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Generalists

Posted: Fri May 15, 2009 7:34 pm
by muleroid
Hi guys.

So you might remember me from my dumb studying geography topic. I basically decided to try to become a generalist so as to help with bonus conversion for my team. I'd like to know your thoughts on generalists. What should be done to become a good generalist? Is the studying process different than for a specialist? Is there any way to balance breadth and depth?

Forgive me for my idiocy. And thank you.

You're doing fine otherwise, but please don't write "Hai guize." Thanks! -- Mgmt.

Re: Generalists

Posted: Fri May 15, 2009 8:31 pm
by Kouign Amann
Read packets. Many many packets. Assimilate as much knowledge as you possibly can.

Re: Generalists

Posted: Fri May 15, 2009 8:39 pm
by magin
Reading packets is a good idea, for sure. However, if you want to branch out to new categories, I think it's important to establish a general context (which is why intro art classes are so useful). If you don't know anything about British history, for instance, I think it's more important to learn why the English Civil War happened, what led up to it, and what its consequences were than to learn isolated facts about it, since the former allows you to begin forming a stronger cognitive map of British history. By just learning stuff from packets, you're prone to neg out of not really having the understanding of the facts you read (which is to say that reading packets/playing tournaments is important, but understanding basic context is more important).

Re: Generalists

Posted: Fri May 15, 2009 8:47 pm
by at your pleasure
The other thing that helps, and this is part of a cognitive map, is to relate stuff in unfamilar categories to stuff in categories you know. Art classes are especially useful for this because the visual arts can often lead into religion, mythology, and other subjects.

Re: Generalists

Posted: Sat May 16, 2009 8:56 am
by muleroid
Again, thank you for the replies.

Another thing I'm wondering about is the ability of the generalist to thrive on a team with multiple specialists. I realize that methods like reading packets and gaining new contexts may be helpful for a starting Quiz Bowl player, but is there anyway to produce enough breadth and depth to still be a useful generalist? I assume it involves more packet reading and fact learning...

Re: Generalists

Posted: Sat May 16, 2009 12:12 pm
by Mechanical Beasts
So it depends. In one scenario, those specialists are really consistent and good, and in effect--let's say that they're fine arts, lit, and science specialists--your generalist knowledge makes you indistinguishable from a mediocre history player who can also pick up some social science, rmp, etc. That said, whenever they have an off game, and everyone does, you pick up some tossups that would have gone to the other team, and if they're maybe going to flub the middle part of a bonus, you have a good shot of picking it up. But ultimately you're better off locking down history, for example, because strong teams will dominate you out of everything but the specialists' categories.

In another scenario, those specialists are sort of a gamble; they dominate their categories in one game and disappear from the next. In that case, you absolutely need to develop generalist knowledge in order to contend with other teams, and occasionally their deep knowledge will push you over the top against a strong opponent.

Re: Generalists

Posted: Sat May 16, 2009 6:07 pm
by muleroid
So Andrew I guess what you're suggesting then is a specialty in some areas coupled with a general breadth to shore up the weaknesses of your area. The reason I bring up generalism is because I was scanning through some theory topics and one person mentioned that teams w/ a generalist and some specialists would result in an uber team.

Re: Generalists

Posted: Sat May 16, 2009 9:59 pm
by at your pleasure
I'm not a top player by any means, but I would say your best option is to become a "specialist-generalist"; that is, develop broad generalist knowledge and cultivate specialist knowledge in a few categories. This allows your team to get the early buzzes that make or break close games while allowing you to cover for patchy or incosistent generalists.

Re: Generalists

Posted: Sat May 16, 2009 10:02 pm
by The Atom Strikes!
Actually, the best course of action is to develop specialist-depth knowledge in almost every category. In high school, at least, there are a number of players that have done this.

Re: Generalists

Posted: Sat May 16, 2009 10:15 pm
by Mechanical Beasts
A.B.C.D E.F. Godthaab wrote:Actually, the best course of action is to develop specialist-depth knowledge in almost every category. In high school, at least, there are a number of players that have done this.
Well, sure; "know as much as anyone else in all categories" is the ultimate goal; that goes without saying, right? I assumed that the original poster wasn't quite at the level where that was a consideration anytime soon, that this was more a "what should I do now" sort of thing. (There are certainly two trajectories to being a specialist in everything: become a generalist of depth 1, 2, 3, ..., etc. in every category, or become a perfect specialist in category 1, then 2, 3, 4...)