/blog > archive > December 2012

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“It’s the end of the university as we know it:” In fifty years, if not much sooner, half of the roughly 4,500 colleges and universities now operating in the United States will have ceased to exist. The technology driving this change is already at work, and nothing can stop it. The future looks like this: Access to college-level education will be free for everyone; the residential college campus will become largely obsolete; tens of thousands of professors will lose their jobs; the bachelor’s degree will become increasingly irrelevant; and ten years from now Harvard will enroll ten million students. Wow. Bold predictions. But what could possibly drive such sweeping changes? We’ve been talking about the drivers here at Transparency Revolution for a couple of years now, but it really comes down to three things: The current cost structure is out of line with the economic benefit provided. Technology that is…

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library

Would you believe — the Public Library? In an age of electronic books and media, not to mention information overload, libraries are working to evolve a new image and a new mission. Or maybe it’s a fairly old mission: We see the library as not being in the book business, but being in the learning business, and the exploration business, and the expand-your-mind business. We feel this is really in that spirit, that we provide a resource to the community that individuals would not be able to have access to on their own. Of course, even in the “depository” model, libraries are an important resource for a transparent society seeing as they are the home of so much public information. But this expanded model opens up new possibilities. As libraries become meeting places they potentially have a role to play in what we have described as the coffeeshopification of everything….

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joblessrateTN

Some good news on the employment front, continuing a trend we’ve been tracking over the past few months: The nation’s unemployment rate fell to a four-year low of 7.7% in November as employers added an unexpectedly large but still moderate 146,000 jobs over the month, despite the disruptions caused by Hurricane Sandy. Although the severe storms in the Northeast in late October clipped economic activity and kept many workers at home for days, they had no major effect on the monthly employment statistics, the Labor Department said Friday. Many analysts had forecast unemployment to rise to 8% with job growth of less than 100,000 for November. The caveats about Sandy are significant. I personally had a vendor I have been working with in New Jersey apparently cease operations altogether — at least I haven’t been able to reach them so far. One possible caution here is that the true economic…

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subway

By now we’ve all read about the death of Ki-Suck Han, a New York man who was pushed onto the subway tracks in front of an oncoming train. We will not be publishing the photo that was snapped of him a few seconds before he was struck by the train — the photo that ran on the cover of the New York Post with the tasteless headline, “This Man Is About to Die.” But there is another photo that is bound to surface sooner or later, and that one we are eager to see. And to share. More on that photo in a moment. I spent a good deal of time in Russia in the early to mid 90’s; news stories about people falling onto the tracks of the Moscow Metro were not that uncommon back in those days. Moscow has a reputation for being a big, brutal, uncaring city…

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cliff

In the Wall Street Journal, Joseph Epstein argues against the use of the term “fiscal cliff” on purely linguistic grounds: Fiscal cliff has by now achieved the status of a dying though not yet quite dead metaphor. The function of a metaphor is, by the power of comparison, to make one see the original object more clearly. Rosy-fingered dawn, wine-dark sea—Homer is the man for metaphor. The notion of a cliff, of course, suggests the suicidal. Gadarene swine, lemmings, and all that. “If thought corrupts language,” Orwell also wrote, “language can also corrupt thought.” Orwell believed that politicians were the arch fiends when it came to the corruption of language. But today they are nicely abetted by the media, which have a distinct taste for the trashy in language. They do love so to talk about being “embedded” with this or that battalion, or to report on the situation of…

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