RE: [Possible SPAM] Re: [Possible SPAM] Re: [xmca] Copernicus, Darwinand Bohr

From: Michael Glassman <MGlassman who-is-at>
Date: Tue Jun 26 2007 - 11:36:38 PDT

Why this distinction between expert and novice? What does it really buy us? And who gets to make the distinction? It seems to me in an expert/novice scenario all power lies in the hands of those who get to make this distinction on whatever level, and get to define the two classes. Take a look at the political class in the United States, we define experts as those who have the right cultural capital, wear the right type of ties and suits, who speak in somber, modulated voices with a weary sigh of resignation, suggesting "of course you cannot see what I can see, but trust me."
This is not to say every generation starts from scratch. Every generation starts with the tools that they have, but then they figure out how to use those tools to solve what invariably must be new problems, or they develop new tools out of the old tools. Let's say we have a set of spears we use to hunt food. There are great spear throwers who use those spears and teach others to use them as well. Their "expertise" in spear throwing gives them great power within the community. But things change, and the spears that were once used on larger animals are not as good for smaller animals. Are the spear throwers going to give up their place in the community as "experts?" Or are they going to say, well if we just wait, or if we use the spear in a different way, or it is the fault of our lazy children who do not train in spear throwing the way previous generations did. Meanwhile the food supply dwindles for the community. A young person examines the spear and says, hmmm, the arrow head pierces the skin but it cannot reach the skin with these new animals that we hunt. Perhaps I can create something else - a bow and arrow perhaps. But she is not an expert. Who, in a hierarchical system of knowledge development would listen and adopt the work of this young innovator? This is always the danger of a heirarchical system of knowledge development.
In a more lateral system of development information is everything. As a species were are problem solvers, but our problem solving is based on the easy access and flow of information. I just read the most fascinating article by the economist Amriyat (sp?) Sen. In it he talks about famine. He makes a really good argument that famine is almost never about food. There is always enough food even in some of the major famines of the twentieth century. It is about the lack of capability for getting to the food. At its core the lack of information as a tool in obtaining this basic human function. What else is there other than information. When we define information as static and give it value separate from the problems we are working on, isn't that when we find the most trouble, have the most difficulties in problems solving?
I watch my son play his World of Warcraft game. I wish I knew more about it. But I see him adapting and recalibrating constantly, developing strategies and processes that see incredible to me. It is a virtual world in which there are no "experts." The world and my son and the other players co-exist.
I don't know if I've done such a good job trying to explore this. Perhaps a problem that needs greater consideration.


From: on behalf of Martin Packer
Sent: Tue 6/26/2007 2:04 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Possible SPAM] Re: [Possible SPAM] Re: [xmca] Copernicus, Darwinand Bohr

Michael, you would have each generation start on their own, from scratch? No
experts, just novices? That really is a post-apocalyptic vision!

My point was there is more to life (and education) than "functioning" and
"information." The danger with the tool metaphor, and the emphasis on
artifacts as tools, is that they reduce all of life to the production
process. That is not just a conceptual mistake, it is a political agenda. To
argue that thinking is not important, only tool use, is not to argue against
formalization, it is to promote a purely instrumental conception of human
action and interaction. It is to promote an extreme version of the division
of labor, in which only a tiny elite get to think about the nature of
thinking, and everyone else is simply using tools skillfully but

On 6/26/07 12:40 PM, "Michael Glassman" <> wrote:

> But if this information is so important, and it exists as part of the problem
> solving tools of humanity, don't we trust humans to discover it through their
> own activities?

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Received on Tue Jun 26 11:37 PDT 2007

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