I rarely think of anything in terms of “facts”, which I’m coming to realize, and I think that is preventing me from becoming an expert in anything. I’m an OK developer. I’m an OK gamer. I’m an OK blogger. I’m an OK parent, an OK husband, and an OK friend. But I’m not very good at any of those things, at least not to the point of being an “expert”. I’m sure someone would point out that, really, no one is an expert, but I disagree because thinking like that tends to assume that to be an expert implies that there’s nothing else to learn, or that someone knows so much more than everyone else that they have achieved a state of wisdom that transcends mere expertise.
To me, being an expert means that when presented with a situation, there’s no conflict when choosing which path to take. That decision is based on facts, numbers, rules, and experience. An expert has the right tools for almost any situation, and knows which tool to use for which job. An expert is a reliable source of information, and is willing to share his or her expertise with others.
This opens up a whole can of “expert versus Internet expert” topics that are just so far beyond the scope of this post that I can’t even, but thinking about what I know, and how I approach subjects, I realize that I tend to take more of a philosophical approach than a fact-gathering approach. That kind of bothers me for a few reasons. First, I’m limited in what I can achieve if I only learn the surface facts necessary to get the job done. Second, opinions don’t get us anywhere except possibly in trouble. Third, not pursuing expertise puts me way behind others in terms of participation, leaving me at the far back of the pack while others find ways to level more efficiently and consume more content because of it. Thinking of my posts in the past in light of these points, my tendency to put philosophical thinking ahead of good old fashioned know-how is very much a part of my feelings of disconnection from my peers.
So, what can we do? I’ve been trying to keep the nose to the grindstone with Project Universe, and my posts here reflect the kind of drive towards expertise that I am generally lacking. But it’s development, and while I’ve been developing for many, many years now, I’m entirely self taught. That leads to massive gaps in knowledge which force me to learn what I need to know to tackle the task at hand, but not necessarily the why behind it. Still, progress is progress. When it comes to gaming, I need to really find the strength to buckle down and investigate on my own. To take time to experiment and test theories to find the patterns in the outcomes. I could read guides, but that’s too close to the slippery edge of “Internet fact” for me; plus, learning through trial and error is a better way to learn, IMO.
Of course, knowing what to do is different from actually doing it, so I need to figure out a way to get on task and stay on task. That’s the difficult part, and might be the linchpin in my whole philosophical trauma.