I’ve been thinking about how libraries can become better at serving researchers and expert users, especially through their front pages. A recent news item from the University of Tennessee library prompted me to make the connection between expert users and library home pages. The University of Tennessee library just announced the launch of their One Search box on the home page. I found this quote especially disturbing “launching a major upgrade to the Libraries’ discovery portal: the search box in the middle of library homepages will yield exponentially more results than in the past.
I’m digging a further into elite theory and uncovering a rich history of material that makes me feel both inadequate and intensely interested in learning more. I’m currently working my way through The Power Elite by C. Wright Mills published in 1956. The book is a great snapshot of mid 20c sociology of elites.
Mills describes three levels of American mid-century society, the masses, a middle level, and the power elite.
One of the reasons I’m interested in studying the interactions between experts and non-experts is my own perception that the respect we have for experts has declined, even over the 40 years of my own lifetime. There are many potential factors that have contributed to this decline, from the internecine fighting of postmodernism to the triumphant march of the market through the lifeworld, but today I’m interested in trying to find an approximate time to date this change.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the problem of expertise. Alvin Goldman, a philosopher at Rutgers, has written some interesting papers on the interaction between novices and experts. Next week I’m going to be leading a discussion on the topic.
I restarted my research on this topic after participating in some other recent discussions about economics and the reactions to the recent recession. How can economists propose such dramatically different explanations and remedies to the current crisis?
Harry Boyte, a senior fellow at the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota, spoke to the Minnesota Independent Scholars Forum on the topic Beyond the Knowledge Wars. The event was held at the Hosmer Public Library in Minneapolis.
Boyte began by discussing the cult of the expert, the ultimate outgrowth of the philosophical positivism and objectivism that dominated intellectual culture in the first half of the twentieth century. Objectivity became the byword for intellectual investigation, demanding the removal of all self-interest or awareness from the research process.