to find information (except perhaps for the expert researcher); an expert is someone who knows the information, the ramifications of the information, the methodology and questionable assumptions of the information; and finally one who can apply the information. These are not attributes that can be mimicked by a Google or Wikipedia search.
After a nights research on the web, an amateur may in the widest of hyperbole, be considered an expert (for the sake of argument or a point) – but on their first day at best….so consider:
- Do you want a doctor to operate on you on his/her first day (what if Google does down?)?
- A lawyer defend you on his/her first day?
- A police officer arrest you on his/her first day?
- Would you pass to a winger in the Stanley cup final in overtime on his/her first day?
- A judge judge you on his/her first day?
- A fishing guide to take you fishing on his/her first day?
- A survivalist to take you on a training course on his/her first day?
- A cook to prepare you wedding feast on his/her first day?
- An electrician to wire your home on his/her first day?
- A real estate agent buy or sell you a home on his/her first day?
- An accountant assess you on his/her first day?
Now consider that they got their training online…hmmm…still consider them an expert. If Malcolm Gladwell and others are to be believed, it takes about 10,000 focused hours to become an expert….still think that they are dead, or are they just resting…10,000 hours is a long time on the web!