Being a generalist in an age of specialists

April 1, 2009

Or, how the Renaissance Man became lost in the technology shuffle

My tastes have always been varied.  Music, art, written word and technology.  I like to be at the near edge, but I can also appreciate that which has gone before.


I enjoy everything from Gospel to hard rock, although now-a-days most of my listening is Christian Rock, Gospel or talk radio, I have been known to listen to progressive, hard rock and classical new wave.  I can enjoy many styles of music and have even been known to listen to the occasional country tune.  About the only styles I can’t stand are discordant musical arrangements meant to be jarring.  For example, the Dadaist movement of the 20s or punk rock intentionally jarring for the sake of disharmony.


I enjoy the classics, the masters and the modern.  What matters to me is if the art moves me.  It can be a Picasso or a  León Ferrari, a Van Gogh or a Vallejo.  What matters is that is what is depicted moves me on an emotions, intellectual or psychological level.  I do have a hard time relating to a lot of the “starving artist” factory produced schlock that is produced in the name of art and adorns the walls of some of the finer truck stops.


I enjoy fiction, and non-fiction, history and intrigue, science fiction and spiritual, most books that are crafted with care.  I am currently reading the Joel C. Rosenberg series on terrorism and the Middle East.  I just finished reading a book on hermeneutics.  Next on my shelf is a set of science fiction books purchased from half price books.  The only books I do not enjoy are those pulp fiction style series that have been ground out for the purpose of keeping the masses purchasing their monthly or bi-monthly opiate.

Technology – the real focus of this posting

I got involved in computers before computers became the “in-thing” to own and/or understand.  I played with Timex Sinclair, Commodore Vic, 64, Amiga 1000, 500, 2000, Macintosh SE, SE30, IIfx, PS1, PS2 and 286.  My hobby became my passion and I ended up working for a hobbyist at minimum wage (back when it was still under 4 dollars an hour). 

From the nascent budding of home computing I took a position working with a System Integrator for Apple corporation.  I was an integration specialist.  I had to understand Novell and AppleTalk.  This led to an need to understand mainframes, PCs and Apple Macintoshes.  I came to the position that they all had an appropriate place in the technology ecosystem.  A position it seemed many of my coworkers did not share over the years.

I ended up having to focus on a single platform, not because I disliked the other platforms, but because the expanse of applications and systems made it impossible to focus on the broad spectrum with any level of granularity.

I moved solidly into the Microsoft/PC camp and dug deep on Microsoft technology.  The problem is I have found myself needing to dig deep into a single focus over and over.  Increasing the narrowness of my scope.  But this is not in my nature.  I like to dig into anything I am curious about.  But how do you dig into something when the nature of the data expands at a faster rate then you can even begin to cover let alone comprehend.

So I find myself becoming more and more of a generalist with only a few key pieces of one technology set that I did deeply into.  Even for those areas I feel like I am providing a disservice since I do not have the time or facility to drive to the level I desire.  I am sure I am not alone in this feeling. 

The ultimate question becomes will we drive technology silos to the point where cohesion between the various practices will become not only impractical, but impossible as well.  What do we do when the guru’s can no longer relate.  We already see it in a rampant misunderstanding of the various acronyms and definitions that change within a single entities structures.

At one point I thought that metadata and extensive ontologies could help us describe the space, and yet even those seem to be ill equipped to keep pace with the constantly expanding delta.  I we vectoring into an information meltdown.  I do not mean to cry wolf, and this is really just about my feelings, but I hope that those of us who have a responsibility to the next generation can begin to put in place the mechanisms to cope with the ever expanding wealth of information.


Trials, tribulations and true love

April 1, 2009

I Peter 1:6-8

I was reading the word this morning and given the current environment the words of Peter kind of leaped off the page.  There are times I feel like I suffer trials and tribulations.  There are also times when I feel like I love the Lord.  But typically I blow the trials out of proportion and my love of the Lord is a tepid thing with little of the fervor that I desire.

We, meaning privileged Americans, have little knowledge of true suffering.  We can talk about it.  We can write about it.  A few of us have lived it , typically overseas.  But we do not know the true meaning of suffering.  Suffering is not having to give up a 5 dollar latte because things are a little tight at the office.  Suffering is not being unable to replace or fix appliance when they get old and break.  Suffering is not even being unemployed or losing our homes to an overweening banking industry.  Suffering is being put on the point of emotional distress, torture or even death for the things we believe in.

The early church had a faith that blazed across the Roman empire.  They were 100% committed, because being committed to Christ was a potential death sentence.  Where is the church thriving today?  In countries where it is outlawed, pushed underground, tortured.

What is true love?  John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  One person laid down his life for all of mankind.  The early church was aware of that.  In the post Christian era in the US we seem to have forgotten that.  They remember that in countries like North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, Somalia and many others.

We are called to be a witness.  The root word for witness is μάρτυς martys from the Greek and from which we get our word martyr.  In reference to this discussion I think the first and second definitions are most apropos. 

“1: a person who voluntarily suffers death as the penalty of witnessing to and refusing to renounce a religion”

“2:a person who sacrifices something of great value and especially life itself for the sake of principle”

What should I be sacrificing?  What is my “sacrifice of love” going to be today?  If I truly love the Lord, if I am truly sold out for God, what am I willing to give up for him.  The true answer should be everything.  Even my life.  I don’t know that I have that level of commitment.  Nor do I think that I want to find out.  But I can take heart in this:

James 1:2-8,12

2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

12Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

A final note.  Trials versus temptation was the study that prompted this digression.  It can be found on Love Worth Finding at