Has academia lost its usefulness?
By Peter Cochrane
Published: Wednesday 24 May 2006
(...) Today networking is a key element in getting any form of education and the school, college and university element has started to slide away from centre stage. Almost in the same way libraries of books have lost their significance so have many academic activities. We now have a far richer canvas of education at home, office and school, in fixed, temporary or mobile platforms. People pick up an education on the fly as they work every day.
Perhaps counter-intuitively, a lot of young people get by almost solely through exploiting their networks (ie surfing the web, exchanging emails etc). Is this the blind leading the blind? Perhaps! But I think it is a case of distributed ignorance winning over concentrated expertise.
Couple all this with a multimedia world where the best of the best have their knowledge and experience recorded for all time, where animations and simulations overtake the limitations of chalk and talk, and the sage on the stage becomes the guide at the side, and we have almost come full circle to the individual teaching methods of the ancient Greeks. And come to think of it, they used silica (sand) too
Overall I think this fast and fluid state works. Yes, it has its weaknesses but they are overcome by its tremendous strengths. As a species we are connected more every day, and collectively we know and understand more. If we could integrate (in the mathematical sense) understanding across all peoples, I suspect we would see a rapidly growing resource - and a far healthier picture than a few decades ago!