Beware the rise of the instant expert, typically self-proclaimed. It used to be that when we listened to someone with a microphone and a video camera, we trusted what they were saying. We believed in their research, their integrity and their reputation. We were disappointed some times, but it was a rare exception.
When we read something that was published in a book we attributed expertise and some deeper level of understanding on the topic. Magazines and even newspapers carried similar weight.
Anyone with a smartphone can now claim they are the expert on anything and everything. Using the latest tools like Periscope and Meerkat, anyone can broadcast live video to the world. Platforms like Google Hangouts on Air provide a capable platform to act like you are now Walter Cronkite and you should be believed.
I understand that even those usually trustworthy talking heads of the past were not always perfect. The recent Brian Williams revelations are an example that everyone is human, but historically they were considered a reliable and trustworthy source to deliver the facts in a fairly straight-forward manner without hype or puffery.
Instant Expert season has arrived. Times have changed.
Over the last several years, it has become harder for me to sort through the myriad of outlets available and figure out what seems to be the truth, or at the very least, a well-researched observation that I can then analyze on my own.
Now, people who have no track record, no history and no credibility are standing on their live video feeds, broadcasting from their bedrooms and acting like they are the Oracle from Omaha (Warren Buffett for those that have not heard that phrase).
I produce live and online events for myself and dozens of clients. I record and view 8-10 presentations a week (usually with a fast forward button in heavy use) to learn the latest trends, techniques and styles that work well for the audiences we serve. One thing that has become clear in this practice is that there is a lot of garbage being touted as the latest and greatest by people with no history, no experience, no research and no credibility.
I understand we all have opinions. No problem. I welcome the dialogue. It is helpful and valuable. What is becoming clear is that the volume of the “just got my microphone and video camera setup for my birthday crowd” is becoming overwhelming. Add the impact of the smart use of Search Engine Optimization, #hashtags and social media and it is nearly impossible to sift through the crap to get to the good stuff.
Trish Bertuzzi (@bridgegroupinc) shared an expression with me that I have kept in mind throughout my career of writing, speaking and training on web tools. I have modified it by swapping “tool” for “smartphone camera”. My apologies to Trish for butchering it here.
“A fool with a smartphone camera is still a fool!”
For books, self-publishing has eliminated most of the hurdles of getting a book published. Electronic readers like Kindle and Nook have provided the ability to publish most any nonsense instantly and made available to anyone with an internet connection. I use all of the tools myself, but wow have they lowered the bar.
Is it just me, or has it become extremely challenging to sift through the firehose of information and lock down sources that have earned the credentials and credibility of their topic?
What are some of the implications of these new “experts” and their distribution channels?
- It is harder than ever to decide which authors, speakers and trainers to explore, which books to buy, podcasts and webinars to subscribe to and which blogs to read and subscribe to.
- Credible expertise on a topic is harder to verify and establish. Claims of “the world’s largest, a #1 Best-seller, or the “worldwide leader in…” are everywhere and frankly, most of the time they are bull! Just do a quick review of random LinkedIn Profiles to see what I mean.
- Social media has turned much of the research function into the “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” scene, where people take “trending on Twitter” to mean that the information is valuable. Kim Kardashian anything trends on Twitter – but that in no way indicates the value of the information being shared. It simply indicates that a lot of people don’t have something more meaningful to do with their time.
I really want to read or hear your answers to these questions:
- How do you sort through the volume and find those that add real value to your life and your livelihood?
- Are you watching the latest backward baseball cap, dirty t-shirt wearing, unshaven for 4 days expert tell you how you should be running your business?
- Do you put any value to the many lists of the TOP XXX Experts in ______ that are published every month?
I value your thoughts and input on these questions and learn from your experiences. Share your comments below and we can all learn from each other.