Saturday, April 17, 2010

No Experts on the Frontier

There are no experts on the frontier. An expert is a person who has a high level of technical knowledge in his specific field. Experts are valuable sources of information. They have a handle on the expected outcomes of certain tested events. They can provide a framework for a planned assault on the frontier, but by definition, they know nothing about the frontier itself.

Contrary to popular culture, space is not the final frontier. The frontier that will never be closed is the frontier of the mind. I realize that there are volumes of information and crowds of experts in sciences of the mind (psychology, et al), and libraries full of "self-help" literature. The difficulty on the frontier of the mind is not a lack of information, but a lack of implementation.

In the Information Age, information comes easily—even passively. Everyone is trying to sell you on some idea (some are honest and valuable, many are not). People understand the world through personal experience and media. Because many people lack the means—if not the desire—to broaden their personal experiences, they naturally fill in the gaps with second-hand information delivered through the media. There are many sources of great information to be found, and yet we fail to seek out good information, and merely allow information to come to us.

When creators bring information to us, they naturally want something in return. As a whole industry, advertising pays for our entertainment and gives us information about products and services we need. There is nothing inherently wrong with this. Unfortunately, even media creators tend toward laziness. It is easier to stick with what you know—where you're comfortable. It's easier to shine up the package and dumb down the internal workings to match the lowest common denominator than to cut a new path through innovation.

Experts know what they know, but they are no better on a frontier than anyone else—because the real frontier is the unknown, and no one is an expert in that.
The Lonesome Gods - Louis L'Amour's biggest and most important historical novel to date, a sweeping adventure of the California frontier.

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