Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Technology and the Rise of the Amateurs

My name is Adrian Foong. I believe that the days where we rely solely on experts is past, and the rise of the amateurs empower the non-experts and give them a platform to use their skills for good. I believe that the technology that is available to us now are key in providing these opportunities.

Experts are the special people, the elite. Most people are not experts, but users or consumers.

Experts tell us what the right way to do something is. We listen to them because they have credentials. What they say must be right.

Experts provide us with products, because they know how to make them, and they make them well. Or so most people thought.

Sometime ago, some bikers in California decided that they want the lightweight racing bike frames, but also wider tires from heavier bikes.

This community of bikers came together and created the very first mountain bike. Mountain bikes currently make up 25% of total bicycle sales.

Do experts really know what consumers want? Are inventions always used as the inventors expect them to be used? Do they have the best ideas? Or do consumers have a better idea of what they want?

GitHub is a platform for people to make their code public and collaborate with other people on projects. Projects on GitHub are usually the work of many enthusiasts, not experts, trying to find a solution to a need -- one that they know and care about.

Lindsey Stirling was a quarter-finalist in the talent show America's Got Talent. The judges said she wasn't good enough. She embraced her unique style of performance and made a name for herself via YouTube. Millions of people subscribe to her channel.

It is not easy for authors to get published, because they need the publisher's stamp of approval. Amazon pays $450,000 a year to Mark Dawson, a self-published author who publishes his book with Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing.

For me, this means that the barriers of entry for something that I enjoy doing or care about are lowered. Instead of feeling like I lack the skill to do something, I feel inclined to push myself and learn how to do something.

I don't have to rely solely on experts, because experts don't necessarily have the best ideas -- the consumers do.


  1. I like the post, but I couldn't quite grasp the central argument. Ought the world be driven by the layman? Do we need a better feedback loop between consumer and creator? I feel the evidence you have could create several different cases.

    1. I agree that the central argument is kinda muddled. I have a few themes going on here and need to coalesce the ideas better.

  2. Do experts really know what people want? This may be out of the scope or your argument, but I would say that in some cases, the experts really do know better than us. Especially in the world of Big Data that we live in right now, some websites know what I want to see better than I do. Amazon, google, youtube and facebook are all becoming experts of ME every time that I visit their sites and click around. Food for thought.

    1. I tried to be careful not to say that we don't need the experts, but that we are now empowered to do things that only experts could do for us in the past. I'll have to make that more apparent in my revision!

  3. Excellent job with using images to convey meaning! Strong contemporary issue that you are dealing with. You have strong examples from recent years that support your argument but I didn't see a strong grounding in history. You could perhaps connect this to great work in science and art coming from the Renaissance with the new freedom people had or to the rise of the printing press and how that allowed for people to become more educated in a variety of subjects and also publish their ideas.

    1. Thank you! I was going to draw some connection to the Industrial Era and capitalism, but I like your ideas as well!