The Rise of the Amateur

One of my specialities is the gathering and analysis of information, a skill which is becoming increasingly important as the amount of information we can easily connect to is growing so exponentially. One thing I've noticed changing recently is the sheer amount of ill-informed and badly thought out out postings in the wider area of ICT.

I guess this is a problem with all fields, but of course it's new fields such as ICT which suffer the worst. As the bandwagon rolls on it becomes increasingly tempting to jump on and see how far it can take you, but for those of us who are actually propelling the damn thing the more who jump on just for the ride the harder it is to move it forwards!

To be fair I think most people who try to get involved do it for the right reasons, and not simply to advance themselves with little effort, but nevertheless the naivety of the rising number of amateurs does cloud the field somewhat. The classic mark of the amateur is that they cannot distinguish between those parts of the field which are complex and need further development from those parts of the field which are simple and well understood. The bottom line of all of this is that questions which have already been answered are repromoted, and issues which are key are buried or dismissed because they appear too simplistic, when in reality their complexity is the very issue that amateurs cannot grasp.

In the established worlds of academic research there have existed for many years the tools necessary to discriminate between the professional and the amateur, and these have allowed academics to grow and build on previous work without needing to 'reinvent the wheel', to use a classic phrase. However these tools are embedded in a culture of publication which is still paper based at it's core, even given the rise of dissemination online, and there is as yet no established methods for easily identifying the good from the bad. Whilst many ranking system do exist, and you could argue that Google itself is one of the best of them all as it rates all content in a hierarchy, this is generally speaking a ranking of popularity, something very different.

Perhaps as the ability to add content to the world wide web becomes as easy as writing a note on your fridge then individuals will rise up by their own merit, but that does requrie that the individual is the one that is highlighted. Personally I think this is very much the way of the future, and will be exploring how this can work in more detail, but for now I guess I'll just have to go on separating the wheat from the chaff.

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