Making Lists: Problems with being a Generalist

I've been having trouble getting myself to do the typing recently - which means I've been accumulating a lot of hand-written material that isn't making it as far as the first stage of editing (which is how I use typing). 

Here's an example: a thought-exercise I did recently, asking myself the question "what problems face those who want to be generalists?" and answering in list form.


  • You still have to make choices (relative to limited amounts of energy, experience, training, time on this earth...)
  • Learning the  ins and outs of different discourses can be a major investment - not unlike language learning, which also becomes necessary in the course of the project. 
  • There might be risks now that previous generations didn't have to contend with, given the ungated nature of the information marketplace. Yes, it might be that more is now accessible, but the old systems for marking quality of information are weakened or dispensed with to make this happen.
  • And, along this line, is the end result devalued? Has the new information landscape made generalists of so many people that it is no longer worth much to be one? Or is the quality of the generalist difficult to discern for the same reasons that cause difficulties around quality of information?
  • The sacrifice of depth is often presented as a methodological concern, but perhaps the risk is just as much emotional. Just as it is heart-rending to live in one place and then another, leaving bits of yourself everywhere, just so the generalist submits himself to the heartache of always leaving one conceptual territory to explore elsewhere. 
  • Perhaps the most concerning for me: the challenge of building coherence of method. Not all methods are suited to all purposes, a reality I can attest to after a great deal of little-considered and disorganized research.


Rather a worrying list, on the whole. I must make a note to do more encouraging thought-exercises.