I had a great conversation with a friend/coach recently about, well, what to do careerwise, and this subject came up.

One of the things I'd like to be, and I'd like to be paid to be, is a "Librarian of Experts". I've always been naturally drawn to smart people, and I get a thrill out of seeing just how good people can be at certain tasks or skills or challenges; and also I enjoy being able to learn the detail about other's' areas of expertise without having to go through all the learning they've gone through. I naturally think of people in terms of what they know, I think because of, partly, laziness/efficiency - why spend a day figuring something out if someone else could give me the answer in thirty seconds ( I'd reciprocate from my own expertise of course ), and partly it's a chance to have an interesting conversation.

This Neil Gaiman quote has always summarised how I feel about these experts: “Google can bring you back 100,000 answers, a librarian can bring you back the right one.”

However, I struggle to keep track of who I know with expertise in each area, especially if it's not their main or current profession. While my memory isn't great I can usually recall who I know who's proficient in a certain area through a combination of searching LinkedIn, twiiter, and old emails; having some memory that I have a contact who's better at something than I am, or knows more about something that I do, feels like one of the few side benefits to occasional bursts of Imposter Syndrome.

Not only as a profession, but also to make it as easy as possible to discuss potential professions with many others, it would be very useful for me to have some kind of "Capability Matrix" of who I know, and what I could ask them about. This is a requirement that's come up again and again in my permanent jobs, figuring out who in their team can do what, but often the answer is just a half-thought out Excel spreadsheet that only works in very limited disciplines, penetration testing for example.

So if I want some kind of index of talents in people, how do I classify those talents, where do I start? For all of human knowledge how do I classify what people know in a reliable and repeatable way. I figure the Dewey Decimal system ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Dewey_Decimal_classes ) is a start - also it might have established rules for dealing with people/books that fall into more than one category, and established software for computers and mobiles that I can easily adapt from books to people.

For example if you are one of my librarian friends you'd be under 26.026 I believe.

Thank you for your time, my questions are:

  • Is this a good business idea? Even as one of many simultaneous professions? ( I've only seen this is one place before, the company Chime Advisors )
  • Is this the best way to classify people's expertise?
  • I wonder how to deal with people being experts in multiple areas, and so falling into multiple categories?
  • Is there any free software, that works across computers and mobile devices, where this information could be stored?
  • Is there a better solution I've missed?

All suggestions welcome.