“There is a growing mountain of research. But there is increased evidence that we are being bogged down today as specialization extends. The investigator is staggered by the findings and conclusions of thousands of other workers—conclusions which he cannot find time to grasp, much less to remember, as they appear. Yet specialization becomes increasingly necessary for progress, and the effort to bridge between disciplines is correspondingly superficial.” -Vannevar Bush
But as knowledge grows, we can also go further and further into specific studies. This paragraph mentions something that I think about frequently, specialization. Specialization intrigues me particularly because one day, I want to have a career in science. To give an example, in the VCU biomedical engineering program there are numerous areas of study; bioinstrumentation, biomaterials, biomechanics, tissue and cellular engineering, medical imaging and rehabilitation. Then if you continue going to school you get even more focused on one category that you research and write a large paper about and then that is your specialty.
There is real benefit in specializing in things, you are able to further research specific things in the field, be en expert in things, pioneer techniques and inventions. But there are also huge downfalls. Once you’ve committed to studying specific things, you probably don’t know that much about other stuff! And this is when Bush’s ideas about easy and traceable access to knowledge become important, there are means by which a specialist can get informed about other things important to their studies, but they need to be able to access these things quickly.
This also raises an important issue (one that I think needs to be better implemented at VCU), interdisciplinary collaboration and communication. (A great example of an outline for interdisciplinary work is here)
We can’t all be like Leonardo Da Vinci (sadly), so we need to figure out how to create better relationships between disciplines so that we can increase productivity and creativity.