I wanted to expand on a thread in a LinkedIn group I’m part of, where one of the members wrote “It’s funny when 2 experts are arguing about who is better”, using Tom Kyte and Jonathan Lewis as examples of people they say are “Experts”.
Disclaimer: I have not spoken to Jonathan or Tom in regard to their viewpoints on this subject, so this shouldn’t be taken as them saying any of this, just my interpretation.
My perspective on that is I think you will rarely find two people who deserve the title of “Expert” will argue about “who is better”. They would discuss the technical merits of a point instead. In fact, most people I know that are generally accepted as “experts” really don’t believe they are, and most of them REALLY don’t like the term “Guru”.
I remember way back when at one of the early Hotsos conferences I was on a panel with Tom Kyte and someone asked a question on whether auto-extension for datafiles should be turned on or not (note I’m by no means saying I’m up there at Tom’s level!). Tom and I had different perspectives because of the different situations we were in. He was looking at the issue from the perspective of managing the AskTom site. He had little time to do that, so switching on autoextend was a darn sight easier than having the system run out of space and generate errors. My perspective was more from the viewpoint of sites that DID have DBA’s with time to manage the databases properly, where they could be warned by Enterprise Manager alerts that they were going to run out of space in time to address the issue.
In fact, both of us were right in our individual situations (the good old “It depends” answer!) I still cherish the feedback we got from one attendee to the effect that it was great to see people respectfully disagreeing and backing up their perspectives with technical reasons, rather than just proclaiming they knew the answer and their answer was right.
Coming back to the original point of why people with deep technical knowledge like Jonathan and Tom don’t like the terms “Expert” or “Guru”, I think it’s because most of them believe (and rightly so) they are still on a life-long journey of learning. What they ARE really good at is not just having that deep technical knowledge, but also in having the ability to pass that sort of knowledge on to us lesser mortals in terms that WE can understand and then apply in future.
The one place I can sort of understand those terms of “Expert” and “Guru” being applied is from a marketing perspective (well, at least for the term “Expert” – “Guru” sounds like you’re sitting on a mountain top somewhere to me! 🙂 ) It can be much easier to make yourself marketable if you’re truly recognized as an expert. But let’s face it – there are very few REAL experts out there. The rest of us are on that journey towards becoming one.
That’s my two banana skins worth. Feel free to add your own comments here as well!