Jack of All Trades

I like the phrase ‘jack of all trades.’ These days, it’s become a bit of an insult – ‘master of none’ usually get appended to the end – but it was originally a compliment. And I like the idea of that as a compliment.

That’s actually my goal, to be honest – I want to be that old-fashioned jack of all trades, where nobody bothers to add ‘master of none’ to the end. Frankly, I’ve already reached the modern point – I can do just about anything I set my mind to, though I’ll readily admit that I’m nowhere near a master of anything. I am good at computers, but I am not a master. I am good at music, but I am nowhere near a master.

It’s still very cool to be able to do all sorts of things – gives one a sense of independence. I’ve got enough of a foothold on things in a variety of categories that, should I decide that’s the focus I want to take with my life, I could bootstrap myself up to competence, and eventually mastery, without too steep a learning curve.

But then, learning curves are getting a bit weird these days – look at how much educational content is freely available online. Duolingo means you can learn one of a suite of languages, completely free. Khan Academy has a broad coverage of math, science, and history, enough that you could probably get a GED without ever going into a classroom. iTunes U’s partnership with Stanford can get you the equivalent of a BS in computer science, which is a lovely degree to have these days.1 It’s a wonderful world.

  1. … he said, carefully not mentioning which degree he was working towards at the moment…