The world is full of specialists: historians, scientists, and researchers of all kinds. This makes sense. Our world is complex; we need specialists to delve deeply.

But all of us still live in the complex world. It’s up to us to take the knowledge of a thousand specialisations and make something of it.

It’s up to us to be generalists.

The Generalist Academy explores the nooks and crannies of human knowledge: the surprises and the stories, the trivial and the thought-provoking, the marvels and the mysteries.

Each entry is purposefully brief, but links to further reading if you want to explore further. I try to link to Wikipedia where possible; it’s ad-free, informative (usually), and the links are less likely to rot.

This website is written by one person based in Auckland, New Zealand. I acknowledge that this introduces an inevitable bias: I choose topics that I find interesting, and I write on topics that exist on Wikipedia (which has its own biases).

To counter this bias, please share interesting topics with me. If I like them, I may use them in future entries.

Because I am a generalist, there’s always the possibility that I have mischaracterised something in ignorance. If you want to correct anything on this site, please let me know.

Sources and inspiration

I gather ideas for this website from a wide range of sources, but these are my favourites:

You may have heard of this one already?

Just the best darned community-collated collection of links and commentary this side of the black stump.

Futility Closet
The finest one-person blog on general trivia out there.

One of the original blogs, and still one of the best.

No Such Thing as a Fish
A podcast by the researchers behind the TV show QI. Endlessly amusing.

In Our Time
A long-running British radio programme (and now also a podcast) by the grandfatherly Melvyn Bragg.

Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable
A classic reference work for the professional browser.