I fear we are witnessing the “death of expertise”: a Google-fueled, Wikipedia-based, blog-sodden collapse of any division between professionals and laymen, students and teachers, knowers and wonderers – in other words, between those of any achievement in an area and those with none at all. By this, I do not mean the death of actual expertise, the knowledge of specific things that sets some people apart from others in various areas. There will always be doctors, lawyers, engineers, and other specialists in various fields. Rather, what I fear has died is any acknowledgement of expertise as anything that should alter our thoughts or change the way we live.

The Death Of Expertise

The definition of what makes someone an expert is changing. They search for expertise in Wikipedia’s pages, and they find it, but what they’re looking for — what they call expertise — uses different signals to project itself. Expertise, to these researchers, isn’t who a writer is but what a writer knows, as measured by what they read online.

Wikipedia and the Shifting Definition of ‘Expert’ - Rebecca J. Rosen - Technology - The Atlantic

It used to be that a key ingredient in human knowledge was the suppression of human passion. From science’s method to journalism’s, people claimed authority by proving how little they were able to care about the knowledge they were creating. But that’s changing, and quickly. Increasingly, it’s passion itself — messy, quirky, productive passion — that is guiding what, and how, we know.

The Story Behind That 9,000-Word Quora Post on Airplane Cockpits (via courtenaybird)

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How Social Media Is Changing The Stock Market

Social media opens up both conversation and creativity for stock traders. But most importantly, it creates community around niche interest topics.

The way stocks are discussed among investors is different than it was even five years ago. In 2008, Howard Lindzon launched StockTwits, the online community of investors, with the idea that people wanted to share ideas about trading. Lindzon was a huge fan of Twitter, and so StockTwits was built off of that.

"A guy in Kansas can be the expert on grains, rather than the guy who trades grain stocks in New York," says StockTwits CEO and Founder Howard Lindzon. "The Kansas guy can look out his window and tweet what he sees." StockTwits, says Lindzon, has turned everyone into a potential market maker and expert.

» via ReadWriteWeb

St. John’s College Puts Emphasis on What Teachers Don’t Know

Sarah Benson last encountered college mathematics 20 years ago in an undergraduate algebra class. Her sole experience teaching math came in the second grade, when the first graders needed help with their minuses.

And yet Ms. Benson, with a Ph.D. in art history and a master’s degree in comparative literature, stood at the chalkboard drawing parallelograms, constructing angles and otherwise dismembering Euclid’s Proposition 32 the way a biology professor might treat a water frog. Her students cared little about her inexperience. As for her employers, they did not mind, either: they had asked her to teach formal geometry expressly because it was a subject about which she knew very little.

It was just another day here at St. John’s College, whose distinctiveness goes far beyond its curriculum of great works: Aeschylus and Aristotle, Bacon and Bach. As much of academia fractures into ever more specific disciplines, this tiny college still expects — in fact, requires — its professors to teach almost every subject, leveraging ignorance as much as expertise.

» via The New York Times (Subscription may be required for some content)

Library's "Living Books" Program Will Loan Human Experts

Like every other taxpayer-funded public service, libraries have been hit hard by budget cuts during the economic slowdown of the past several years. Adding insult to injury, fewer people read, and those who do are increasingly likely to use e-readers instead of print books. Those forces have combined to send many libraries searching for new ways of doing business.

One of the most innovative new initiatives comes from the City Centre Library in Surrey, British Columbia, which is scheduled to open next month. Realizing that bound volumes are far from the only source of knowledge, librarians in Surrey will also lend out “living books”—in other words, people. Staff will maintain a list of local residents who have volunteered to share their knowledge of any topic, and other library patrons can make appointments for 30-45-minute conversations.

» via GOOD

Why Amazon Can't Make A Kindle In the USA

The US has lost or is on the verge of losing its ability to develop and manufacture a slew of high-tech products. Amazon’s Kindle 2 couldn’t be made in the US, even if Amazon wanted to:

  • The flex circuit connectors are made in China because the US supplier base migrated to Asia.
  • The electrophoretic display is made in Taiwan because the expertise developed from producting flat-panel LCDs migrated to Asia with semiconductor manufacturing.
  • The highly polished injection-molded case is made in China because the US supplier base eroded as the manufacture of toys, consumer electronics and computers migrated to China.
  • The wireless card is made in South Korea because that country  became a center for making mobile phone components and handsets.
  • The controller board is made in China because US companies long ago transferred manufacture of printed circuit boards to Asia.
  • The Lithium polymer battery is made in China because battery development and manufacturing migrated to China along with the development and manufacture of consumer electronics and notebook computers.

» via Forbes

An expert is someone who knows some of the worst mistakes that can be made in their subject and who manages to avoid them.

This quote is taken from Werner Heisenberg, Der Teil und das Ganze, 1969, as cited in John Keane, The Life And Death Of Democracy, 2009

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