i think he’s on to something

Devin Coldewey recently posted an article on techcrunch which is definitely worth your time.  titled “the dangers of externalizing knowledge,” it relates somewhat to a recent post i put up regarding hyperspecialization.  a quote from mr. coldewey:  “as the internet and connectivity expands our world exponentially, we find ourselves putting finer and finer a point on our role in it.  No more renaissance men — I suppose Leonardo himself might have been frustrated by the sheer amount of info he’d have to command.”

as i hope i made clear, i agree that the renaissance man is a dying breed.  but mr. coldewey and i disagree on the topic of expertise.  i think that the sheer volume of data available on any given topic makes it increasingly difficult to be a true expert on any topic, while coldewey apparently feels that “it’s become far easier to acquire expertise…”

in the end, though, we seem to agree that the hyperspecialization of modern careers comes at a cost.  coldewey describes the cost as a loss of insight.  he feels that we “acquire expertise — at the cost of insight. There’s a reason, after all, why it’s called insight. Because insight is the result of recombination, hybridizing ideas, internal accidents, emergent properties of ideas we never even knew were related.”  the sort of insight he describes comes from a broad base of knowledge and experience that an individual has processed internally.  my favorite quote from his post: “If you fail to integrate an experience, it was, for all intents and purposes, no better than a dream.”