Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Will the Ivy League's pillars crumble?

As someone who took plenty of heat for choosing a Big Ten school over her father's Ivy League alma mater, I have to admit that reading this commentary by Salon's Andrew Leonard brought a smug smile to my face. Thanks to the internet, elite universities may no longer have the right to act so―for lack of a better word―snotty.

Indeed, it makes perfect sense. Historically, the quality of education a school provided (and the quality of research its faculty conducted) used to depend, at least partially, on the school's physical proximity to its resources. Leonard writes:

But the Internet has enabled collaboration without physical proximity. So an up-and-coming new-growth-theory theorist at the University of Florida can coauthor a paper with a Stanford or Harvard or Chicago professor without having to move across the country. This is a great thing -- the democratization of education. As the authors note, "If improvements in communication technology have made low-cost access at a distance possible for production purposes, then firms have lost a powerful instrument to regulate and control the accumulation and utilization of knowledge."
So now that information and communication are just a few clicks away, who needs a fancy diploma and an address in Cambridge, MA to get somewhere? Not me, my friend. Not me.

This was first posted on


Anonymous Tara said...

Having spent time at both Yale and U of M, I still gotta say I prefer Yale. :) However, I'm at another Big Ten school now and my most recent paper was co-authored with a scientist back at yale, so I certainly see their point.

8:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey what's up with NYU? Give us some ideas to put up at

Ed. ES

3:01 PM  

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