Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
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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