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That it produce valuable services. When you are in a car accident, would you prefer a democratically elected surgeon or one educated at an elite university?

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Jul 12th, 2007 at 09:59:26 AM EST
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Neither, nor.  Non-exclusive.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Thu Jul 12th, 2007 at 01:42:32 PM EST
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how about not being in the car in the first place, hence not being in the accident, hence not needing the highly-credentialled expert services?

expert and credentialled elites tend to foster and create -- no surprise -- a social structure that is fragile and heavily dependent on expert and credentialled elites.  it's called job security.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Thu Jul 12th, 2007 at 05:53:54 PM EST
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breeds specialisation.

How far would we go without complexity or specialisation?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jul 12th, 2007 at 06:48:36 PM EST
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there's -- at least in my mind -- a world of difference between specialisation and elite.

specialisation becomes pathological when it turns into the Enclosure of information, restrictive credentialling processes that focus more on obedience, rote learning and loyalty to elite values/codes than on effective action or critical thinking, etc.  but we're getting back into Illich-land (and actually J Jacobs was working on some of the same turf towards the end of her writing life).

specialisation plus elitism leads to the cult of complexity for its own sake, complexity as a form of mystification and Enclosure.  and having been a technocrat most of my working life, it's a vice I know and understand all too well :-)  the hardest thing to do right is to put the power of the technology in the hands of the users, instead of keeping it in the hands of the expert cadres and doling out results like throwing bread to the ducks.  o what a thrill of appreciation for our own genius and benificence we get as the dependent clients say Thankyou Thankyou...

in an ideal world, the goal of doctors and other specialists is to put themselves out of business by fostering a popular culture so healthy, so intelligent, so ingenious and resourceful and well-equipped, that people are not, for the most part, dependent on arcane expertise.  the goal of GUI designers should be to make consultants obsolete :-) so that people can use the technology without the permission or control of a mediating layer of elite technocrats.

at one time I needed an arcane expert -- a computer room tender -- to read my card deck into the cores and start my job on the mainframe.  it is a better world -- informationally speaking -- in which that gatekeeper doesn't stand between me and the computational resource.

the old saying is that if you want to feed a person for one day you hand them a fish;  if you want to feed them for life, you teach them to fish.  what's omitted from the parable is that the last thing authoritarians want is to teach anyone to fish!  they want everyone to be dependent on regular fish handouts, to ensure obedience and conformity... and/or to go on feeling assured of their own importance and necessity in the scheme of things.  heck, we all like to be needed.  but as parents learn over and over again with each generation, the fine line between caring and wanting to feel needed, and being an overbearing control freak, can be pretty darned fuzzy :-)

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 01:50:54 AM EST
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There will be an elite, as a strucutral result of complexity and the need for complex organisation and coordination. The trick is to make that elite accountable, and its actions as transparent as possible, not to make it disappear.

Which is a political issue, again.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 11:00:47 AM EST
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will require a new label for what we know as elites and whatever they are called should not be limited to law and/or science because it would preclude the real wisdom and leadership the world is missing right now.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 11:53:51 AM EST
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hmmm

a bus/train needs a driver who understands how to operate the bus/train, but we don't call him/her an "elite"... to get the most out of a patch of land sustainably requires years of experience and deep knowledge of the local bioregion, but do we ever call farmers "elite"?  I've heard it said that it takes a lifetime to learn how to grow really good varietal garlic, or to make proper versions of certain wines and cheeses.  are those artisans an "elite"?

it's time we took a closer look at why some people's specialised knowledge makes them "elite" and other people's specialised knowledge makes them, well, less important and more expendable.

in general, specialised knowledge is called "elite" when the owners of that knowledge are able to enforce or encourage other people's dependence on that knowledge.  there was a time when people who understood programming were an elite (ah, I remember it well);  now, teenagers write code in their spare time that 50 years ago would only have been attempted by serious men (yup, almost exclusively) in ties, with college degrees.  some of those teenagers now imagine themselves to be an elite, but that day is passing real fast also.  and that's a good thing imho, no matter how much fun it was when I was younger to be one of the arcane order of wizards.

imho the whole concept of Professional vs other skilled trades [and is there any such thing as an unskilled trade?  certainly the demoralisation of deskilled workers suggests that if there is, there shouldn't be] needs to be re-evaluated and deconstructed.  it has too many overtones of both priesthood and aristocracy, and we all know the Meslier quote, yes?

call me a Caste Traitor, but speakin' as a highly paid senior professional, I have serious doubts about Professionalism and the whole concept of credentialled elites.


The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 07:54:04 PM EST
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This is a topic I think about a lot, whenever I try to untangle my value added in the deals I work on. I'm probably the best paid person working on these, but does that reflect the work done. At times, I feel like I'm just watching others work and signing off on that work. The power to get a EUR 100M check signed is "worth" something to others, typical gatekeeper power, right? And yet... On some deals I know that someone else could have done it fairly easily; on others, I do believe that I created something worthwhile. The first offshore wind farm I worked on would not have been built without the financing, and I essentially invented big parts of the whole financial structure, with a couple of other people, to make it acceptable to all the relevant entities that signed off on it. So how much is that "worth", beyond the fact that having the hand on the till, I can heavily influence the price paid for it?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Jul 15th, 2007 at 05:39:40 AM EST
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