sharing my digital book library

One of my favorite things to do in college was to take a long bus ride to Christiansburg, VA on the weekends to visit the Barnes & Nobles bookstore and spend a few hours there. I generally managed to drag a couple friends along, and we would spend the time on the bus (30 minutes each way) to talk about the books we were excited to read, recommend books to each other, and what it is that we were hoping to run into on this trip to the bookstore. It was a magical time !

Much has changed in the world for that experience to come back around though. The primary force for change has been the Internet, and how it has transformed the process of access, acquisition, and conversation around books & reading as a social activity. E-books have brought many good features to reading, but they have also led to the demise of physical bookstores. I, in particular sad about this, as I had blogged almost a year ago.

As with all paradigm shifts, some affordances of the prior paradigm need to brought along for their core value. The new world of books, reading, and contemplative thought needs to afford the following: showcasing a book collection (personal libraries are social places), sharing highlights and quotes from books with friends, and having conversations around books and articles

I am ecstatic to share that there is a new service called Findings, that enables many of these features in a flawless fashion. You can share clips from articles you read on the web, highlights from books you read on your Kindle, and even display your entire library in one nice-looking collection !

Here is a set of links I’d like to share with you:

Library — collection of digital books (physical books coming soon)
Highlights — from the books in my library (directly from my Kindle) 
Wishlist — of books I am looking to buy & read soon (from Amazon.com)

Now, the last thing I am looking for really is a cool way to project/showcase my digital library in my office + home !

How do you share what you read, and how do you stumble into new content?

Acknowledgements
Thanks to Alok Bathija, Neel Uppal, and Faiz Munshi for being my accomplices to the Barnes & Nobles during our college days. Steven Johnson for his awesome writing and being one of the thought-leaders behind Findings; John Borthwick and the entire Findings.com team !

teachers will soon be celebrities

That technology is changing the way we think of education is a fact that few can deny, especially in 2012. As we look ahead 10 years from now, one potential implication of the use of technology and the break-down of traditional institutions of learning, such as universities, could be the emergence of the superstar teacher.

What do I mean by the superstar (or celebrity) teacher?

Imagine for a moment, that everyone student in the world who is interested in learning about a particular topic is able to access content created by the best teacher for that subject. Students in Vietnam tuning into Physics lectures by Einstein; or taking philosophy classes from Daniel Kahneman. Daniel Kahneman instantly goes from being able to teach 500 students over 10 years, to teaching 50000 students every year !

Hard to imagine? Dr Sebastian Thrun of Stanford University delivered an AI class to 160,000 students in the Fall of 2011.

The best teachers of any, and every subject in the world have a massive opportunity to reach each and every student interested in learning from them, through the use of simple broadcasting tools. This will give rise to a new class of celebrities, teachers !

Teachers are no longer required to restrict themselves to teaching primarily at elite institutions to have a great impact on society, but rather aim to reach a global audience with their product. This also changes the fundamental economics of education and the opportunity for outstanding compensation for outstanding educators !

To wrap, I want to add that Dr Sebastian Thrun recently resigned from Stanford to launch his own platform to deliver his courses — complete with lectures, grading, and classrooms. Salman Khan of the Khan Academy is another prominent example !

The celebrity teacher will enjoy the same kind of following, fame, and fortune as leading Hollywood artists. Sebastian is one of the first celebrity teachers !

College costs twice as much as it did 10 years ago

Earlier today, I started to wonder how expense it has become to go to college these days. As Mona and I were chatting, we conjectured that the increases were tiny if we were to consider cumulative inflation over the same period.

Best way to find out was to dig into the data, so here we go:

Chart 1: Tuition fees data from Virginia Tech & UC Berkeley


Well, it is pretty interesting to see that VT increased its In-state tuition from $2537 in 2003 to $5254 in 2011; an increase of 107%.

During the same period UC Berkeley went from $2928 in 2003 to $6696 in 2011; clocking a whopping increase of 128%.

Chart 2: Wondering what the percentage increases were year over year ?


Chart 2 reveals a sudden spike of 27% in UC Berkeley in-state tuition due to the State of California going bankrupt, and the reduction of state support to the institute.

On average though, both programs saw double digit % increases at the start of the decade and sustained a stable 5+% increase every year.

And what about inflation?
While, I am not an expert in inflation, a few Google searches brought me to Inflationdata.com’s Inflation Calculator which helps you check the cumulative inflation over a given period of time.

Cumulative inflation
over this (2003 to 2011) period is 22.3%

Therefore, the cost of college has accelerated at 4X-5X when compared to inflation.

In the Information Age when content wants to be free, it is quite surprising to see the cost of education continue to skyrocket.

PS: Yes, I know the distinction between information and knowledge; and do not mean to discount the value of good teaching.