Crikey!! I seem to have started a bit of a debate about the validity of the word expert and its use in our courageous clean tech world. It appears that some of you are happy in your expert skin. While others are more coy and think of the term as a passing trend, which makes sense in that if you are currently the only one with a bit of an answer then you my friend are most definitely it for the time being – whether you like it or not.
So if the real deal is time then it can be safe to say that over the last few years the expert pool has got a tad crowded and no doubt deeper as more and more technology becomes part of its conscious now. Or do we still fit to the late Peter Ustinov’s view that “if you have read something you have an opinion, written something a reference and published something an expert” But is there not a point where the expert fails magnificently from grace with the swift use of a keyboard? For example in the early 90’s there was a very sensible report on the growth of the mobile phone market, where the authors stated that the key markets in the next 10 years would be bankers, city workers and high net worth individuals and not to expect global demand to exceed 10m phones. Suffice to say that the guy who came to fix my shower a few weeks ago (and no doubt more than 10 million others like him) is somewhat lost without it. In our bustling and growing space there are constant contradictory reports on the speed, acceleration, decline, failure and in some cases untimely death of technology that to expertly predict the outcome of any of them in these pioneering days where there is still a lot of suck-it-and-see thinking would be a tad risky. But then that’s part of the fun in being in an industry where there are few answers to complex questions and a lot of the thinking is done by the few for the benefit of the many. It’s not going to change and there will always be “expert” opinion and viewpoints that will contradict and prove to be a fallacy.
I am currently at the World Future Energy Summit where there are numerous experts talking about the industry we are all trying to create. It’s a cross between big business and nations stating their intentions to support and be a part of the next big thing and small businesses stating that the next big thing has already happened and when the hell are the big companies coming to play – preferably with a cheque book! What is interesting is the numbers who file in to listen to presentations by respected experts state what is already understood and those that are simply overlooked, due to currently not being recognised as the possible expert in their field. In some ways it is a bit like the clean tech industry in microcosm, Those that have been discovered and/ or are supported well, will survive and the tiny ideas with the small voices that could change the way we think – they may just become lost in the noise of the experts.