The Basil Grant Society
This is simply a Twitter group for people who, like me, describe themselves as generalists.
Everywhere I look, I see the virtues of specialism extolled, especially when forging a career – but for some of us, that just doesn’t work. The term usually used is ‘portfolio career’ – ie where you build up a portfolio of things you’ve done, which may be quite disparate, rather than follow a set path through a particular field. Of course, even if you’re not lucky enough to be able to earn a living in this fashion, you may still have a diverse range of interests, find it hard to settle on any one area, and consider yourself a generalist. In either case, this is a community for you.
What does it do?
Simple – it brings kindred spirits together. That’s what social networking is all about: encountering people with similar interests (or, in this case, a similar breadth of interests), starting conversations, sharing ideas, seeking or giving advice to one another, getting feedback – that sort of thing.
How does it work?
Membership of the Basil Grant Society is of course entirely free – but by invitation only, simply to preserve the character of the group, avoid spam, and ensure the reasons for people joining remain at the forefront. It’s very simple – you just need to be a Twitter user.
Thanks to a clever and useful tool from GroupTweet, anyone accepted as a member of the group (ie anyone who follows and is allowed to see the basilgrant account) can send a direct message via Twitter (like this: d basilgrant yourmessagehere…) and that will then be sent out as a tweet from the basilgrant account, so all followers will see it.
This means if you’re looking for help with a particular problem, or want to find someone with specific skills, or to get advice, or of course to answer someone else’s question – all the members get to see the message.
Why ‘Basil Grant’?
The name is inspired by a wonderful book by G K Chesterton, The Club of Queer Trades. Basil Grant is Chesterton’s ‘anti-detective’ who investigates the mysterious club, “a society consisting exclusively of people who have invented some new and curious way of making money”. I won’t spoil the book (a collection of six interlinked short stories, and partly a satire on Sherlock Holmes), but the first tale is all about making of life “a larger theatre of events… to waylay us and lead us splendidly astray”. Let’s lead each other astray, and see what happens.
PS. The only book I’ve yet to come across aimed directly at generalists like us is Barbara Sher’s What do I do when I want to do everything? You can find discussion forums at her website. Her term for generalists is ‘Scanners’ – people who are “wired to pursue many interests and goals”.
PPS. If you want to discuss any of this, you can also find me here on Twitter: @hatmandu