Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Modern Renaissance Man

We live in an interesting period of time where common sense is not that common, seemingly because of the existence of really stupid people, but also because common sense now encompasses a lot more than it ever has.

Most people around you know how to use a computer and access the internet. Those that really know how to work the search engine and information highway have access to a limitless source of knowledge that can enable them to do so much more than anyone has in the past.

As humankind's collective knowledge expands, it is natural to expect that people will specialize, afterall there is too much for a single person to know. Every community will be able to sustain itself, having different people specializing in various essential areas covering each other's backs.

However, somewhere along the way in our pursuit of knowledge, we went offtrack. Instead of specializing, we instead became jack-of-all-trades and began acquiring knowledge and experience in a multitude of areas. Think about people you know: most individuals today are proficient in several sports, at least one instrument and another language, have several hobbies, and are utter geeks about quite a few things.

In many ways we modern people are like the enlightened of the Renaissance. A true renaissance man was a philosopher, artist, scientist, inventor, poet, etc. Think of Leonardo da Vinci and the vast number of accomplishments and trials he attempted. Many motivated people, especially late adolescents and young adults, are motivated to take up personal side projects and the ilk.

The internet helps in many ways, providing a compedium of knowledge that can support that of which we already know while filling in any gaps. The internet can turn us into make-shift doctors, plumbers, even (especially?) IT techies.

It is the blessing of the modern age that we have enough time to seek and gather so much knowledge and skill, in the past, aspiring renaissance men had to seek out patron to sponsor them. Beyond that, we have to thank the global village that is the internet. Its existence alleviates the need for most of us to specialize in anything as there is always someone covering some topic. There are, of course, still people who are hyper-specialized in certain topics, and we as a global community benefit from that.

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