What Makes An Expert?

It’s unfair to just write someone off because they use the word expert in their title. I understand there are a lot of people claiming to be experts and they have ultimately tainted the title, but it’s still a fair title.

I think it’s pretty simple.

Hard Work and Dedication

It’s unfair to just write someone off because they use the word expert in their title. I understand there are a lot of people claiming to be experts and they have ultimately tainted the title, but it’s still a fair title. Chris Brogan even wrote a post awhile ago discussing his criteria for a Social Media Expert and why he removed expert from his title on his “about” page.

What Is An Expert?

Being an expert in anything requires proper guidance and a lot of time. Some research by K. Anders Ericsson, Michael J. Prietula, and Edward T. Cokely stated:

“.. even the most gifted performers need a minimum of ten years (or 10,000 hours) of intense training before they win international competitions. In some fields the apprenticeship is longer: It now takes most elite musicians 15 to 25 years of steady practice, on average, before they succeed at the international level.” – The Making of an Expert, p4.

Not just that, you also need to maintain a high level of expertise over time and deliver consistent positive results.

Luck also plays a large role as time and proper instruction cost money. Wealthier families are more likely to invest in their child’s schooling therefor logging their needed practice time early on in their lives.

I also think a large part of being an expert at something requires a certain curiosity and drive that not everyone possesses. Most people give up way before they get close to the number of hours needed to master anything.

So Are All These Social Media Gurus and Web Experts The Real Deal?

Well if you’re going to take the 10,000 hour rule literally, it’s very possible. This field is unique in that most of the true experts and pioneers are all somewhat  accessible via the Internet. This eliminates the luck component of the expert formula by creating access to needed information with little to no cost.

I have been making websites since 1999. Even if i had only spent 6 hours a day on my computer tinkering I would have reached my 10,000 hours within 5 years. Granted, some newer areas of interest haven’t even been around for 10 years, but aren’t these technologies mostly just advancements of existing ones. When the game changes the expert should be on top of their game.

So go ahead and call yourself an expert if you think you’ve put in your time. I wont criticize you, just back it up with excellence.

– Photo by akakumo

13 replies on “What Makes An Expert?”

your website isn’t standards compliant and you’re serving an XML document with a text/html header

these are trivial things many people who aren’t self-proclaimed experts manage to get right…

for the record, I don’t sport any “expert” titles

I think you are confused and may have missed the point of my article. As you learn more about the internet you will find that many sites are not standards compliant … including Google. Also my site is served up as XHTML 1.1, maybe you were confused by the language declaration. Thanks for commenting.

“others do it too” is an awesome reason, wonder how that would hold up in court or when you get pulled over for speeding or something 😛

guess you don’t care about standards, this makes me sad panda 🙁

XHTML should generally be served as an ‘application/xhtml+xml’ media type ->

better off just using HTML4.01 or HTML5, you’re using a target attribute on your links, etc. anyway

I’m sorry but once again I’m not quite seeing your point.

First off I never call myself an expert and was simply discussing it’s actual meaning and any possible real world applications.

Second I am using a free theme I found off of the internet. I’ve never been much of a designer which is no secret. I personally don’t care about the things you are picking on me for because they simply do not matter. What does matter is that I provide an affordable service to my clients that helps them achieve whatever goals they have online.

Once again, I’n not sure how you think you come off here? Is that just what you do? Find random websites that offer advice and start criticizing and demeaning their cause? I hope once you launch your website others will be kinder to you than you have been to me.

Once again thanks for stopping by.

Ugh, my point was that one doesn’t need to spend a ton of time on this to be considered an “expert” at it, one just needs to care enough about it, Google will take care of the rest.

By no means does one need to be a designer to make a proper standards-compliant document, one just needs to care enough about it, Google will take care of the rest.

You mention that you’ve been doing this since 1999, so I figured it’s about time someone pointed out the importance of standards on the web. Why even bother to claim that you “work with the best designers” and are “always focussed on quality”? Obviously, you don’t care all that much about quality and you think a designer is someone who writes HTML.

“Others do it too” and “Hey, I just copy/pasted” show just how much you care about it. Thanks for holding back the web… appreciate it.

By the way: it’s downright silly to claim that mastering A and mastering B boils down to the same set of conditions, or that person X and person Y need to match the same set of conditions to master something. For a lot of fields, especially web stuff, formal education matters very little nowadays, what matters a lot more is the passion one has about the material and the will to do it right.

I said I wasn’t much a designer because I had previously mentioned this was a free theme. That is all. I mention I work with the best designers because I do … where do you draw the conclusion that I think design involves programming?

As far as standards goes, a completely different topic, could be a good first post for your website when it gets launched. People seem to throw the word around a lot with little understanding of its actual meaning.

It seems we are on the same page now about the post. I’m glad we could see eye to eye.

Web Standarnds are really recogmindations not requirements. Anyway I hand code my websites and I do all the design work myself. I’ve never had job, but I’ve been experimenting with websites since I was about sixteen. I used to use templates, but none of them looked good to me so I make my own templates. The standard I disagree with is using CSS for entire layout. I feel that the webiste needs to support all browsers. I do use CSS of mouse overs though can do mouse overs as well. I do both and PHP. I’m not even close to an expert and in fact I’m a worthless idiot. I’ve also studied Search Engine optimization and it’s not a useless subject like I’ve heard somebody claim.

I love the web and use it daily for work. I also had a successful career BEFORE the web.

The problem with the last 15 years is that anybody can claim to be an “expert”, “pro”, “guru”, “coach” and all the other BS titles.

I go with the term used in many of the creative industries. It takes 15 years of great work to be a “master”. I have not seen one yet.

The other part of this is that with the web the platform exists to say “I’m an expert”. Bull. I’d say 2% truly fall into the category of almost being a master in their industry.

Tellin’ it like it IS!

Great article! I believe that when an individual proves himself an expert is when they may acquire that title. It takes time, experience and dedication to become a so called “Expert”. Great job Jon!

Dustin C. Parker, Authentic PR

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