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As the Future Catches (the) US December 10, 2009

Posted by eskuhn in As The Future Catches You.
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The most striking characteristic of the book is not necessarily the content, not how genomics is going to change our lives, but simply how all this information is presented. Compressed into standard paragraphs and text, this book might be a third the number of pages, but would it communicate as quickly? As effectively?

I found my eyes were able to absorb almost the entire page with a glance. The key points were highlighted not by using italics, but by their relation to the rest of the page. The alignment of the words, their size, and their overall presentation controlled the cadence of the read. It was almost as if I were reading a live speech, text sizes and styles words were the volume and inflection.

But not to neglect the content of the book completely, the thought that kept creeping into my mind was: “What is going to happen to America?” We are quickly being out-manufactured by China and out-sourced to India. I’m all for free-market globalization and have no personal qualms with either of these scenarios, but America needs to wake up and figure out what it’s next competitive advantage will be.

As it says in the book, America’s status as one of the richest countries in the world is essentially held up by a few extremely successful entrepreneurs. Our role models are those that dropped out of school (Michael Dell, Mark Zuckerberg) and became billionaires. Now, what’s seldom mentioned is that these people are so far ahead of the curve that they are actually learning FASTER than any school would have been able to teach them. The PROBLEM, however, is that we as a culture value the “go for broke” mentality, leaving us with two eventualities: rich, or poor.

But the majority of Americans would benefit greatly from quality education around new concepts and technology. Right now, the wealth disparities only continue to mount as the rich pay for and receive excellent educations from a young age, and the poor become quickly discouraged by the lack of quality education, and possibly more importantly, the resulting lack of great professional options. The model looks a lot like a long-cycle venture capital investment (invest in education, produce more valuable people), but the problem may not be in the financials, it might be in the culture.

The real question is: How can we build a culture around valuing quality education with strong emphases on new technology and processes?

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