In my professional life, I deal with intellectual property questions on a routine basis. As a property professor, and a biolaw scholar, patent (and sometimes copyright) issues are my bread and butter. But, recent events in my life have reminded me just how much there is that I don't know.
My partner Allen
wrote a children's opera, Gargoyle Garden
that is being performed as part of the 2008 NYC Fringe Festival
. Allen and his collaborator Jeff LaGreca
have been pelting me with copyright questions. It has become embarrassingly clear (to me, at least) that I can answer few if any of them. To them I am the "expert." And, within a short period of time I have been able to provide answers to every question they have posed. But, my scramble to get up to speed has made me think long and hard about what an expert actually is. Is it someone who knows the answers or someone who knows how to find out the answers? If I didn't know the answer an hour ago, am I still an expert? Do experts really only exist in the eyes of novices?
Since my current research focuses on how perceptions of expertise affect regulatory trust, this process has been an extremely fruitful one for my scholarship. Life imitating art?
My definition of an expert in any field is a person who knows
enough about what's really going on to be scared.
P. J. Plauger, Computer Language, March 1983
UPDATE: The Gargoyle Garden just finished a very successful run. Thanks to everyone who sent good wishes. For those interested, here are two of the reviews