These days you can find answers to almost everything online but sometimes the worth of the answers is questionable. From Astronomy to History to Zoology: there are websites about everything. Some claim to be professional and official website, others openly admit that they are just “normal” people writing about what they enjoy. Then there are sites about TV series, about books, movies and people’s favourite stars.
Even though there is so much information that is freely available to everyone, you might start to wonder whether it doesn’t all lead to some sort of information overload and to many people believing everything what they read. It is also hard to distinguish proper experts from people who only act like they are. For example: If I have the necessary skills, I could easily create a website on which I portray myself as an expert in psychology. I might even pretend I’m a doctor – as long as no one does a background check on everything I claim, people may believe it if my website and the displayed information looks professional enough.
There was a time in which you knew who the professionals were. When I went to university, the sources of knowledge were my professors, tutors and books written by reputable authors. But even books can be misleading these days, esp. with the advance of eBooks. Every idiot can publish a book these days. You don’t even need an editor, proof-reader or publishing house. It is too easy. Even though I’m all for books, I’m against a lack of quality. And it feels like the internet is overflowing with bad quality these days.
I resisted eBooks for a long, long time and even though one of my mini jobs requires me to read eBooks for reviews, I still prefer the old fashioned book – its smell, its feel and the believe that a printed book would at least have had some editing and proof-reading. EBooks often have a shocking amount of grammar and spelling mistakes.
I guess, the only choice we have if we want to make sure that quality survives is to support the sites and authors that really know what they are doing. Pay for content as well. As nice as it is to get things for free, you also have to realize that you often get what you pay for. Someone who has spent many years with studying and researching or writing to become an expert would not be able to continue sharing his or her knowledge with others if he/she has no money. No one can live on air and water alone (even though there are some crazy religious people who think they can – and consequently die).
We cannot stop the avalance of wannabe experts – but we have a choice. And we don’t need to know everything! I feel that people these days prefer to know a bit of this and a bit of that instead of knowing just a few things very well. Someone even critized me because I don’t have an interest in some things, e.g. I really dislike accounting and higher mathematics. I have no need for it. I know the basics, I even know how to torture myself through more complicated things and surely: I could learn more. But why? I’d rather be really good at one or two things than bad at many things!