In primitive economies, there is little or no specialization of the labor force. Everyone has to farm, raise kids, gather herbs, fight, heal wounds, entertain, carry & transmit knowledge, transport, do logistics, cook, make shelter, etc. This is necessary just to survive. There are essentially no silos in this economy; everyone is more or less on the same page, knowledge-wise.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have an extremely specialized society with lots of vertical occupations. Someone can make a living doing only one thing. Examples might be organic blueberry farmer, special needs kindergarten teacher, chemical researcher, Navy SEAL, hand surgeon, stand-up comedian, Phd, bike messenger, operations manager, sushi chef, architect, etc. Each one of these can trade their work for wealth that rivals that of the King of France in the 17th century (in some way).
This economy is extremely silofied - its drawback is that it becomes insular and cross-talk becomes more and more difficult. The reign of tunnel-sighted experts ensues.
This situation cries out for a return of generalists. People who can understand a little bit of everything and make new connections. People who can synthesize. People who grok enough of the entire tech stack to utilize experts like instruments and create a bigger picture.
How do we become Type 2 generalists?
So far, I'd say:
1. Feed your curiosity
2. Ship. Real artists ship.
3. Learn how to create businesses and strive for sucess in those, so that you can have more time and leverage to put your (big, life) projects in movement.
Really really important warning: http://sebastianmarshall.com/what-separates-a-generalist-and-a-dabbler (point 2 above)
If you were going to build an empire, how would you do it?
I've been thinking on this lately. I want to choose the imperial path first, last, and always. Every decision I make ought to be to the end of building. We can get into the "why" of it and philosophy another time, but I think pretty much the meaning of life is to expand, the mid-term goal of humanity ought to be to spread outside of Planet Earth and diversity our habitats a little bit, and I'd like to participate in doing that.
That's a really long discussion though, so we'll save that for another time. Yesterday I was in a really nice cafe and I was thinking, "You know, I want to always be choosing the empire-building way. When choosing between options, when prioritizing, when picking activities, when picking projects - I want to choose expansion and empire."
I thought about that and I don't have any really good heuristics for what's conducive to expansion and what isn't. So today I went to a cool little Vietnamese restaurant where the owner is friendly, got some coffee and tea and bread, and started brainstorming a little bit.
I used to play a ton of video games. Not like “a lot”of video games, I’m talking a shit ton of video games. Most of the times I played RPGs, (role-playing games, or games where you level up your character and otherwise make choices about their “development”) some, but not many, RTS’s (real time strategy, games where everything happens in real time and actions have to be constantly inputted and strategies revised on the fly. Command and Conquer anyone?) and a handful of just action/adventure games.
Note: This post is divided into two sections, first my story regarding video games and then what I learned from them, feel free to skip.
First I want to break some misconceptions about video games and gamers in general. For one they aren’t all fat, nerdy and awkward. In fact some of the coolest, chillest people I know play video games. A lot of them just do it to relax and escape, others just love to pour hours upon hours watching their characters advance. Some are “achievement whores” or gamers that spend all their time chasing numbers. Some are min-maxers, or people who through excel spreadsheets, repetitive testing and brainstorming determine what the “most effective” way to play the game is (something usually the developers only know unless they divulge a lot of information). Regardless in all these sub types I’ve met tons of people who are genuinely cool, laid-back individuals.
In almost all games I’ve played of every genre I’ve met people interested in different facets of the game. Some people like to focus more on the economy of the game and the ways the markets work. Some spend hours trying to make their character perfect, detailing every relevant piece of information and plugging it into various spreadsheets. Some focus almost solely on player-versus-player aspects and spend their time practicing in teams in order to outcompete. There is something for everybody.