05 Feb

Living World – How Did LEGO Become More About Limits Than Possibilities?

Rip open that new LEGO set and your mind races at the possibilities! A simple repertoire of piece types, and yet you can build a ninja boat, a three-wheeled race car, a pineapple pizza, a spotted lion… The possibilities are limited only by your creativity and imagination. “Combine and create!”—that was the implicit war cry for LEGOs.

So how, I wonder, did LEGO so severely lose its way? LEGO now fills the niche that model airplanes once did when I was a kid, an activity whose motto would be better described as “Follow the instructions!” The sets kids receive as gifts today are replete with made-to-order piece types special to each set, useful in one particular spot, and often useless elsewhere. And the sets are designed for constructing some particular thing (a Geonosian Starfighter, a Triceratops Trapper, etc.), and you—the parent—can look forward to spending hours helping them through the thorough yet thoroughly exhausting pages.

via Living World – How Did LEGO Become More About Limits Than Possibilities?. It’s a little depressing when I pick up a Lego kit and have to turn it down because of this issue. It used to be that no matter what the theme of the set, I could always use the vast majority of pieces from the kit, not so much anymore.

14 Jul

Tyler Neylon Google+ – 50 Designs with 50 Pieces

Last Christmas, a friend gave me a small Lego set just for fun. It’s part of a Creator series, where each set comes with instructions for three different models. I love the versatility and expressiveness of Lego, and I think 3 is far too small a number for what can be done with these, so I challenged myself to create 50 original designs with this one set of about 50 pieces. These images are the result.

via Tyler Neylon Google+ – 50 Designs with 50 Pieces. This is pretty cool, favorites have to be the city, office setup and biplane. I wouldn’t mind trying something like that someday.

13 May

The Rise of the Generalist

Recently Steve Rubel posted about What’s the Future Like for a “Renaissance Man” in a Connected World?. In this post he discuses how even though we would think that with the internet an individual could have broad knowledge about the world, instead people specialize in their particular area of expertise. He then says that he himself has instead shifted to being specialist rather than a broad spectrum of knowledge.

I find this puzzling, for several reasons. First off I have seen the internet both increase my knowledge in specific areas that I deeply value as well as increase my knowledge in areas that I may not be overly interested in. The internet brings to me a great variety of information that is mine to read and analyze and digest. Of course it probably helps that with the exception of few subjects (sports and farming) I am genuinely interested in just about everything. From all areas of scientific research, computing and technology of course, psychology, social sciences, medicine, politics, you name I have on some level a genuine interest in it.

I think one can genuinely specialize in a particular field, in my case programming with regards to Java, PHP and AJAX. But at the same time I can and do read up on a variety of information on a host of other fields and subject areas. Part of the reason I write this blog is to educate myself on a variety of subjects. Granted a lot of posts center around technology as to be excepted, yet I hope to talk about other things. Or take a look at the different links that I read around the web with my daily links posts. I’m reading from 200+ RSS feeds, with anywhere from 500 – 1,000 articles a day being read. You know what else, I love it. I love educating myself on something new, I love the idea that I can talk on a decently high enough level on just about any subject. True I may not be able to preform a DNA replication, but I know how it works and why it is important.

Specialization is not a bad thing, but what happens when all we have are specialist. Will people be able to be independent thinkers or hiring a specialist to do their thinking for them? What about managers as well, a boss has to be a generalist. A boss has to at least have some knowledge of everything that his/her employees do even if they don’t specialize in it to be able to make a decent decision.

The idea that people will always defer to the expert in a field is ridiculous, humans aren’t that intelligent and we have too much ego in ourselves. Far too many people do think that they now better than experts right now, look at Hillary Clinton, a very intelligent by all respects woman, who thinks economists shouldn’t tell her that suspending the 18 cent federal gas tax will do nothing to help the average consumer.

We need to be generalists to make decisions, specialization is good, but going too far is just as bad as knowing nothing.

Update: I forgot about Seth Godin’s blog post this morning about the same topic in which he argues we should be specialist rather than generalist.