Uber this [education]; and more tech bubbles

by reestheskin on 12/08/2015

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I know talking about education and Silicon valley may seem like feeding the trolls but…two quotes (well three actually):

The first from an interview with Sebastian Thrun, the man who has revolutionised learning (irony++), without knowing much about it, and appears to have discovered everything ‘yesterday’. 

Q. Teaching students to master a topic, difficult in any classroom, seems to be one of the biggest challenges facing online learning. You say your approach works. How does it?

A. We very deeply believe, very passionately believe, that learning by doing trumps learning by listening. We believe the ultimate experience that really makes the master is to do something, build something, invent something, design something, code something. At Udacity, we built an Uber-like platform. 

Same thing in the FT, with Thrun saying: 

“We want to be the Uber of education,” Mr Thrun claims, following the start-up convention of comparing one’s business model to the current darling of the VC community.

And the second from And John Markoff, somebody who I think knows some history.

There’s been a dramatic shift in corporate America, and the time horizons have shortened. Even DARPA, which was created in the 1950s to prevent America from suffering from technological surprise, in the wake of 9/11 and the Iraq war DARPA shifted its focus and has become focused on much shorter term results. Clearly something has been lost. In Silicon Valley, we’re in the midst of a bubble right now, and it’ll be interesting to see what the culture is like after it resets. For the moment, we’re focused on things that will return. The term of art is now a unicorn, $1 billion startup in the space of just a short time. There have been some, but there are also lots and lots of failures. 

The question is, how does this current bubble end? Not when, but how? What constitutes a bubble? For me, I can clearly see we’re in a bubble economy when relatively more money is chasing relatively few good ideas. When the conversation turns to Uber for “x,” you can tell there we’re out of ideas, that people are basically just trying to iterate and get lucky. I suppose some of them will be lucky. There was lots of good timing before the collapse of the last bubble, and so this bubble is and will continue to create billionaires. But something will cause a reset, and, for example, you can see this now with regard to new organizations such as The Battery Club.

BTW: yet another example of journalists knowing more about a subject that academics.