Interactional Expertise

More evidence of how crucial a choice our friends/seat mates/acquittance’s are to the decisions we can make. If this is true and my gut points me to the truth of this, we may be fast entering an age of great decision making. Why because usenet/googlegroups/yahoogroups or other conversational/ web 2.0 social interactivity interconnection technology is allowing us to be in the loop with the world’s foremost experts in the hard and social sciences. We (the early adopters) may be the first wave of people blessed with an Interactional Expertise spanning a large part of human knowledge.

the interview is from here:

How do you distinguish the people who can and can’t contribute to a specialized field?
The key to the whole thing is whether people have had access to the tacit knowledge of an esoteric area—tacit knowledge is know-how that you can’t express in words. The standard example is knowing how to ride a bike. My view as a sociologist is that expertise is located in more or less specialized social groups. If you want to know what counts as secure knowledge in a field like gravitational wave detection, you have to become part of the social group. Being immersed in the discourse of the specialists is the only way to keep up with what is at the cutting edge.

Is this where interactional expertise comes into play?
Interactional expertise is one of the things that broadens the scope of who can contribute. It’s a little bit wider than the old “people in the white coats” of the 1950s, but what it’s not is everybody. (Within science, lots of people have interactional expertise, because science wouldn’t run without it.)

You did experiments to test your theory of expertise. What did you find?
The original version we did was with color-blind people. What we were attempting to demonstrate is something we call the strong interactional hypothesis: If you have deeply immersed yourself in the talk of an esoteric group—but not immersed yourself in any way in the practices of that group—you will be indistinguishable from somebody who has immersed themself [
sic] in both the talk and the practice, in a test which just involves talk.

If that’s the case, then you’re going to speak as fluently as someone who has been engaged in the practices. And if you can speak as fluently, then you’re indistinguishable from an expert. It’s what I like to call “walking the talk”. You still can’t do the stuff, but you can make judgments, inferences and so on, which are on a par.

We picked color-blind people because they’ve spent their whole lives immersed in a community talking about color. So we thought color-blind people should be indistinguishable from color-perceivers when asked questions by a color-perceiver who knew what was going on. And we demonstrated that that was in fact the case. Now we’re planning to do another imitation test on the congenitally blind to see if they can perform as well as the color-blind.