The Authenticity of Online Experts

July 2008
by Reid Goldsborough

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The Authenticity of Online Experts

by Reid Goldsborough

One of the more curious phenomena of the online world is “Internet expertism.”

The Internet is a marvelously democratic institution, letting ordinary people air their views in public and receive responses back, not just politicians, business leaders, entertainers, journalists, and the like. It’s everybody being able to stand on a stump in Boston Common and engage in spirited oratory, everybody playing the role of Demosthenes in the Athenian Agora.

The flip side of this leveling effect is that anyone and everyone can pose as an expert. You see many nonexperts talking with what appears to be great authority all over the Internet, through Web sites, blogs, and various online discussion forums.

There’s a good deal of coverage of the issue of expertise online. The Wikipedia article on experts ( points out that experts can be persons “accorded authority and status” for their skills. Or they may simply know, without necessarily having professional or academic qualifications.

One thing that’s clear is that expertise can’t be had without experience, even though experience doesn’t automatically confer expertise. In gaining experti…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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