Monday, October 24, 2011

Institutional Interconnectedness

MOOCs and blogs have greatly increased my awareness of the interconnectedness of institutions. People with an undergraduate degree in philosophy or History or English and want income security for continuing to devote their life to intellectual pursuits and the common good have had a commonly recognized path - teacher, librarian, professor, clergyperson, journalist, writer, artist,lawyer ...
The web has greatly expanded access to information while at the same time created an environment where the value of universities, libraries, churches and publishing houses are being questioned.
Through blogs and MOOCs, it's easy to see the interconnectedness of these institutions and how if the first domino falls, the others could quickly go down as well with impact down the line on other professions with degree requirements.
I think we have to be watchful of how technology is impacting the intellectual community as a whole and how the various professions are trying to redefine their roles to maintain their value to society. Because there is so much overlap in the skill sets, strengthening the value of one, strengthens the value of all and weakening the value of one, weakens the value of them all. The other issue is that if any of those professions fall, where will those professionals go. It seems most likely that they will try to flow into a related profession or find themselves in the even more crowded retail sector.
Without having an actual revolution as occurred in China in the late 1950 (or perhaps in our interconnected world, the unease in political circles about the effectives of organizing a revolution through mobile devices), we could see a flowering of intellectual freedom followed quickly by a massive devaluing or even supression of thought and culture.
Do we have time for each profession to grope its way into the 21st century or is there a great impetus for pooling the insights gained from the perspectives of each professional grouping and move forward with greater collegiality and awareness of shared interests as well as uniqueness.

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