Saturday, October 26, 2013

Suddenly Useful Eccentrics

In eras of crisis, eccentrics suddenly become useful.

The world is always full of people who are square pegs in a status quo of round holes. These people don't fit into conventional roles, and as a result they are marginalized as failures, geeks, losers, or more charitably as eccentrics: passionate about things that are not valued by the status quo, or good at things that are on the fringes of conventional society.

In stable eras, these marginalized eccentrics often fuel new trends in art and music. Long before he was a world-renowned celebrity painter, Claude Monet was a penniless artist reduced to begging for money from friends to survive, so adamantly eccentric (or if you prefer, so far out of the mainstream) that he refused to study at conventional art academies.

Marginalized by the status quo art world to the point of ridicule, Monet persevered in his vision, along with his friends Renoir et al. There was certainly no guarantee of eventual success; history is replete with artists who died penniless and unknown despite their talent and perseverance.

In eras of crisis, marginalized square pegs may emerge as leaders or as inspirations of new ways of organizing society. As interconnected economic and geopolitical crises reach criticality, those who have been dismissed as has-beens, failures or eccentrics may suddenly become useful.

The gathering storm will open opportunities for all manner of has-beens, rejects, failures and eccentrics, as crisis erodes the status quo's ability to marginalize everyone and everything outside its control. As people realize the status quo cannot provide what it has promised, they become more open to ideas and values that had little leverage or utility in eras of stability and rising prosperity.

In eras of crisis, eccentrics suddenly become useful. Not all eccentrics become useful, but whatever progress is made in resolving the crisis is more likely to arise from eccentrics than intellectually bankrupt conventional leaders of the status quo.

Posts and email responses will be sporadic in October due to family commitments. Thank you for your understanding. 

The Nearly Free University and The Emerging Economy:
The Revolution in Higher Education

Reconnecting higher education, livelihoods and the economy

With the soaring cost of higher education, has the value a college degree been turned upside down? College tuition and fees are up 1000% since 1980. Half of all recent college graduates are jobless or underemployed, revealing a deep disconnect between higher education and the job market.

It is no surprise everyone is asking: Where is the return on investment? Is the assumption that higher education returns greater prosperity no longer true? And if this is the case, how does this impact you, your children and grandchildren?

go to Kindle edition
We must thoroughly understand the twin revolutions now fundamentally changing our world: The true cost of higher education and an economy that seems to re-shape itself minute to minute.

The Nearly Free University and the Emerging Economy clearly describes the underlying dynamics at work - and, more importantly, lays out a new low-cost model for higher education: how digital technology is enabling a revolution in higher education that dramatically lowers costs while expanding the opportunities for students of all ages.

The Nearly Free University and the Emerging Economy provides clarity and optimism in a period of the greatest change our educational systems and society have seen, and offers everyone the tools needed to prosper in the Emerging Economy.

Kindle edition: list $9.95 

Things are falling apart--that is obvious. But why are they falling apart? The reasons are complex and global. Our economy and society have structural problems that cannot be solved by adding debt to debt. We are becoming poorer, not just from financial over-reach, but from fundamental forces that are not easy to identify. We will cover the five core reasons why things are falling apart:

go to print edition1. Debt and financialization
2. Crony capitalism
3. Diminishing returns
4. Centralization
5. Technological, financial and demographic changes in our economy

Complex systems weakened by diminishing returns collapse under their own weight and are replaced by systems that are simpler, faster and affordable. If we cling to the old ways, our system will disintegrate. If we want sustainable prosperity rather than collapse, we must embrace a new model that is Decentralized, Adaptive, Transparent and Accountable (DATA).

We are not powerless. Once we accept responsibility, we become powerful.

Kindle: $9.95       print: $24

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