Being a generalist in an age of specialists

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.


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