We Don't Need No

I’ve considered this once or twice in the past, and I’ve come to the conclusion that Colleges and Universities may very well end as an institution. They’ve long since outlived their usefulness as centers of collaboration and education and devolved into mere adult daycares.

Even back when I was attending in the late 90s, it was basically High School 2.0, but with a Boarding School atmosphere and no parental oversight. These aren’t the great institutions we used to read about that once produced by the likes of Newton, Darwin, or Turing. The concept was long since appropriated by the modern inclination to mass-produce.

I was probably the first in my scattered family to even go to college, but by the time I got there, it was a watered-down over-hyped dubious exercise in self-aggrandizement. I would have been better served by going to something like a technology trade school for a couple years. This kind of education system has, much like several components of our culture, propagated itself on the momentum of a lauded past.

Now we have things like The Khan Academy, Skillshare, Udemy, etc. We barely knew it back in the 90s, but the Internet had already rung the death knells for colleges and universities alike. And while they’ve tried to adapt, the fact that online offerings are so slim, even in the aftermath of Corona, is a damning indictment. Worse of course is that tuitions are still climbing at a faster rate than inflation despite a value proposition that was awful even 20 years ago. And of course that also ignores the predatory reference book publishing industry that introduces new editions every year, for all of those times Calculus has changed over the years.

We don’t need any of that anymore. Everything you’d ever want to know is online. Given a proper guide, it’s possible to learn anything to any desirable depth or level of mastery. I never learned anything about databases in school, and yet I’ve written two full books on the subject—one of which is in its 3rd edition. And even that could be construed as an anachronism. Books? In 2021? Why bother. There’s a blog, webinar, online discussion thread, demonstration, tutorial, lecture, or class a mere click away for any subject imaginable, and quite a few that aren’t.

I get that I’m ignoring the collaborative and social aspects of higher (and even lower) education. that’s an aspect that’s not replaceable by Brady-family walls of faces. Humans—well most of us anyway—are social creatures. I never really fit into that mold, but I’ll readily admit I’m a wild aberration in that regard. Still, I understand that quite a few people sorely miss that interactive element that can’t be replaced by the power of the internet.

But the concept itself can evolve and still retain the underlying intention. Satellite branches are not unheard of, and perhaps a more locally-driven approach would better serve our communities in any case. Why go to college when you can hop down to the local community education center and dial into Cambridge for the day? Or maybe colleges and universities can actually call upon their roots. The days of “Party Schools” or degree mills should suffer terminally after these next few years. Maybe I’m an idealist, but I’d love to see fewer locations but better quality. I want the only people in college to be there to collaborate on higher ideals and furthering humanity.

Not everyone needs to go to college. In fact, the vast majority of people don’t. I certainly didn’t. It’s a waste of 4-5 years of your life, and a great many tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Tell me what desk job requires a liberal arts degree? What service sector job? The fact that so many of these jobs require such is a travesty that’s forcing our younger generations to start life in so much debt they’re unable to buy a home or start a family. We’re killing ourselves for a line in a resume.

In other news, my GMMK keyboard finally arrived. After assembling it, I liked the click and feel of the Kailh Box White switches. Unfortunately upon testing everything with the key caps on, I found that the keys bottom out frequently, causing a loud “clack” as the bottom of the key strikes the backplate. This clack is much louder than the crisp click I was looking for. Normally I’d install O-rings under each key cap, but these switches already have 0.4mm lower travel distance than a more common Cherry MX variant. If I reduce key travel too much, typing will start to feel cramped. Either way, it’s the only way to silence the backplate that I know of, so I ordered some 0.15mm O-rings. It’ll be irritating to pull off all the keycaps to install the rings, but I need that soft click in my life.

I’ve also been waking up at 5am recently, and usually unable to fall back asleep. I keep encountering new research on red light therapy, and some of it suggests potential neurological effects as well as assisting in circadian rhythm synchronization. Given that stopping Lexapro down-regulated my ability to produce adequate amounts of melatonin, encouraging neurogenesis and augmenting my sleep hygiene routine seem like a good idea.

Until Tomorrow