In the time between the 1950s and the early 2000s, knowledge was power. Information hid behind books, in scholarly papers, and in the minds of scholars.
Going to college qualified you for the highest positions of employment on the basis alone that you had access to this forbidden knowledge and more importantly the proof you’d studied it.
The university education however, began to slip with the introduction of the internet, and the paradigm of power shifted as fast internet evolved.
As a child, we’d wait 10 minutes for a 5 minute video to load, lectures that were an hour long would take 1-2 hours of uninterrupted loading, and considering that the internet used to take a phone-line to connect that was a tall order.
With the advent of faster internet and the slow building of the Internet’s collective database, information long lost to the stacks of libraries became easily accessible.
Businesses no longer needed an MBA candidate to tell them how to run their marketing at top level, when they could simply look up what that candidate knew.
Without really meaning to the internet transformed the once instant success of a college degree into a hollow shell of a requirement, many businesses demanding it for tasks as simple as mail room attendant.
Moreover, it should be stated that universities were not ever constructed upon the basis of job skills training. While this was often a pleasant side effect of the educations received at these places, the true purpose of any university is the advancement of knowledge. The teaching parts were often stapled on as an unpleasant reality for many a researcher, a requirement to receive the funding they need.
The outside world, the business world, decided collectively that the job should be correlated to the education, though as of late one might argue this is simply a convenience measure for their HR departments to quickly remove a swath of candidates from the running of any one position.
Thus, as knowledge became easily available it became worthless, and little has come in its wake to replace it. Or so it seems. As a new resource once seen as trivial replaced it.
2 thoughts on “Knowledge is not Power”
Great post! This is really interesting, and I completely agree that knowledge is losing its value especially with the advent of widespread internet access. I wonder if this paradigm could partly explain why we are in an era of technological stagnation (relative to the 20th century, we haven’t experienced any groundbreaking tech innovations probably since the smartphone). I think that considering the ways in which the higher education and job industries have shifted their priorities like you said, it makes sense that market progress nowadays is more often driven by short-term, non-risky improvements to products rather than riskier long-term investments in true innovation. Anyway, this is a wonderful article and gives us lots to think about! Thanks for sharing.
Hey, thank you so much for leaving a comment. It means a whole lot to me!
I’d shy away from the term stagnation personally, as I think those periods of relative slow tech expansion as more charging up periods. Avalanche’s are the results of years of boring snow fall all brought to bear under the force of a single moment!
The emphasis on the short form profit is really a driving factor for sure. Moreover, the rather outlandish standards companies hold themselves to. One of Ea’s games made 200 million dollars in profit and the company was disappointed because it’s last game made 500 million or something similar.
Thanks again for the comment.