You often hear on the news about ‘specialists’ being called in, ‘advice’ being given, counselling made available as if people can no longer function without some expert telling them what to do, eat, make, wear, travel and think.
What is a blogger really?
Well a blog is one of those made-up words that the internet created in the 1990s, as web publishing tools that did not require the user to be competent in HTML and FTP technologies emerged.
Blog comes from web and log and means any sort of discussion or information website comprising posts which are usually displayed in reverse chronological order on a given site. A blogger therefore is a contributor to blogs. Simples.
Some blog sites are specific and specialised for blogs, opinions and are often interactive. Some are multi-authored, others from a single person or company. Microblogging and Twitter, for example have contributed to integrating multi-authored blogs generally. Many people see blogging as an extension of social networking.
Some are diaries, some running commentaries or campaigns for or against companies, sports and politicians. Most are textual but others depend on art, film or photos, videos and music. There are edublogs (educational teaching) and podcasts, audio and live blogs.
It is fast becoming a complicated and fluid angle of cyberspace. A year ago, it was thought there were north of 150 million live public blogs, which seems like a conservative estimate. How can anyone really know? Who would count them? Only an expert in such matters.
What is an expert?
The generally accepted definition of an expert is somebody who is widely regarded as a respected and reliable source of information, judgement and experience that is called upon by others. It is an authoritative voice that carries weight and gravitas and is acknowledged by peers.
It is not someone generally who is self-appointed. However, the net has changed that too. An expert tells us that there are over 16,000 social media experts on Twitter. If you tweet, does that make you an expert? It may do.
There is sometimes little difference between being popular and being an expert, as such. People express opinions which may chime with the zeitgeist
but could actually be misleading, devoid of fact or serious consideration, but others enjoy listening to their punditry. These used to be called ‘bar room bores’ or ‘amateur lawyers’.
Those who drive are often experts on roads, traffic problems, signage, weather conditions, best routes and the driving of others.
Can the two really be one and the same?
So, can we have a true expert who writes blogs? Yes, of course, many blogs, such as this one are well researched, attempt balanced views and discussions and allow you to participate with your own opinions, be informed and disagree as vehemently as you wish.
Who has pulled off the trick?
Well, Jordan Sekulow, who is a ‘conservative operative and religion blogger’ in the USA has become an ‘expert on everything’. Wow! Everything?
He has engaged a public relations company (who are also experts), and they offer his expertise in such matters as the State of the USA, Islam, analysis of public opinion, immigration, Senate hearings, the FBI, the Taliban, Yemeni rebels, job creation, earthquakes, disaster relief and human rights.
The idea is that newspapers and media outlets will call on his views to add to their news items, portraying him as the ‘resident expert’. His comments and opinions become part of the story. The expert tag becomes self-fulfilling.
Critics argue that he just looks it up on Wikipedia or simply trawls the web for press releases, statements and news channels for the recycling of news, facts and opinions that go on round the clock. Then he just recycles it all again. The vicious (or virtuous?) circle is complete.
Experts on Expertise
The opening section says it all, arguing that blogging is the perfect way to flex your muscles if you want to vent some anger, establish a journalism career or flex writing skills.
They say: ‘Compiling advice from editors, columnists and social media experts, Guardian students have put together an Ebook to help you get started. How-to-Blog is a step-by-step guide with tips on everything from picking a subject to honing your writing and promoting your work.’
Who do they call on to compile this masterpiece? Experts, naturally.
There are legions of other websites of experts telling you how to grow your blog and develop your own expertise. Will we reach the point eventually where everybody is an expert?
Image: Gage Skidmore