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Experts and Influencers

Oct. 12, 2020
Technology creates shortcuts to knowledge, and this is an overall benefit to humanity. But technology is not to blame for our lack of restraint, or desire to succeed or prosper at any cost — in particular the cost to others we’d like to overtake.

Metalcasting can be understood as the process of assessing material and chemical reactions, and addressing or managing those reactions to achieve a desired output. This is a reductive explanation, but if you grasp this much you can follow discussions and explanations of metalcasting processes and technologies. I speak from experience on this, because I’m not a metalcaster but by following this maxim I have learned to understand and evaluate what is salient and notable in this subject area.

Experience is important, of course. It gives someone confidence to take on new assignments or challenges, to investigate subjects that may be unclear, and intuition about how to proceed with our work as it develops. This requires a certain equanimity about one’s own experience, an awareness of what one knows and does not know, and the willingness to prepare accordingly for what may be required as we proceed along the track that experience reveals. When I have difficulty understanding some information about metalcasting, I return to that basic premise so that I can understand better what new details are being introduced.

Having experience does not make me an expert, but it gives me some standing and it reserves some autonomy for me. I do not have to wait to be told what to do or think about various things. I remain in control of my decisions on these subjects. I need metalcasting experts, of course, to set forth facts and ideas that are reliable and verifiable, and I trust many of them to fill in the gaps in my understanding. Experts help to expand experience, mine and others, and they gain influence by applying their expertise carefully, not recklessly.

How does one become an expert? Well, experience is surely part of that process, together with an individual quality once known as “industry”, meaning hard work and sacrifice of time and opportunity. Education and training, and accreditation are essential, and to this one must also add some generosity — a willingness to share what one knows for the benefit of others, even if no reward is gained. In that way, the universe of knowledge about metalcasting or any subject is expanded and everyone benefits.

The most talented, the hardest working, and the most dedicated earn our recognition as experts. The world needs experts, but we must be careful who we elevate to that rank. Multiple experts tend to compete with each other for primacy, contradicting each other, and lessening the value of expertise. Experts should guide, not rule.

Metalcasting is a fortunate precinct within the larger world that confronts us from day to day, the realm of news and politics, commerce and entertainment where all of us dwell together. That “space” is absorbed with the salience of mastery over problems and “challenges”, especially over breaking news, and indeed with initiating changes and reactions to those things. We’re encouraged to respond and to act, in contrast to assess and address. We’re invited to be part of the reaction. There is implied some social virtue to being reactive, and the overall effect is that the current age prefers “influence” to experience. Being an “influencer” has become a credit line for many people, literally and figuratively: they call themselves influencers and they rely on that designation to acquire recognition they could not otherwise afford.

Some of this is a result of living within the rules set for us by technologies that work for us. We use machines and networks as tools to accomplish what we want and need, and many of us derive satisfaction or even fulfillment from what we accomplish through those means. But, we’re also adapting ourselves to the protocols and schedules that these technologies require, and the distinction between the self and the system can be misunderstood or even lost.

Experience would be a great help in such a situation. Experience typically instructs me to proceed carefully, even slowly. But if one is determined to be an influencer then a moment must be seized, a reaction must be made, and authority must be asserted. Being an influencer is shortcut to being an authority figure, ready to impose one’s will to get a desired outcome.

Technology has created shortcuts to knowledge, and this is an overall benefit to humanity. But technology is not to blame for our lack of restraint, or desire to succeed or prosper at any cost — in particular the cost to others we’d like to overtake. Human nature is improved and enriched by experience more than expediency.