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Re: [MedievalSawdust] Bravo Donato

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  • James Winkler
    O.k... MY two cents worth... (not an attack... a *differing view*... attacks are for melee armies and tourney lists...): Expertise is an exercise in
    Message 1 of 2 , May 25, 2005
      O.k...  MY two cents worth...  (not an attack... a *differing view*...  attacks are for melee armies and tourney lists...):
      Expertise is an exercise in perception... and being lucky enough to have somebody ask you only the questions you know the answers to...
      The fact that some folks 'perceive' a Laurel as an 'expert' is mistake one.  A Laurel might know more than you do about some stuff...  but that doesn't make them an 'expert' per se.   Now, there are SOME Laurels out there who truly are 'very' expert at what they do...  but most, including myself, are what I like to refer to as 'talented amateurs'...  That is, we've simply done the research and the practical aspects enough that others within the SCA community have recognized us as having given... and giving... something of value to the SCA.  "Laurel" should never be confused with 'professional academic"...  (personally, I think that there are relatively few of us who could ever get a job in the teaching, academic or writing profession and make money at it...)  So, I guess the question here is: "Hoiw do you define expert?"...   I might be viewed as an expert compared to some... but there are others on this list who have areas of knowledge and skill that far exceed mine.  So... does not knowing what they know make me less of an expert in what I know?  Does their not knowing some of the stuff I know make THEM less of an expert in what they know?  
      Part of the problem lies in the fact that we're all experts in what we're experts of...  I'm not trying to be cute with that answer but to make a point...  expertise is a perception issue that is primarily based on the perceptions and expectations of the person who would really like the other guy to BE an expert and have all the answers.   To expect ANYBODY in the SCA to be truly an 'expert' in their art/science/skill is, I think, unreasonable...  if you define expert as "knowing everything"...  I'd remind ya' that 'the experts' all believe Troy was a myth until that German Feller' dug it up...  The experts also said that man couldn't fly, run faster than a horse and that the world was flat.   Then there's the other interesting philosophic issue... does "academic gottcha'" equal expertise?  I don't think so...  just because you find something that proves somebody wrong doesn't may YOU an expert... it makes ya' a guy who did some good research and added to the base of knowledge we're all trying to build.
      Now... that being said, I'm actually confused by Donato's statement about having lost respect for 'the whole documentation process within the SCA'...   What *documentation process*??   I think you're confusing the actual academic process with the A&S system.   Documentation is communication and has nothing particularly to do with the Faire except that most Faires require you to document yer' stuff...   Now the Faire doesn't write your docs for you...  its YOUR job to do the communications...  and how and what you communicate is up to you.  If you can't get the necessary info across to the other guy there are two possible problem points...
      1:  You're not communicating well  (I.e., ya' can't write for crap...) or;
      2:  You're audience isn't up to the challenge (I.e., yer' reader can't read for crap)... or;
      3:  Both 1 and 2 are in play.
      Documentation, described simply is "Who, What, Where, When... How."...  it might also include "Why" if you're going to engage in any comparative analysis...   Now... that ain't so hard is it???   Don't confuse the process with some of the clowns that read it or claim authority to play 'Siskel and Ebert' with your docs...   and let's not tar everybody with the same brush...   If ya' think about it.... doing so is only a step away from doing what we all hate others doing... shooting from the hip, indulging in self professed expertise with nothing to back it up, etc., etc.   [I think we're getting to that 'tolerance' virtue...]... 
      Brian wrote:  "Someone who got their Laurel 15 yrs ago may or may not necessarily have kept up their research and might not know everything they think they do.  Other people have been doing research and new resources have become available. Just think of the internet. How many more references are available now compared to available 20 yrs ago? This newsgroup is an example of resources that weren't available 10 years ago. Now we have access not just to the experts in our kingdom but to experts in all of the kingdoms including sharing of color photos instantly."
      This is an EXCELLENT point...  we all run on the knowledge we THINK is current...  but, unless you're constantly wired in to all the latest and greatest research out there (in which case research is your life... or, you might really need one...), there's gonna' be a butt-load of stuff you don't know.   (Hey... did you know that those spiffy Wal-Mart folding chairs with the sling type seats are PERIOD???  Yep... a three leg version was founding a grave site 1st c. AD England...  wasn't 'Real-Tree Camo' though... and the legs were forged not tubular... but the working design and function was right on...)   
      1:  Documentation is not only something that happens in Faires...  its just something Faires can, at times, be prone to abuse...  Documentation is a tool WE use to understand what the other guy is talking about...
      2:  When doing documentation... never assume you're reader is smart enough simply know all of the stuff you forgot to put in you paper.
      3:  Academic debate and argument is part of the process...  everybody is right until proven wrong.  ... and even that can be open to debate... 
      4:  Documentation is a skill...  not unlike woodworking...  the more practiced you are at it... the better all the pieces fit together and the fewer gaps you have in the joints...

      I guess my point here is, I have lost respect for the whole documentation process within the SCA.  Arts and Sciences competitions are a good idea, they encourage a person to dig deeper to find a more thorough context; but they are not period in themselves. They also do not encourage people to be free thinkers and discover hidden treasures which are NOT hidden in the words of primary documentation.  I save my accomplishments for sharing with people who I think REALLY  will enjoy what I have to offer.... a good glass of mead with friends, some excellent music, and good conversation about the roots of where these all came from.  I no longer need to worry about proving I know everything to a judge who may, or may not know more than I do.  I will leave the A&S competitions to people who feel they have something to prove.   (now I will get off of my soapbox and let the attacks come)

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