There seems to be a sort of translucent, if not mutative, veil over subjects of knowledge and fields of practice that we are not familiar with. I hear you thinking “of course there is you bozo.”
It’s obvious, eh? If so, why do we insist on underestimating the knowledge, skill, and experience needed to be good at something? Oh, you don’t do that? Let’s talk again when you find that the price you got for a logo, a web site, or for fixing a sink sounded way too expensive.
Or when you decide you can do it yourself.
However, we do have a problem of trusting if a designer, a web developer*, or a plumber are worth their salt (or the money they are asking as to pay). It’s not easy knowing, but I do have a few heuristics I use (if you care) to decide if I trust someone with a job or a topic that I don’t know much† about.
I’ll start from “trust”. To me trust mainly consists of trusting (a) the intentions and (b) that they are –or can be– good at what they do.
If what I want done –especially if it’s long term or ongoing– is important to me I care a lot if the person or the team care intensely about what they do. I sometimes call it “showing up for your muse.”
I also gravitate to people who are students of their fields, and who care mostly about principles and about understanding –albeit not mastering– the whole scope.
For example, when it comes to data science –which I know very little of– I feel safer working with people who love the mathematics (and linguistics) and the problem solving‡ parts rather than the trend or fad of the day. You can tell when you hear them say things like “ML is AI” or “ML is one of the tools used in -among other fields- data science.”
Most of these people also want to understand what they don’t understand. I’m not talking just about data scientists. I don’t know how to name this trait, but it seems sort of like always being a loving student of the subjects you care about, and feeling joy every time you learn something new. Especially when that new bit of insight squashes what you thought you knew till that moment. That –being able to change your mind– is what I call intellectual self–honesty.
I hear you. “Bro, I just want a damn logo. Why are you making this so complex?” — Well, because if it’s something I care about, I care that the person doing it for (or with) me cares. And if it doesn’t matter too much to me, I still care that they care, because I cherish devotion and showing respect to one’s muse.
* For a web site you need more than a web developer by the way.
† There are subjects in which I routinely invest time to understand –albeit not master– either because they fascinate me or because they are useful to the types of work I get involved in. Mostly the former though.
‡ The stimulus for this post was this “choosing the right estimator” web page and reading that “Often the hardest part of solving a machine learning problem can be finding the right estimator for the job.”