The June 2007 issue of KMWorld has two articles that make a connection for me. The first is from David Weinberger's regular column.
The regular column from David Weinberger this month is "Experts who don't play the Wikipedia game." (They don't post electronic articles until the next magazine is published.) It's a lesson told in a story. Many accredited experts choose to spend their time diving deeper into their expertise and writing up their learning in approved, academic journals. They also have acolytes sitting at their feet, learning from them in approved ways (classrooms, research assistanceships). This is the way things have been for a long time. For non-academics to learn from the
But now... We have access to a much wider variety of expertise and information online. The trouble (for the experts?) is that the people that produce this information may not be the accredited experts. They may be dabblers, practitioners, cranks. But they are out there writing and publishing information and they are sounding like experts.
Weinberger's lesson from this is not that accredited experts are going away, it's just that there are others who are speaking in a way that is much more accessible to the general populace. Sure, these guys might get it wrong, but there are now more of them speaking and thinking about a topic that used to be limited. The whole crowd of people writing and thinking about this topic can now converse on the topic.
I've long thought that experts are the people who speak, and who people can hear. If there is an expert in the lab down the hall, the only way we know she is there, is if she tells us about what she knows.