I applied for some degree programs last year though, in all honesty, I couldn’t find much to learn from them. Journalism programs basically end their digital media components where I am right now, and other programs are not directly related. Either thru sour grapes or truthiness, I feel that I’m too cool for school. So, am I a geek anti-intellectual? A bit I guess.
In his popular article, Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger states a few tenets of the new anti-intellectualism/academism, which I paraphrase here:
1. Experts do not deserve any special role in declaring what is known.
2. Books are an outmoded medium because they involve a single person speaking from authority
3. The classics, being books, are also outmoded.
4. The digitization of information means that we don’t have to memorize nearly as much.
5. The paragon of success is a popular website or well-used software, and for that, you just have to be a bright, creative geek.
So, do I subscribe to this? Nope. I think you can learn a lot by doing, but I think that Internet learning lacks a great deal of depth. Personally, I use Wikipedia to find books by experts, and I have a special interest in the classics. I still have a great deal of respect for people with deep domain knowledge. Maybe that’s just me.
What I think people are rebelling against is what education – especially higher education – has become. Look at the chart of Master’s Degrees by subject in the US (above). Or Bachelor’s Degrees (below). Education has become a business and most people are either studying Business or Education. Rather than, you know, getting educated. Education is seen as path to a job, which is not what it should be, nor is this attitude best for the job market.
At the same time, costs have skyrocketed. So something has obviously gone wrong. I think the geek anti-intellectualism is party sour grapes at being left out of a system more people should have access to, and partly justifiable rebellion against an edifice that may have to be torn down.
I was doing something and the child asked me ‘Who started school?’ Like, who made the first school. I said dunno, the Greeks? Which is kinda right, apparently. Then he was like “I’m going to kill the Greeks, school is boring.”
That’s a bit unfair to the Greeks, but I get it. The thing is, studies during the Greek days were an interactive Akademie, much different from our current, lecture, industrial based system. I showed him a Ken Robinson animated lecture on changing education paradigms, which he didn’t get, but which gets to part of the problem.
So, it’s not necessarily that geeks are anti-intellectual. I sincerely know very few geeks who are opposed to the classics or reading long books. We may just be more interested in reading them on the Kindle. Personally, I find more akin to ancients who were into ideas and writing letters and talking than to modern ‘intellectuals’ who fetishize (word?) publishing and books and awards and laurels while ignoring the new, efficient ways to get ideas out there. But that’s not necessarily anti-intellectualism. It’s just being a geek.