What’s Expertise on the Internet, Anyway?

Niels Bohr famously said that “An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.”

Who are the Phonies?

Who are the Phonies?

Let’s face it – the internet is a monster-sized place and everything in it travels at lightening-speed.  This realm takes up a lot of our time, both personal and professional, and (although many of us don’t like to admit it), we can get lost in the immensity, pace, and constantly changing innovation of it all.  One thing that is misleading though is that everyone is virtual – identities can be created, altered, deleted – and you can’t always tell when someone is who they say they are.

So in this ever-changing landscape, the big questions are:

  • Who is a real expert?
  • How can you be certain?
  • How can you strengthen your own online credibility as a real expert?

In his wonderful article, Dustin Wax creates a clear break-down of what pure elements it takes to be defined as an expert.  In order these are: knowledge, experience, communication ability, connectedness, and curiosity.  This broad definition makes a lot of sense. He goes on to list the qualities of a true-blue expert: commitment, authenticity, openness, open-mindedness, and clarity.

But in the internet world, how can we tell if one’s credentials are spot on?   For all we know, there may be a lot of people out there trying (and succeeding) at passing themselves off as experts, who clearly aren’t. In future posts, I will be exploring the do’s and don’ts of packaging yourself as an expert online.

Long gone are the days when you could simply nail up a diploma and hang a shingle.  There is a great new world out there waiting to be conquered.  There is work to do, reputations to build, and if we’re honest – money to be made – and it’s time we really understood how to identify ourselves as the real McCoy.

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