Wednesday, 24 September 2008

New century, new expertise?

Avatar or polyhistor?

Last Saturday (20 September) Conductive Education World reported on a short, popular-education description of Conductive Education that had just been published on the Internet by Barry Hynes, described as 'an expert'.

I was asked yesterday by Gill Maguire why I had been bothered by Barry Hynes' account of Conductive Education . 'After all,' she said, sweeping her gaze around her Library, 'there are a lot of other people who have written even bigger nonsense on the subject.' Of all people, she should know.

Of course this particular example is no big deal in itself. How it differs, I think, is not in its substance (and by the way, I have had a chance to talk to a few people about what he wrote and no one can think of an example of the arrangement that he desribes) but in the breadth of its distribution. The books in the Library, good or bad, are seen by very few people and the articles in journals are cited by almost nobody (surely as true as in Conductive Education as in any other academic field). Mr Hynes account, however, has been placed before a potentially huge audience...

It is not specifically this though, that exercises me but yet further recognition of the enormity of the fire-storm that is the information revolution. If this today then what tomorrow...? What are the likely outcomes; the net gains, the net benefits? Does it matter an awful lot, or not at all? Who are the potential winners, and who the losers? Whatever next?

Among the readers' Comments at the end of Saturday's item was a short one by Norman Perrin:

Who or where or what is "Barry Hynes" - an expert he? Does he exist as a real person or is he perhaps an avatar escaped from 'Second Life'? He certainly has a viral presence on the Internet.

Sorry, I can't answer that one, except to note that Mr Hynes also writes authoritatively on 50 Cent, hip-hop clothing, the Cell Phone Store, skateboarding, the Playstation portable gaming device, Sony PSP gaming console systems, Eminem, and cerebral palsy, all of which does indeed rather put him up there with the Akond of Swat.



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