After scanning the internet for a few hours, I found a website that seemed to be authoritative and helpful. I emailed the website owner, sent a picture of the little guy, and described the symptoms. A few hours later, I was delighted to get a return email that addressed most of my concerns (this is normal behavior for slight injuries, turtles face much more challenge in the wild, he'll be fine in a week or so).
A few things struck me about my interaction with the turtle-expert:
* I would have gladly paid the "expert" a nice sum of money for his knowledge. Had a qualified vet been in my area, I'd have taken the turtle in for a visit and paid around $50-$75. The world-class expert would have been a much better value at the same or higher price.
* The time the expert spent on my problem was valuable -- giving away that time is large unsustainable, and should he get many requests like mine, he'd probably be forced to remove his email address from his website or stop responding.
* There wasn't a readily accessible internet-driven mechanism in place for me to do so. The expert could have asked for a PayPal donation after the fact, I suppose. I might have even offered one. But, the fact is, the expectation of "free" advice was implicit by the fact that he posted his email address on the website. If he had a convenient link that said something like, "Click here to buy a 30 minute consultation for $50" I would have clicked.
There are plenty of everyday items that require "Expert Insight" that I'd gladly pay for:
* I have a sick Maple tree in my front yard. Is there a Maple tree expert out there that can tell me what to do?
* My son is having a hard time with the "SP" sound -- any one out there with suggestions?
* My woodworking planer blade has a nick in it. How do I sharpen it?
I'm currently investing in technologies that allow consumers to tap the pool of "Expert Insight" that exists in the world. There are a few companies that are making attempts at solving some of these issues:
* Skillshare.com -- a portal for people to offer classes on just about everything, accept payment, and offer enrollment . Currently, Skillshare is offering classes only in NY, but this idea and platform can scale.
* ExpertInsight.com -- a portal for one-on-one video consulting via the internet. With more than 150 experts in diverse fields (poker, chess, economics, architecture, etc.) this is a model that can and will grow. I'm currently offering my time at $150 / hour -- we can talk about just about anything.
* Vokle.com -- one-to-many video broadcasting. Again, another way for people to interact and share knowledge. Interactive Q&A is done quite well. The ability to charge for these sessions is coming soon.
The writing is on the wall -- the company or companies that facilitate the transfer of expertise as smoothly and as quickly as possible will be a big, big winner and the next household internet brand name.