Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Need to Know

In my enforced lay-off from the web this last ten days, or at least a severe curtailing of on-line activity, I have been pondering this question; what do we need to know?

Don't worry. It's not a question about the relative secrecy of the senior staff in the Church of England - the mushroom principle serves them well. Those unfamiliar with the mushroom principle need simply to consider - where are they kept and on what are they fed?

It is a question of information overload in 2010.

I have much respect for specialists. Those who devote their lives to the hibernation patterns of South Yorkshire mammals or the repair of Norman mortar impress me no end. But it is quite dificult to be a polymath these days. Stephen Fry is quite bright but he ain't Leibniz - possibly the last great thinker to put his mind to everything with aplomb.

Now I find this to be true. In any given week I can do one of the following: read well, relate well, keep up with the world of movies, or TV or music or perhaps move on in my grasp of technology a little. I cannot do them all in one week so act as a serial competent and try to restrict cultural conversations to the bits up-to-date with which I am culturally. Sentence structure hasn't been on the agenda for a few weeks.

I bought a GQ yesterday. It's the size of a novel but I now feel I am vaguely aware of men's fashion again (don't snigger). And I have a nice picture of Christina Hendricks, which wasn't the point but is a bonus.

So what about you? Specialist or generalist? And how do you keep up? Is it worth trying?

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