Monday, 20 October 2008, 0:38 | Category : Life
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“”Don’t even go there. I am an expert on Vampires. I have seen every episode of Bufft [sic] and Angel, Read the Twilight series countless times, and am some what a fan of Anne Rice. Now, if you still think it is relevent, please continue. ”
— Emily Mensing

So, I found this quote today when I was browsing on GoodReads. (If you like books even the slightest bit, you should visit GoodReads. Its so good.) It got me to thinking about what it means to be an “expert” at something. I’ve read all the Anne Rice books (minus the erotica series she did under pen names). I’ve read all of the Twilight Series, and seen some of the Buffy and Angel shows. Does that make me an expert on vampires? Certainly not. Does it even make me an expert on Anne Rice? No. But I know enough to know what I like, what I don’t like, and to a degree, what I want to believe.

What does it truly take to be an expert at something?

From Wikipedia

An “expert” (Audio (US) ) is someone widely recognized as a reliable source of technique or skill whose faculty for judging or deciding rightly, justly, or wisely is accorded authority and status by their peers or the public in a specific well distinguished domain. An expert, more generally, is a person with extensive knowledge or ability in a particular area of study. Experts are called in for advice on their respective subject, but they do not always agree on the particulars of a field of study. An expert can be, by virtue of training, education, profession, publication or experience, believed to have special knowledge of a subject beyond that of the average person, sufficient that others may officially (and legally) rely upon the individual’s opinion. Historically, an expert was referred to as a sage. The individual was usually a profound philosopher distinguished for wisdom and sound judgment.

Well, according to that definition, I’m certainly not an expert in anything. Not many of us are. Our lives no longer give us many opportunities to become experts in anything; we’ve got too many sources of information, too many things that can capture our interest to just focus on one thing. Not even in our careers do we become true experts, as we try to juggle all of the balls that are tossed our way. 50 years ago, a person might be an accountant; they did accounting. 100 years ago, a person might be a farmer. While they had to know a lot about a lot of things, like the weather and planting cycles and pests, all of that knowledge rolled up into them being an expert at being a farmer. Now, a person might be a communications manager; which means that they have to know public relations, human resources, budeting and accounting, media relations, writing, ergonomics, IT, and …. well, I’m sure there’s more, but I can’t even think of it now.

As quickly as things change in our highly technologized world, can you even maintain your position as an expert? Or do you find yourself thinking that 2 weeks ago you were an expert on search engine marketing campaigns, or the political election, but since the last time you were there, someone has updated the blog or wikipedia page or the world in which you were an expert.

Just something to think about.

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