Micro-experts and the specialization economy

The specialization economy

Specialists in Civ 4: First reference that came to mind.

The specialization economy, also know as division of labor, is what makes modern society run. People do what they’re good at, get increasingly good at it, and we have a society that can do increasingly complicated things. This makes us avoid things that are “not our job” – when my car is broken, I take it to the mechanic; when my mom’s internet stops working, she calls me (forgetting that web entrepreneur != IT guy); and when we’re sick, we go to the doctor. If we’re really sick, we hope researchers come up with something.

The story of 15 year old Jack Andraka, who created a more efficient test for pancreatic cancer, turns this idea on it’s head. Jack hasn’t gone through the decades of training of our idea of a researcher, and doesn’t have the life experience of school teacher Victoria Knight-McDowell, creator of Airborne. He took concepts from a high school biology class, Google, a year of hard work, and pushed the boundaries of medical research. Seems like a fluke, but is it?

The internet brought about a democratization of knowledge, and with it the rise of micro-experts – folks passionate about a very specific topic not necessarily related to their day job, and have gathered a depth of knowledge. Jack and Victoria are two examples of innovation coming from unlikely sources, and this is just the beginning. I believe innovation will increasingly come from micro-experts, and our task ahead is enabling them and identifying the best ideas.

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