With a substantial indie-life runway of 3 years, I’m confident to claim that I am good at self-learning new things/subjects fast. But there are caveats. I don’t venture into a new domain randomly. Also, both the process of learning and the amount of specific domain expertise I end up acquiring in a learning sprint varies significantly in every case. Still, there is an underlying pattern in this practice that I’ve been wrapping my head around recently. I call this practice of selecting, learning, and applying specific knowledge across different-but-linked domains, Experimenting Generalism. In a series of posts in the coming weeks, I will be articulating what this practice means for me and how I chart the path of an experimenting generalist. This is part-1 of this new series where I introduce the practice.

Repeated attempts to observe and situate the meta attributes of my specific-knowledge stack over the past 6-8 months have revealed a few interesting nuances into the practice of Experimenting Generalism.

First, let’s situate this practice into the broader context of my skill-stack and learning interests.

  • I have top 20 percentile expertise in two domains: data-science and web-branding. I call these domains my T20P domains.

  • I probably don’t yet have top 1 percentile domain expertise in any domain that’s in-demand in the market right now. Hence, I don’t yet have a T1P domain.

  • I have top 50 percentile domain expertise in about a dozen specific domains that are driving technological, business, and social progress in 2020. Few examples of my T50P domains are anthropology, storytelling, web development, network science, community building.

We can plot my specific-knowledge stack on a domain-expertise spectrum, marked by three thresholds of domain-expertise—T1P, T20P, and T50P.

Almost always, I seriously venture into new domains only when proficiency in that domain is indispensable to my professional client work or when Deep Play into that domain is the only way to quench my deep intellectual curiosity.

Here’s the high-level flow of how I level-up my proficiency in the specific-knowledge of a new domain that I just stumbled into:

  • When I come across an interesting/useful topic, I soak myself into it and within a week(or two) of immersion, I have a good-enough amount of knowledge of that specific domain to be able to participate in a conversation with the domain experts. Speed-learning is a distinct attribute of this practice.

  • Getting familiar with the domain’s principal concepts and core terminology + getting a taste of the intellectual spot where the real conversation is happening currently makes me intellectually conversant to talk to the domain experts. This expertise level is conversational proficiency, closer to intermediate level than beginner level expertise.

This rapid-learning practice has expanded my set of T50P domains to include about a dozen interesting domains in a relatively short period of three years. This recurring practice of rapid acquisition of conversational-proficiency in different-but-linked domains is what I call Experimental Generalism.

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