Free knowledge is free power

9 Jun

Over the past week or so I’ve been attending the Energy Crossroads Panel at Stanford University which already happened. For free, and without a time machine.

If knowledge is power, and knowledge also becomes free and accessible to everyone, what happens? I think we should find out.
I paid (or now owe) for a massively expensive education at a top-level Institution. (Is Hampshire College Ivy League? There is ivy on the walls…)
In retrospect I could have learned everything that I did at Hampshire for a lot less money. How much should the experience of going to a college really cost? What about the information gleaned at college, isn’t it inherently free?

One of the new features in the newest version of iTunes, which is likely to be overlooked since you have to enter the iTunes Store to get to it, is iTunes University(iTunes link). Free educational material from top universities, most notably (right now) Stanford and Berkeley. It sounds really cool, and almost too good to be true, which it partially is. While there are a handful of full-fledged classes, where you download lectures and tests and slides and everything, a majority of the stuff available (all for free still) is clearly designed as advertisements for the college. You can get video clips of students talking about their time there, download student media projects, watch introductions to various programs, etc. Still though, it’s free knowledge which until recently was unavailable unless you were actually at the University. In addition to classes there are also special events like panels, commencement speeches, and other presentations by various certified smart people (such as the Energy Crossroads Panel (iTunes link) I listened to) which are now all available to anyone with iTunes and the internet, which is a lot more people than any of this was previously available to.

Want to take a class on the Historical Jesus at Stanford? Go ahead. Want to take a computer programming course, a class on Modern Theoretical Physics, watch Steve Jobs give a commencement speech, find out what existentialism is, learn the Geography of World Cultures, or all of the above? Go ahead. It’s free.

I’m eager for Hampshire to get in on the game, I’d love to download one of Mario’s religion classes, or the student projects from one of Bill’s Film Classes…


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