An Employee Workshop for Aspiring Experts

Unconventional Workshop 8

Relevant Information

Individual work-process 3

1) Foster curiosity
2) Initiate activity
3) Gain relevant information
4) Discover possibilities
5) Strategize
6) Commit to a project
7) Create ideas
8) Realize ideas
9) Test ideas, find success or failure
10) Use failure as a platform for new and better ideas
11) Repeat part or all of the process
12) Eventually, find achievement
Bonus – Ultimately, gain some level of mastery

Today, information is quickly at our fingertips.

That amazing internet
The internet is by far the most used tool for information exchange. Before the internet, electronic transmission of information was mostly delivered by way of television and radio, where information is instant, but can only travels in one direction. Books, newspapers and magazines are classic resources for information, however, they are not only one directional, there are delays within the publishing and distribution process. The internet is not only instantaneous, the information can travel in all directions. Assuming someone has a smart phone or similar device, they can instantly access the world’s information, at their fingertips. Through a variety of platforms, they can exchange information.

Before the internet, traditional institution-guided experts were well respected for the information that they learned and retained. This made them very special. To ask an expert a question was not taken lightly. Their expert information was as fast as the internet, before the internet. Their answers were a rare commodity with special value. One alternatives to their valuable information was a trip to the library, with a lengthy study. The internet has changed everything. Certainly, traditional institution-guided experts are still special and they are still a valuable resource for expert information. The internet, however, has allowed everyone to have instant access to the world’s information. Whether or not that information can be advantageously leveraged is a different topic.

The vast majority of information used within the educational system can be found on the internet. Information people glean from the internet, however, is ingested differently than within the educational system. There are no prerequisite or requirements that force universal learning, including foundational knowledge and surrounding knowledge, as it pertains to an entire profession or skilled trade. As amazing as the internet is, it is important to take small pieces of information in proper context.

For an Unconventional Expert, gaining relevant information is a part of the individual work-process. The context of the information that they glean from the internet builds on their projects and forwards their expert-trek. This information is a small part of the big picture.

Abstract internet search

On the internet, the ability to use words to search for images has been around for many years. This is a useful function, as a picture is worth a thousand words. Pictures can also provide clues, to get us closer to what we are looking for. Searching for information on the internet is like being a private detective. Looking for clues, asking questions, finding resources, solving mysteries. Becoming skilled at internet search can lead to a world of information.

A little learning is a dangerous thing; drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again.

Alexander Pope An Essay on Criticism,1709.

The internet and experts
Humans come in a range of flavors; some more cognitively concrete, some more cognitively abstract. We all come with a unique mix of the two. Dominant left brain, more concrete, dominant right brain, more abstract. In general, traditional institution-guided experts need to have a reasonable amount of concrete cognitive skills because their given career institutions require them to retain knowledge within the educational process, with testing along the way. Is it possible that those who excel at abstract creativity, at the cost of concrete cognitive skills, will be limited within a professional environment? Before the internet, when information was relegated to documentation and memorization, strong concrete abilities were necessary for many professions. With the internet, people who lack concrete abilities can rely on the information at their fingertips, as a tool, when memorization falls short. Does this mean that people who lean towards the creative side of things can dig deeper into traditionally left brain dominated occupations? Does this mean that creative people can bring their creativity to occupations that were traditionally concrete? There are no general answers to these questions, however, it is important to notice the different flavors of humans, the concrete and creative requirements of various occupations and the ways in which the internet can help us as a tool for information.

The danger of the internet is that it can lead people to partial information, giving them parts of the picture without entrenching them into the surrounding foundational school of knowledge that holds the information. Knowing expert-level information does not make one an expert. The internet is a magnificent tool, but it is still a tool. Unconventional Experts can use the internet as a tool, however, it is their individual work-process that will lead them to expert-level work. The gaining of relevant information is an important part of the individual work-process. It’s what one does with their information that leads to accomplishment.

Access to the educational system will always be a debate. No matter what people feel about formal education and the politics behind it, we all have access to the internet, one way or another. Every day, Unconventional Experts are feeding information into their individual work-process and providing expert-level work. Anyone can become an expert, regardless of education or background.

Skilled trades and the internet

Many skilled trades positions do not directly benefit from the internet. If a skilled trades worker wants to become both a traditional institution-guided expert and an Unconventional Expert, using the internet as a tool will provide many options. It needs to be said, however, that skilled trades workers do not typically rely on the internet, as their life work revolves around mastery of physical objects. In a world of high technology software, they champion low technology hardware, or even their bare hands. Within their individual work-process, they will gain relevant information, but their high creativity gives them the option to ignore high technology.

Information: Quickly at our fingertips
Of the people who have access to the internet, the vast majority have learned how to perform a simple search to find information. People who didn’t grow up with the internet are often the most appreciative. Before the internet, new information was elusive. If new information wasn’t news-worthy within the daily newspaper, on the radio or on the six o’clock news, the next best source was a monthly magazine subscription. Word of mouth was an important source of information, but not always reliable. Before the internet, fact checking could include a trip to the library.

Today, the world moves very quickly. Information is fast and information is important. Within some areas of expertise, the access and use of new information can be a defining factor. A Wall Street trader will be an extreme example, where changes within the business world can have a microsecond affect on stock prices. Getting the most out of the internet requires excellent internet search skills. Navigation will include search engines, online forums, articles, organizational websites, resource websites and social media.

Information questions, within a process:

• What information vacuums exist within the process?
• With new information, what issues can be avoided?
• With new information, what new possibilities can be found?
• With new information, what new ideas can be created?

Workshop 8 questions:

1) Name a personal project that was greatly advanced because you used the internet to gain relevant information.
2) What information did you find on the internet that was otherwise difficult to to find?
3) What would you have done if you would not have had the internet to help with the project?
4) What could you do better the next time, to leverage more or better information using the internet.

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