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College is more than a job ticket

It’s become fashionable recently to second guess college. The ROI no longer works: it’s too expensive and doesn’t guarantee you a good job. It’s elitist and out of touch with reality. Student debt is predatory and out of control. Anyway, MOOCs’ unbundling model is the future of higher ed, so we might as well get on board, right?

That all may be true, but I think it’s too narrow. There’s a corollary to “you can’t optimize what you don’t measure”: measurement can give you tunnel vision. You can collect X University grads’ incomes, divide by tuition, and compare to College Y, but that doesn’t mean you can reduce either one to a simple financial investment you optimize to get the best salary. Continue reading

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Decentralized Web Summit

I spent the last few days at the Decentralized Web Summit, a small gathering of like-minded hackers, thinkers, and activists from all over. I don’t go to a lot of conferences, but this one was inspiring and exciting. Even the mainstream press noticed. I’ll see if I can describe why.

I spent some time in the peer-to-peer community during the first dot com boom. I hung out with the p2p-hackers and CodeCon folks, co-created a toy P2P network and contributed to others, idolized Nullsoft and Bram Cohen and anonymous remailers, and generally yearned to be free of The Man in the middle. By the time BitTorrent hit it big, P2P seemed unstoppable, even inevitable. Continue reading

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