In the future, everyone will be an expert for 15 minutes

In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes

The trouble with experts these days is that as soon as they’ve said something, it’s been made irrelevant by something changing. We are living in times when things change so quickly the experts can’t keep up. What are the experts in Jacquard Looms, typewriting, Morse Code, the ARPANET, BBC Microcomputers, Ceefax, Friends Reunited and MySpace doing now?

And things aren’t going to slow down; each new piece of technology shortens the time that it takes to make the next new piece of technology. Literally – 3D printers are being used to print bigger, better 3D printers. It’s getting faster, and you’re getting slower. This applies to the way that social media has changed the music industry, to the physical bricks and mortar of our town centres, to the way we teach our children. Everything is changing, here comes everybody, and everybody is an expert.

We can still be experts, but it’s not a badge for life. Learn something, learn it well, but be willing to be overtaken by technology and another expert quite quickly. Being good at something doesn’t make you a master, not any more. We’re going to have to learn to take turns at being experts.

So here’s Thompson’s Tenet: In the future, everyone will be an expert for 15 minutes.

2 thoughts on “In the future, everyone will be an expert for 15 minutes

  1. That might be true of organisations (Nokia, RIM) and research institutions, having to chase research targets around publications, but something tells me that capital controls its audience too well buy owning the discourse itself: art, taste and culture is driven by “style”, public political sentiment by the relentless drip, drip, drip of spin and “message management”, scientific research is hamstrung by the funding from offshoot trusts owned by multi-nationals, even innovation itself largely follows fad (open data zzzzz).

    So maybe your “expert for 15 minutes” hypothesis is the corollary of how capital is no longer satisfied with corralling the working class into their place with the prospect of cheap, shiny trinkets; now we’re used to education and aspiration and pretending we’re bourgeois, we’re getting too uppity – time to put these upstart fillies to bed by giving them the sniff of emancipation yet still moving the finishing line each time they think they’re making progress.

    We can be experts and still get paid a tiny fraction of what the owners make – and we kid ourselves with “self-fulfilment” as a pay-off whilst the rich screw us and the planet.

  2. When I explain my skill sets people get dismissive.
    “oh”, they say “you are a jack of all trades, master of none.”; they sneer the line as if feeling clever at the sudden and effective put down. but I reply quickly enough;
    “Jack of all trades, master of none, though often better than an expert of one” and then I watch as they swallow a little on their pride at feeling adequate in dismissing the polymath of projects. Wide ranging skills sets with a disparate view to implementation and a cognizant ability to factor in areas which will lack expertise gives you as fluid a response vector in todays changing work demand scope as you would want. I may always be a little hungry and a little fast but I am moving in the streams of updates which are falling on all our heads

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