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Yet another Bubble

2011-04-11 15:50:21.779838+00 by ebradway 6 comments

Before 1998 computer games were largely developed by small shops distributed throughout the country. One happened to be in Chattanooga, MicroSports, and another was in Knoxville, Cyberflix. Around 1998, the game industry went through a bubble collapse of sorts. Big companies like Electronic Arts, Sony and Microsoft locked up the shelf space at retailers like Electronics Boutique. The small shops were either swallowed up by the big companies or driven out of business. I worked at both MicroSports and Cyberflix. Once the bubble burst, I found myself out of a job with no good options on the horizon.

In 2001, I was working for a dot-com based in Nashville. We were doing some really cool stuff interfacing with the Federal Reserve Automated Clearinghouse. We almost survived the dot-com bubble bursting, but in the wake of the 9-11 terrorist attacks, the security spot light was directed at electronic banking. Again, I found myself out of a job with no good options on the horizon.

In 2002, partly because I was out of a job for so long, I defaulted on my sub- prime mortgage. Yeah, I was way ahead of the curve on that bubble. Most people, in 2002, had no idea what a sub-prime mortgage was. So I found myself out of a job and a home.

So I went back to school. I did manage to get a decent job on campus to keep money in my pocket as I finished my BS in 2004. The job was nice enough that I stayed on while I pushed through my MS in 2006. I then decided to jump into the Education industry with both feet and start working on a PhD. Last week, I finally defended my research proposal. Not the entire dissertation but a little more than half of it, garnering my the green light to actually do my research.

No I read on Tech Crunch that Peter Thiel, who wealth stems from his famously predicting the dot-com bubble and selling PayPal at just the right time, is predicting that education is the next bubble. And here I am, once again, riding the bubble. I even agree heartily with Thiel. I've been counseling my daughter to take what cash she's managed to accumulate for college and use it to start a company instead.

One of these days, I'll learn how to profit from being in the wrong place at the wrong time, because, if you position yourself correctly, it can also be the right place at the right time.

[ related topics: Children and growing up Humor Games moron Work, productivity and environment Eric's Life Net Culture Education ]

comments in descending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2011-04-13 15:41:39.750394+00 by: meuon

I think I spend 1- 4 hours a day reading/learning/experimenting

Today I learned that when you move a MYSQL database on Ubuntu 10.04, you have to update the apparmor profile to let MySQL read/write that new directory.

At least I know that apparmor actually works.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-04-13 01:20:59.665444+00 by: Dan Lyke

42% of people who graduate from college never read another book.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-04-12 19:31:30.249777+00 by: petronius

Instapundit is on this topic heavily, even thouogh he is a law professor himself. Worth a fast look.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-04-12 00:49:25.562911+00 by: ebradway

What the education system isn't selling is knowledge or learning, it's selling degrees. When the studies were done that resulted in the correlation between income and education level, they didn't factor in how much people actually learned in their degree program or whether any of that knowledge actually translated into dollars.

Mike Kite, just today, mentioned how his BA in English hasn't helped his career at all. He has a decent job at a decent pay rate mostly because I taught him how to diagnose a thin-ethernet network using terminators. Something I learned from Dan.

Of course, the reason Mike was able to parlay a little knowledge into a career had to do with the fact that he's a reasonably bright guy who likes to learn. That's what got him through his BA in English.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-04-12 00:20:34.544435+00 by: Dan Lyke

Hey, once again I'm ahead of the curve without seeing how to take advantage of it!

More seriously, yeah, I got back from spending the weekend with some folks who are finishing up college, and they've been working their butts off, trying to get everything they can out of their school, and they're not sure that what they got was better than taking that money and pursuing various other ventures outside of the structure of college.

Beyond just how far from useful your average 4 year degree has gotten, though, the current set of diploma and certificate mills, driven by the availability of low-cost student loans, strikes me as as horrific a structure as any number of NINJA loans. From culinary schools to massage schools there are all sorts of organizations benefiting from that bubble; pushing certification towards careers that just don't exist.

I think learning is important, but I think the education system's remuneration is no longer in-line with whether or not students are actually getting useful skills.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-04-11 18:30:31.636256+00 by: mvandewettering

The mantra my parents drilled into me was that education was the key to a higher standard of living. The truth is, that I might just be the last generation for which this is true. The 30 year old stagnation of middle class wages, combined with the increasing debt load that getting a college degree now entails and the high unemployment rate makes higher education less and less attractive. I'm still fairly convinced that education is important, but I'm less sure that the university system is providing good benefit to students.