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Newt Love: News & blog

4 Nov 2007
Understanding Jazz
Think Conversations!

26 July 2007
Questions
I want to know!

Is the universe anything like a unibrow? You know, when a guy has one continuous line of hair across his forehead, just above the eyes? Or is the universe the first stanza to a song that we all sing and can't get out of our heads? "Okay class, let's sing the universe in unison."

Which way is slow? Some people say slow-up, but some say slow down. Which is it, up or down? Why isn't it right or left? A few people have wanted me to hold-up, but how can I keep a hold of it if I don't know where I have to look to grab it! Calm is definitely down, but shut can be either up or down. If it is the latter, that usually ends it.

Sure, I understand plenty, but not knowing which way slow is has kept me awake at night with worry. Please tell me which way is slow.

13 July 2007
The True Story of Jack
Who Knew All Trades

A friend — a midaevilist — told me the real origin of a poetic diddy that's all the rage. It's been around for several hundred years.

"You're a Jack-of-all-trades, but master of none" is often used as a derogatory reference to a job applicant's skill set. Due to the nature of business and industry for the last hundred years —when specialists were in high demand— generalists or even skilled professionals who did not have a narrow focus in their profession, e.g, an engineer versus a finite element loads engineer, were looked down on in favor of the specialist.

This wasn't always the case. The age of specialization happened after the "mad scientist" craze hit after the end of World War II. Nuclear physicists were prized, but so were metallurgists, and aerodynamicists, and vertually any specialty that could coin a new name and launch a scholarly journal. There was so much that we did not know about such a great many subjects, that specialists were worth more than gold to a company.

Sixty years have passed, and we have made huge and gibungus strides in science and engineering. What we are finding now is the problems of interoperability. Lots of stuff built by specialists can't be put together to do more than the original thing.

Today, integration is the key! One great example is your cellphone with digital music and camera, that can email, access the web, and get music and videos to enjoy. Years ago, each of those were separate products, and the separate components sat on your shelf, or clustered inside your computer. Now, after some smart and cool guys (men and women) did the work to integrate them all into a little hand held unit, they are all rich, and we pay minutes to our cellphone company.

So, the big demand now is not for specialists who can eeek out another few decimal places of accuracy in some molecular quantum sense, but for foks that can bring together diverse technologies and create a new and cool gadget for us to drool over. Look at the new Apple iPhone. It's just new and cool packaging of stuff we have seen before. Hooray for the generalist integrators!

We now have come full circle, back to "the rest of the story." The original poem, from the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, as the world economy evolved out of the Craft Guilds, was:

     Jack of all trades
     Master of none
     But count on Jack
     To get the job done

In the early days of the Industrial Revolution, a factory owner needed to be a leather worker to keep his work-drive belts in shape. He had to be a carpenter to fix the waterwheel. He had to be a metallurgist (blacksmith) to improvise parts for the just invented machinery. He had to know a little bit about a lot of stuff, just to keep his factory up and running. He had to be a generalist, and an integrator to survive.

I am proud to be a Jack-of-all-trades! I have been one for my whole career (1976 to present). For a long time, I got blank and stupid stares when I tried to explain the value of a Jack-of-all-trades. Nowadays, I get paid rather well as a Technical Fellow, who knows how to get almost any scientific project that they can think of, off the ground and making progress.

Yes, I am a Jack-of-all-trades
and master of none.
but count on this "Jack"
to get the job done!

 

 

12 Jul 2007 Good and Evil versus Personal Baggage

10 Jul 2007 Living The Big-Hearted Way

9 Jul 2007 A Righteous Brothers Question

26 Jun 2007 My God Drives a Tow Truck

23 Jun 2007 Norman Paperman and I debate writing

18 Jun 2007 Lose as Many Lbs. as You Want!

3 Jun 2007 Reviewed by Liz!

2 Jun 2007 I have to use this in a SF novel someday!

17 Apr 2007 It's Hard to Market a Book!

1 Apr 2007 Quatre-Vingt-Quinze Pour Cent

17 Mar 2007 The threads are coming together!

 


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