2006.09.15

What exactly qualifies someone as an “expert?”

Here are a few definitions I found:

  • A person with special knowledge or ability who performs skillfully…
  • An expert is someone widely recognized as a reliable source of knowledge…
  • One who knows no more than you about a given subject, but has his information arranged more neatly and uses slides…

Personally I like that last one. ;)

The question comes up due to BarCampMilwaukee. As I’ve been trying to get people to pick something they are passionate about, people often get excited, mention something, and then say something like “Well, I’m not the expert on that!”

But the whole point is, you are an expert at your own experiences! At one of our meetings, someone talked about learning Linux, but thought that since others knew more about Linux, that someone else should lead session. This is somewhat backwards. If this person had 1 month of experience using Linux, then that 1 month of experience is their expertise. Sure, they may not have installed Linux 100 times, but maybe someone else in the session has, and has forgotten what it is like to be a newbie, and can share what they know, and hear the frustrations of a newbie. That’s my idea anyway…

I see this happen again and again. People think they aren’t experts, but I think that’s just because of how people define what an “expert” is. The whole idea of BarCamp is that you don’t go to see some “expert” lecture for an hour, you come to share what you know, learn from others, and all walk away knowing a bit more that we did when we got there.


4 Responses to “What is an Expert?”

  1. GabeNo Gravatar says:

    I kinda figured that was the deal with BarCamp, but It’s nice to see you put words to it. Perhaps it would make sense to put this plea somewhere on the “Sessions” page.

  2. TeganNo Gravatar says:

    Good idea, Gabe. I added it. See what you think. Edit if you like.

  3. David JaquayNo Gravatar says:

    I thought it was anyone more than 50 miles from home, with a briefcase…

  4. Keith CaseyNo Gravatar says:

    As opposed to just presentations, you could describe them as “Show and Tell” to make it clear that personal experiences and demos are perfectly acceptable and probably preferred.

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