Briefly Noted for April 23, 2010

An Asset Bubble in Higher Ed? — Michael Feldstein (currently of Oracle and formerly of SUNY) argues that we may be seeing an asset bubble in higher education of the kind that recently burst in the housing market. Taking Anya Kamenetz’s observations about the problematic economics of higher education one step further, Feldstein argues (with substantial facts and figures to back him up) that the price of a college degree may well have risen “out of proportion with the rise in its intrinsic value,” the defining characteristic of an asset bubble. More frighteningly, he posits the possibility that the bubble may burst, leading to “large and painful contractions in college budgets leading to layoffs, cuts in services and the closing of a significant number of colleges.” Scary.

Steven Johnson on "The Glass Box and the Commonplace Book" — Writer Steven Johnson has an interesting post comparing the well-regarded early modern intellectual practice of “commonplacing,” which he describes as the habit of “transcribing interesting or inspirational passages from one’s reading, assembling a personalized encyclopedia of quotations,” to the early blogs of a decade ago, which were similar compendia of serendipitous inscriptions and insights. He contrasts this kind of annotative reading to the kind that can be done on Apple’s new iPad, a “glass box” which does not allow for easy clipping, moving, and reworking of text. We’ll see how the iPad changes reading and blogging, but I have noticed that the more I use my fairly “glassy” and keyboardless Nexus One for web browsing, the less likely I am to blog or email or bookmark what I find there. It also occurs to me that this whole “briefly noted” thing I have going is a little like commonplacing, and I should probably do more of it.

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