I had an extensive topic in mind when I sat down to write today's post, one that I have had many scattered and fretting thoughts over in the last few weeks, but I came across this article while doing my research on the topic (like any good blogger would. As I read it I first decided to link it at the end and state my own thoughts in my own words, but I soon realized that, barring the conversation that inevitably should follow something so relevant in today's world, the author said what I meant to far more beautifully and passionately and with more examples than I could possibly have done. Please, please read it and discuss in the comments. This is an immensely important topic that I would love to talk about. Following the article link are some initial thoughts of mine, spring-boarding off of the stuff presented, I suggest reading it first.
So a lot of stuff, I know, but I want to bypass my sentimental connection - similar to the author's - for the idea of learning everything and begin by addressing whether or not generalists ever have more to contribute to the specialist-oriented intellectual world than specialists. I believe wholeheartedly so, even though being able to do the title justice is becoming more and more difficult as time goes on. The extent to which we are taking these technological and scientific fields is staggering on its own, but the real implications for what we can do with them only becomes apparent when we zoom out and start to see the inherent inter-connections. Take a simple photocell on a digital camera, for example. A photo-receptive material is used to transfer light into electricity, which is encoded as numbers for the computing elements to work with. Already we have Optics, mechanical engineering to build the cell and circuits, chemistry to understand the electrons and the materials that work best (and especially in film cameras), and computer science to process the information and display a picture. engineers understand these connections somewhat, due to the necessity of creating things such as cameras, but there is something more hidden beneath the surface, beneath the uniform behavior of light, sound, and other types of waves, of the similarities between digital experimentation and experimentation on real world ideas. If these 'separate' fields are connected more closely than we realize, only a generalist has the unique ability to step back and trace the lines across.