In search of information and advice who do you trust
As a technology professional who enjoys teaching and writing, I often search for topics to write about. I search for commonly asked questions, and look for articles that answer the questions. I have seen people in various online forums offer some very good advice on solving various technology problems.
Asking a question looking for help in an online forum, or even reading tips and advice from a blog, is based on the concept of anecdotal evidence, a personal experience, measured only by that person, entirely subjective. That doesn't mean one person's personal insight can't be helpful. Everyone has a story to tell, but how relevant is the story to the answers that you need, is important to understand.
It is sad to find so many answers by self proclaimed experts in forums that contain no valuable information, are very misleading, and do not even answer the questions that are raised in the title. Lately I have been doing what I can through my various websites to educate and inform on various topics where the Internet is filled with misinformation.
I read the following comments in an online forum, and I just wish I could find the person making the remark so I could deliver a whack up side their head, "I've never used the product, but what I believe is ..."
In the first half of the sentence they are stating they have no first hand experience in the matter, but in the second half of the sentence they are giving their opinion.
Even having an opinion of something, you can still try to state a case for your opinion based on many personal experiences on the topic. How can you claim to be a technology professional, and give an opinion on something you have no first hand experience?
Quoting someone's blog as a reference to make your case for any argument, with out knowing the blogger's experience and perspective, is simply foolish. If you don't believe me get a second opinion from someone else who knows something about being foolish.
Don't Trust an Expert
It drives me crazy when I read a web bio like, "an expert in areas of computer technology" or "an expert in search engine optimization and web promotion" and there are no specifics to support the claim.
If you have published dozens of books on technology, then state that. If you have worked with several Fortune 500 companies on search engine optimization and web promotion, then state that. Please feel free to state what you have done and state your body of work. Claiming to be an expert at anything is subjective, prove your value by sharing your experience.
The world is full of experts that self proclaim themselves as masters in some area of technology simply because they use a buzzword to describe some technology product or feature.
Who Do You Trust?
The best business books I have read were written by entrepreneur's who have started and managed businesses. I hated it when someone I knew took business advice from a friend or family member who had never started a business.
I began helping small business people understand technology since working in office automation in the 1980s. Before the internet went commercial and blogs were buzzwords I wrote newsletters for clients that were printed on paper and then mailed out or handed out. I used a quote by entrepreneur and inventor Clarence "Bob" Birdseye to illustrate the value of advice. Birdseye said, "Only through curiosity can we discover opportunities, and only by gambling can we take advantage of them." Clarence Birdseye truly understood the definition of entrepreneur.
The best technology trainers I have had were field engineers who were also good teachers. Working in many areas of the technology industry for over 30 years, as well teaching for various community colleges in numerous settings, I have many years of material in my head as far as technology tips for small business people, as well as questions commonly asked by students on technology topics.
Researching various online writing opportunities over the years I finding it amusing that companies looking for freelance writers for technology topics are often more interested in my education and writing experience, than they are about my experience in technology. Writing is a lot like teaching, you can be a professional writer, or teacher, without being a professional in the field you are writing or teaching. I prefer to read something written by someone who is sharing first hand personal experience, not someone who is just writing for the sake of writing.
I believe in karma, and the concept of pay it forward. I have learned many lessons in life, and have many experiences to share. If there is a quick tip or trick on a given topic I can share, I try my best to communicate it.
Thoughts to Remember
If nothing else I have ever said is ever remembered, I hope the next few sentences are remembered. When asking for directions, first ask if the person giving the directions has ever been there themselves. When asking questions, you want an answer based on experience, not speculation.
Talk is Cheap, Wisdom is Priceless
"You must continue to gain expertise, but avoid thinking like an expert." ... Denis Waitley
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