We are experiencing a new era for humanity, and that is largely due to the advent of the internet.
It has allowed for the world to come together in ways previously unimaginable. Even this blog post can reach anyone in the world with access, and who knows what events could unfold from something as small as that?
The Italian renaissance was one of many throughout the world, and it allowed people of all varieties to prosper. One type of person in particular would be the generalists/polymath/renaissance person type people. They were allowed by society to pursue whatever interest peaked them.
In that time our societies prospered because of this experimentation. However as we get closer to the industrial age, and in particular the 20th century industrial revolution. It became more of a standard to pursue one interest deeply only.
It worked for the time, as the factories needed that, but after the decades went on it faded from truth.
A Threat to Specialism?
I think one reason why polymathy and generalism have been stifled over the past hundred years, is because that it threatens the "Norm" that they created. We needed specialists during the industrial revolution, and not so much since. Obviously there are cases like doctors or engineers, but most of the time they are T-shaped or have a wide range of specialties under one niche category.
The thing is that being a generalist isn't a threat to specialists. I highly believe that we need both types in society. One thing that I find really interesting is the cross-section between both dichotomies.
Such as the aforementioned T-shaped person, really popular term in digital marketing, or the jack of all trades is making a comeback. With more and more people understanding that the quote continues from "master of none" to "but sometimes better than a master of one". As most people misquote the saying.
Additionally, the Octopus Movement or Puttytribe people popularizing the Multipotentialite word. I always say that being a Multi is like the seed into polymathy. On the Multidisciplinary Spectrum I created, it spans all of the multidisciplinary terms that I could find, then people can find a pathway from being a Multipotentialite to Generalist, and perhaps Polymath.
The Digital Renaissance
I really think we are going into an era quite akin to the renaissance, but thanks to the internet. Being able to experience the world in a whole new way, learn pretty much anything, and make something of yourself that you probably would have been able to before.
Not only in the creator economy where you have to wear multiple hats just to participate, but even in the more structuralized corporate world where intrapreneurship is encouraged. There is this ever growing need for people who are multidisciplinary across the board.
Not to mention more and more people growing into their multidisciplinary lives naturally. As I think the societal pressure to specialize is waning. Particularly in the tech sector especially.
I found this guy's channel randomly one day, and it fit in this post so well.
The Modular Degree and Online Learning
This digital renaissance is causing a ton more people to create educational content across the internet in all forms. Hence the reason why I created the Modular Degree framework, so that people of all backgrounds can organize their learning.
While I think it is super helpful for specialists, it is IMPERATIVE for generalists to use this system. Otherwise the various sprouting interests get out of hand, and hard to manage.
From the expansive lists of online courses/course sites, countless hours of videos being uploaded every day, the wide range of podcasts, and the vast assortment of blog sites on the web. There are so many valuable learning resources, that it can be hard to manage it all.
Here's to the New Age of Polymaths!
I for one am really excited to be alive during this time. I'm sad that this post took me so long to get out. I had it on my active "to do" almost all of last year, but other posts like the one shared below ended up going first.
All the more reason though to have a system in this digital age, as if it wasn't for my PIOS I might've not ever gotten around to doing this post.
Systems are your friend in the new way of life! (They helped in the old world too haha)