The End of Academic Elites

The internet has changed everything, so much so that even I, a man who has been online for 19 years, am constantly amazed at the pace of accelerated change. The printing press changed the world in a few decades in the 16th century. The internet is even more revolutionary.

Even more so than the press, the internet has evaporated prior means of didactic instruction. The printing press created change, but only the rich could afford to buy one. For less than $100 today, one can get a domain and start a media empire on the web.

Kids now get their news from the internet. Prior to YouTube, news came from "respected" media sources. Now any kid with an iPhone can break a story. In America, videos of police brutality have become a cottage industry, with attendant consequences. I could have used an iPhone when I was a teen.

Craigslist has done a runaround on newspapers by offering free advertising, thus cutting their revenues. Newsprint is collapsing. Paper after paper has gone broke. The Media Elite are gone. Little mammals, like American Thinker, have overtaken the "venerable" dinosaurs of the liberal establishment.

The most noticeable change has been reporting from the Mideast. Until 15 years ago, Jews, by virtue of education, and presence in the media, could wield a moderating -- critics have claimed a suffocating -- influence. However, today every Arab in the contested areas seems to come equipped with an iPhone, ready to video every supposed Israeli "outrage." Anybody with an anti-Israel bent can open up a website. No one listens to Wolf Blitzer any more. The borderline anti-Semitic site Mondoweiss now has the new media's ear. There are more smartphones in the hands of Muslims than Jews available to contest the narrative. Horror or improvement, this is the present reality.

Beyond the death of the Mainstream Media, the value of a journalism degree has evaporated. So much for six years to a masters at the Columbia School of Journalism. Save yourself a fortune and open a YouTube channel. On the job training. Make money from adding commercials.

With the free Word Press platform -- a user friendly content management system -- anybody can open up a news site in a few hours, and soon compete with the BBC, which also uses Word Press, as well as the New Yorker, and the NY Times Blogs. The rise of Mondoweiss -- also run on Word Press -- is a glaring example of how the media has been overtaken by the technology. If you want to counter anti-Semitism, then ask Ted Belman. Israpundit runs on Word Press.

YouTube now outflanks, and scoops cameramen with 20 years of experience. Kids with a 16-megapixel Samsung smartphone camera are now obsoleting experts with ten thousand dollar rigs. Satellite uplinks have given way to snapping and shooting off to the cloud. Every teen is a star.

With Photoshop, high end photography has changed. Apple's Final Cut Pro, and Sony's Vegas have placed professional editting into the hands of people for less than a thousand dollars. If one is broke, Gimp and Kdenlive are quite capable freeware alternatives. Teens can outperform studied experts.

If one needs instruction in these software packages, they are available for free on websites and YouTube. Where then is the value of a film degree that cost tens of thousands? 

In the 1960s, green screening chromakey required hundreds of thousands of dollars in a camera and rig. Now, a $50 webcam, some borrowed furniture, lights, and a green towel, with some freeware, can produce the same effect. With Audacity, and a used, cheap mixer, who needs training in audio engineering?

One can self-educate her or himself up to a Masters degree in civil or mechanincal engineering on the internet. Indeed, the only thing truly provided by schools today is a space for lab work. All else can be acquired online at little or no expense.

I taught myself HTML, CSS, PHP, and jQuery about nine years ago. Had I gone to school at that time, it would have cost me thousands of dollars. I learned them for free from a few websites.

Eight years ago, there was a great demand for the mid-level coder, who wrote individualized websites. It was heavy with teens who needed spending money. Now, coding is only useful for the back end of design platforms, where elite expertise is needed; and those experts are often non-degreed, but self-taught. With WIX, a computer illiterate can now design fancy sites in a few minutes. The mid-level profession has evaporated. So much for that training.

Even Word Press is now being assailed by simpler platforms like Weebly, which are making websites so easy that web design is now officially dead. A whole sub-industry was birthed, grew, and died out in less time that it took to even learn the skills.

The New Boston website offers complete courses in computer science, coding, math, and physics. The owner started the site when he realized that college was now a pointless waste of time. The Khan Academy is a free university. Other World Computing was teaching Apple computer repair -- and quite well –- until Apple started soldering parts a few years ago, probably in response to IFIXIT and DIRECTFIX, whose repair kits cut into Apple's profits.

Medical Degrees, which require training, will survive, but not without severe pruning of required attendance. Who is going to pay hundreds of thousands to go to Columbia Med School for a degree when he or she can learn many of the skills for free. What is needed is apprentice/intern training, not fluff courses. More time as an intern, less time in redundant classes.

True, research has to be centralized, but everything up to a bachelor's can be achieved gratis. Entrance to graduate school will be solely by exam, along with a small syllabus of lab courses, and nothing more. To the enterprising student, this can be accomplished with home study, and a year in commercial labs in capacity as a trainee; an arrangement once familiar to medieval guilds, only this time defined by the net rather than tradition.

For budding clerics, the Blue Letter Bible is an online bible college, complete with interactive Greek and Hebrew interlinears, which give pronunciation. Aquinas and Luther would have killed for such tools.

Unlike the revolution started by the printing press which soon stabilized, internet changes are not merely drastic but continually accelerating.

In the liberal arts, one can practice Spanish with a native speaker in Argentina on Skype for free. No need for four years in college with an American professor who never learned how to trill an r. No need for a community college degree in graphic design, when Roberto Blake does a far better job of it for free on YouTube.

Academia will soon die out. The relic courses designed only to make work for obsolete professors will no longer be tolerated. The debt, and the social bloat, will have to collapse. Education has now become truly democratized. Only Engineering, the Sciences, and Medical Education will survive -- and these in only an abbreviated form.

This has the advantage of removing the last holdouts of a vestigial intellectual aristocracy which distorts our Republic with claims of expertise, and high salary requirements. However, the downside, as evinced by YouTube reporting, will be the total lack of responsibility. We will happily lose the Ivy League elite; but alas we may pay for this liberty with BDS coming out of every pore.

For those who say the servers can be shut down, you can learn how to set up your own for a few hundred dollars. In fact, older computers are perfect for such servers.

It will be interesting. I, for one, feel that it will be good to see ossified, overpriced universities disappear. I would rather exercise my own discretion than have choices made by some elite dinosaur. Academia was the last vestige of medievalism. Good riddance! Long live the internet.

Mike Konrad is the pen name of an American who is neither Jewish, Latin, nor Arab. He runs a website,, where he discusses the subculture of Arabs in Latin America. He wishes his Spanish were better.

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